Social Media and the dying art of recruitment creativity

It’s strange. Or so we think. How the rise of Social media as a recruitment tool seems to be having the adverse affect on recruitment’s creativity. At the end of the day, social media is just another tool. Another method. Another avenue to attract (and retain) the best people for a business. Like in the old days (sic), when newspaper job ads were never the sole route to attract candidates or market employers – neither is social media.

These days more and more people fall into the ‘technology trap’. This is a new API or widget: “It’s so cool and clever, wouldn’t it be great to use it?” That’s what they say. Agencies sound cutting edge to clients as they talk about augmented reality or Open Graph in Facebook. Yes, shouts the client, I want some of that. So off the agency scurries off to produce the ‘campaign’ in double quick time before someone else beats them to it.

What suffers? The creative execution. No longer king of the pile, it’s slipped down the pecking order. Now Technology is the new ‘creativity’, crafted strategy, design and copywriting forgotten. (After all, everyone can write a blog or a job listing can’t they?) “Look what this does!” is the cry of the day, never mind that the actual creative execution is as clichéd as the idea of borderstyle ad book these days.

It’s Fool’s Gold – at the end of the digital rainbow. Upholding the traditional creative and strategic standards and melding them to the new world is the real skill and value of recruitment marketing, employer branding, social recruiting et al.

Isn’t it?


  1. Alconcalcia Said:

    Couldn’t agree more Mark. There are hundreds of new ‘apps’ coming out every day and every social media guru under the sun will tell you how everyone needs to be part of the revolution but when all is said and done, advertising, any advertising, has to have some allure, some individuality. it has to attract, not just inform.

    I have been saying for ages how some people are destroying creativity and replacing it with the cut and pasted job description and person spec slapped onto a job board and link shortened and shoved on Twitter. I don;t know why or when people decided that recruitment was about technological wizardry and that creativity could go and do one, but that seems to be the case in a lot of instances.

    I can think of no other area of advertising that has suffered quite as much. Even estate agents talk about deceptive spaciousness and desirable areas when touting their wares. The good thing about jobs advertising is that every vacancy has its USPs, every organisation too. What might suit one person may well not appeal to another. That is the beauty of it, it is possible to sell jobs truthfully but in such a way that you only attract the audience you have targeted. The trouble is that so many have lost sight of that fact, or maybe they never knew it in the first place.

    Recruitment consultancies seem content to pile it high and sell it cheap. they wonder why they get inundated with 100s of irrelevant responses or alternatively why no one applied at all. The answer is in the execution, which sadly is so often devoid of any creativity whatsoever. But hey, never mind, they can post their jobs to mobile phones now so who needs creatives?

    Rant over – for now 🙂

  2. Matt Said:

    I would completely agree. What I’ve noticed over the last few years (and this is a generalisation so yes I know there are exceptions) is that a lot of agencies haven’t made the right investment in upskilling their creative teams. Digital creative is seen as a separate glorified production department for many. It is a real shame as I believe all of these technologies offer a massive opportunity for a high degree of creativity and our industry is currently missing a very big opportunity.

  3. Alconcalcia Said:

    I’ve also heard tell that some recruitment companies entrust administrators or back office people to create and put their ads on job boards, twitter etc. is it any wonder that they complain about the response when what they post has all the allure of a dead sheep?

  4. I really like this discussion Mark. You point out an interesting issue for all creative recruitment advertyisng agencies. definitely our playingfield is moving ahead, going more internally, and by inspiring the teams getting the spirit true stories of enthousiast people. But, also on the outerside of things there allways will be the differemnce between bad, good ofr great imaginative powers of language and images. This definitely will be our playingfield. Aspiring, meaningfull, differntaiting design, images and words, at events, in offices, atwebsites, that will make the digfference and cut thropugh the clutter of average employers. Thsi will be the quest: Finding the differerence, releasing the spirit inside, and tell the story with great communications that will attract and inspire the right members of the community.

  5. Alex Hens Said:

    I hear your creative angst and frustration Mark 😉

    However surely it’s all just about differentiation. When Second Life broke onto the scene people used it to differentiate themselves by showing they had more money than sense – sorry I meant that they were “forward thinking organisations keen to engage like minded individuals”.

    It’s (relatively) easy to turn a prospective client’s head with something that is emerging, perceived as “sexy”/of the moment or appears to have “next big thing” written all over it. Let’s face it – when we get to a certain age it’s only natural to fight against turning into our parents and being perceived as safe – everyone wants to be a cool Dad/Mum. And so because agencies are of course client driven then they have to be very careful not be “out fadded” by another agency and lose the client all together. And then if you dangle the potential of an award for peer recognition it’s like dropping a rohypnol in their pitch water.

    Although it would only be fair to add at this point that for the minority of true trail blazers they can indeed benefit from the high profile PR generated that I’m sure does actually drive relevant applicants irrespective of the choice of medium (I’m thinking “In-game Advertising” or, again, Second Life etc).

    It takes a certain type of agency to tell a client directly not to lose perspective on what would really work and what is actually highly likely to be a waste of money. You tell me whether that’s brave or stupid. I know what I hope – but then I’m not a prospective client.

    However there’s only so much chasing of the latest fad that can be done – there’s only so much space in which you can differentiate by being first – and so when that’s all done then creativity in execution and delivery is what it must always come back to. Do you really want someone who would apply to any unbranded ad on any random job board? Maybe you do – and that’s fine for you. But I have a hunch that real talent, the people who are actually relatively happy where they are because they’re damned good at their jobs, the people that will actually make a difference to your business, are actually a bit more switched on than they are sometimes given credit for – and for those people then getting on their radar as being an outstanding company starts with standing out. For the right reasons.

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