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Some thoughts on corporate recruitment blogging

posted by Alex Hens
14 May 2009

I recently contributed the following to an ONREC magazine article (if/when I spot it online I'll add the link here too):

How widespread / popular are recruiting blogs now?

As companies try and find an authentic voice for their employer brand (as well as be seen to be deploying web2.0 facilities) we’ll only see more of them. As for how popular they are – I think they’re popular with the business deploying one in the first instance because it makes them feel cool and “down with the new web” and then they realise how much work it is to keep one up, so the popularity (certainly amongst those targeted with producing content) wanes. From a candidate’s perspective I think they’re popular as a reference point when they are considering an employment proposition, it will generally give you a good indication of at least how the business perceives itself – but there are very few, if any, examples of particularly engaging corporate Recruiting Blogs, blogs that you’d read up on all the time, so in that sense they still have a long way to go (or at least the people contributing to and managing them do).

Do you think recruiting blogs have much influence?(Any examples of companies that have done it well?)

They can have – both good & bad. One of the better blogs I’ve come across is the PwC blog, because if nothing else they’re really trying. I think they’re missing some pretty fundamental tricks with it, not least by not having a single page where you can read all recent comments & posts rather than hard categorising them, but those contributing clearly try their best to keep it up to date and personal, and those managing it I’m guessing work hard to keep them motivated and contributing (although a number of contributors haven't for quite some time). An employee blog isn’t about setting the world alight, but rather an efficient way of showing a human face – a genuine, authentic voice for the employer brand. If you put yourself in the shoes of someone looking for a job – they will have preconceptions about Company X & Company Y, some good, some mixed, some maybe bad. The Corporate line that you’ll see trotted out on the careers site will in truth do little to influence this as everyone knows that the messaging is carefully crafted to sound alluring, but if there’s a blog that sounds honest (whether it be recruitment specific or not) and conveys real personality then all of sudden you have an insight into what that corporate personality really is, what it’s really like to work there. Just having an open blog is a statement in itself.

What are the possible benefits and risks for a company considering a recruiting blog?

You can really differentiate yourself from the competition. A blog should represent a voice that is more human, more believable and through that offers the best chance to enforce positive messages about your employment proposition and the opportunity to make people at the very least question any negative preconceptions they may have. But blogging is not easy – for many individuals and for many corporate cultures. Blogging takes quite a bit of time, and after you’ve let lose all your “pent up” stories, how do you keep up the writing about day to day life? And for many businesses then there’s a real nervousness about letting people have their say, which waters down any commentary to the degree where it’s too dull to bother reading and too demotivating to have your thoughts picked apart to bother writing. In the worst instances there’s the fear of whether what you’re saying is going to be career limiting – do you go down the ‘brown nose’ route and ruin your personal brand/integrity or say what you think and risk getting a stop put on your career progress? Fears that will lead to most people just refusing to contribute. But in my opinion the worst risk of all in blogging is for the business that launches a blog and then lets it fall into disuse. Coming across a website that has a blog but no updates for the past 6weeks or more sends a louder message about that company’s corporate culture than not having one at all. And I’m afraid many many companies have been guilty of this (particularly in the graduate space where websites with blogs were the hot thing to have from about 2 years ago onwards) and it shows the company as the kind of place where they pick up an idea without thinking about how to execute and sustain it.

Do you think recruiting blogs are here to stay? How do you see them developing in the future?

I think there’ll be more of them as companies grow up to realise what the new web reality is all about, namely that there are conversations going on about them whether they like it or not, so do they want to get involved and direct, influence or contribute to those conversations or just hope they can still exist within a walled garden? The problem with the latter being that it becomes ever harder to get people into your garden when they have no idea what it’s really like. Blogging is a great way to engage candidates, employees and customers – or at the very least show them your human face. Blogging ensures that your site is kept current, even if the rest of the ‘static’ content lags a little. Blogs are loved by search engines and so can see good returns in terms of SEO. Blogs reflect a level of employer brand integrity that you simply can’t generate in any other way on the corporate careers site. But blogging is no quick fix, not some simple but sexy web2.0 bolt on to your corporate career site, nor should it be treated as a cheap way to manage a companies PR. It needs buy in from the senior management and investment of time and belief – belief in your brand, belief in your employees: belief in your true Employer Brand.