Social recruitment strategy case study at Tri-State 2015.

This is a summary of the social recruitment strategy case study made by Rhod Ellis-Jones and Susan Marsenic (General Manager – Human Resources, Vasey RSL Care) at the LASA Tri-State Conference 2015, in Albury on 24 February 2015. Please view the slides as you read this post.

The reality

It is estimated that only 10% of workers are actively looking for a new job. As such, you are probably not one of them! However, if a friend drew your attention to a job that was ‘made for you’, would you consider it? Of course you would.

According to the Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace report, Australian employees are among the most engaged in the world. If you can reach and recruit employees that are made for the job you have created, they will be engaged and productive. Of course the flip side can be recruiting the wrong candidate for the right job, after which they are engaged and unproductive.

We used to look for jobs in the paper, now we look for jobs online. Some things, however, don’t change. According to Forbes, networking is still the best way to find a job. It’s just that we network online, using platforms called social media.

Candidates are referred jobs via posts. Posts enable companies to transmit their employee value propositions and brand; to differentiate the company among its competitors and establish with text, image and video the merits of the job and the company’s culture.

A differentiated narrative is important; not only because of the competition for talent but also because candidates shop for jobs much like they shop for clothing or cars: researching, comparing and evaluating possible choices. A weak narrative will be marked as representing a company that does not value employees; it will be ignored or simply not noticed.

The candidate journey mirrors the consumer journey online:

  • We consider an initial set of brands.
  • We add or subtract brands and evaluate.
  • We select an employee brand and accept a position.
  • After purchase, experience informs next stage in journey: loyalty and advocacy, or detraction if the promise was not realised.

Nothing says ‘a great place to work’ like the stories of current employees.




What is social recruitment?

By definition, recruiting candidates by using social platforms as talent databases.

Different social platforms are used in different ways but all can be effective channels through which to engage candidates and create and engaged network from which to source future employees. Some candidates are more likely to be reached by Facebook (e.g. carers) and others via LinkedIn (executives).

Social recruitment is multidisciplinary. The practice requires the combined expertise and resources of HR, marketing and internal communications.

So, what are the benefits?

  • Drive down recruitment advertising costs
  • Build referrer networks
  • Attract competent, culturally aligned staff
  • Nurture engaged and productive workforce
  • Establish employer brand (preferred employer status)
  • Communicate employee value proposition

The model

Let’s use the model developed with Vasey RSL Care as a social recruitment strategy case study.

The project elements comprised:

  • Research
  • EVP and Employer brand
  • Employee engagement
  • Core team (TOR, training & support)
  • Content planning
  • Web & social presence and activity
  • Risk management


Research comprised a mix of focus groups, community engagement and quantitative (survey) within a broader marketing and brand research project. The purpose w as to:

  • Understand perceptions of Vasey RSL Care
  • Assess links to, and engagement with, ex-service and other communities
  • Define and articulate the ‘value proposition’
  • Understand communication habits

It was branded, and “Together Tomorrow” and assigned a logo. This branding gave it gravitas, connecting people with a shared purpose of continuing care and a legacy upheld.

Employee Value Proposition and Employer Brand

An Employee Value Proposition (EVP) is a statement of the balance of the rewards and benefits that are received by employees in return for their performance at the workplace. Think of it as the answer an employee gives when a friend asks where they work and what it’s like.

Where we work says a lot about who we are. The profession, the company’s reputation, the nature of our job, the competency of our colleagues,  and the outcomes of what we do.

Our personal identity overlaps with that of our employer’s brand identity.

Vasey RSL Care’s archetype is The Hero. Seems obvious for a company that cares for veterans and war widows. However, what we found in focus groups with staff is that they are motivated by the heroism of the people for whom they care. They take on the archetype, doing their all for the people they respect so much.

The personality characteristics are

  • Upright and upstanding but not intimidating
  • Honourable with good manner
  • Respectful of privacy and personal space
  • Calm and ‘at peace’; neat, tidy, orderly
  • ‘Salt of the Earth’: unpretentious; egalitarian, with a strong sense of fairness
  • Patriotic, proud to be Australian
  • Charismatic in an understated way
  • Ironic – expressing the Australian sense of humour

These are traits employees aspire to express.

Employee engagement

Employee engagement is the emotional commitment the employee has to the organisation and its goals.

The Vasey RSL Care project began with engagement to understand employee needs and expectations. Employees were made aware of this new exercise in enabling them to tell the story of their own workplace and, in doing so, achieve the goals they had expressed in research of building strong, committed and competent teams.

