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Q-and-A: Why social media matters for recruiters

4 min read


Alex Churchill is the CEO and founder of VonChurch, a recruiting firm that specializes in the digital-entertainment industry, including social, gaming, mobile and interactive content. I spoke with Churchill about VonChurch’s digital recruiting methods, including the importance of expanding recruitment via social media.

Can you talk a little about your philosophy behind social media recruiting? Why is it so valuable in this day and age?

Communication is unstoppable. Initially, recruiters were the oil in the industry. Today, it is social media. When recruiters harness social media, they have the ability to become the oil again.

A hurdle to this is the commonly accepted thinking that Facebook and Twitter are a disruption to productivity. This is like thinking the world is flat.

Why? Because 33% of all people in 2011 found their next role via Facebook. Can you imagine being in one of the largest global recruiting companies and banning Facebook, the world’s largest social network where a third of all people find jobs? As a business model that creates networks and owns the right of introduction, you need to be at the nexus points be it on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Myspace, YouTube, LinkedIn, etc.

Our philosophy behind social media recruiting is to own the voice, create brand ambassadors, and use and live in all things social. Communication is unstoppable. As a recruiter you’d better be where it is happening.

You say the “best of the best” aren’t actually on LinkedIn. Where should recruiters be looking instead?

Approximately 10% of the workforce is looking for work at any one time. The best of the best are normally in the passive 90% working and being promoted throughout their organization due to their excellence. There is no need to publicly display their position or needs. Most of these candidates are not on LinkedIn, and if they are, they do not log in regularly or respond to messages. They have no need.

You are not representing unique candidates to your client if you trawl LinkedIn. VonChurch actively builds bridges into the social market via our sponsorships, community manager and our social presence. We wish to represent candidates who are not easily found in the public domain. That is the huge added value for our clients.

What advice do you have for other recruiters looking to stay updated with digital trends while being true to their industry needs?

My advice is to gain a respected social voice in your chosen area. For example, if you are in the ERP recruiting space, bring unique ERP information to the table. Once you are recognized as a good source of information, you gain respect and followers. You are then building the Holy Grail community. What you wish to do with this community is up to you.

If you are niche and a chosen player in one market, you should have so much industry information at your fingertips that your voice will be quickly recognized. Make a delivery strategy and combine that with digital visualization for your staff. For example, if you tweet and it disappears into cyberspace, then you do not gain any recognition. By working on data visualization, you shall gain instant gratification. For example, at VonChurch, we have a board built showing our tweets.

This can help your staff stay motivated to go social. Combine that with your industry expertise, and you should be able to gain a decent strategy and presence.

What’s the best way for recruiters to integrate social media recruiting with other traditional methods?

If you are a traditional recruiter, the social aspect is likely irrelevant to you. If you wish to investigate the possibilities of incorporating social, there isn’t a blueprint to follow. You have to work with what is best for your organization.

For example:

  • Do you trust and respect all of your staff’s views? If so, then look to install TweetDeck on everyone’s desktop. Let’s all tweet and post.
  • Do you wish to gain tight control? Look to hire a community manager to control the voice.
  • Do you have control over your database? Look to build a social strategy direct from your database.

You have to chop and change things to really be able to work out what is good and available to you. Here at VonChurch, everyone is encouraged to be social. The community manager is our catalyst. This position is there not to control but encourage and explore more opportunities for us.