I have worked with and for agencies most of my working days. I'm not a part of the anti-agency brigade, and I think recruiters become easy targets in the firing line when things are not going so well in the job search. Where I think recruiters don't always do themselves any favours is that we provide plenty of bullets for anyone who wants to take a pot shot.
The problem for many recruiters is that they have positioned themselves outside of the communities they recruit in, and are looking in over the edge. The only real involvement and contribution is about jobs, when the recruiters want something. It is not a mutual relationship.
By the same token, the only time members of the community communicate with recruiters is when they want a job. This means both sides can only have a transactional relationship. Am I good for this job? Yes/No. Are you interested in this job? Yes/No. Will you go for this interview? Yes/No....the list goes on. No relationship, pure transaction. When things don't go well, guess who gets the flack!
There is plenty of ways to counter this. The barrier is not one of technology but one of mindset. As a recruiter, becoming an active part of the community you recruit in is key, and that takes a willingness to contribute even when there is no obvious return for doing so. Communities run on social capital. Social capital is the value your community attaches to your contributions. Jason Laurittsen and Jo Gerdastandt, collectively known as Talent Anarchy, describe this in their excellent book “Social Gravity”, as the bank of reciprocity, you get back what you put in, but you need to have earned a little credit first before you can make a withdrawal.
Having been a director of a national recruitment business, with responsibility for introducing and developing performance management programs, I understand that it goes against the grain to do anything that cannot be directly associated with sales and revenue. Investing time in developing relationships and goodwill, builds up your social capital, and is as much about having an eye on the long term as the short term gain. Consider what you have done for the community you recruit in, before you go asking for help, and the reputation points you have earnt before you expect a pay back. Social media takes time, effort and investment before you can expect any return.
If I was running a desk, a branch or a region now, I would be allocating “network” time each day. To start building up social capital you need to consider how you can contribute to your community places from Linked In groups through to forums and social places. You are in a position to comment on employment, work, wages etc. A whole host of areas that will be of value to your communities. Get seen as a contributor rather than a taker, and you will reap the long term rewards.