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How business leaders are using social media to attract talent

Employees and customers are using social media to talk about your business and engage with your brand. Are you leaving them to it or getting involved?

There is nothing analogue about the world we live in today, from our transportation, accommodation, exercise measurement to even simple food orders. The vast majority of businesses around the world have realised the myriad advantages of proactive digital engagement for safeguarding their reputation and attracting customers.

However, digital engagement also plays a major role in attracting and retaining top talent. In the past few years, we have seen some CEOs and even government officials pioneering this type of engagement not only to boost their reputation but also to entice young, brilliant minds to their business, organisation or cause. Sir Richard Branson is one of the leaders who really changed the definition of executive communication forever. He has set the bar high for other senior executives with 8 million people following his Twitter account. If you follow what he's done, you'll notice that it’s not about inviting people to come and join your organisation because you believe that is the best place to work, it is about portraying yourself and the culture within the organisation as compelling and inspiring. Messages are carefully chosen and nothing is as spontaneous as it may look. They are tailored to draw you into the company’s mission and vision, and to engage directly with your ego, talent and ambition.

How business leaders are using social platforms

The numbers of business leaders using social as a tool are still not great. According to recent research published in Fortune magazine, 70% of CEOs that engage at all on social networks do so through one network only, Linkedin being the dominant one with 161 global CEO active on it during 2015. An understanding of the need to grow a network of talent through digital communication is on a gradual surge in GCC as well.

Some of the most respected Linkedin influencers from this region are politicians and government leaders. People like His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid or Her Excellency Noura Al Kaabi spearhead digital outreach to their nations and talented people are seeking them out to admire their achievements and contribute to their acceleration. Their comments and blogs drive conversations about the economic, technological and cultural progress of society, but equally, touch upon their audience's ordinary life. They simply inspire people to join their "team” for the greater good.

Finding the value in social engagement

On the other hand, many CEOs and business leaders across the Middle East still hesitate to drive the social media agenda or engage in conversations with their networks - including potential talent - online. With a few exceptions, CEO-level social media presence for recruitment purposes is still far from where it should be. Some believe it's a matter for HR or recruitment consultancies to deal with talent appeals and others simply don’t see the value in it.

From talking to senior executives in the region, I know that there is a will for significant improvement in the use of social media in recruitment. Not only in tech-savvy organisations, such as Google and Microsoft, but also in the government and family businesses. If the social conversations so far have been focused on the customer or community, future conversations will see the talent pool brought into the group with equal gusto. No matter how senior, candidates are diligently using their smartphones to research companies, their presence on Linkedin, Twitter or Glassdoor, reviews of their CEOs and their interaction with stakeholders in the digital arena. Their first image of the business and its CEO is not coming from an A4 brochure but from quotes and interactions on social networks. As recent research by McKinsey shows, engagement on social media is not about adopting technological change but embracing a total cultural change. Our best talent is already embracing that change and forming their digital perception about the future employer, so employers must embrace it too in order to keep up.

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Author: Felice Hurst

With nearly twenty years of experience in search and recruitment and a decade of experience working in MENA, Felice set up the Hanson Search Middle East office to develop our offering in the region. Working across the spectrum of high-level vacancies, Felice has had considerable success across in-house and consultancy roles.

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