When it comes to finding new ways to recruit – while keeping costs down (bonus!), employers and recruiting firms might want to take a cue from some companies’ advertising departments. Take for instance, Vail Resorts, which was recently featured in this AdAge digital report. In the video, Vail CEO Rob Katz describes how the ski resort cut its advertising spend by 89 percent to focus almost exclusively on in-house marketing efforts using social media.
Listening to Katz speak, I couldn’t help but draw parallels between how Vail was using social media to draw customers, and how any other company might use the same tactics to recruit and engage employees.
For one thing, just as many companies have had to look for ways to cut back on recruiting costs, Vail Resorts had to find ways to cut costs for its marketing and advertising efforts, and they did it largely through using social media. Here are three more takeaways from Katz’s story, and the lessons they hold for recruiters and hiring managers:
- The Company Embraced Video to Differentiate Its Brand. Vail really wanted to show how a ski vacation was unlike any other vacation consumers would experience. Recognizing how easy and inexpensive it now is to distribute video over email and social sites, Vail started producing videos to entice potential customers and get them excited about the product. This same tactic works for companies looking to differentiate their employment brand and excite potential employees about the prospect of working at their company. Google already does this with its YouTube channel, which houses employee testimonials and “day in the life” videos, while staffing firm Spherion goes a slightly different route with its Web series, “The Temp Life,” a mock soap opera that utilizes humor to engage job seekers and spread buzz about the employment brand. More recently, Liz Claiborne began taking a similar approach, creating recruitment videos in the style of the popular reality series “Project Runway.”
- It Found an Opportunity to Quickly Meet Its Audience’s Needs. Before, when Vail was advertising in magazines, the company had to anticipate what its customers would want (and where the economy would be) six months in advance; now with social media, Vail can easily shape its advertising and marketing efforts to meet constantly changing consumer demands. By the same token, employers and staffing are at an advantage when they’re in a position to immediately listen and respond to comments, questions or complaints about issues involving anything from recruiting practices to corporate culture. For example, Facebook walls often provide a platform for job seekers to ask questions about – and current employees to vouch for – working at companies like Ernst&Young, Starbucks and Taco Bell, all of whom have popular careers pages on the site. Zappos takes advantage of Twitter’s real-time search feature to find job seekers who want to work for the company and connect with them through @ replies. The ease and timeliness with which employees and job seekers can connect through social sites like Facebook and Twitter creates a better candidate experience, in turn making for a stronger employment brand. (On another end, social media also helps companies respond immediately to criticism about the brand and/or more controversial news, such as when Zappos’ CEO Tony Hsieh used his blog to immediately address questions and concerns when the company had to impose layoffs last year.)
- It Varied Its Efforts With Traditional Advertising Methods. Despite Vail’s success using social sites to promote its product and increase traffic, the company knew not to abandon the tried-and-true means it had used to generate customers – with traditional avenues like newspaper advertising, search engine marketing, and online banner ads. At the same time, while social media is a great way to target and attract employees, it is important that recruiters and hiring managers think of social media as an enhancement to – not a replacement for – more traditional recruiting means.