Fri, Jun 24, 2011
Carrie Corbin knows a thing or two about the value of networking. After all, as Associate Director of Talent Acquisition for AT&T, her team’s responsible for the recruiting and talent selection strategy of a venerable global employer where connections are both the brand and the bottom line.
But for Corbin, and AT&T, keeping connected means keeping up with the changing evolution of technology and consumer demand, something that’s evident in AT&T’s talent acquisition strategies.
MonsterThinking spoke with Corbin about the Social Media ‘Bootcamp’ she’ll be presenting with Jessica Miller-Merrill on Sunday, June 27 at SHRM 2011, how social fits into AT&T’s bigger talent picture, and what lessons HR can learn from her own experiences on the front lines of the war for talent.
Carrie Corbin: One of the things we’ve realized over the past few years when speaking with a recruiting audience is that they’re fundamentally different from our HR audience in quite a few areas, particularly when it comes to social media.
To that end, many traditional HR professionals are still wary of social media. They still view it as a compliance, background check and/or a policy issue, so they haven’t really embraced or looked critically at how they can help drive their business and function forward, strategically, by integrating social media.
The goal of the boot camp is to speak, and to speak frankly, to our HR audience. We want to show exactly why social media is important to HR and how it can be used effectively. We’ve talked to a lot of HR people and found that many don’t even have a Twitter account, may not have a personal Facebook account, don’t manage a company page, so it’s really going to go one-on-one to teach the fundamentals of social media .
One thing companies should remember is the conversation is happening whether you participate or not. A “no” in conversation is better than no conversation.Just as social awareness is important from a company brand perspective, it’s just as important when it comes to what job seekers, as well as employees, say, read, and believe about your organization as an employer.
The hope is that once we’re done, they’ll really have a good foundation to build on. SHRM’s a great place to start building out their networks and begin engaging with other HR professionals, so we hope to set the stage for the rest of the conference, and beyond.
MonsterThinking: You mentioned that there’s a very different approach in the way that HR and recruiting approach and utilize social media. What evidence do you see of this divide?
Carrie Corbin: The interesting thing is that both myself and [co-presenter] Jessica Miller-Merrill have more of a generalist background, so we’ve really sat on both sides of the fence. As we continue our conversation with our counterparts in both HR and recruiting, what we hear is that there’s a very definite theme, a clearly defined trend, that seems to surface any time you have that conversation about “what is social media?” and “what does it mean?”
Recruiters for years have typically differentiated themselves from the rest of HR, and even within recruiting, there seems to be two camps. There are those who think of themselves as a purely a recruiter and often, more along the lines of salesperson, and they traditionally have tried to differentiate, or even disown, their association with HR.
Then, there’s the second group, who really sees recruiting as their way into the HR field. They have a real passion for the work and a true desire to broaden their perspectives. It’s important that both camps of recruiters, however, understand that HR as a whole, at least from a generalist perspective, has direct oversight and responsibility for recruiting and talent strategy.
MonsterThinking: What do you think HR generalists might be able to learn from their recruiting counterparts when it comes to social media?
Recruiters can really make an impact educating their HR counterparts on the impact and benefits of social media. They can help use real results to show other angles apart from the ‘risk’ side that many HR professionals are concerned about, and demonstrate the real, tangible benefits of using social media in talent acquisition.
Beyond recruiting, though, it’s important for HR to start looking at the benefits of adopting social networks and technologies for not only how they impact recruitment of external candidates, but also how they can make a real impact inside the company with social. There are tremendous opportunities for employee engagement, and many platforms to connect and communicate with your current employees.
Social media is a great way to build your employment brand, and there’s no better way to do that then to identify and engage with current employees as brand ambassadors. It’s very easy to do that with social, and really begin training them as ambassadors, and responsible social media users, even during on boarding.
MonsterThinking: What do you think are the biggest barriers for entry still remaining for HR professionals on social media, and how do you think those obstacles can finally be overcome?
Carrie Corbin: The biggest barrier is almost always going to be, simply, resources and time management. In some organizations, HR is typically perceived as overhead, which means the function is historically understaffed. When it comes to really prioritizing their work and how it fits within the larger organization, social media’s still one of those things, particularly in smaller organizations, that’s still sometimes looked at as a “nice to have” instead of a ‘must-have.’
The other barrier is, frankly, the fear of the unknown. That extends to concerns about things like having enough resources, or compliance issues, or exposure to employment litigation.
Of course, it’s not just HR professionals that have these concerns; there are a lot of small businesses in general that aren’t involved in social. They don’t take the time to learn it or understand it and get involved with it. Therefore, they see it as just a fad, or something that’s not really ‘mission critical’ when it comes to day-to-day work.
Ultimately, you’ve got to have a call to action for social, and that’s where companies of all sizes struggle. Even within a recruiting organization, talent acquisition professionals have to really look at what they’re trying to accomplish with social media.
Organizations often focus on hard numbers, how much resources, time, dollars and manpower they should be putting into managing a brand and engaging in social media. At the end of the day, the questions always center around the return on investment. The only way to do that is to benchmark quantifiable objectives that align with larger business goals and objectives.
What is important to keep in mind is establishing appropriate metrics with your goals is the key. If you want to measure convenience in speeding up real-time communications with job seekers or perhaps even amongst employees with each other, then do. But measure something. Know your goals.