The Jobg8 Summit Interview Series – Andy Headworth

What can I say about Andy Headworth that has not already been said…? Probably nothing so instead I’ll say this: Andy understands social media, he understands the power of content to engage and he has helped many recruiting organisations “go social”.

At the summit Andy will share his thoughts on how you can harness the power of social media to enhance your B2B customer acquisition and CRM strategy.

Andy Headworth

The great news is Andy has already shared some great advice with me as he answers my questions:

Q – As a social recruiting expert, what’s your take on the “Future of Job Boards”?

Contrary to what some people in the ‘social space’ seem to think, job boards are definitely not going to shrivel up and die! They still account for a significant amount of hires and are still the first place candidates go to when searching for a job. That said, there should not be any excuses why the job boards are not continually innovating.

Social media is mainstream, yet many job boards are still treating it like a broadcast vehicle – no innovative strategies (aside from a couple) and no real engagement. They still feel like it is an awkward bolt-on that they would rather not deal with, rather than a great tool to drive more business back to their boards.

Then we have mobile. Yes, there are mobile apps from many of the boards, but having tested eight of them recently from a job seekers perspective, they still are not yet on the money from my perspective. They are either so simplified that the searches are not accurate and are therefore meaningless, or trying to be too clever with their semantic searching, which again are throwing up strange searches. I am sure I would be told different from the job boards, but I think that mobile job search is still very much a work in progress, even though (depending on which stats you read) huge numbers of candidates are searching for jobs on their mobiles.

For me, the future of job boards is the data that they posses, and how best they use it. They all have huge amounts of data regarding job search – from all angles. The boards that succeed will be the ones that are learning to understand the data, and then utilise it in the most intelligent way. Whether it’d be understanding different job postings and how job seekers read them and then interact, to the other side – the searching itself. This data learning should also extend to SEO – especially with Google continuing to move the search playing field (this time with Hummingbird). While advertising is essential, Google is telling us now that good content is going to be the key to optimisation. So where is that part of a job board’s strategy? It needs to be.

Finally for this question, the one area where there is going to be huge opportunities for job boards: social advertising. Candidates are on the social networks – lots of different ones. So it makes sense to place adverts on the channels where they are – nothing revolutionary about that. But the locations are changing – it is no longer just Facebook adverts, now you can place adverts right into people streams on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Foursquare and (of course) Facebook. Adwords might still be effective but, how many job boards are properly testing the new social advertising?

Q – Can a job board be “social” or are they a “transactional business?”

A job board in nature is a transactional process – candidate wants a job, does a search, finds it and applies for it. The clients get applicants, (might) hire people and get some (sometimes spurious) analytics … all for a fee. As I said – transactional.

For me, the social aspect comes in for every part of the process:

  • Candidate wants a job – what do they do first? Ask their friends or colleagues for advice on where to look. What experiences have they had, which boards should they use? What awareness do they have on which boards? Which are the best mobile experiences? Which ones are good on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ etc? Are the boards easy to find? If I am a big social user, would I find them on the different social networks?
  • Candidate does a search – on what? Mobile, tablet, web? Is it the same experience? Are the searches accurate across the devices? What about social search – would anything come up there? Are the boards using the power of social media to help with their SEO?
  • Finds it and applies – are the jobs optimised for the readers? Are the boards using that data (as I mentioned above) to help with making them less like job specs and more like relevant adverts that are selling opportunities for their clients to have the most success? What about the whole social sharing piece? Is there more that can be done with this other than ‘share this on Twitter’? Is anyone even bothering to look?
  • Client side – what about some real social stats around job discovery, engagement levels and actions on different social network?
  • Are the boards working closely enough with the clients to optimise their jobs better for different social network posting (again using their data)? We know the answer here don’t we!

Q – Why is content important today both for Google’s new Hummingbird and for social media?

Content – sorry good quality content – is going to be hugely important for job boards on a number of levels because of the Google changes. I am going to be covering this in more detail at the conference, but for me there are two main areas:

1. Great content on the websites themselves for SEO and candidate attraction. I am not just talking about another gazillion ways to write CVs or present yourself at interviews; I am talking about all the things that job seekers are interested in and search on every single day on Google, Bing and Yahoo etc. Of course, there needs to be some focus, but not as much as some job boards are doing. Have you read some of the job board blogs out there? Don’t worry – neither have the job seekers – they are as boring and uninteresting as they come! Which boards have hired content writers, bloggers and alike? Alternatively who is writing stiff and boring (and only occasional) content focused purely on keywords and SEO terms? Thought so………. that needs to change.

2. Google will reward interesting, relevant and well written content. People like to read interesting, relevant and well written content – on whichever channel they use via their web/mobile. There are many social networks that people read content on – all have different audiences and all have different optimisations of their content. Some are image friendly, some are video focused, and all are text focused. There is so much to read, people only read things that get their attention and they find interesting. Who is even thinking about that? Take it a stage further – with content aggregation and content curation becoming a hugely important part of the social web, interesting content providers get a much bigger audience that ones with boring content.

Q – Can social media be useful as part of a B2B marketing strategy?

Absolutely – well you would expect me to say that wouldn’t you! More work is needed on target audiences: where they are, what they follow, what they read, who they interact with, do they follow job boards and why, do they share content, who are the influencers, who are the bloggers, etc. Personally I think that job boards are treating social media just us another channel to broadcast jobs and the occasional post on. Social media is so much more powerful than that and few are harnessing the innovative and engaging nature of social media.
For example – YouTube is the second biggest search engine, owned by the biggest search engine – Google. It has been around for years, yet how many job boards have embraced it as the awesome SEO tool that it is? The same goes for Google Plus. Google is ‘telling you in Hummingbird’ that G+ is going to be important, yet hardly anyone is taking it seriously. If you can’t even spot the obvious signals in social media, then you need to be asking some serious questions about your B2B strategy.
Clients are still people – and they search the same way as anyone else. Google doesn’t differentiate for the person who is searching, it just shows the best and most relevant content from which source it finds it – websites, blogs or social sites. I think some job boards seem to forget that sometimes!

Andy’s Top Tips

  1. Embrace social media. Just because your competitors aren’t doing it doesn’t mean you can sit back and wait for them. Be a leader not a follower.
  2. Find out who your true audience is on the social networks. This applies to both clients and job seekers.
  3. Appoint a social media person (or hire one) that actually understands social media (not an intern who has no experience other than Facebook at uni). They will be responsible for creating, finding and sharing content AND sourcing and engaging with job seekers and clients.
  4. Make sure ALL the social profiles on the networks are current.
  5. Set objectives for EACH social network.
  6. Set your measurement criteria.
  7. Post – measure – change (as required) – repeat.
  8. Train all the business developers to use social media channels to find new clients and to engage with them.
  9. Just because you have a mobile app it doesn’t mean you have a mobile strategy. Think bigger and wider.
  10. Monitor the social channels – for both your brand and opportunities.

Keith Robinson is a regular contributor to the Jobg8 blog, co-produces the Jobg8 Summits and works with a range of job boards advising on strategy, NPD, marketing and NBD across Europe.

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