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Friday, December 10, 2004

Market Your Opportunities with Blogs

By Christine Hirsch

Blogs have become mainstream in Internet culture and their influence has not escaped tech-savvy recruiters. Today, more and more corporations, from Microsoft to Stonyfield Farms, are using blogs to attract candidates. An innovative way to extend an employment brand, blogs are helping companies better engage candidates in the recruitment process. Full of light, off-beat content, blogs appeal to potential hires with content that frequently involves and entertains prospective hires.
A weblog, or simply a blog, is a frequently updated web site containing informal commentary and links to news, websites, and other blogs. Blog formats vary from personal diaries to subject-based sites and business pages. Some are maintained by a single person and others are updated by a group of people. It is common for visitors to leave comments, creating a community of frequent users. The ability to leave comments creates an ongoing conversation with users, encouraging them to return daily for fresh content.
According to a study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, more than two million Americans are blogging. Eight percent of those surveyed report that they have personally posted material on corporate blogs. These numbers indicate tremendous marketing power is available. Blogs also attract an audience prized by recruiters. A 2003 study conducted by Jupiter Research found that 61% of Internet users who read blogs have an annual household income above $60,000.
Corporate blogs can vary widely in content and format, though they generally work to introduce candidates to a company and its culture. Blogs can host a range of interesting information, such as reports from employee travels, problems surrounding a current project, a play-by-play of the latest company softball game, profiles of employees…you name it. Some companies, such as Microsoft and Sun Microsystems, have set up primary blog sites that link to individual employee blogs. The Stonyfield Farm blog, updated by a single writer, contains a series of online journals categorized by area of interest.
There are certainly things to consider before building a blog community. It's easy to put up a blog, but their appeal lies in fresh content. If information is not updated often and kept interesting, you will quickly lose your readership. If a group of people is responsible for generating content, this may be less of a problem. Also, recruiters need to work with the company's marketing, public relations, and legal departments to determine content parameters. Allowing workers to freely disclose information has its risks. Creating a set of guidelines can protect the company and prevent conflicts before content hits the web.
Today, most online recruiting systems feel highly technical and fail to involve candidates. Blogs represent an opportunity to personalize the hiring process by reintroducing a human face into the hiring process. Thought blogs require dedicated resources to manage, the technology is flexible and interactive and has a growing audience. An investment in blogs can expand your recruiting network while giving your company an edge in the talent market.