How SAP Used Facebook to Find 3 Hires in 48 HoursJanuary 23, 2014 by Erin Osterhaus
If you’ve spent any time in the human resources blogosphere, you’ve probably heard about the power of social recruiting. Sure, there are 259 million users on LinkedIn, about 645 million Twitter users and well over a billion individuals on Facebook. But how are recruiters supposed to leverage these massive social networks to fill positions?
Will Staney, director of recruiting for strategic programs at the HR software giant SAP—previously SuccessFactors—is a man with answers. As co-founder of a well-known Facebook group here in Austin, Texas, Austin Digital Jobs, he’s been able to find three hires in 48 hours (on three separate occasions) using only social recruiting tactics. I sat down with Staney to see how he was able to find these hires so quickly, and to learn which of his tactics other recruiters can add to their repertoire to build their own talent pipelines.
Create Your Own Facebook Group of Qualified Professionals
In 2009, Staney met Lani Rosales (who runs AGBeat), at a monthly happy hour held for those working in digital and social media in Austin. Many of the group’s members followed each other on Twitter, and they took their monthly happy hour gatherings as a chance to meet face-to-face and discuss their professional goals.
Through the course of these discussions, Staney and Rosales realized that quite a few members were looking for jobs. So Rosales came up with the idea to start a Facebook group to help those job seekers connect with employers. “At first it was just about 50 of us from this group,” Staney says, “and it grew organically by inviting other friends who were [in the market for a job].”
The idea, it turns out, was a good one: the group is now on the cusp of 5,000 members. All are professionals either based in or relocating to Austin for some sort of digital job.
Much of the group’s success can be attributed to its very active member base. Whenever a new job seeker joins the group, current members introduce them to relevant recruiters (i.e. recruiters who work in the job seeker’s industry), and provide suggestions on where to look for relevant jobs.
It was through this group that Staney was able to find some of his best hires, and fast. According to Staney, he’s used the group to source a community manager three times, and two of those times he hired the same person—once while he was working at VMWare, and once while working at SAP (after the candidate’s contract at VMWare expired). Each time he found his new hire within 48 hours of posting in the group. That’s an impressive statistic, considering the average time to hire from job post to job offer is 29 days.
He attributes this type of success to the close-knit, real-life nature of the connections in the group. Because everybody in the group is invited by a friend, everyone is connected much more closely than, say, on a job board.
“It’s really the epitome of crowdsourced recruiting,” Staney says. “It’s just a matter of leveraging those closer-knit connections to find people they know.”
Create Facebook Lists to Target Relevant Candidates
Even if you don’t have a Facebook group dedicated to sourcing hires in your industry, you can still narrow down the audience you want to target by creating lists in Facebook. Staney creates lists of candidates for different types of positions—for instance, marketing candidates, software developer candidates and sales candidates. Then, he says, “When I have a certain type of position, I just post it to people in the particular groups it’s relevant for.”
By targeting his Facebook contacts in this way, Staney says relevant connections are much more likely to see the post. “If I just did a public Facebook post, only about 10 to 20, maybe 30 percent of my followers [would] see it. But if I specifically target a group of people, the Edgerank algorithm on Facebook will pretty much ensure that they see it.”
This approach brings the benefit all recruiters hope for: highly qualified candidates. While Staney says he receives a much smaller number of applications through his social media posts, the conversion rates of these posts are two or three times higher than any other source of hires. That means the people who see his posts and actually click through to read the job description are twice as likely to apply—because the posting was relevant to them.
Attract Talent by Promoting Current Talent: Yourself
While Austin Digital Jobs may be an interconnected group of like-minded professionals, Staney cautions that it is still important for recruiters and hiring managers to post content that will engage members on a regular basis. In other words: the occasional standard job posting won’t get you the candidates you want, no matter how focused your group may be.
“When I post on social, I make sure it’s either a blog or video—something more conversational and engaging,” Staney says. “It’s [also] really important to brand myself out there—who I am as a manager—and to share what I love about my job because [that] attracts talent as well.”
For example, when he was looking a for a content producer, Staney created an entry on his personal blog. Within his post, he wrote a description in a conversational tone and included a funny graphic about the candidate’s role. When he posted the job to Facebook, he embedded a video SAP had created using interviews with current employees in order to show what SAP’s culture was like.
Staney is active on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Tumblr, and he regularly shares blog posts, articles and videos illustrating why he loves his job on all of them. His consistent activity has helped him grow a following of thousands of potential applicants. This is a large pool from which to both source active job seekers and find passive candidates. It’s a strategy he highly recommends all hiring managers implement to boost application rates to their open positions.
Use Social Media to Enhance Old-School Recruiting Tactics
While some have predicted the end of traditional recruiting tactics (emailing, calling and in-person interviewing) as social recruiting becomes more popular, Staney wholeheartedly disagrees. Instead, he sees social as a way to enhance these traditional methods.
For example, Staney says he once did a Facebook search for sales professionals in San Francisco. He returned a huge list of potential candidates, and happened to be connected to the top five or ten through his friends in Austin. “That’s what’s great about Facebook and other social networks,” he says, “They reveal those real-life connections that you wouldn’t know about.”
So Staney called one of these prospects, mentioning that they both knew his friend Cat. He also let it drop that Cat had said the potential candidate might be looking for a new position. The candidate took his call, and applied for the job.
By leveraging real-life connections that he’s uncovered through social networks, Staney has never had anybody hang up on him. “When you know someone, you have a connection,” he says. “You can start the conversation with: ‘What a small world! You know my friend Cat.’ It really gets the conversation going.”
“Social recruiting” has been a buzzword in the recruiting world for quite some time, and Staney only sees the use of social increasing in the coming year. But, he says, “I think it will become easier. When we first started getting into social recruiting, it was overwhelming and time-consuming. All the tools that were piecemeal in the past are now converging, making it easier for recruiters to be social.”
However, Staney warns that recruiters shouldn’t sit on their laurels just because they now have tools to streamline their social recruiting efforts. Instead, they should take the opportunity to expand their reach to other networks. “Don’t put all your eggs in one social media basket,” he advises.
By using social media to create and foster real-life connections, Staney has been able to find and hire highly qualified members of his team very quickly. With social media, it’s now easier than ever to find common friends and make connections. And the world is indeed very small. After conducting my own cursory Facebook search, I found that Staney and I have a first-degree connection: his wife was a college classmate of mine.