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Taking cues from social media trends, recruitment firms diversify service offerings
Internet job portals and recruitment firms are following the lead of popular social media platforms and adding personal touches to the services they offer their clients in order to differentiate themselves in an increasingly competitive market.
For example, job-site companies “are moving away from thinking, ‘We’re just classifieds online’ to saying, ‘We are a tool for acquiring candidates.’ That opens up a lot of opportunities for thinking about [new] products,” said Jeff Dickey-Chasins, head of the consulting-services firm The Job Board Doctor. His company isstarting to tailor levels of services to the needs of different audiences.
“They may offer job postings with some level of enhancement, such as being promoted on Facebook,” Dickey-Chasins said. “They may offer some type of employer branding. Often they offer targeted e-mails to subgroups of registered candidates. For example, [if the client is] an accounting firm in Miami, they may do targeted e-mails in Miami” to accountants.
Dickey-Chasins also noted a shift from “the transactional model of [employers] buying a post or package” to “the concept of a subscription—a flat fee for a certain amount of time, usually a year.”
Although the recession has cut into the job-posting revenues of major job boards, overall, large job-board sites are doing well, according to Dickey-Chasins. “The area I’ve seen the most growth [in] is niche boards; they continue to be pretty strong.”
“It’s a mature industry now,” he explained. “It’s been through waves of acquisitions, and the boards that have succeeded are evolving. The main reason they’re surviving is that they still work; companies still feel like they’re a good value.”
Recruitment Firms Creating ‘Social Fabric’
Forward-looking recruitment firms also are using social media in new ways to provide innovative services to clients, said Jim Lanzalotto, founder and CEO of Scanlon.Louis, a business-strategy firm in Philadelphia.
Recruitment firms have stopped “spending so much time pushing [top job candidates] to places where their competitors can find them,” he said. Instead they are using general job boards to find candidates, then “bringing them into their own proprietary network.”
The reason, he said, is that “good candidates are being bombarded” in the open social network, and “the more they are in [a staffing firm’s private] network, the more you can control” getting the best candidates to clients.
Forward-looking recruitment firms are busy building both online and off-line relationships, according to Lanzalotto. Citing one example, he said The Boss Group, a marketing staffing firm in Bethesda, Md., “gets everybody together once a quarter to network live. They’re creating a social fabric. Social media is just another way to create a group.”
Anna Brekka, senior director at Peterborough, N.H., firm Recruiting Trends, also sees recruitment firms promoting live interaction as well as social media to help clients find candidates and promote their brand.
Firms “have Twitter meet-ups and LinkedIn meetings face to face” for their clients, Brekka said.
Another tool that many companies are using as a recruitment vehicle is Pinterest.
“It’s very experimental,” Brekka observed. “How do you recruit using shared images that you like? The idea is the same as having a scrapbook of your company—people view it and ask for more information.”
Many recruitment firms also are setting themselves apart by promoting themselves as “purveyors of pertinent and useful information” that clients want to buy, said Bryan K. Harter, vice president of sales and business development atATR International, a Silicon Valley-based staffing and placement firm.
He explained that ATR International uses blogs and e-guides to show “that we are subject-matter experts in employment trends: What skill sets are hot? What the going rates are now for hot skill sets; what skill sets are in less demand? What pockets of the country are becoming more attractive to employers for talent and cost savings? We use this information as the reason to connect with a new company and to talk to existing clients.”
Stephenie Overman is a freelance writer based in Reston, Va.
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