Recruiters… To Tweet or not to Tweet?

This is not another blog espousing the virtues of social media… no social media, in particular Twitter can be a bitch.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Twitter… I dedicate a couple of hours a day to the Twitterverse – usually early in the morning, or late in the evening. I love finding out recruitment news as it happens – and retweeting appropriately.  I enjoy seeing what roles are available and trending, and the witty banter between recruitment industry heavy weights.  Most importantly I enjoy reading about what Ashton Kutcher had for breakfast, or the fascinating tweet from Paris Hilton about her new multi-storey dog mansion, for her 17 Chihuahuas and one Pomeranian…

 No, what this blog is about is the hidden dangers for recruiters that can eventuate from the misuse (and I use that term very loosely), of Twitter… Let me give you a real example…

I interviewed a candidate last week.  He was a senior recruitment consultant in the Supply Chain space.  Four year’s experience, a history of very strong billings and an excellent networker. This candidate – let’s call him Derek (I apologise to all the Derek’s out there, or any expecting mother looking to call their new born son Derek… don’t know where the name Derek came from… maybe my ex’s wicked Uncle Derek who had a collection of masonic memorabilia in his garage – and spent an inordinate amount of time grooming his dog… come to think of it, Uncle Derek’s dog was a Chihuahua too… what are the odds?).

Anyway, the Derek interview was going along very nicely.  He currently worked with one of the very large, generalist, recruitment agencies.  He explained his day-to-day activities, his wins, business development prowess and broke down his monthly billings.  I was rubbing my hands with glee – he was turning out to be a genuine, ‘A’ class candidate.

‘So Derek,’ I gushed. ‘Why are you looking to move on from ABC Agency?’

‘Well.’ Derek replied, beginning to squirm somewhat in his seat.  ‘I have been given a warning for social media use…’

A warning for social media use – you heard right… what did this guy do? Attack his boss? Spout political rhetoric? Racially vilify a professional footballer?

It turns out that the warning was for something far more pedestrian than that… Derek had spent his lunch hour waiting in line at one of the ‘Big 4’ banks.  He returned to his office about ten minutes late and his manager mentioned it.  In a moment of madness Derek took to Twitter, and in a well crafted 140 character rant Derek questioned the customer service standards (and waiting time) at his bank.  Unfortunately, for Derek – and unbeknown to him – his Recruitment agency was currently tendering for a panel place with said bank… Derek’s employer had a clear Social Media Policy in place, directing in no uncertain terms that employees must represent the agency positively (in relation to clients and candidates), at all times within any social media environment – hence the warning.

Wow!

So my message to you is twofold.  Firstly, Social Media policies are becoming more prevalent in the Recruitment world – make sure you are aware of your obligations.  Secondly, we have all sent the odd suspect email in a fit of rage, emotion or adrenalin.  With an email it goes to one person… sure they may forward it on, but it will always be a relatively slow moving beast in comparison to Twitter. Let’s say you have 200 followers, who will all see your rant – a couple of them may retweet to their followers and before you know it you are more viral than the bird flu.

Be careful with your tweets, but more importantly… be funny.

Craig Watson

8 thoughts on “Recruiters… To Tweet or not to Tweet?”

  1. The wrong message about social media use is being sent by this policy. If the recruiter’s complaint against the bank’s customer service levels and waiting times was genuine and honest feedback, then the bank should be thankful for that feedback as it gives them an area to focus on improving, as well as an opportunity to respond positively on the same Twitter channel and turn him into a more satisfied customer than he was previously.

    His recruitment firm should also recognise this and have some balls.

    But they believe the best response is:

    Bank: “Oh look it’s a complaint but it’s from someone who works for a potential supplier tendering for our business so we can turn this against them and divert negative attention away from ourself”

    Employer: “Oh look our employee sent a Tweet disparaging a potential client’s service levels so our appropriate response to try and secure their business must be to discipline said employee in a gesture of solidarity with them”

    Totally missing the point, and power, of social media. Get your heads out of the sand people.

  2. You should always have 2 twitter accounts – one for your professional role and another for telling people who probably don’t care what you had for tea or how much you love your wonderful spouse. It’s the same logic as having a company email and a private email.

    1. I disagree with this, I think the lines between company/private are getting ever more blurry. I just have the one account – hopefully this ‘humanizes’ me rather than being just seen as a faceless corporate account.

  3. A good post Craig, and certainly valid in terms of raising awareness of the dangers of social media personally, professionally and maybe even commercially. Eduction is key here.

    Nz and Maureen both raise interesting points as well of course.

  4. Poor Derek but sounds like he’s making the right move! Most overly protective policies will have the opposite effect but I think we will see more sensibility in direct proportion to an increase in understanding social. Certainly savvy recruiters will actuially become more sought after and encouraged as brand ambassadors and recruiters will check out prospective company SM policy in advance as well as their on-line voice before they consider joining a progressive company. Policies in time will have to become a good staff retention tool in the box. As for that bank I’m sure that most of the banks own staff would agree!

  5. Always love your insight, Craig.

    In this case Derek’s employer seems to work from the assumption that, by virtue of employing him, they own his online identity. Does Derek own his job, or does his job own him?

    Either way, that social media policy doesn’t sound like a very good way to attract or retain smart recruiters.

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