My Web 2.0 Tools training DVD discusses the use of Instant Messaging in recruiting. Dan over at Recruiting Blogs asked about the best ways to use these tools, and I figured I'd share my comments here.
It won't ever be a HUGE Win, but like all the tools, it depends on how you market it. One problem is a lot of people have different clients, so picking one doesn't work as well as picking a unified system like Meebo. Second, you have to catch people who already are on IM, so spending time in groups online matters, which is different than simply leaving a signup on IM.
People have resistance to trying something new - are you driving them to the IM? Are you writing about it on a blog? Do you have a landing page where you describe why IM works and what they can expect?
And once you get them, how do you speak to them? IM has its own language - do you know it?
Just some thoughts. IM works, but only in concert with an overall marketing strategy.
That last sentence is important because IM is a messaging tool. Messaging tools include IM, Twitter, Facebook, while sourcing tools would include MySpace, LinkedIn, and blogs. There's an important distinction between the two.
Messaging Tools: Candidates use messaging tools to talk to each other. Much of the information useful for recruiting is shallow in these systems. It's difficult to tell if someone who is listed as a director of marketing of Twitter is the right fit, versus on LinkedIn, you can pull up the full background. Messajing tools are often seen as these wonderful places to connect with candidates. We assume that because users are talking to each other, they'll know how to talk to recruiters, and will be open to sharing job information. That's a poor assumption. Users share information with each other, but get a little freaked out when we approach them as recruiters. The right way to use these tools is to connect to someone first, then introduce the idea of a job search through pull marketing tactics.
So on Facebook, you don't source a name and then send a message asking them to friend you as a recruiter. You find someone you want to recruit, and once they've acknowledged you, you send an invite to make them a friend. Once you've established who you are, you can message them, though you still need to respect the channel and not broadcast jobs (broadcasting jobs is for opt-in email lists. rss feeds and job boards).
Sourcing Tools are large databases online of people that may or may not connect with you. MySpace, LinkedIn, and blogs are great targets for information that you can utilize to fill your database with leads. Based on their activity level, these sites are also good places to determine if someone is the right fit. You can reach out to a candidate after reading their activity on these three sites (MySpace is a mix of sourcing and messaging, so be careful), and they tend to be more receptive, as long as you make it clear that you have read them. Recruiters often don't bother to do this, which is why each of these sources has a bad reputation among candidates, but done correctly, it's a lot easier to build passive talent pools and referrers.
All web tools are not equal. Each requires a commitment to learn both the language, but also the system. And of course, you have to build a profile in each. The reward, is a large group of networked contacts eager to help their friend. Their friend who recruits.