Archive for September, 2007

Facebook and recruitment - a very interesting proposition

Friday, September 14th, 2007

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At last year’s HRINZ conference, a presenter asked the packed auditorium if anyone was a member of a social networking site like MySpace and a few hands went up.   I heard murmurs in the audience saying “social what?” “My what Space?”  Well, what a difference a year makes.  I know for a fact that many of last year’s conference participants have since joined up to one or both of two popular social networking sites in NZ, Bebo and Facebook.  For those that haven’t joined themselves their offspring are most likely “WEBsessed”, spending hours on these sites.  Chances are the remainder will probably receive invites from long lost friends overseas, urging them to join.

To those that have no idea what a social networking site is, in a nutshell (borrowing words from a range of sources and commentators), it is a website that allows users to set up an online and uniquely branded profile about themselves and interact with other users on the site (eg via chat, messaging, email, video, voice chat, file sharing, blogging, discussion groups) becoming digital “friends” and sharing their lives.  These online profiles often contain photographs or video of the person and their friends, as well as a list of their likes, dislikes and other personality traits. 

I have done a lot of research looking into visitor rates, hits, sign-ups etc of the most popular sites amongst New Zealanders and my head is spinning.  I don’t know who to believe to be honest, as a lot depends on what exactly is being measured.  Bebo has probably been the most popular among the Gen Y set in NZ, but Facebook has really taken off since about July this year, with about 1,000 new sign-ups from kiwis (based in NZ and overseas) per day.  I have read the words “Facebook is sooo now” on quite a lot of Bebo and Facebook member profiles.  I’m also noticing that Facebook seems to be picking up a wider age demographic, following a similar trend to MySpace where more than half of its visitors are now over 35 years old.  You may have even heard of the recently-launched and locally-developed newcomer iYomu, with its tag-line ”Social Networking for Grown Ups” - I would be interested if you feel it passes the “Mum test”.  I have heaps of problems remembering the spelling of the domain name.

Why the focus on Facebook you may ask?

I have used Bebo, MySpace, Facebook, Trade Me’s Oldfriends, and for more business type purposes, LinkedIn and Ning.  On all of these you can build online communities and private or open networks.  They all have their purpose and unique advantages.

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The things in Facebook’s favour are:

1) A large and growing membership base.  As a consequence Facebook is a marketer’s dream.

2) Community. The ease of being able to expand your community through joining a range of Networks (eg New Zealand) and Groups (eg All Blacks will win the 2007 Rugby World Cup This Year in France).

In a recruitment context, the Ernst & Young Careers group is a great example of an employer building a “talent community”.  With a membership of  10,230, members can openly pose employment-related questions to Ernst & Young and the employer can keep members up to date with relevant information (either in words, images or video).  “Talent pools” are so 2006! 

And now a lot of other organisations are branding themselves to jobseekers in Facebook, each taking a slightly different approach…

 

3) Facebook “Applications“. This is where Facebook has shown true genius.  Bored of just chatting to your online friends?  Then why not challenge them to a game of scrabble, find new “friends” in your wider network who are most like you in terms of likes and hates etc, get the attention of others by either directly or anonymously applying a range of actions (eg “poke”, “hug”, trading goods) or give them an e-gift.  In May 2007, Facebook opened things right up by allowing anybody to create applications that interact with core Facebook features.  As a result, about 3,500 are being launched each day.  Not all of them are great and many have problems loading etc.  Some application developers will become very rich from Facebook, especially if they can work out how to get Facebook members to part with their money (a pay per click model seems the way to go), but the majority I predict will be disappointed with their hope of making a quick buck.  Regardless, Facebook is fast developing into an operating system / platform in its own right.

I have been watching with interest the launch of a range of recruitment-related applications.  I’m currently reviewing many of these, and I feel some of the established stand-alone products (eg job boards, referral sites) suddenly look so much better and more relevant within the Facebook platform.  Seek hasn’t developed an application but they are running targeted advertising to the NZ network within Facebook.

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Implications?  The future?

Will Facebook replace stand-alone corporate careers sites and job boards?  Quite possibly!  It makes sense for a jobseeker to find a job within the Facebook platform rather than being flicked off to external sites.  There is a lot of press warning jobseekers not to divulge personal info on Facebook, highlighting that employers will use any negative info in their selection decisions.  This is a subject for another post.  I believe we will see other social networking sites emulating Facebook’s Application model. 

All up, recruitment just got a whole lot more interesting for jobsekeers, employers and recruiters.

Paul Jacobs
Engage

Corporate careers sites - things are on the up in NZ

Wednesday, September 12th, 2007

 

Just as a lot of recruitment advertising (print and online) is quite blah and not very engaging, many NZ corporate careers sites have been tarred with the same ugly brush.  Of course, career sites need to be functional and all, but many seem to have been designed with little or no consideration of the jobseeker.  At the same time the marketing department is designing glossy brochures and cool online experiences for clients.  The careers sites in many organisations look quite transactional with little emphasis on selling the merits as an employer or trying to entice ’suitable’ jobseekers to apply. In fact, on some careers sites the ‘benefits of working with us’ section reads like it has been written by a jaded and very depressed HR person.  There is a lost opportunity for HR to work directly with the IT, marketing and communications departments.  When there has been a cross-functional team approach, HR adds a lot of value through defining and communicating the organisation’s Employee Value Proposition (EVP) and the behavioural profiles of the ideal jobseeker. 

The news hasn’t been all depressing in NZ by any means.  Some public sector employers like the NZ Defence Force (eg NZ Army) and New Zealand Police have strong branding and some nifty features to ensure there is the right person-role match.  Our iconic brand, Air New Zealand includes a ‘values quiz‘ that goes beyond the “what we are looking for” section on many sites.  The professional services firms seem to go all out each year in their graduate recruitment careers sites / microsites - it has been interesting to see the growing use of emerging media like podcasts and video and I’m sure we will see features like social networking integration, txt/sms integration, RSS feeds, and recruitment blogs in coming years.  These enhancements are taking careers sites from static content to interactive and engaging.

Last month the launch of The Warehouse’s new careers site lifted the game on the NZ scene.  Check it out!  It doesn’t contain all the features listed above, but it has definitely been designed with the jobseeker in mind.

In coming months we will examine what leading practice looks like when it comes to careers sites.  We will share with you some great looking initiatives being launched overseas.  Please let us know if you come across any notable careers sites and/or features in NZ or further afield.

Paul Jacobs
Engage