By Harpaul Sambhi
When it comes to using social media for human resources and communications, Ernst & Young has been a pioneer.
For years, it predicted that about one-half of its workforce would be Generation Y by 2011 — a forecast that has held true.
And with 84 per cent of Generation Y on social networks, according to research firm Accenture, Ernst & Young knew social media would be an essential part of its recruitment strategy— especially if it wanted to differentiate itself from competitors in the accounting and tax industry.
In August 2006, Ernst & Young embarked on a journey into the world of social networking and, in particular, Facebook. At the time, Facebook was predominantly a social network for college students.
At first, the company received mixed reactions from students on Facebook, who felt the company was invading their personal space, said Dan Black, campus recruitment leader of Ernst &Young.
But the professional services firm won over students’ trust by following its own rule that Facebook is a place to connect for social purposes and not a tool to check up on potential recruits by viewing personal profiles. Instead, the Ernst & Young Careers Facebook page has become a place where people can come and ask recruiters questions about career planning and applying for jobs.
Recruiters, hiring managers, employees and alumni all answer questions posted by Ernst & Young Careers, which has more than 91,500 likes on Facebook. The page also offers articles and tips on interviews, resumés and other relevant information for the accounting world.
Unlike newspaper advertisements, regular media and job boards, social media allows for two-way communication where employers can access candidates, talk with them prior to the interview and, most importantly, direct them to the right opportunities. All it takes is a couple of minutes of a recruiter’s time and the company will end up with an appreciative candidate who will likely turn into an active fan or ambassador for the organization.
Here’s a post from a candidate on the Ernst & Young Careers page and the recruiter’s reply.
Original post: “Hi E&Y, I am currently studying econ at UCSB and I am very career minded. Can you give me any info/advice that would help me to pursue my goals at E&Y, or in the job market in general? Thank you.”
Reply: “Hi Matt — I’m the Campus Recruiter for UCSB. Feel free to send me a message through Facebook and we can set up some time to chat. In the interim, I would encourage you to attend as many of the Accounting Society meetings on campus as possible, I believe they host them every Wednesday at UCSB. The organization provides an opportunity for many of the firms to talk about information/advice that students are looking for. Thanks! Tina M.”
In the past, Ernst & Young developed an application called Ernst& Young Connect2U, which gives accounting students an advantage in achieving their career goals. Not only does it connect them with recruiters and advise them on when recruiters will be arriving on campuses across North America, but they get to network with alumni and industry leaders through a roundtable, which Black monitors on a daily basis. It is these types of innovations that allow Ernst & Young to really push the envelope of social innovation and catch the attention of its core audience.
The firm has moved into other social networking spheres as well — more than 70 per cent of the company’s 144,000 employees are currently on LinkedIn. The company is also on Twitter and is experimenting with some of the newest technologies online.
“We wanted to show candidates we are there for them in various mediums, as it shows candidates our willingness to connect,” says Black.
Do you believe your company does social recruitment correctly? I’d love to hear your stories and share them with the world.
Harpaul Sambhi is the CEO of Careerify, a company that develops social recruiting tools focused on employee referral programs with offices in Toronto and San Francisco. He is the author of Social HR, published by Carswell, which sheds insights in how social media is impacting human resources. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, (416) 840-6216 or visit www.careerify.net for more information.