Philip Wilson of the Civil Service's Fast Stream programme talks to Workingmums.co.uk about how the programme is using social media to get its recruitment message across to a wide range of potential applicants.
How do you ensure your organisation gets the most diverse range of candidates applying and not a carbon copy of whoever sits on your board?
It's a huge question and one which covers everything from how you word your job adverts and where you advertise to how you get your broader message out to a wide target market. It's one which increasingly involves social media.
A recent breakfast seminar examined some of the latest thinking about increasing diversity. The Improving Diversity in Recruitment seminar was organised in London by talent management and e-recruitment software supplier WCN.
One of the speakers was Philip Wilson, Chief Psychologist & Chief Assessor of the Civil Service Fast Stream programme for graduates. He covered several areas including mapping the diversity challenge, how to get branding and social media right, and reaching out to under-represented groups.
With young people being so tuned into Facebook and Twitter, the Civil Service Fast Stream has embraced social media as a way of reaching a more diverse candidate base with enthusiasm.
We see it as a good way of connecting with potential applicants to our programme,” says Wilson.
Although they are only in the second full year of doing social media seriously, they have already got 4,000 followers on Facebook and Wilson says the reach goes far beyond those 4,000 since people forward information. “It gets amplified a lot,” he says.
A key part of their success is that they have a team of moderators who update Facebook and give advice and support, answering any question or comment within 24 hours. “It's so important to reply quickly or people will get a negative perception and feel they have been forgotten. You have to keep the dialogue going all the time,” says Wilson.
The style is chatty, informal and friendly so that people feel they can raise any issues they want to. “We are trying to create a brand that is engaging and welcoming,” he adds. “We want people to think it is a friendly and interesting place to work.”
The moderators are people who are currently on the graduate programme. “They are very aware of the issues and understand what it is useful to know,” says Wilson.
The Fast Stream also organises live online discussions, for instance, with the head of the Civil Service. Wilson says that reaching out to a more diverse candidate base is not about changing the message, but making sure that any role models they use and their bloggers and moderators include people from diverse backgrounds and a good gender mix.
Their internship programme is targeted at people from lower socio-economic groups and ethnic minorities, encouraging them to come in and see what the civil service does. They also work with schools, colleges and commuity groups.
The Fast Stream is moving into Twitter and Youtube with video footage showing, for instance, the different types of roles within the Civil Service.
Using social media is very cost effective,” says Wilson, “and it means we can respond directly to questions and raise awareness about what the civil service does. Live chats allow the bigger picture to be revealed.”
It's too early yet to be able to fully assess the impact of using social media as a recruitment tool, but the Fast Stream have been asking people how they heard about them. “There is no doubt that people are using it and traffic to our website is high,” says Wilson.
Picture credit: Igor Kole and Creative Commons.