The New Recruiting Tactic that Cost One Company Dearly

July 20, 2015

A big trend in employment branding right now is the emphasis on using your employees as brand ambassadors. The idea is simple: employees are seen as more credible and accessible by the talent you wish to recruit. So, why not have your employees engage on social media and tap into their online and offline networks so they can refer more candidates to your company?

Given 80% of all jobs are gotten via referrals, this seems like a very smart recruiting strategy and it can be, when done right. This LinkedIn article shows how Dell computers trained their workforce to become a powerful extension of its recruiting efforts. However, if not properly managed, it does come with risks. Like, when a well-intended employee posts this:

The mistake

“My employer is looking for a young, energetic person who can hustle.”

This is what an enthusiastic staffer put on her Facebook page a few months back in an effort to help her employer (which she adores!), find a new hire. Unfortunately, someone (most likely older, out of work, and angry about age discrimination), saw the posting and reported them to the Labor Department.

The company was cited and required to do EEO (Equal Employment Opportunity) training. The owners of this small company (less than fifty employees), were completely blindsided. How could a well-intentioned employee get them in so much trouble? They were completely unaware the employee had done this.

Lesson learned: Anyone representing your employment brand needs to know the do’s and don’ts of recruiting. That’s why, when it comes to building up your employment branding efforts, you should start with the people that know best!

4 must-do’s when leveraging staff as talent brand ambassadors

If your company is itching to use employees to find candidates, I encourage you to take the following four action steps to minimize the chance of something like the above happening.

1. Select a small group to start.

Ideally, you should begin with your recruiters. Your recruiting team is the front-line sales people for your talent brand. Not only are they more familiar with EEO and recruiting compliance, but they can also offer insight into what features and benefits of working for the company most resonate with the talent you seek.

2. Provide them with proper EEO training.

Understanding rules around equal opportunity hiring is key to being able to produce the right messaging. Providing a list of terms that can’t be used, i.e. young, and the reasons why will help your ambassadors think twice before posting something.

3. Develop “company-approved” terms, phrases and topics.

The more examples you can provide as acceptable posts for social media, the easier it will be for ambassadors to spread the word and personalize their messages without fear of being out of compliance.

4. Monitor heavily for the first month.

Offering positive feedback and suggestions for tweaks or changes that you think would get more traction is important. Your ambassadors not only want to know their efforts are appreciated, but they are learning a new skill. Give them the feedback they need to improve, keeping in mind they’ll be role models and coaches to the next batch of employees you train.

The above is an agile method for getting your talent brand ambassador program up and running quickly and effectively. From there, you can continue to develop additional employees, using what you learned to get them up-to-speed faster.


J.T. O’Donnell is founder and CEO of CAREREEALISM, a website dedicated to showcasing recruiter brands to more than 1,000,000 sophisticated job seekers. Want to get your recruiter brand in front of top talent? Apply here to be considered for the “Purple Squirrel Society,” an elite group of recruiters we exclusively showcase to top talent. Use your expertise and reputation to increase the quantity and quality of the talent applying to your open positions – become a Purple Squirrel Society Member today!

To receive blog posts like this one straight in your inbox, subscribe to the blog newsletter.

*Image from Andrés Nieto Porras