Paving a Two-Way Street
With job applicants seeking employer input on corporate review websites, companies are doing more to engage in give-and-take discussions with candidates online.
Finding a Niche
For SWC Technology Partners, sites such as Glassdoor.com are more about “brand building” than seeking out job candidates, says Fran Peters, human resources manager at the Oak Brook, Ill.-based information-technology consulting firm.
In its effort to personally connect with would-be employees and generate interest in opportunities at SWC, the company relies more on niche sites aimed at tech-industry professionals, says Peters, who oversees SWC’s participation in social media.
Stackoverflow.com, for instance, is a free, question-and-answer-oriented website predominantly used by technology programmers and developers, and “a site where we’ve had some success” in terms of finding talented, often-passive candidates for positions within SWC, says Peters.
(Indeed, since first becoming active on stackoverflow.com in February of this year, SWC has already filled one technical position with a candidate whom the company connected with through the site, according to Peters.)
“[Stackoverflow.com] users sign up and take part in this Q&A community. And the more questions they ask, the more involved they are, the more badges they get,” says Peters. “And for us, through getting involved in this online community, we see people emerging who are really into technology, just like we are.”
Peters chuckles when asked how she learned about the site as a potential tool to reach tech industry professionals and introduce them to SWC.
“I just went to our software team and said, ‘Where do you guys go to talk to other developers?’ And everyone kept talking about stackoverflow.com,” says Peters. “So I wanted to tap into that, and find people who live and breathe technology, like we do.”
Initially, SWC did some advertising on the site, and hosted a company-sponsored page. “But we also from an HR perspective, acting mostly as a facilitator,” she says, helping to identify the best internal candidates to represent SWC in the stackoverflow.com community. “I know more about technology than I ever thought I would,” she says. “But I’m not the technology expert here. So, for me, it’s more about getting our subject-matter experts involved in the conversation.”
SWC employees weighing in on stackoverflow.com include team leaders, software developers and consultants, including a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional – a title typically given to those in the industry who actively share technical expertise with technology communities related directly or indirectly to Microsoft.
These representatives speak with other members of the community, and even share videos outlining the SWC employee experience. But the dialogue doesn’t necessarily have to be always centered around SWC, says Peters.
“It’s more of a [broad] conversation about challenges professionals in the industry face,” she says. “But we do ask questions: ‘Do you like what you’re currently doing?’ ‘What are you looking for in terms of career opportunities?’ ‘If you’re not happy in your current job, what would make you happy?’ “
Such questions are designed – at least in part – to subtly steer the conversation toward opportunities at SWC, which is the end goal, after all.
“A lot of times you’re communicating via web chat or email,” says Peters. “But, ultimately, what we’re trying to do is get them on the phone. Then we can talk about their interests and career goals, and then we can really see if there’s an alignment with our business.”
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