The Social Side of Recruitment Advertising

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The Social Side of Recruitment Advertising
By Peter Weddle

The utility of social media sites as recruiting resources has been challenged by a recent Workforce magazine article on the compliance issues and potential adverse impact of over-relying on them. The social aspects of our profession remain important, however, even in what have traditionally been unsocial sourcing methods. Indeed, the Internet has actually created a social side to online recruitment advertising.

There are five dimensions to the social side of posting a job ad on the Web:

  • The sites you select;
  • The title of your posting;
  • The content of your posting;
  • The follow up communication with applicants; and
  • The candidate experience that follows your advertising interaction.

    What’s social about these advertising activities? Let me explain.

    The Sites You Select

    The key to effective online recruitment advertising is to initiate a social interaction with the right candidate population. And to do that, you have to advertise on the right sites. Unfortunately, there is no one site that will connect you with 100% of your target demographic. Shotgunning your ad out over the Web simply makes your organization look as if it doesn’t know what it’s doing. A better strategy, I would suggest, is to select 7 specific sites using the formula 2GP + 3N +2D:

  • 2GP or general purpose posting sites where you can probe the full range of prospects online;
  • 3N or niche sites where you can plumb the full depth of the candidate population—use one site that targets the occupational field for which you’re recruiting, one that covers your employer’s industry, and one that specializes in the geographic location of your opening; and
  • 2D or diversity sites so that you ensure (and prove) that you’re making a good faith effort to tap all of the talent in the candidate population.

    The Title of Your Posting

    The title of your posting is your greeting to candidates. It’s how you introduce your organization and its brand as an employer. The surest way to get the interaction off on the wrong foot is to use bureaucratic position titles—Research Scientist VI—or unintelligible abbreviations and in-house jargon. On the other hand, you can effectively convey a “candidate friendly” message by providing a title which enables the reader to decide quickly and accurately if the opening is for them. Such a title has three elements that form the acronym LSS:

  • L or the location of the job—generally people want to work where they live;
  • S or the skill and skill level required to perform the job—Senior Pharmaceutical Research Scientist; and
  • S or sizzle—some aspect of your culture, compensation system or community that will set your ad apart and make it especially intriguing or appealing.

    The Content of Your Posting

    The surest way to be viewed as an anti-social advertiser is to create a posting that is uninformative, incomplete, boring, filled with misspellings and grammatical errors, or all of the above. You’re trying to establish a relationship with the best candidates, so show them the same courtesy and respect that you would like to be shown if you were in their shoes. What does such an ad look like? It has five sections that form the acronym S-ABC-S:

  • S, the Summary or first four lines of your ad are your invitation to top talent to read on—if you create an interesting and compelling message, they likely will (even if they’re employed), while the opposite message will ensure they won’t (and all you’ll get are the most desperate of applicants);
  • ABC or the body of the ad—it presents the position’s requirements and responsibilities but does so from the candidate’s perspective, and what they want to know about are its Advantages (for them), its Benefits (tailored to them) and the Capabilities they must have to be successful in the role;
  • S or the Sign-off is best viewed as a call to action—encourage the reader to take one or more of three steps: apply for the position, refer it to others (because top talent knows other top talent) and/or opt-in to an ongoing dialogue that you maintain with potential applicants.

    The past five years have seen advertising, in general, become much more interactive and engaging, especially online. Those of us who are trying to sell the best prospects on our organization’s value proposition as an employer would do well to follow that trend and focus on the social side of our recruitment advertising. I’ll finish the last two of the five dimensions of that strategy in my next column.

    Thanks for reading,
    Visit me at

    Peter Weddle is the author of over two dozen employment-related books, including his latest, Work Strong, Your Personal Career Fitness System.

    © Copyright 2009 WEDDLE’s LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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