This is the third in a series of three interviews focused on careers, employer brand and social media: Paul (Corporate Eye CEO) interviews Matthew Berry, Resourcing Director at Centrica.
Often there’s a gap – particularly for graduates – between the time of recruitment, and the first day of work. How do you keep that relationship fresh?
And then again, at the end of employment: how can you keep communication channels open?
In this interview, Matt Berry explains how social media can be used to extend the conversation at both ends—and, indeed, to connect/reconnect employees with the company:
“alumni and onboarding… there’s a lot of potential, and the reason is that these networks are about relationships and communicating, and that’s what these tools are for. They’re designed to build a network and to communicate with people.
“the key in all of this: it’s about initiating a conversation. It’s still got to be a quality conversation
“with social media—and this is something that a lot of people underestimate—you must constantly turn the handle to engage”
Paul and Matthew talk about Centrica’s experience of extending relationships with candidates, employees and alumni through social recruiting techniques… do listen, this interview is crammed full of insight and information about how one of the largest companies in the UK manage social media recruitment.
I’ve broken the interview down into smaller pieces, so that you can quickly find particular points you’d like to hear about. I’ve also included the whole interview and a transcript.
Part 1: Social media and recruitment
- Facebook, interns and graduates
- LinkedIn, professional hires and the advantages of being a direct recruiter
- targeting on LinkedIn
- importance of investing in skilled social media people
“We have up to 500,000 applicants per annum… so trying to find a simple way of getting messages out to that fairly large audience is not easy, but social media lends itself very nicely to that”
“‘RateMyPlacement’, for example, is very important around the summer placement in the intern programmes because via that feedback and word of mouth via our participants we are building a reputation in delivering a great work experience. We encourage all our summer placement to leave their views on those ratings sites…”
“one of the big benefits we see in LinkedIn is that certainly half to three quarters of anyone [professional hires] that we would hire is already on it”
“when we do our executive recruitment [LinkedIn] would be the place we start no matter what”
“social media doesn’t just happen. It is an interactive thing by its nature and it needs some skilled people to really get full advantage from it”
“We have our applicant tracking system … linked in to Facebook, so you can physically tap into any job in our organisation in the UK from our Facebook page”
Download: Matthew Berry interview: part 1
Part 2: Social media and onboarding
- social media and decision-making
- using social media for support
- control, pragmatism and the front line
“it’s about trying to put information where people are already… our graduates, four or five years ago, were creating a Centrica 2007 intake Facebook page. We didn’t. And we couldn’t stop it if we wanted”
“so we just started tapping into that, giving them a framework… we’ll have induction days which we completely schedule via these groups, and they communicate, talk and support each other”
“one of the things we’ve recently built is an onboarding site, specifically for anyone that joins our business the moment they say ‘Yes, I’d love the job’. And one of the key things there is linking people into our social network”
“we can’t stop people saying what they say anyway but at least we know what’s being said, which is of huge benefit”
Download: Matthew Berry interview: part 2
Part 3: Social media and alumni
- risks and niche knowledge
- maintaining relationships with talent
- sharing internal information with alumni
“We’ve got some demographic challenges where we have to think a bit more flexibly about how do we capture some of that talent”
“not to have some mechanism to keep in touch is a bit of a risk, particularly where some of these individuals have such niche knowledge that’s very hard to replace”
“we’ll always be doing projects or elements of work that will still be of interest to that professional community”
Download: Matthew Berry interview: part 3
Part 4: Social media and referral recruiting
- social-media-enabling the referral process
- tracking and transparency
- engaging internally to get people to embrace it
“social media is an underestimated tool for referral programmes”
“It’s not how do we engage the external marketplace, it’s how do we engage the internal marketplace”
“we make sure that any role we have running an internal person can look at it and within […] two clicks they can share that job with their friends. So you could send me a link […] and I could apply straight away, and that would also help the business track the fact that you were the person that had introduced me”
“the external team now handles all internal recruitment as well… that team is now directly talking to all of these candidates. We would have 5-10,000 applications internally per annum, so we’re making sure that we’re the hub of all that communication”
Download: Matthew Berry interview: part 4
Part 5: Social recruitment governance
- social media policies, freedom and message control
- presenting a coherent front to the external candidate world
- avoiding the cold-call scenario
- merging of the social media and recruitment platforms
“we have a social media policy of course which is a fairly straightforward thing […] social media is part of everyone’s lives. Use it but use your common sense”.
“The big challenge with social media – or one of them – is that if you don’t keep your content relevant and fresh and up-to-date then there’s no reason for anyone to look at anything that you’re doing”
“it’s about the engagement activity that would get you interested to come in rather than pushing hard to push opportunities at people”
“Businesses will have to get more mature in the social media space, which is going to take a little bit of time. I think it’s an opportunity to make the process a bit more engaging. But I don’t think it’s going to make life easier.”
Download: Matthew Berry interview: part 5
Here’s the whole interview, in case you’d rather listen to it end-to-end; and the transcript, for those who prefer to read.
Many thanks to Matthew for taking the time to talk to Paul.
Who were we speaking to?
Matthew Berry started his career as a chemical engineer in the steel industry covering a number of operational, technical and management positions.
With a desire for travel, Matthew moved from Australia to the UK and worked as a Search and Selection consultant for European energy and process industries.
For the past 8 years, Matthew has worked with Centrica in a number of HR roles and is currently Resourcing Director for the Centrica Group.
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