Last September, I had a thought-provoking meeting with a representative of what I call a “social recruiting company”. I use this expression because this company—which I will refer to as SRC for convenience—exploits a social media-like communication approach to implement an innovative and ingenious business model. By the way, it was clear from the start that clever communication was at the heart of the company, as its representative’s business card described his position as “Strategic Development Specialist”; thirty years ago, the same role would have sounded less fancy, such as “Sales Representative” or something like that.

That being said, the story of this company, which is still a start-up to date, is very interesting because it is emblematic of how new businesses are born and develop in the Internet era. At the beginning, the project was born as a web-based community of and for university students. It was created to share useful information about Italian universities and their courses. For example, users could share notes they took during the classes and they could talk about their experience about a specific exam. The community grew up pretty fast and today it exceeds 300,000 individuals, including students and recent graduates. A few years ago, the founders of the community decided to turn it into a real company. Nowadays, it still works as a free platform for the students—who access the platform through a mobile app—but it also sells recruiting services to companies. The way the platform sells such services is the most captivating aspect of the whole thing. Once you understand how the platform works, you realize that we are witnessing a sort of inversion of roles in regards to the recruiting process. Before Generation Y, applicants looking for a job were supposed to promote their resumes. In modern terms, we would say that they needed to foster their personal brands. However, when it comes to recruiting people for qualified positions, the situation is reversed today: business organizations in general also have to promote their brands in order to appear attractive to the eyes of the applicants—this activity is called employer branding. Promoting the employers’ image within the community is the company’s core business.

Basically, the company sells advertising spaces where the employers can publish their open positions, such as jobs, internships, apprenticeships, etc. Just like a web search engine that sorts the results according to your profile, these positions are shown to the users on the basis of a smart algorithm that profiles the students. Therefore, the more a position matches the user’s profile, the more visible it will be to that user. But making a student with the right characteristics see your positions is just half the work: the other half is about the student’s next move. Besides the traditional aspects of the position itself—job description, salary, working time, etc.—, today’s students and new graduates evaluate the company in its entirety to decide if it’s worth applying. Factors such as corporate social responsibility, working environment, the average age of employees, etc. are carefully taken into account because they are given much thought[1]. And these factors—which form the employer brand—are illustrated and emphasized in a specific area within the platform. So you can understand why the contents and the organization of this area are crucial for an employer to create a good reputation and, thus, to succeed in recruiting young people.

The importance of these contents is such that additional specific services can be purchased as well. Based on what I said earlier, it is clear that communicating its brand effectively is of utmost importance for the employer. In this regard, SRC’s team of Social Media Specialists/Strategists is able to provide high added value services. They know, in fact, how to implement an effective style of communication addressing young candidates, namely the targets of this message. This is nothing more that a modern, sophisticated form of advertising. Deciding which aspects of the company to stress, the selection of the words to use, how to leverage images and media contents are all examples of skills that the employer needs to master in order to produce effective communication and, ultimately, an attractive brand to the eyes of young talents. If properly implemented, as a whole this approach is a form of inbound marketing, which is defined as

a strategy that focuses on attracting customers, or leads, via company-created Internet content, thereby having potential customers come to the company rather than marketers vying for their attention

source: https://searchcrm.techtarget.com/definition/inbound-marketing

Recruiting has become officially a form of commercial transaction. And the candidates often play the role of unaware customers.


Notes

[1] For baby boomers and Gen Xers this may sound unbelievable, but Millennials and digital natives consider some of these factors even more important than the salary. See also this previous post.

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