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If You Can Only Go to 1: ERE’s #socialrecruiting summit

Kerry Noone, marketing communications manager at Sodexo’s Talent Acquisition Group, is among the dozens of great presenters at ERE’s #socialrecruiting summit in New York on Nov. 16, which is our featured event this month. SmartBrief on Workforce Senior Editor Mary Ellen Slayter recently spoke with Kerry about how employers can use social media to attract the best workers. An edited transcript of that conversation follows.

MARY ELLEN: A recent survey of SmartBrief on Workforce readers found that only 28% of their employers had even tried using social media for recruiting. What are they missing?

KERRY: Companies that are not using Social Media for recruiting are missing out on the opportunity to connect with candidates on a level that is new and exciting. They are missing out on the opportunity to improve their candidate experience and an opportunity for employment branding. Social media is mutually beneficial for employers and candidates. In addition to improving the candidate experience by connecting them with real people who can answer their questions, it allows the employer an opportunity to share with candidates their culture. Because our social media approach is so personal, it allows us to show candidates what it is really like to work for the company through real stories by real people. The easier we make it for candidates to connect with us through social networking sites the more successful we will be with our social recruiting, which is one of the reasons we created a “Network With Us” page on our career site. We want candidates to reach out to us. What the candidate chooses to do with these resources is the bigger picture of social media marketing.

What has been the biggest challenge for Sodexo in incorporating social media into its recruiting strategy? How did you overcome it?

When an organization decides to create a social media strategy for branding or recruiting, it’s important to consider the risks. Our strategy has always been to create a very open, honest, and responsive community. But as a publicly traded company, there are issues we are unable to discuss legally and we clearly state this on our social spaces. In an effort to achieve the open, honest, responsive community we’ve made a conscious decision to allow virtually any discussion, positive or negative, as long as it isn’t offensive and is related to the culture and experience of working for Sodexo. As a result, there has been nothing but positive feedback and positive results both internally and externally. Our candidates are reaching out to let us know how much they appreciate the additional access to our recruiters, and how much easier they have found the hiring process with us.

The notion of ROI with social media gives a lot of people anxiety. How do you judge the success of your efforts in social media?

How do you measure success? That is the million-dollar question, isn’t it? For me, the quote below from a recent candidate sums up the success of our social media efforts.

“I really appreciate all your help in the last couple of months. I’m used to replied e-mails containing automatic responses saying they don’t have any available positions. Just to have someone that replies and is generally interested in helping you obtain employment throughout company is a huge help. Either way I’ll send you an email in a couple of weeks to let you know how things are progressing.”

Of course, the ultimate goal of any recruitment strategy is to generate candidates and hires and we have several examples where social media has played an integral role in identifying and/or attracting a recent hire. If there is a number to track, we track it. We look at the number of Facebook members, LinkedIn group members, Twitter followers, YouTube video views, returning and unique visitors to our blog, click throughs on the links, trendlines, etc. We set out to create positive experiences for our candidates through Social Media marketing, which in turn has helped us to strengthen our employment brand and drive traffic to our Careers Web site. After we started using social media marketing, we more than tripled traffic to our career site and these tools have helped us reduce our investment and reliance on job boards.

We also look at the interactions and discussions within the groups. Once we started using social networking sites to connect with people, it didn’t take long before we started to build relationships with potential candidates. If you are familiar with the Sodexo Careers Facebook page, you’ll see we are talking to candidates every day. Our recruiters have embraced social media in their jobs as recruiters. Without them we would not be actively “talking” with candidates across the country about their career opportunities on Facebook, Linkedin, our blog, and on Twitter. Our social media marketing has become a valuable online resource for candidates across the country seeking more information about Sodexo and for employees around the world with the desire to connect with their colleagues.