How Job Seekers Crack the Social Recruiting Code

Onward Search Career Cast, Episode #25

This episode of the Onward Search Career Cast explores what makes social recruitment different from traditional recruiting and what job seekers can do to attract the attention of social recruiters.
Career Cast guest Will Staney, Talent Acquisition Web Strategy Manager at VMware, has been building social recruiting strategies for two years which makes him an excellent source of advice on how job seekers can “turn it around” to get right in front of social recruiters. Will discusses great ideas that all job seekers can use to attract the attention of recruiters who are leveraging social methods, including targeting recruiters, getting creative with your approach, and much more.

Listen to this episode for wonderful inspiration that will take your job search to the next level. You’ll learn how to crack the social recruitment code and grab the attention of recruiters before other job seekers do!

Episode #25 Transcript

Welcome to Onward Search Career Cast, the podcast that brings you the latest insight and career advice from experts within the Internet marketing and creative space.  Onward Search is a leading nationwide provider of web-based talent and offers a full range of recruitment and staffing solutions. If you’re looking for a career in search engine optimization, interactive design, or emerging technologies, you should apply online at or call 800.829.0072 and speak with an experienced recruiter today.

“HillaryHillary O’Keefe: Welcome everybody to a brand new episode of the Onward Search Career Cast. I’m Hillary O’Keefe, your host today and I’m speaking with Will Staney. How’s it going, Will?

“WillWill Staney: It’s going good, thanks for having me.

“HillaryHillary O’Keefe: Of course, very good to have you on the show. For those who don’t know Will, Will is the talent acquisition web strategy manager at VMware and for the past two years, Will has been spearheading VMware’s social recruitment adoption and strategy. This makes him an excellent source of information on today’s topic; it’s a really fun one. We’re going to be talking about social recruitment, right Will?

“WillWill Staney: That’s right. Cracking kind of the social recruitment code of how recruiters find you. Let’s flip it around and show you how you as a candidate can find recruiters and companies online, through social media as well.

“HillaryHillary O’Keefe: This is the part of it that I love. It’s the active part, it’s not just sitting back and thinking, well I look good online so let me just throw my rĂ©sumĂ© out there and see what happens. It’s so much more proactive and there are things that you can do to get in front of these people and attract their attention because they’re looking for you, they’re scouring the internet. Last week Will dropped a whole bunch of wonderful knowledge on me about tactics for attracting social recruiters, so we’re going to go over them today.

The first one I have here it’s the basics, it’s the 101, Personal Branding. You really can’t do much online until you have your basics figured out, right?

“WillWill Staney: Right. Being regularly active on social sites like on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn where social recruiters are living and being aware of your audience on these networks. Of course obviously you don’t want to post negative information about your current employer or anything like that on Twitter because you never who’s going to be looking. Nowadays, recruiters are beginning to adopt the idea of personal branding themselves or employer branding through these sites and they’re looking for candidates there as well, and you want to make you’re putting your best face forward.

“HillaryHillary O’Keefe: Definitely, you can’t be talking smack about anybody. Those pictures from Mardi Gras, yeah you might want to take those down. But once you have all that cleaned up, it is time to get to your second point here. You say that spitting it back at these recruiters is an excellent way to get their attention, what does that mean?

“WillWill Staney: Recruiters out there on these social network sites are trying to find you. They’re using Twitter directories, they’re using LinkedIn recruiter search and they’re even looking on Facebook as well, but you can spit it back at them and turn it around and do the same thing. A lot of companies now are creating career channels on Facebook and these different social pages like VMware. We have VMware recruiters on Facebook; we even have a YouTube page with videos. Going and interacting, connecting with the companies on these pages also going and searching out recruiters on LinkedIn and Twitter is a great tactic. Recruiters out there are searching keywords to find you; you can actually go out and let’s say you applied for a job at a company for a marketing position. Well you can go on LinkedIn or on a Twitter directory and do a search for recruiter, company name and you could possibly even find the recruiter that’s interviewing for those positions and actually reach out to them in more of a proactive fashion instead of just blasting your résumé out hoping they’ll call you.

“HillaryHillary O’Keefe: It’s kind of like the fish jumping right into your boat instead of having to go fish for it.

“WillWill Staney: That’s right, and that’s kind of optimal for the recruiters too, they’d rather the good candidates that are proactive and smart enough, (1) that makes you look like a better candidate, if you’re just more proactive person but they really like it when you come to them, they’re not having to go out there and find you, right?

