Need A Break? Get Some Air
I met with my manager one day. She mentions to me, “you seem a bit… on edge. Something wrong?” At the time I probably was having a bad week. Maybe I had some declined offers or some things that didn’t go our way. She says,”you know, it’s ok if you want to work remote and get out of the office. You can be just as productive without distractions.”
It got me thinking and made me realize that her flexibility may allow me to get creative in how to recruit talent.
Enter 2013. Time to make things happen.
I decided to take advantage of my employer’s flexibility, yet be sure that it would benefit our corporate recruiting efforts. Many recruiters and staffing firms talk about the relationship. It’s all about establishing relationships. Agreed. Knowing someone brings down a lot of walls. You learn about people when you’re comfortable around them. You find commonalities and discover new things from people. Meeting face-to-face is key in making this happen. I decided that a couple times a month I would work remote, but in a publicly-accessible location. Coffee shops work well for this. Actually, they should encourage it. If I work out of their location, and bring in 4 people to meet with me, I brought in more business for them. Win! I digress. This is not about coffee shops.
I didn’t think it would be hard to execute, but I wondered if this would really pay off. I had buy-in from my manager and many people I know appreciate those that think outside the box. It’s also known by associates of mine, along with my client base, that I work social media pretty well. I have accounts on Google+ (1200+ followers), Linkedin (1300 connections), Twitter (600+), Facebook (285) and Yammer. I use all of them to some degree. I’m not bragging, but some of those numbers have bearing on what I’ll get to in a moment.
Simple. Pick a couple places in town, maybe one on east side and one on the west, that have the following:
- Internet access
- Accessible parking
- Decent location
- Places to sit with 1-3 others
- Staff that appreciate you being there
Pick out dates, two weeks apart, but make sure they’re both not on the same day of the week. If someone is always tied up Wednesdays they’ll never be able to stop by. So switch it up.
Let people know. It’s time to post to all the social media sites:
- Where you will be.
- When you will be there.
- Why you will be there.
If nobody shows up, I still have plenty of work I can do – screening applicant resumes, fielding emails, sending more emails.
Make sure you include address on the where. Just makes it easy for those to know for sure where you’re going to be. Coffee Shop East Madison, is not going to do the trick.
Include date and time. Don’t use ‘tomorrow’ or ‘a couple days from now’. I’ve already had someone show up on the wrong date because they didn’t see when I initially sent the ‘I’ll be there tomorrow’ message.
The why. People are busy. So what, you’re at a coffee shop. Who cares? Let them know the purpose and make sure it’s not all about you, because it’s not. At the same time you want to be approachable. It’s not a formal interview. It’s to network. Be sure you don’t exclude anyone. I’m an IT recruiter, but other people know information technology (IT) people. It will eventually come around, and I can learn about the backgrounds of other people that are not IT. Offer up an opportunity to provide insight into your company. Or maybe offer to help them with their job search, resume, tips for interviewing or just how the market is.
I ended up speaking to 8 people on the first day I tried this approach. Two were information technology professionals and two were individuals that represented staffing firms. One of the staffing firm contacts wanted to know how to break into our company and earn our business. No big deal. Two more individuals were a couple that I knew personally and happened to be in the neighborhood. Both are looking for jobs. Discussions were all over the place, but they got personal. I heard pets names. I know a bit about their professional life and received some insights into other companies. We’ll be keeping in touch.
The real ‘ah-ha’ moment was when I saw that each channel of social media was hit in one way or another.
One visitor messaged me on Linkedin ahead of time because we were connected, but a client contact of mine was the one that let him know about my new open door approach. The visitor didn’t actually seem my post about the open door event. Someone else did!
One person was from Google+. I actually connected with her husband, I commented on a post, and she connected to me. She saw my open door thing and decided to stop by because she may lose her job soon.
A friend of mine, who I served with in the military years ago, messaged me on Facebook and asked what I was doing in my civilian life. I told him recruiting. He had a snarky comment about me sounding like a drug dealer, but I got his attention. He noticed. I’m sure more did, but they simply didn’t say anything.
A follower on Twitter messaged me to ask me what I do and asked me when I’d be on his side of town. He thought it was a cool idea and would break down some barriers. He appreciated it.
I had clients on Yammer say ‘Woo Hoo’ when I told them I met a few people. Some may have actually told their contacts about my new initiative and never mentioned it, like my Linkedin person above.
I have posted my second event, to be on Wednesday, Jan 23rd and have already had a couple “hey, I’ll try to stop by” and a message from someone in California, via Linkedin, wanting to know if it’s working. Solid!
I think I’ve generated some buzz. I don’t expect people to show up every time this happens. I know this. I know peers that want to explore doing this to help establish those relationships. However, I did not do this overnight. It’s taken time, effort and thought. It may seem simple, but it’s not. I know individuals look at my effort and think it’s simple, easy. They don’t see the followers I have and my approach to social media. <Reference aforementioned numbers here> It’s not about the hard sell. It’s really about connecting in some manner. I’m a gamer, so I have plenty of gaming/geeky connections. Some happen to be in my local area and some happen to be in information technology field. They’re not always interested in hearing about every job opening. They’re interested in what we have in common. You have to find a balance. Come across as sales and insincere and they’ll stop tuning in to your broadcast. This is key. It’s also important that you have to actually have a broadcast or audience. Someone that creates a twitter account today and try to kick off a similar plan will have disappointing results.
Feel free to follow me. Ask me questions. I’m open to share. And if you’re ever in the neighborhood and I’m doing an Open Door Recruiter thing, stop by!
Coming soon, Google Hangouts for those that can’t make it face to face!