Developing a Social Recruiting Strategy: From Bigot To Believer

In an effort to highlight HR, Recruiting and Talent Management professionals who are developing and implementing Innovative People Strategies every day in their workplaces, I’m starting a regular guest post series here on the Unbridled Talent blog to share some of their work and best practices. Today’s guest post is from R.J. Morris, the corporate Director of Staffing at McCarthy Building Companies, Inc. I first became aware of R.J. through reading his guest posts on Fistful of Talent and soon began following him on Twitter. My impression was that R.J. is a recruiting professional who “gets it” and I had the opportunity to confirm my suspicions when I met him in person at the recent Social Recruiting Summit at Best Buy in Minneapolis, MN.


Nine months ago, I would tease my wife when she logged into her Facebook account after the kids went to bed. In a horribly superior tone, I would ask her if she was 15 and IM’ing her BFF. I was neither classy nor witty. Like my mom ten years ago when she talked about “that internet thing,” I sounded like a complete idiot—a social media bigot, if you will. Thankfully, my wife is a very cool lady and recognized that I made fun of Facebook because I did not understand it. These days, I write guest blog posts, tweet and am helping to implement social recruiting in my organization.

Now? My wife makes fun of me daily.

How do you go from bigot to believer? I was, of course, initially afraid I had missed the boat. I kept hearing that companies were using social media to drive recruiting and business results—my limited exposure to Facebook made it seem like it was a tool that told me “Sally’s excited about shopping today” or “Heather has completed the Bugs Collection” on Farmville. Twitter? That was for folks who wanted to follow Ashton and Britney. I was hopeless and overwhelmed.

Thankfully, the social media community is very welcoming, and I began to learn. Progressive HR professionals were soon interacting with me, offering outstanding knowledge and resources. The challenge was how to translate that knowledge to the business that I support. “Look how much professional development I get from colleagues on Twitter,” is quite different than, “Here’s why we think we need to develop and implement a social media strategy across multiple communication channels supporting distinct organizational goals.”

We still don’t have it all figured out. We are trying to be deliberate, not splashy. Our team is responsible for recruiting activities nationwide, so we looked through that prism. LinkedIn was a safe first play. Executives at the company understood the tool, and many were active on the site. For our recruiting efforts, LinkedIn has tools that aligned well with our sourcing strategy, so we went there first. It is, of course, the least social/most controlled network, but it allowed us to establish a presence outside of the corporate website and show some results.

Facebook was next. Yep, my wife enjoyed mercilessly making fun of me each night as I logged on to check out competitors and review top page designs. Mashable became a good friend as we matched user demographics to our national recruiting strategy. I was scared that selling Facebook as a recruiting tool to a conservative organization in a down economy would be tough. Nope. I work with smart people, and they quickly saw the potential power. They realized we were going to have a social media presence regardless—either we would be heavily involved in crafting that presence, or someone else would.

Next up is integrating Twitter and an employee blog to make our people more accessible as we tell our story and show off who we are. We are also reviewing communication material we developed for internal use over the past 12 months—much of that can be leveraged to ensure we can share ongoing and engaging content.

Like most companies, we are still figuring social recruiting out. When we did not know anything about social media, I was upset and felt we were behind. Now, we realize we are working with emerging communication platforms with dynamic rules and usage—getting social recruiting integrated is a process. When I talk with companies that want to start, I tell them to engage with people in the community and learn.

And, no matter what, don’t make fun of people for using the tools.


R. J. Morris is the corporate Director of Staffing at McCarthy Building Companies, Inc. – an ENR Top 10 building company based in St. Louis, Missouri. McCarthy has offices and projects nationally and they recruit really smart people who want to join a company where everyone is an owner.  R. J. is responsible for leading and directing all national recruiting activities using both tried and true old school tactics and the implementing the latest methods (including social recruiting) to support the growth needs of the organization.

President & Chief Talent Strategist

Jennifer McClure is a Keynote Speaker, Talent Strategies Expert and Executive Coach who works with clients and companies in the areas of leadership development, communication and talent strategy. Jennifer McClure offers keynotes, workshops and training that inspire and empower business leaders to be more effective in their careers and as leaders of their organization’s most valuable resource – people.

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3 thoughts on “Developing a Social Recruiting Strategy: From Bigot To Believer

    • Exactly. The question is whether or not the company wants to be involved and listening or not. I recommend getting involved in the conversation!

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