Over the past few years there has been a huge drive for recruiters to make the most of digital recruitment trends and online recruitment marketing. The last remaining bastion of traditional methodologies is the head hunter.
The head hunter keeps himself well abreast of changes in their clients’ sectors, however has been reluctant to evolve with their peers when it comes to the use of the web. The difficulty is that the head hunter is not the same as the traditional recruiter – they don’t advertise their roles, they don’t have such a high turnover of positions and traditionally it has been all about Who and What you know.
Things are changing though.
Last week I caught up with the self confessed “caffeine fuelled enthusiast” Gary Chaplin, Director of Manchester based head hunting firm Star Brooks.
“We were hung up on the old ways of working” he tells me. With a business that has been operating for 28 years and a staff which has, for the most part, been with the same firm for around ten years you can understand why.
“Working with a traditional business sometimes you have to shake things up. Rock the boat”, which is something that Gary is now doing on a daily basis. Since starting he has been using his marketing background to great effect taking several steps – some old-timers may see them as leaps – in changing the way the company is perceived, both externally and internally. This has meant implementing a revamped design for the website, taking a hands-on approach to the company’s PR and encouraging the use of social networks. “If you toe the line it gets boring. You get coverage by being different”, and that is what Gary has been doing through his Twitter account @SB_HeadHunter.
Using Twitter for recruitment has been highly successful for the business. Gary connects his Twitter account with his LinkedIn profile meaning that he is communicating with hundreds of followers and over two thousand business connections. “Tweets help to get the personality of the business out there” and people are attracted to the new personality. “At first the rest of the Board were nervous” but he assures me that as the new roles started coming in and with referrals flowing people quickly changed their opinions.
“Historically we have been a financial head hunting firm from the North West, but in the past few years we’ve established ourselves as a multi-discipline firm working on national mandates.” The transition is one that Twitter has certainly facilitated. Sharing the types of roles being worked on and placements made via Twitter and LinkedIn means that all of Gary’s two thousand plus contacts can see the breadth of service offered. “In a recent survey over 70% of respondents said that they were aware of the new services that we offered” and the majority of those questioned had been updated through social networks.
“You don’t have to spend lots on marketing any more for it to be successful” he says, making particular reference to social networking sites.
“This year we have won over £200k of business through Twitter.” Asking if that is through potential business or confirmed deals Gary assures me “we have made £200k worth of placement fees thanks to Twitter”. Educating people on the type of services and areas of expertise offered has been crucial to this success. He explains that it has revitalised old relationships, allowing him to dip in and out of conversations whilst getting the business’ message out.
But Gary isn’t just using Twitter for business – he has also been using it help raise money through a charity bike ride. “Over 50% of those taking part in this charity event have come through Twitter.” Each of the riders is aiming to raise £1,000 for the Manchester Children’s Hospital ‘Many Hands Appeal’. Again this goes to prove the fine line social media and digital marketing treads between the personal and the professional.
Gary is extremely aware of the potential dangers surrounding the use and misuse of social networks. He has seen other businesses let slip confidential information, make remarks that could potentially lose their employers business and alienate clients. Social media is not a conversation down the pub – especially if you are trying to conduct business. “80% of why I use social networks is for business. I have two safety mechanisms in place on Twitter: my wife and my MD who both follow me. Before I say anything I ask myself if they are likely to want to kick my arse!” You couldn’t ask for a better way to keep yourself in check.
The biggest tip Gary can share for using social network for business is “be natural.” It is widely acknowledged that people follow you because they are interested in you and what you have to say. You have to be in it to get the most out of it. And you have to love it. If you don’t, it will show and you won’t see the returns. He gets a real kick out of thinking in a different way and being able to learn something new with social media. Gary endorses Twitter as a fantastic place to research and get tips on marketing.
For more information on Gary’s charity bike ride click here.