A recruiter for CDW shares the tactics his company now considers its most fertile source of new candidates – Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
CDW is a leading provider of technology products and services that employs more than 6,000 people. The company, based in Vernon Hills, Ill., just outside Chicago, does a lot of hiring. And more and more of it is done online, said Charles Bretz, CDW ‘s senior recruiter and sourcer.
Social networking sites have become the company’s most fertile platform for identifying and engaging with potential employees. He shared with Ladders how you can polish your personal brand on social networking sites, as well as social networking practices that have resulted in hires this year at CDW.
CDW’s strategy is to use social networks to cast a wide net for talent and to find the right employees by looking for them “where they’re living and breathing and playing.” CDW is also tapping into social networks to get ahead of the talent curve. Instead of waiting to look for talent after a position opens, Bretz said, CDW is engaging with promising professionals on an ongoing basis.
CDW is currently tapping mostly into the “big three” social networks: LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. All three work, Bretz said. CDW has made hires this year from all, with LinkedIn yielding the most new employees.
On all of the networks, Bretz and his colleagues reach out and identify people who will be a fit for open positions or for positions that may open up in the future. “We reach out and identify people who will fit the positions we have, begin dialoguing with them, have conversations, tell them about who we are and what it is that we do,” he said. “We then find out what it is that they want and what’s the next step for them.”
So what will catch Bretz’s and other recruiters’ eyes? While there are some general do’s and don’ts, each network has its own personality and requires specialized treatment.
“On LinkedIn, we’re looking for individuals [who use] profiles, groups – every tool and resource that LinkedIn has available,” said Bretz. “A lot of that will be a direct tap on the shoulder to an individual.”
If you want to be found on LinkedIn, he said, make sure your profile is complete: “Make your profile read like your resume, because if it reads like your resume, I can find you more easily. Fill in your name, put in all of your employers, highlight all of the different projects or what it is you do.”
On LinkedIn, your connections are key. Connect with as many people as you can, said Bretz, even if you no longer work with them or they have moved on to another discipline. Recruiters follow network connections to find new job candidates.
After you’ve connected with those people, ask them to write you a reference. (And, if they do, return the favor.) Bretz said a lack of references may not knock you out of consideration, but that a healthy number of solid references may push you to the top of his “to contact” list. “If I look at two profiles and they look pretty similar but one person has 10 or 12 references and another person has none, I might call the one with 10 or 12 references because those people in their network were willing to vouch in public for them … I’d still talk to the other one, but it might be a day or two later.”
Bretz also urges job seekers to join as many groups as they can. “Join professional groups, join networking groups, join alumni groups,” he said. “Recruiters are going into those groups, as well. If you have a small network, joining these groups will open you up to other individuals. If we’re both members of the same group, I can find you even though we might not be directly connected, or even [by] a second- or third-degree connection.”
Posting the events you have attended or presented at is also key, said Bretz. “Even if the conference you went to happened a year or two or three years ago, list that you went. I’ll go into, say, a Microsoft conference from two or three years ago, and see who attended or who was interested or who presented. If you go to a conference, you’re doing something to further your career, to gain knowledge. And if you presented, obviously you’re considered a subject matter expert in those areas. “You can raise [your] profile to a recruiter that way.”
Finally, make it easy for recruiters like Bretz to contact you. “Put out an e-mail address,” he said. “Create a Gmail account if you don’t want to put your main e-mail out there. If you’re comfortable with it, put your phone number out there so I can even pick up the phone and call you. The easier you make it for me to find and contact you, the more likely it is that I’m going to reach out to you.”
CDW connects with Twitter users in a number of ways, Bretz said. Users could be following CDW, or they may be following the individual recruiters because the recruiters are tweeting about positions they have open or about technology. CDW, in turn, will follow people who are tweeting about relevant subjects and then get involved in conversations.
As with LinkedIn, the organizations and associations you follow are important in terms of connecting you to a recruiter and eventually a new position.
“I follow organizations, associations that you belong to,” said Bretz. “Recruiters will look to see who is following those groups or following, let’s say, the Society for Women Engineers. [Recruiters will] look at discussions, what are [people] tweeting about, and then reach out and engage in conversations with them.”
Indeed, thoughtful, relevant, timely tweets may lead a recruiter right to your door. “As things are happening in your industry, tweet about them, link to the articles, post relevant information,” Bretz said.
Bretz said it’s OK to have a mix of personal and professional updates, “but just make sure that the personal isn’t negative” or embarrassing.
Good behavior is especially important on Facebook, Bretz said.
“Most people start their accounts for personal uses, but if you do move into a job search, you want to pull anything that could potentially be seen as negative — just take it down,” he said. Bretz added that most recruiters don’t go looking for negative information about candidates, but they don’t ignore it when they see it either. It’s best to make sure it doesn’t exist at all.
And because most people use Facebook primarily for personal interactions, CDW tries to keep everything to the groups and the fan pages, versus digging up a profile and reaching out and tapping somebody on the shoulder. “It’s not there in acceptance yet,” Bretz said. “You could freak too many people out. You err on the side of caution in that regard.”