In May 2015, Oracle held a number of recruiting events in cities across the United States. The Recruitment Branding team at Oracle was tasked with sourcing as many junior sales professionals to attend as they could, leveraging social media for outreach and awareness. We had no budget, very few people and less than 4 weeks. Here’s an insider’s look at how the team made it happen, where we succeeded and what we learned.
What We Did
This campaign was launched to explore ways to generate a simple yet efficient way for candidates to register for the events and for recruiters to access their information. The goal was to provide a positive user experience for prospects while adhering to brand standards and collecting the necessary information.
Obtain visibility for our premiere recruiting events across the United States.
Increase awareness of Oracle as career option for sales professionals.
Raise the profile of the #LifeatOracle
Obtain a healthy candidate pool for our openings in the Oracle Direct Organization
Gather data for pre-screening phone interviews before the event
How We Did It
Celinda Appleby (@CelindaAppleby), Head of Employer Branding at Oracle, Manuel Angel (@Anarchcorp) Recruitment Branding Specialist and Tori Pucknell (@Tori Pucknell), Administrative Manager for Oracle Recruiting in North America, put their heads together in order to come up with a solution that would bring candidates to the events and presented no cost to the business. After many failed attempts using other solutions as lead generators; we decided that a Google Form was the best way to gather that information. Google Forms offer a customizable front-end interface and a backend that was familiar to anyone that had used any kind of spreadsheet software. If you want to get passive candidates to engage with your recruiting campaign, it’s important to make it easy and convenient for them to do so. That’s why the form only had a handful of questions regarding previous experience in sales and some basic personal data, such as requesting a link to their LinkedIn profile.
One of our concerns was that the URL from the Google Form would reveal a google.com address vs. an Oracle.com. We felt that could be detrimental to our employer brand and cause issue with the candidate experience. After some consideration, we decided to use Bitly to create a vanity url that we used to link to the form. It helped us feel aligned to the brand and made it easy to track the results. Bitly was key, since it allowed us to have the name “Oracle” in the link, track data and it’s completely free.
The next challenge was finding imagery to use for the campaign. We wanted to showcase real employees vs. stock photography, as we felt it was critical given the target demographics of our candidate pool. We enlisted the help of our employees in Oracle’s Austin office. This allowed us to showcase life at Oracle; leverage our employer brand using employees to show potential candidates why Oracle was a great employer. Given that we did not have a budget or a professional photographer on retainer, we worked with Tori directly. She spent the day on campus with employees in their natural habitat. While she is not a professional photographer, she captured some incredible images (over 20) using her IPhone that we used on all of our digital collateral.
We used her images and engaged our graphic designer for a little tweaking and our branding specialist wrote some engaging copy to go along with them. All of the content was generated in house. In the end we had quality content to promote our events Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn without spending a cent.
Our Social Media footprint during the campaign
We had never done a project like this, so keeping consistent tracking of results and maintaining open channels of communication was crucial. We met with the business directly to find out exactly what kind of sales professionals they needed, since the field can be incredibly broad. We engaged the recruiters and informed them of this campaign, so they’d help us share and promote. We had to talk to all the project stakeholders regularly to ensure we were all in the same channel and working towards the same objective. This was a particular challenge since it meant working across three time zones in multiple countries.
Knowing how vital compelling content is to social media success, we had to make sure that our content was top notch. A peer review system was put in place to make sure that we had the best assets and copy. Not only to prevent mistakes, but to make sure that we remain on message and attract the right people.
When to post is a very common question in the world of social recruiting. While there’s no one “right answer”, data can help you better understand your target audience’s peak usage times. For us, Thursday afternoon is when we got the most traffic from North America, so it make logical sense to use that day for this particular campaign.
Of course we couldn’t have given the campaign legs without the help of the recruiting staff. Since it was a new initiative without any advertising budget, we needed their help. The recruiters were happy to participate and socialized the campaign. To make their lives easier, we created a “tweet sheet” just for the recruiters. Every week they would receive text with an image that they could just copy and paste into twitter and share at their discretion. This form of engagement helped us tremendously; as our campaign gained momentum we even saw the business (hiring managers and VPs) participate. That amplification and engagement was key to our traffic.
The form went live, and a few minutes later the first post went up on Facebook on May 27th 2015 at 3:00pm EST. And that’s when the surprises started coming in.
The analytics from Bitly show the support we had from our North American Recruitment team. Without their engagement and support we would have never seen the incredible results, all via organic growth (i.e. no spend). 87 shares on Facebook and 50 shares on Twitter are crucial data points that showcase the magnitude of social. This allowed us to attract candidates while engaging our employees.
Our organic reach was massive, we reached more than 4000,000 people on LinkedIn, and while we reached significantly less people on Facebook, they were exponentially more engaged. And it was here is we encountered a major issue.
The Big Challenge
On average, 200 people applied to the Google Form per social media post. By the end of the third week we had more than 600 applicants across 4 states. This far exceeded our expectations, but the unexpected volume created a problem.
When you have this many applicants you need a lot of recruiters to screen them and make sure they are a fit for the job and have the qualifications we were seeking. We didn’t have the screening back end in place, and many of our applicants were not even receiving a phone call. This put our campaign at risk, as we realized the potential negative candidate experience could adversely impact our campaign.
Due to the frequent monitoring, we noticed this disconnect very early on. We immediately reached out to recruiting and devised an improved strategy to assign all of our applicants to recruiters for a prescreening, ensuring nobody was left uncalled. We also updated our thank you note to say “we will be in touch soon” vs. “we will be in touch in 2 business days” to better set expectations. Once we implemented this new strategy, we had one hundred quality candidates that proceeded to more in depth interviews during our events.
What We Got Wrong
With the benefit of hindsight, these are a few things we would have done differently.
We should have developed a broader “best case” contingency plan for applicant volume. We modeled our expectations from previous campaigns (outside of Google Forms), so underestimated interest based on prior data we had. It was a good problem to have, but the lack of back end screening readiness impacted Candidate Experience.
We could have set better expectations in the auto-response for prospects. Our initial “2 day” pledge was based in our underestimation of volume, so created an expectation with prospects our screening team wasn’t equipped to meet.
When designing a recruitment initiative like this it’s important to consider convenience. Aim for a frictionless apply process with minimal effort it for people to sign up. The easier the apply process, the more likely they are to apply.
There’s a common misconception that you need to spend money to get reach and engage people. This campaign illustrates how you can build leads leveraging free tools and your employees. Additional benefits include employee engagement. This campaign gave us another opportunity to showcase and recognize our employees, helping them feel valued and appreciated. We also got quality human-driven content for our social channels that’s going to get shared and liked because the employees are directly involved. All of this with no extra cost to the business. Employee engagement can be an amazing, and free, way to create a social media campaign.
Giving the recruiters content to share on their social channels that’s carefully curated was also a huge success. That component was so well received we continue doing it after the campaign ended. Every week our recruiters get a set of curated tweets of first and third party content. This allows us to build our brand, allows them to build their own personal brand, and engages them in social recruiting.
It’s important to consider this kind of campaign as a complete recruitment process. It’s not just about gathering applicants but about properly screening them and engaging them. It requires a close-knit connection between the social/employer branding team and the recruiting team. The more familiar you are with the profile you are looking for, the more accurate your form design will be and the better you can tailor it to attract the right candidates.
With the right team and strategy in place, you can use Google Forms with social media promotion campaigns to drive candidates to your events – at no cost! Don’t be afraid to experiment, and bring your own brand voice and content into the mix. The better you represent your business and your culture, the better the results.