“HillaryHillary O’Keefe: And easier things like that, everybody loves that. You can’t beat it.

“WillWill Staney: Yeah, absolutely.

“HillaryHillary O’Keefe: Your next point is about getting creative, and I understand this is just about going above and beyond. Because if you really want that job and you really want to work at that company, you’re going to do whatever it takes to get that job.

“WillWill Staney: Exactly. So when you’re reaching out to these recruiters, reaching out to them in a way that they aren’t seeing it everyday. Recruiters see the same kind of résumés and the same kind of candidates saying, what’s the status of my application? If you can reach out to them in more of a creative way, whether that’s creating creative videos, kind of a video résumé… I don’t know if you’re aware of the guy that did the, I want to work at where he did this video where he’s kind of like sitting back on this chair in a sort of sort of domineering way in a suit and speaking right to Google in a very intimate way and really showcasing himself. He built a whole website around that.

“HillaryHillary O’Keefe: It was so creative.

“WillWill Staney: Very creative and that’s the kind of stuff that creates buzz and recruiters really… it gets their attention because they’re used to seeing sort of the same thing everyday. SlideRocket, a division of VMware, we make candidates actually submit presumes which are sort of presentation résumés using the SlideRocket kind of cloud based presentation software and we have this just amazing one come through and maybe I’ll send you the link after this where a candidate actually did this amazing presentation using this cloud software, it almost looked like a video, really showcasing it in a really creative way. It was so good that the recruiter that got that shared it with all the other recruiters in the organization and then those recruiters shared it with the rest of the company and by the time that this person started in there, I believe she just started last week actually, she already had sort of a fan base internally.

Imagine starting in a company and then everybody already knows who you are. I mean you’re like…

“HillaryHillary O’Keefe: That’s the kind of impression you want to make certainly.

“WillWill Staney: Right, it’s an amazing first impression. Anytime you can go above and beyond or kind of make yourself stick out from the rest… I mean recruiters get so many applications, and especially in this job market where there’s so many people looking for jobs and every position gets so many applications and résumés and sometimes if… any way that you can stick out is going to really help you.

“HillaryHillary O’Keefe: So if you’re a web developer, you definitely want to build a website for yourself. If you are a flash professional, you maybe want to pull something together that’s like an interactive business card that you could send to people. Those kinds of things are going to help you get that job before the next guy or gal in line gets the attention of that recruiter, right?

“WillWill Staney: Exactly, I mean recruiters call this the purple squirrel.

“HillaryHillary O’Keefe: Oh yes.

“WillWill Staney: Be the purple squirrel, the one they’re looking for but they don’t know that sometimes just from a text résumé. Employers are starting to get this too and they’re doing that, like for VMware we do video job description. It’s a video of the hiring manager, the actual person that would be hiring you and their team, talking about what the culture is like, what this role entails and it’s kind of a way of letting the candidates meet their possible boss before even applying to the job and you get a really good idea of what it’s going to be like to work there before applying.

You can turn it around the other way, you can really get employers a good idea of what kind of employee you’ll be before they even bring you in for an interview and maybe that will more encourage that recruiter, maybe you’re missing a little bit of the, some of the skills on the résumé or maybe you didn’t convey as well on the paper but because you used sort of dynamic content to introduce yourself, they really get to see who you are and that’s really a big part of why people hire people. It’s not always just about the skill, sometimes it’s are you a good cultural fit, do you have the personality and the kind of person that has a creative thought process. Sometimes using these creative ways like building your own website, highlighting yourself, doing a video, doing something creative really shows that.

“HillaryHillary O’Keefe: Right, and anything that can help you step out of that boring, everybody else has just sent in their rĂ©sumĂ© kind of rut, you’re going to be doing so much better than anybody else and that was your next point, which is a fun phrase, rĂ©sumĂ© blast are a thing of the past.

“WillWill Staney: Yeah, I love saying that. Résumé blasts are a thing of the past.

“HillaryHillary O’Keefe: So you definitely don’t want to be just sending it out there, right?

“WillWill Staney: Exactly. You want to really start doing some research about the company beforehand. The days of kind of going out there and just blasting out a bunch of résumés, hoping that you’ll get that call back are over and it’s really the other way for the recruiters too.

Recruiters can’t just go out there and fish all the job boards and try to find résumés on the open web; they have to be more proactive and go out there and actually do some research on the candidates, use some strategic social sourcing to go out there and find that top talent.

