June 17, 2010   view past issues

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On Integration

The dictionary defines the word integration as “the act of combining or adding parts to make a unified whole.” For those of us in the field of recruiting, the proliferation of channels by which we now source candidates makes integration both especially difficult and especially important. Achieving and then maintaining a consistent and compelling message across social media sites, the corporate career site, job boards, career fairs, and even the employee referral program is a daunting challenge, yet one we have to meet if we’re going to recruit high caliber talent effectively.

The rise of LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and a host of other social media sites has made it all but impossible to reach a large percentage of the candidate population with any single channel. Add to that the 100,000+ job boards now in operation and the full range of traditional channels-from print publications to local business meetings-and the odds of success become about the same as your chances of winning the lottery.

In addition, candidates today have the attention span of a gnat, so they flit incessantly among channels. A top prospect may begin their online journey on Twitter and read a tweet about your company’s latest product, then dash off to Facebook where they’ll see a friend’s post about their cousin’s experience working for the company so move on to visit its corporate career site and finally end up at an aggregator site or on their favorite job board … all in the space of an hour or two. Managing the messaging across those channels is enough to take you back to the horrors of high school algebra; it’s like solving an equation with a dozen unknown variables.

So, what should you do? How can you achieve integration in such a wildly disintegrated environment? While acknowledging the enormity of the challenge, I think it’s best to begin by focusing on the two key ingredients of that “unified whole” that is the goal of integration.

  • Consistency
  • and

  • Linkage.
  • Let’s look at each of these separately.


    Consistency involves the creation of a single message that is used in every candidate channel. It could be your employment brand or a more aggressive “sales pitch” to ramp up your hiring for a new product launch or facility opening. Whatever it is, the central idea you convey and even the choice of words you use must be the same in every single channel.

    Such consistency is difficult to achieve in any of a number of different situations. For example:

  • when an organization is hiring only a relatively small number of new workers and thus creates and disseminates messages on a sporadic and ad hoc basis;
  • when an organization puts different recruiters “in charge of” its messaging on different channels because each is the acknowledged team expert in their particular channel;
  • and

  • when an organization has a large and/or decentralized recruiting team with no single person or unit responsible for coordinating its messaging.
  • Despite those challenges, however, it is critical that your organization achieve and maintain consistency. Differing messages or different expressions of the same message across multiple channels will confuse candidates and diminish your ability to influence their behavior. In the past, we told ourselves that we only got one chance to make a good first impression; today, we have hundreds of chances to make one good impression, and it’s just as important that we do.


    The propensity of candidates to move among channels presents us with a choice. We can accept that such movement exists and simply react to it, or we can endeavor to exert some control over that movement so that it better serves our purpose. Linkage is the way you accomplish the latter goal. You create “stepping stones” among the various channels to make it easy for candidates to follow a path you have laid out.

    To use my earlier example, instead of accepting a prospect’s random journey through various channels, you would provide the following linkages:

  • The product announcement that the candidate sees on Twitter would also contain a link to the company’s profile page on Facebook;
  • The profile page on Facebook, in turn, would include a message about employment with the company and a link to its corporate career site;
  • And, the same link would also appear in every single one of its job postings.
  • In effect, no matter where a candidate goes, they are led to back to the one place online where you have the best opportunity to sell them on your organization. That’s the purpose of linkage-to amplify the impact of your message by eliminating or at least lowering the randomness of how candidates will see it. We can’t, of course, stop them from moving around, but we can try and move them to where we can make our best impression on them, and it’s important that we do that, as well.

    A consistent and well linked pattern of messages enables you to create a clear and more impactful portrait of your organization. Its repetition across multiple channels ensures that everyone sees the organization in the same way and sees it everywhere they look. Advertisers call that saturating the market; we recruiters call it integration.

    Thanks for reading,


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