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HR Magazine: Blogging for Talent

Judi Hasson  10/1/2007
 

HR Magazine: October 2007Vol. 52, No. 10

The latest high-tech tool revolutionizes the hunt for the right candidate.

When it comes to trying something new, Microsoft often races ahead of the pack. Three years ago, the tech company introduced several corporate recruitment blogs, launching an idea now becoming part of Internet culture and adding another tool to employers' arsenals of staffing strategies.

Recruitment blogs are gaining acceptance with employers who find them fast, interactive and able to give job seekers a good feel for a company's work and culture. These online tools allow corporate HR departments to follow Generation X and the YouTube generation right online, using blogging to find job candidates and hire them. Blogs are catching on at different kinds of companies in different ways.

Microsoft uses its online tools to impact and influence its public image, reach a broader audience from around the world, and create a diverse workplace with varied skills and talents.

HR generalist Priya Priyadarshini, a former international recruiter for Microsoft, calls blogs "a great way to connect with your audience. It is about building a community, showing them we care and also adding a certain level of transparency and dialogue."

She says the company's recruitment blogs add an "element of humanity" to the hiring process and give the high-tech company an edge in the competitive world of finding the best person to fit each job. They also offer a way for the employer to enhance its "brand visibility and credibility," says Priyadarshini.

If potential job candidates are interested in working for Microsoft based on what they see on a specific blog, they can then contact the blogger, and that could begin the recruiting and interviewing process. That is the kind of two-way personal touch that Microsoft encourages, Priyadarshini says.

Making Contact

Plenty of companies are entering the virtual world to find the right candidates for their jobs. Many employers look at Microsoft's success and seek to emulate the flow of information and ideas that blogging can spark at their companies, too.

At Best Buy's headquarters in Richfield, Minn., Joshua Kahn plans to follow Microsoft's lead this fall by launching a blog to get potential candidates in the pipeline.

To do it Best Buy's way, Kahn envisions a blog that will highlight job opportunities, including corporate, finance, marketing, web, human resource and design-related positions. The retailer's blog will "tell the stories of what it's like to work at Best Buy, far beyond what a job description gives you," says Kahn, a senior "pipeline generation expert" for Accenture HR Services who works on-site at Best Buy's headquarters. "It is an opportunity to present the work environment at Best Buy in a real way," Kahn says.

At Accenture, recruiting manager Chris Gould has been writing a recruitment blog for about a year. Gould describes the blog as "a semi-personal journal" that offers recruiters' thoughts and opinions and gives potential candidates additional information about the company's recruiting process."Our Recruiters' Blog offers the opportunity to get to know our people better," says Gould. "The goal is for readers to find the information insightful and relevant to their job searches."

Gould advises potential bloggers to keep blogs up-to-date, fresh and relevant to a job seeker's search.

Blogging is still in its infancy for job recruiting, HR professionals say. David Kippen, vice president of global brand strategy at TMP Worldwide, a New York-based recruiting agency, says there is still plenty of trial and error when it comes to blogging, but for many companies it is a way to provide a richer experience than traditional ways of recruiting.

While TMP taps its "senior thought leaders" to represent the company on its blog, it also provides job seekers with a way to "reach out indirectly" to its corporate recruiters online by checking job postings, looking at detailed job descriptions or e-mailing their resumes. "It's not so much about referrals as ensuring that people aren't intimidated by the [recruitment] process," says Kippen.

Building a Following

Employers with successful blogs think of them as conversations with those who contact their sites and make sure that corporate language is not used in place of the blogger's own voice.

A blog produced by Dennis Smith, who works for T-Mobile as a senior recruiting manager in Dallas and who writes independently on the company's web site, is often cited as an example of a corporate recruitment blog done the right way.

"Here's a couple of hot jobs my team is recruiting," announces Smith's blog at www.wirelessjobs.com. Although the blog clearly reflects Smith's voice and persona, it also touts the company and its employment opportunities. "Building wireless careers, one jobpost at a time," says the site's tag line.

Honeywell Corp. also takes full advantage of what this tool can do. Its blog at www.honeywellblogs.com/, posted by multiple authors, provides information about career and leadership development opportunities to young potential recruits.

Plenty of companies support recruitment blogs in other ways. Manpower, a Minneapolis-based temporary job placement firm, places 4.4 million workers a year in 73 countries and has 400,000 clients. It does not have its own recruitment blog, but some Manpower recruiters turn to independent blogs to find the best workers for jobs.

Manpower estimates that 70 percent of its candidates are online, according to spokesman Paul Holley. In the not-too-distant future, he says, Manpower plans to introduce a "sponsored blog that will have an external focus."

Dealing with the Downside

Corporate blogging has a downside, too. Just what does a company do when naysayers and disgruntled workers come to visit and post their disenchantment? There are few options: A company can try filtering out any inappropriate or derogatory material, letting it on or asking bloggers to abide by the company's posting rules. At many companies, reviewers see postings before they go online.

In the case of T-Mobile, its featured blog carries this prominent disclaimer: "Dennis Smith works at T-Mobile as a Senior Recruiting Manager. This blog reflects his personal opinion and is not approved by the company prior to posting. No warranties or other guarantees will be offered as to the quality of opinions offered here. However, Dennis is unconditionally committed to providing you with quality products that can be a part of wireless lifestyle. If you are not satisfied, a prompt refund or adjustment of equal value will be made. Your comments and questions are welcome."

Microsoft's Priyadarshini says the company often does not review potential blog items because it favors an open exchange of ideas. Instead, bloggers follow a "common sense policy," she says. "They just use their best judgment about what to post. The blogs are user-generated and -driven, so having someone review every word makes it somewhat ineffective as an honest information-sharing method."

If bloggers are concerned about something that might be ultra-sensitive or offensive, Priyadarshini says, they can look to their managers for guidance. On balance, any concerns about online abuses are surpassed by the networking and communication benefits blogs offer, some experts say.

"Our Recruiters' Blog gives people more insights into our company, our recruiting processes and what it is like to work at Accenture," Gould says. "By creating a dialogue, we will find people who are genuinely excited to work at Accenture."

Judi Hasson is a freelance writer based in McLean, Va.

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Do's and Don'ts for Recruitment Blogs

HR generalist Priya Priyadarshini, a former international recruiter for Microsoft, offers these tips to HR professionals on creating a corporate recruitment blog:

Understand the scope and potential impact of anything written and expressed in a blog.

Clearly state that the views expressed in the blog are the blogger's alone and do not necessarily represent the views of the company. Even with such a disclaimer, though, it's important for the blog to maintain a thoughtful tone in its content and in the way it shares information.

Make sure the blog doesn't compromise the company's confidentiality or disclose proprietary information.

Be respectful of the company, employees, customers, partners and competitors.

If you have any questions about what can be included on the blog, check with your HR head.

Don't try to make the blog sound like a public relations product. Make it real and not the company line. Potential job candidates are looking for good information about what it's like to work for your company.

Keep the blog short, tightly written and easy to skim. Remember: You only have about 15 seconds to grab a reader's attention before he or she moves on.