This article originally appeared in ShortList on 17 June 2014 at 3:59pm
Recruitment industry needs more quality bloggers
The Australian market's distinct lack of recruitment blogging presents an opportunity for agencies to get a step up on their competitors, according to industry trainer Ross Clennett.
Blogging is a credible marketing and business development activity that can help position an agency's brand ahead of its competitors, even if that business has the edge when it comes to technical skill or experience, Clennett told Shortlist.
"From a blogging point of view, it's about getting content out there that supports your professional position – things that lend credibility and show your expertise in your market. If you're not doing that, and your competitors are doing it, then you've already lost," he said.
"The reality is, when you don't know somebody and someone mentions them to you, you check them out on LinkedIn or Google. Any recruiter who thinks that doesn't happen is in La-La Land. If you're not [blogging] actively, you're just at the mercy of whatever turns up with your name on the first page of a Google search."
Although blogging is growing in legitimacy as a marketing tool, Clennett finds that Australian recruiters have been slow to take up the platform.
"I started blogging seven years ago, and I've been looking at recruitment blogs since then. The reality is, it's a slow-growing market. There aren't that many active bloggers – active being those that blog at least once a month – under that benchmark, you'd be struggling to find 20, I would think.
"There is massive opportunity because the number of recruiters blogging seriously is only a handful. It's not like in specific markets there will be three or four recruiter bloggers you'd be competing against – in some markets there's none!
"It's still very much early days and for those prepared to take the initiative there's a massive upside for them. We need strong representatives of our industry that are producing quality content that represents our industry positively."
How to capitalise on the blogosphere
Recruitment company owners need to ask themselves how they want to be perceived in their market and how close they are to that goal, and then work out if blogging will help achieve that aim, Clennett said.
"In some sectors of recruitment, blogging may not help. If you're in industrial recruitment where you're recruiting labour hire, then I'm not really sure what sort of difference [a blog] would make," he said.
Clennett said Firebrand provides a benchmark for good blogging because it positioned the company, and its former owner Greg Savage, as authorities among marketing and communication specialists, who were their clients and candidates.
"You need to look at how much contact with the online world your audience has as a starting point, and then blogging might be the key to reaching them," he said.
Leadership is crucial to achieving the company's goals in blogging, Clennett added.
"It's pretty difficult for staff to get motivated to consistently blog if [leadership] is ambivalent about it. If you look at any organisation where there is a blogging culture, there is a leader in that business who is focused on that area," he said.
The onus is also on recruitment company leaders to ensure they've equipped consultants with the skills to blog, said Clennett.
"Technically anyone can write a blog. It's not that hard, but it's more about giving people a structure, a formula and guidelines to achieve the company's goals. That doesn't necessarily come from the leader; it comes from buying some books on blogging, reading blogs on blogging, or doing a program."
The recruitment experience is the content
Clennett pointed out people often struggle with blogs because they don't know what to write about; however, recruiters' day-to-day activities already provide them with a wealth of content.
"People underestimate how much content they come across each day when they are in contact with candidates and clients," he said.
"Recently, I wrote about agency owners considering employees for offers of equity, and how many interviews are the right amount when hiring top talent – both of those came from conversations I've had with clients and people in my network. You source material from everyday interactions.
"You need an opinion, because if you produce bland stuff that doesn't grab attention then no-one is going to read it. State a position, take a view, take a stance!"
Further, blogging after educational reading or attending events provides not only a stream of content, but reaffirms a recruiter's professional development.
"Read ABS releases, data research, books, research papers, and go to events. They are all content or stimulation [for a blog]. It's also a great way of ingraining whatever professional development you're undertaking. It helps me learn whatever it is I'm quoting."
Blogging results aren't tangible, and depend on passion, says Rice
Rice Consulting director and NZ blogger Jonathan Rice said blogging has helped him grow both his profile and his business, but he can't quantify its value with a number.
"[Blogging] helped me exponentially expand my brand and my business faster than traditional marketing methods... It's offered me global opportunities, particularly in Australia, that otherwise would've been unavailable," he said.
"From a cost perspective, it's free. You just have to decide how much your time is worth. I put less time into it now than I did originally, because it becomes a second-nature thing, particularly with blog topics, and I have fun writing; I'm passionate about it.
"It's still hard for me to accurately assess my return on investment. I just have to have faith in it and take heart from anyone who mentions the blog, or says they're [doing business with me] because they read my blogs, or inviting me to speak at their event because of a blog."
Rice finds that blogging works for him because he sticks to a schedule and doesn't treat it as a marketing exercise.
"What's worked for me is that I have done it religiously every Friday at pretty much the same time, every week, for over four years now. The regularity builds a following.
"I wouldn't recommend people doing it as a marketing exercise... If it's too engineered and too deliberate people won't buy into it. If you're constantly writing [clichéd, SEO-optimised] blog posts, that won't get the people you want to look at it and it becomes just another form of spam."
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