You can do it the other way. You can go out there and leverage those social sites that employers have up, find those recruiters and build relationships and really research the company and the possible hiring manager that you may be working for, that way when you get in the interview you are well equipped with some good information that will really impress that recruiter and say, hey wow, this person really did their research and they really know how they’re going to make a good impact at the company.

“HillaryHillary O’Keefe: Yes. And speaking of building relationships, no discussion of social recruitment would be complete without touching upon Facebook. Now, I want to talk about the impression that Facebook is really designed just for personal use and that unless you’re going to build out your own sort of company page, it’s not the best place to do any sort of networking. I understand you beg to differ.

“WillWill Staney: I definitely beg to differ. Many statistics even show that Facebook is the place where most people actually prefer to interact with brands and it’s also where you have that tighter network of friends who are more willing to refer you. So utilizing Facebook in your job search can really help you out, right? So using other applications as well that are built on top of Facebook like BranchOut. BranchOut is an amazing tool that you can use, they go in there and you can actually put in a search for a company and it really shows you your personal sociograph that you may not even know that your friend Joe, happens to know somebody at that company that you’re hiring for. So you put in the company name and it actually shows you all your second and third degree connections at that company that maybe you didn’t even know you had. And if you think about it this way, who’s more likely to refer you and actually reach out into their network and put in a good word for you? Is it that person you met three months ago at a conference that you exchanged business cards with and synced up with on LinkedIn?

“HillaryHillary O’Keefe: No, it’s going to be Joe because you helped Joe push that giant futon up 7 flights of stairs when you guys were freshman together in the dorm. That’s who’s going to do it.

“WillWill Staney: Exactly, it’s your close network of friends that do that and it even shows statistically 70% of the referrals by employees at a company are their close network of friends, the kind of people that they’re friends on Facebook with, not that random person that they network with professionally that they don’t know very well. They can’t really vouch for those people that well so.

“HillaryHillary O’Keefe: Yeah, and people like to work with who they like too.

“WillWill Staney: Yeah and Facebook is just more of an engaging environment. A recruiter wants to get to know your personality as well and you can really connect on Facebook in more of a professional way. Of course you want to protect yourself, and Facebook has a lot of new updates that they’ve done around privacy settings. It’s baked right into when you edit your profile so as you’re going to your profile, those tagged photos, it’s okay if you got party pictures on Facebook now. You can actually just set it and say, okay only my close friends can see these tagged photos and any professional connections I have on Facebook have sort of a limited profile view.

So it’s a lot easier to set it up and protect yourself on Facebook now and really keep that professional life and personal life kind of meshed together yet also separate at the same time and I really think in this day and age those worlds of the professional connection world, professional networking and personal life are really starting to blend. Very commonly we work with people that we become friends with or we end up working at a place that our friends work at so those lines are really starting to blend.

“HillaryHillary O’Keefe: And I’m certain that social recruiters are acknowledging and they’re taking advantage of it to their leveraging and saying, you know what these are the people that I want for this company, for this contract, for this position because they’re putting themselves out there, they know how to use these platforms and make themselves look really good or promote their design skills, those kinds of things.

“WillWill Staney: Yeah and I think recruiters – we really haven’t even tipped the iceberg yet of how beneficial Facebook is yet but I think recruiters are really attached to Facebook because if you think about it, by next year Facebook is going t o have 1 billion users. That’s a big pool to fish out of , compared to LinkedIn, you’ve got 100 million connections, 100 million users on LinkedIn.

Of those 100 million, only 50 million have complete profile so it’s kind of like, do I fish out of a pool of 50 million professionals and don’t get me wrong, LinkedIn is great for finding executive talent, people that are really professionally bound but some of those really good candidates like you listening here on this program, you may be one of those good candidates that just isn’t on LinkedIn because every recruiter out there is fishing that pond and if you’re a good candidate, you can get like five emails from different recruiters every week and some of them get kind of turned off from that and they leave LinkedIn.

Engineers, for example, really like Twitter. So that’s a place that technical recruiters like to hang out and add value.

“HillaryHillary O’Keefe: And getting the attention of these recruiters who are leveraging more than just LinkedIn, as you just mentioned it’ll differ depending on what you’re doing and what industry you’re in. So you do really have to leverage all five of these tips, everything from the personal branding to spinning it back at them and getting creative and avoiding rĂ©sumĂ© blast and using Facebook. When you pull it all together you’re going to get right in front of the exact right kind of recruiter who’s essentially looking for you. They’re out trying to find you.