Core team

The core team was named, “Saluting Excellence”, after the company’s tagline. A core team needs a mix of disciplines and singular focus on the purpose of telling the company employee story. Contributors included:

  • HR – cultural leadership
  • Marketing and communications strategist
  • Person with social media experience and skills
  • Content writer/editor
  • Enthusiastic advocates to engage staff an source stories (experience in social media is not required)
  • Legal support
  • IT support (if firewall constraints)

A terms of reference is important for the core team to give its members welcome guidelines for their activity. Guidelines include

  • Engaging with current and future employees online
  • Communicating the employer brand and EVP
  • Being leaders within VRSLC
  • Representing VRSLC online; externally and internally

Training was provided in:

  • Social media content sourcing, creation, scheduling, distribution and engagement measurement
  • Technology: Hootsuite

At each team meeting knowledge sharing continues to be an agenda item. In this way the team continues to share and build skills.

Content planning

Content planning is a key success factor in any multi-channel communication exercise. Vasey RSL Care houses its ‘long form’ company owned content in its website news section but also nimbly creates posts specifically for Facebook. Planning and control of the created and curated content, and re-purposing of that content for social media, publicity or print publications, is coordinated according to a monthly cycle.

Content planning focuses on the creation, delivery, and governance of content. Approvals are built into the cycle; quality control is managed and maintained via the content strategy guidelines to voice, themes, and risks as well as via the final moderation of posts scheduled in Hootsuite before they are distributed.

Content not only includes the words on the page but also the images and multimedia that are used.

Digital presence

A company’s digital presence is the collective feeds, handles, apps and websites that it has online (and mobile). Activity across the web presence is integrated and coordinated via software and processes, guided by a strategy and plan.

A high performing digital presence establishes active communities around shared interests relevant to the company’s business and its objectives.

After extensive user experience mapping and design, Ellis Jones developed the Vasey RSL Care website for launch in March 2014. The company Facebook feed and LinkedIn profile went live in July 2014.

Strategically, Vasey RSL Care chose to make its Facebook page a place for employees to share their experiences. Called “Saluting Excellence”, and clearly marked as an employee  space, it reduces the risk that clients or their family members would use the space to attack the company. In fact, to date, that has not happened at all.

Managing risk

Managing risk requires thinking and development, relevant to the company and purpose, in these areas:

  • Training for competency
  • Behavioural guidelines for confidence
  • Guidelines for content sourcing (inc. themes)
  • Response protocols and advice
  • Image approval process and policy
  • Content creation and publishing protocols

The result

Importantly, getting the fundamentals right for Vasey RSL Care’s digital presence delivered immediate results in two stages, timed for stability.

  • Milestone #1: Site live March 2014: From very low activity to a strong web presence, VRSLC lowered bounce rates, increased traffic and the time people spent on the site.
  • Milestone #2: Facebook page live July 2015: Now a platform for engagement enabled relationships to be formed inside the business and with outside networks (both strategically and organically)

Better candidates

At last count, the company had:

  • 241 likes to the Facebook page.
  • 245 people signed up for job alerts.
  • 355 job applications via the website careers page
  • Combined reach of 364, with 36 likes and 3 shares, of two roles advertised on Facebook in August

Most importantly, there has been a huge increase in placements via referrals. 20% of hires were from referrals in FY 2014; 50% in FY 2015.

Employee engagement

Employee engagement outcomes went way beyond that expected or even considered by team members.

  • Staff from different facilities now use Facebook for communication with one another a goal that had never been possible to solve previously with static print newsletters. This creates cohesion, innovation, a sense of shared identity and more agile responses to opportunities.
  • Ideas sharing is open and dynamic: a great lifestyle program or event will be replicated on other sites after being posted to Facebook.
  • There is an automatic response to good outcomes. Among themselves staff have learned to identify a good story and send in text and images to the Saluting Excellence team. Previously getting information from facilities to the HR and communications teams was very difficult.
  • 50% of Facebook likers are current staff which means they are reaching their colleagues but also their industry networks (a qualified candidate pool for new employees)

Which posts work the best?

  • There is always a positive response when residents are  featured – double the post likes and amplified reach
  • Celebration of the achievements of staff members, such as long tenure with the company, and  gets high engagement which not only boosts feed visibility on Facebook, but demonstrates the sense of camaraderie among the staff.

Check out tweets from the event at #TriState2015.

Talk to us when its time to develop a social recruitment strategy for your business.


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