Web 2.0 Employment Branding.
By Doug Rosen
Wednesday, 29th July 2009
The advent of social networking has brought a higher level of interactivity than ever before - 

HVS Executive Search looks at how hotel companies should use social networking as a strategy for their sales and marketing and customer relationship efforts.

In today's market companies within the hospitality industry are trying a multitude of strategies related to their human capital to both keep and attract the ‘A' player. On one hand we are seeing rounds of layoffs, four day work weeks, and reduced benefits. On the other hand some employers are creating new positions to help increase their top-line, and perhaps hire candidates that they normally would not have been able to attract in a more competitive market.

Still others are simultaneously bringing on and cutting certain positions with a view to streamlining the talent within their organization. What needs to remain consistent is the commitment for industry employers to demonstrate a solid employment brand on the Internet.

In this market that means more than just a list of available jobs on your website. The advent of social networking has brought a higher level of interactivity than ever before. Many hospitality industry professionals have begun to use social networking as a central strategy for their sales and marketing and customer relationship efforts. One must also be aware however, that an increased online presence will also affect your employment brand. As such branding is concerned with candidate attraction, engagement and retention initiatives, it is critical for an organization to create and most importantly control its employment brand which is visible to potential employees.

A corporate job board should offer a number of features. The back-end coding plays as important a role as front-end content. You cannot attract the best and brightest if they can't find you. Career web pages should be optimized to achieve prominent rankings within the leading searching engines (which means Google first, and all others second). On the front end at a minimum one should offer information related to company culture, employee testimonials, or other content that can help "sell" the company to a prospective candidate. For instance, Kimpton's careers home page, proudly touts its award as one of Fortune's 100 Best Companies to Work For.

Another example of a company that has several Best Practice features on their hotel website is White Lodging. In addition to a listing of all current openings, their Careers page features greater insight into the company's way of life. Their Success Stories add the personal touch that all good recruitment websites need. Other themes which are gaining prominence are company policies on environmental initiatives and social responsibility.

On these websites, the application process can vary greatly as there are many software solutions available now. Features may include candidate accounts which should be regularly updated, assessments and other screening tools. What should a company list if they do not have any available openings? Don't be concerned that it might communicate a lack of growth, or that the company is in a hiring freeze. The worst thing one can do is have old or erroneous jobs posted. I have heard hiring managers say that they keep them up because they often hire for those types of positions. There is nothing wrong with having a feature where candidates can send their information for future consideration. This helps build a more robust internal candidate database and doesn't turn off a job seeker.

The recent explosion of social networking websites has evoked passionate dialogue about its place in the business community. Opinions range from, "In the future we will all communicate in 140 characters or less" to "It's just a fad, it will pass". Social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn allow users to connect and interact in real time. Other Web 2.0 platforms – sites such as YouTube, include blogs and video content. In what ways can a company leverage these technologies to help build a better employment brand?

Bill Marriott recently opined on his blog about the state of healthcare in the United States and reinforced his commitment to the well being of his employees. LinkedIn's company profiles offer insight to prospective job seekers about the backgrounds and career paths current employees within the company have taken. Like most other web-based initiatives, content is king. To start "tweeting" (posting a message on Twitter) about irrelevant or obsolete happenings will be more of a detriment than an asset; and can appear as a poor ploy to jump on the latest bandwagon. The message you send out needs to add value to the viewer and offer insight into what your company can offer as a potential employer.

However, companies must take care when communicating through these web based channels. Internal standards and policies should be set to let current employees know what is acceptable to post. All such communication should go through a screening process by the public relations or communications department. Many hotel companies now have dedicated "online concierges" to handle outgoing messages. Companies also need to make a clear distinction between personal and company-endorsed or "official" blogs and profiles. The technology of most social networking sites allows anyone to create an account or profile under the company name and it is imperative to take into consideration how this can affect your company's online image.

As with all things new, one needs to tread carefully through the latest web-based channels of communication, but there is little doubt that embracing newer technologies will allow a company to communicate its employment brand message across many platforms. It will offer candidates greater access and insight into the organization and in turn positively influence the company's ability to attract the high performers. Introducing these technologies into your strategies related to human capital will serve you well, no matter what the current economic climate is.

Doug Rosen is Co-President, North America for HVS Executive Search, specializing in retained executive search and compensation and organizational development consulting for the lodging, restaurant, retail and gaming industries. Doug is also the founder of Hospitality Career Network, the management level recruitment solution for HVS. Since joining HVS in the fall of 2000, Doug has written numerous articles about online recruitment and handles executive level search, specifically focusing on the emerging segments of residential hotels and mixed-use development. Clients within that arena include Baha Mar Development, The Edge Group and Kingdom Hotel Investments


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