“WillWill Staney: I would say the first thing to do when you’re hunting for a job is not going out there and of course blasting your résumé out but identify 5, 10 companies that you really want to work at that you think fit a good culture and have exciting opportunities that you’d like to do.

“HillaryHillary O’Keefe: That’s a very good point.

“WillWill Staney: And then really study those companies and go out and connect to those companies and I bet you their recruiters are on social media.

“HillaryHillary O’Keefe: Yup so now that we have these great prescriptions for getting in front of these recruiters, I want to cover one don’t ever do this kind of bit of advice because when you’re taking on these more creative and more exciting ways of getting yourself out there, you don’t want to lose your cool or sort of step over any lines because these people are still recruiters and they are, we’re all professionals here.

What would you say is your biggest piece of don’t ever do this advice as you are embarking cracking the social recruitment code and getting in front of these recruiters?

“WillWill Staney: During the job hunting process, I think we’ve all been turned down for a job, right?

“HillaryHillary O’Keefe: Yeah.

“WillWill Staney: But it’s really how you handle that rejection, right? Even though you got turned down, some candidates and these are some feedbacks I’ve gotten from recruiters, they aren’t very professional in handling that news sometimes over the phone or through email and what that does is, that recruiter will remember either way. They’ll remember if you’re kind of rude after that news or they’ll remember if you handled it very gracefully. So doing something like thanking the recruiter even though they turned you down, emailing back or on the phone, thanking them for speaking to the team on your behalf and spending time with that and then I would ask them if you could add them to your professional network on LinkedIn or connect with them on Twitter or Facebook and stay in their network because that recruiter is very connected in that company and when another position comes up and you’ve made an impression on them, they’re going to think of you, they’re going to come back, consider you for the other position. So I would reach out to that recruiter in a networking fashion and just keep in contact with them and see if they can even pass on a thank you note to the hiring manager and the team that you interviewed with. That really leaves a good impression to the hiring manager as well so the next time that they got an opening on the team, maybe you were really close, you don’t know and they’ll think of you again.

“HillaryHillary O’Keefe: It sounds like a very social thing to do.

“WillWill Staney: Exactly.

“HillaryHillary O’Keefe: Which is stay connected.

“WillWill Staney: Yeah.

“HillaryHillary O’Keefe: Well this is fantastic Will, thank you so much. I hope that everybody out there listening, take all these advice and wrap it up and let it run in your head and think of ways to go above and beyond and step outside of whatever job search rut or groove you may be in because that is how you are going to attract social recruiters, these people who are looking for you as well and they’ll be so psyched to meet you and so excited to see that you are doing something different with yourself because that will tell them that you really are the right person for the job. Will, it’s been fantastic to have you on the show, is there anything, oh of course, is there anything going on with VMware that you’d like to tell the audience about?

“WillWill Staney: Yeah absolutely. Of course VMware careers can be found on pretty much every social network, on Facebook, on Twitter. We have a great YouTube channel with a lot of great videos about what it’s like to work here and if you are interested in positions at VMware, we have a regular live stream and we have one coming up on October 12th, I believe that’s a Wednesday.

“HillaryHillary O’Keefe: Very cool.

“WillWill Staney: It’ll be our first one with recruiter Brooke Anderson, talking about what the modern day hiring process is like and we’ll also be covering some frequently asked candidate questions.

“HillaryHillary O’Keefe: Very nice. So while you’re out there checking out the VMware and all of their social properties and everything, don’t forget to head over to because we have a bunch of really cool jobs up right now that we need people for.

If you are in Atlanta, get in contact with the team if you are a Senior Interactive Developer because they’re looking for one. The Boston team is on the hunt for a UX Style Guide Specialist. Our Chicago team is looking for a QA Tester. There is a Senior Copywriter opening in Dallas. The LA team is working on finding a Creative Design Manager. The New York City team is looking for a Web Production Artist. Philadelphia is looking for a Visual Designer. Our San Francisco team is looking for a Project Manager. The Washington DC team is looking for a Digital Producer. So be sure to check out those jobs and tons more.

Will, I’m sure we’ll speak again really soon and to everybody out there, good luck with your job search, get social, get creative and I will meet you right back here again for another episode of Onward Search’s Career Cast.

Thank you for tuning in to Onward Search Career Cast. For more information on the career opportunities available through Onward Search, you should visit us online at or call 800.829.0072, and speak with an experienced recruiter. And you should also follow Onward Search on Twitter at