Updated by Hays UAE, October 2016

In his latest blog, Hays CEO Alistair Cox explains how Hays came to being crowned the most socially engaged staffing firm globally and what is means for the business.

Today, Hays was announced as The Most Socially Engaged Global Recruitment Company in the world by LinkedIn – which is of course, something I am extremely proud of. Those of you who follow me will know that this isn’t something I would normally choose to write about. But, as this has been awarded by LinkedIn themselves, I felt it was appropriate to share the news via my blog.

Five years ago, it would have been hard to understand what 'social engagement' might mean for a business such as Hays. Social media was of course around and well used on a personal level, but businesses were still at an early stage in understanding how they might harness these tools and platforms to help drive their own business. In a relatively short time it is interesting to see how that has changed for many of us and there are many case studies for how companies in different industries, including my own of recruitment, have embraced something new and exciting, potentially even threatening, and built it into their core operations. There are lessons on this at several levels, but the two I want to highlight are how businesses can adapt to (or ignore) innovation and secondly how we at Hays utilise these channels and why.

No business in any industry can ignore innovation from outside their own world and how it might impact their own, in a good way or a bad way. That open-mindedness must however start from the top of the organisation and I see it as a key part of my role in Hays to be constantly looking at the outside world to see what is going on that we can use, or defend ourselves against. Often you need to lead by example too and one such example is how I use social media in my professional life. Since 2012, I have been part of the LinkedIn Influencer programme and that has been fundamental in helping me understand the power of social media for our business as well as what works and what doesn't work. I'm fortunate in that I run a company that helps people with one of the most important aspects of their lives: their career. Advice and ideas on how to build your career are always welcome, so I decided I would focus my posts on bringing those insights to the market, seeking to share my views on relevant topics to the LinkedIn audience in the hope that some of those insights might be helpful to some of the readers. I don't expect everyone to agree on everything I write, nor to find all my posts equally relevant to themselves. But over time I have better understood the topics that engage the audience and hopefully tuned the topics accordingly. During that time two points have struck me. Firstly how engaged an audience can become around a topic and add worthwhile content from their own perspective. That makes the post even more valuable to readers as a more collective or holistic set of views form. My last post had over a quarter of a million reads and thousands of comments and extra tips. That makes for a powerful forum. Secondly, even though writing these posts takes time in a busy schedule, I've found that I really enjoy doing it. I never knew that aspect of my own make-up so discovering something new that you like is always a pleasure.

The second lesson we've learned as a company is how to engage broadly and deeply with our target market and really put the customer at the heart of what we do. Hays is a recruitment company. We help people find great jobs and on the face of it, LinkedIn is a fantastic platform to find great candidates for roles and to advertise new opportunities. However, that sort of simplistic approach barely scratches the surface of how we use this and other platforms. Our own approach goes much deeper and gets to the philosophy of what we are seeking to create as a company.

To fill a vacancy for our clients, we need two things: a fantastic candidate who could do the job well and for that candidate to want to get that job. Arguably social media platforms make it easier to find the details of someone who, on paper, looks as though they have the skills and experience to do a job. Fine, but that's only half the battle. We all know how we react when we get a cold email or InMail from someone we don't know, offering us something. The open rate from unknown sources is very, very low.

The key to changing that is to have already built a relationship as a trusted advisor to that candidate in advance. That relationship-creation and management is key to how we have evolved our approach to using platforms such as this. Research has consistently shown that as individuals we trust most the information we find for ourselves on the Internet. In second place on the trust rankings is information passed to us from someone we know and trust ourselves. In last place is something that arrives from a source you don't know and didn't find yourself. So, building that trust with our marketplace of candidates and nurturing that trust over a long period of time is crucial to us if we are to manage the second part of the job equation - getting a skilled individual to really want a job that our client is seeking to fill.

The key to that trust-building for my business lies in content and consultant expertise. Over many years, we have built up a phenomenal stock of knowledge of the labour market. That knowledge covers everything from what salary a role should be on through to how to write a strong CV or interview a candidate effectively. By packaging that knowledge into bite-sized topics and disseminating it, for free, to the outside world of professionals on LinkedIn and elsewhere helps us both build our network of excellent future candidates for jobs as well as foster those relationships that are so important. Content is king but it must be relevant, topical, helpful and easy to find. By obsessing on providing this high-quality advice across a vast range of job-related issues, we put our customers’ needs at the heart of how we go to market. They don't pay for it, but hopefully they form a view that Hays is there to help them when the time comes and we will do what is right for them, whether they be a client or a candidate for a role. The results speak for themselves. Millions of professionals choose to read what we produce, importantly having found it for themselves or via their own trusted network. Indeed, millions of people have found it valuable enough that they choose to follow Hays, ensuring that they are first to receive any new content and advice, again in an easily consumed way. For years now we have been the world's most followed recruitment company by a long way. In some countries such as Australia we are the most followed company in any industry so I think those results speak for themselves.

Secondly, there’s our consultants. For them, maintaining a leading position across LinkedIn and other platforms whether they be Weibo, Facebook, GitHub or the like, not just as a global brand, but also on a personal level, is critical to their success. Our consultants, who are experts in their respective fields, are empowered to utilise LinkedIn to stay connected to their network, and update them regularly with detailed and insightful market knowledge. We encourage them to share content that is relevant to their network which their connections share in turn, continuing to build that trust both with our consultants and with Hays as a whole. The multiplying effect of this sharing and the network impact it has proven extraordinary and was a real learn for myself. Again, it comes back to building trust, not just in a brand but also in an individual.

This journey has been a long one for us and we have learned a lot along the way around what works and what doesn't. I have to say though that it has been a rewarding and interesting journey and one that will continue for a long time to come. Social media is a mainstream channel for how we communicate these days so it's a vital part of our own Hays DNA. How it works and which platforms are most relevant continues to evolve, but the principles remain. I'm extremely proud for my business to have been granted this award today and it's always a pleasure to receive global recognition for the impact you have made. It gives us even more reason to make sure we continue to help our candidates find fantastic new career opportunities and to help our clients find the world class talent they need to fuel their own business. And again, I hope it's helped some of you to develop your own themes of how to harness the incredible power these platforms can bring you.

Thank you for reading, we hope you feel suitably engaged! For more blogs from Hays, visit our dedicated online page here or click on one of the links below.