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Online Reputation – 2009′s Recruiting Strategy

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2008 Crossroad Decisions
2008 Crossroad Decisions

It was a VERY busy 2008.  I barely had a moment to catch my breath.  This time last year, I was in one client meeting after another reviewing and analyzing what constitutes a Web 2.0 experience for candidates.  We were challenging our clients to take a leap into Social Web experiences they could not imagine.

I shared the almost apocalyptic  “Did You Know”, which is now in it’s 4th or 5th version…I can’t keep up with all the variations.  This expansive overview of what corporate recruiters would soon be facing…was often enough to “shift” our conversations away from traditional planning.

We reviewed amazing cutting edge employer initiatives like YouTube Channels that enabled potential candidates to peek inside an organization.  Our examples were pioneers like Cisco with their Career MakeOver and the Deloitte and Touche film festival.

We challenged corporations to embrace the notion of FaceBook fan pages, Corporate Recruiter Blogging, Corporate Social Networks, Virtual Career Fairs, Recruiter On-Line Chat, Enhancing the Job Search user experience and so much more.  Last year was a whirlwind of excitement and  radical change was most certainly coming…it was all very EXCITING!

This year of course is very different.   There’s the obvious reality of severe layoffs within almost every major corporation.  Smaller companies supporting these corporations are just plain closing their doors.  I can no more utter the words, “war on talent.” My clients are holding back the tsunami of applicants hoping to be considered for a janitor’s position.

Don't Delete The Relationship
Don't Delete The Relationship

Okay…so what’s on the minds of most Talent Leaders who are tasked with planning for…maybe not today…but the future?  I’m hoping they’re paying close attention to the Online Reputation.  This is important simply because of the intense challenges facing our economy today.  If you’re in the midst of that lay-off…as the employer are you thinking about that pink-slipped employee’s perception of the Employer Brand?

I’ve personally lived through mergers, “re-deployments”, downsizing, its hard!  It’s especially hard when you’re one of those left standing.  When asked to take up the extra burden of work still left to carry, regardless of how few are left to deliver it.  MSNBC’s recent on-line article “Employers Putting The Squeeze On Workers” made note of some very interesting statistics:

Cost-cutting measures
In the last six months, 15 percent of employers implemented salary reductions, without a requisite reduction in hours, according to a recent poll by the Society for Human Resource Management. The survey also found that 24 percent were likely to do the same in the next half of the year.

That’s on top of other cuts already made in the last six months. The study found:

  • 78 percent of surveyed employers reduced employee health care coverage and 22 percent froze employee health care coverage.
  • 72 percent reduced, 24 percent froze and 3 percent completely eliminated health care coverage for spouses/dependents.
  • 47 percent reduced, 32 percent froze and 21 percent completely eliminated an employer match in a defined contribution retirement savings plan.
  • 44 percent reduced paid time off.

The fear of losing a job is making many workers more accepting of a host of cost-cutting measures in the workplace.

Major corporations are fully embracing the importance of monitoring and influencing the corporate online reputation from the consumer brand perspective.   Companies like Dell, Best Buy, Carnival Cruise Lines, are participating in FaceBook, Twitter, on-line chat, and many other forms of social web behavior .  The ideal here of course is to tap into the live stream of conscience thought around brand loyalty.

With the same approach top of mind…we see corporations  connecting with potential candidate communities.  Employers like AT&T, IBM, and HCA to name just a few are feeding jobs into Twitter utilizing it as a sourcing engine. I’ve still not seen…(I want someone to point out to me what I’m missing) a site dedicated to the realities of the lay-off.  I want to see an employer who’s actively engaging employees who are struggling with the lay-off, the reduced work schedule, reduced pay  – you name it – in candid conversations, courageous enough to put themselves out there.  I’m confident that their are “Off-Boarding” sites that ease the transition for employees, my clients are deploying them.

Just like the challenges we threw out in 2008 to shift the recruitment planning thinking…I’m throwing out a challenge to corporations for 2009 and beyond.  This challenge is to engage with the exiting employee due to lay-off…stay connected…remain in the relationship.  I challenge “a” corporation to put themselves out there open to the feedback from employees left standing under the crushing weight of workloads and deadlines.  Build communitity outside of your ATS, your Careers WebSite, the “sourcing engine”  – change the relationship between Employer and Employee forever.  Be that company that really leads the way in delivering on the promise of the Employer of First Choice Brand.

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