Blogging for Candidates 101: Nuts and Bolts
A “blog” is simply an internet (web) log. Blogs are created for personal or professional use. They may promote a product or service, or merely serve as a personal online journal. There are currently just over four million blogs today, with a new blog born every seven seconds.
The problem of cocooning candidates
Today, we work and live in an era of heightened cynicism and secrecy. Isn’t it much harder than it used to be to call into a company and attempt to speak with a candidate by telephone? Central voice mail systems have grown more sophisticated and guarded. And even when recruiters are able to finally speak with an actual live person, it’s often a reluctant administrative assistant or receptionist. Finally, if you are fortunate enough to be transferred to your candidate, more often than not you are greeted with that person’s individual voice mail recording. It has become de facto practice by many professionals today to simply leave their “do not disturb” function turned on for most of the work day. Later, they will screen and return external calls at their discretion.
To address these changes, in recent years legitimate e-mail and web site marketing was considered a non-threatening (and somewhat successful) way to reach these “cocooning candidates.” These are in fact still viable tools, but there costly learning curves associated with them.
Some recruiters have gone back to launching traditional direct mail campaigns. However, this can be an expensive and time consuming proposition to undertake with regularity. Success may be mixed until you find just the right combination of style and timing.
Moreover, most outreach marketing attempts essentially are competing for a candidate’s attention today. Consider this:
• Only 29% of eligible job seekers visit the “Big Three” (Monster.com, Hotjobs.com, CareerBuilder.com)
• The average consumer is exposed to about 3,000 marketing messages per day.)
• 85% of people conducting research are using the internet.)
What can blogging do for you?
Recruiters (or researchers) who seek candidates for open positions, or to profile candidate requirements for the purpose of building a network pipeline, there are two ways we can use blogs:
(1) The first way is to start your own blog and attract top talent to your blog site. This is not an overnight marketing cure-all, and it will require some patience. But cultivating a readership of professionals in your niche field is a highly effective means of reaching candidates who would have never otherwise learned about your career openings. The key to making this work is to learn to attract a specialized readership to your blog, just like a beacon in the night. You don’t need millions of readers…Just hundreds of the right readers.
(2) The second approach is to search other existing blogs and develop contacts and relationships. This is a perfectly legitimate means of networking, as any internet page is essentially public domain information. Based on posting activity and interactions you initiate, you can easily develop in-roads and find more candidates in less time.
Let’s talk about both approaches.
You want to start your own blog. Now what?
How much time do I need to spend on my blog? What do I write about?
By their very nature of being near real-time, dynamic logs about life, blogs are frequently published mediums. I publish my blog at least three times per week (sometimes more often if I have more to say).
If you are going to take the time to create an effective blog, and develop a regular reading audience, I suggest blogging at least twice every week.
How do I decide what to blog about?
Who is your audience? What message are you trying to convey? Are you recruiting for new business clients? Looking for joint venture relationships? In need of candidates who are in short supply in your market place? Are you selling products or services, or promoting your company brand?
The first step you should take is to decide on what your intended focus will be. If you write about what’s wrong with our political system one week, then the following week write about outsourcing IT services to India, then in week three prattle on about how beautiful your home town is in the fall, your readership will not feel a sense of community or predictability about you. This completely defeats the purpose of building trust and credibility! You would be better off making cold calls if you continue on this path.
One of my blogs (The Hiring Insider, www.hiringinsider.com) shares tips and tools to help line managers, corporate recruiters, human resource professionals, etc. learn to make better hires faster (or so I hope). Week in and week out, I try to maintain a specific, consistent thread of helpful information that builds upon previous week’s blog entries. However, a new reader should be able to jump in without any trouble at any time, so remember this as you plan your writing agenda. My other blog (http://jobsblog.blogspot.com) provides tips to job seekers in the life sciences field who are confused about who to trust in the pharmaceutical job market, and what practices to engage in and avoid in order to land the best possible job for their skill set.
As you craft your blog entries, constantly think about who, what, why, where and how. Be sure to ask yourself where you are headed over time with your blog topics. Try to stay theme-related.
How do I choose a service to blog on?
There are many services available. For beginners, I recommend using blogger.com (Pyra labs). Google acquired blogger.com in February of 2004 (http://weblog.siliconvalley.com/column/dangillmor/archives/000802.shtml) and is really enhancing its features. It’s also FREE. Yep, you can register for an account in less than ten minutes and be up and blogging. Other great tools include Typepad (http://www.typepad.com/) and Movable Type (http://www.movabletype.org/).
Again, the most important ingredients are publishing good content, and establishing and maintaining a base audience.
However, you aren’t done yet. Now that you’ve come this far, you need to promote your blog and get yourself out of the starting gate.
Begin by submitting your blog to the blog search engines. There are several hundred of these, and they are growing by the day. It is somewhat arbitrary which ones you choose to register with. However, at a minimum, I recommend that you register your site with at least the following:
What if I don’t want my own blog?
If you decide instead that you want to search other blogs to source candidates, you can do any or all of these three steps:
First, search for blogs based on what skill sets you are seeking (Oracle blogs, copywriting blogs, programmer blogs). Secondly, read the blog entries and see who is posting comments. Third, most bloggers have “blog-rolls” on either the left or ride side of the page. These cite other blogs that they like, and are usually related to the subject matter on their own blog. Resourceful recruiters will take advantage of these links and research them as well. You will also find blogs they may like or recommend which are unrelated.
While I generally post relevant blogs, I also try to have a little fun. After all, recruiting is challenging work…Why not take a break and see what Dave Barry is up to? http://weblog.herald.com/column/davebarry/
© Lucia Apollo Shaw, HireWorks, Inc. 2004
HireWorks, Inc. helps small to midsize organizations in the life sciences recruit and retain top talent. http://www.hire-works.com
Visit our blog at http://www.hiringinsider.com
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