Social Recruiting

Terry Tarhark Shares How HR Profs Can Stay Innovative During the Era of Rapid Technology Change

Terry Tarhark is a regular speaker at SHRM, ERE and other major HR conferences around the world and one of the pre-eminent thought leaders on how technology (social, mobile, and more) are changing the world of recruiting.  Terry got his start as a recruiter in 1984, and began his most recent company TheRightThing in 2003, which has since grown to over 1,000 employees and recently sold to ADP.

Get Comfortable with Change.

The first question I asked Terry was whether or not the current pace of change is really that different from years past?  HR has always been budget constrained and always had to make difficult choices between a wealth of new and evolving recruiting tools. Terry affirmed that this time period is in fact quite different than the past.   As the Internet has evolved and the global population has become increasingly connected, communities like LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and more have gained traction and impact at an accelerating rate and have fundamentally changed many recruiting tactics.

Terry noted that while the pace of HR innovation began getting faster 10 years ago, the past 2 years have been absolutely blistering.  This means that as HR professionals you must be comfortable with an in flux strategy.  This is one of the reasons we recommend HR teams to develop better data practices–this kind of rapid feedback loop is important when making hard decisions on where to invest time and resources.

The Leading Edge vs. the Bleeding Edge

When considering new technologies Terry noted that companies should be innovative, but there is plenty of progress that can be made by going after the leading edge rather than the bleeding edge.  For example, at this point, it is undeniably clear that developing a mobile strategy is important for recruiting—yet many companies don’t even have basic mobile tools in place.  Following the 80/20 rule (that 80% of the value of many strategies can be captured by doing 20% of the work) many companies advance their goals substantially with small mobile investments.

So does your company need a SnapChat account (like Taco Bell recently developed)?  Absolutely not.  This is the bleeding edge, where the value of such products is unproven and hazy.


In the current pace of innovation, it takes months, not years to learn which platforms are likely to be winners for your recruiting team and which are likely to be duds.  So is developing a strategy for SEO important?  Absolutely.  Is developing a strategy for G+?  Maybe not.  Is developing a strategy for Facebook important?  Certainly.  Is developing one for Virtual Career Fairs?  Maybe not.

How to Start on Mobile

One of the most common concerns I hear from HR leaders about mobile, is that making any change is going to be too time consuming, expensive, or challenging to undertake.   Terry’s take?  Don’t try to climb Everest all at once.  Start with bite sized changes, each of which can pay sizable dividends and build towards an outsized result.

The most important and simplest change to make according to Terry, is to start incorporating two-way mobile messaging into your recruiting process. This includes basic features like automated text messages to candidates helpfully reminding them of interview times.  If you go to the mall now a days and sit down in the food court and look around what do you expect to see?  Nearly every single eater is going to have a phone in their hands checking their Facebook, emails, and texts.  The ability for your recruiters to send and receive text messages is table stakes in today’s world where candidates have a phone attached their hip 24/7. Hiring is ultimately a people business and so communicating in the manner that is most comfortable to employees is key.

According to Terry a myriad of texting services exist that are free or close to free to setup and cost pennies per text.  Compare the setup costs required for such a service against hiring a vendor to build a mobile-friendly career site and you will quickly understand why texting is such a popular first step amongst HR teams.

Building Communities:

What are talent communities and why do the matter when communities already exist on LinkedIn, Twitter, and elsewhere?  If you are like many HR managers than you are probably skeptical of the prospect of adding another platform that you need to update with fresh content to your team’s list of To Dos.   That said Terry highly recommends building an internal community to any company that does consistent long term hiring.  Why?

As every recruiter knows, if you try building a relationship with a candidate when you need them, you are already too late.  Talent communities offer a scalable strategy for passive recruiting .   The goal is to create a place where individuals in the field you hire most in, are able to connect with each other, receive periodic updates about your company, and get to know your brand.  They are not there to be hired but to soak in information.  Ultimately, when they are ready for a new job, or you have a new role that becomes available that is a perfect fit for them, they will be warm and ready to apply.

The goal of a talent community is to gather names.  Get as many potential leads as possible singed into your database, receiving regular information and engaging with your brand. Sites like LinkedIn and Twitter are simply tools to grow your community.  This type of campaign is best for large companies with a sizable staff and budget, as a stale community (one that is not updated at least a few times a week) will do more harm than good.

When you are ready to build this community, Terry recommends iCIMS Connect, Sourcepoint and more as great Showmethemoneysoftware partners.

In Conclusion:

To survive in the era of rapid technology change you must be flexible.  Rather than try to be the most innovative company, your HR results can grow substantially by identifying leading edge (not bleeding edge) technologies   to invest in. Look at what is working for industry leaders and find the budget to build comparable campaigns! Ultimately, you have the dollars out there and not investing in proven technologies like mobile at this point in time is unacceptable.


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Nathan Parcells

Nathan Parcells is VP of Marketing and co-founder of Looksharp. He has spent the past decade helping students launch their career, researching best practices for hiring millennials (including running Looksharp's annual "State of College Hiring") and sharing these insights with employers. Nathan's work has been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, Business Insider and more. Outside of work, Nathan is an avid rock climber, back packer and Bob Dylan fan.