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Social Media and Recruitment at Walmart Asia (2): The Purple Pony

F.Y. Teng | April 5, 2012
Walmart Asia's top headhunter Simon Heaton talks social media platforms and how far they go in helping his team of executive recruiters this side of the world.

In this, the second part (the first is here) of our interview with him, Simon Heaton, Head of Executive Recruiting at Walmart Asia, shares his thoughts on the finer points of using different social media platforms, the strategic advantage they offer and their limitations.

What are the biggest advantages of using LinkedIn—in three big points?

One is you get a view of the market very transparently, very quickly.

Then, there's the idea of what I call 'the purple pony.' Sometimes we have a desire to recruit a range of skills and experiences that don't exist together, and it helps me manage the hiring managers' expectations of what the market looks like.

The third big thing it does is give us speed of connection. You can use social media to connect with people very quickly. As opposed to the old way of phoning people at their office or trying to find personal contact details for them at home and then leaving messages...LinkedIn–as do Facebook, Twitter and many other social media sources–allows you to message people directly and have a very fast response to questions and statements and connecting opportunities.

Does Walmart advertise on LinkedIn?

Yes, we do. We have a corporate profile page for Walmart on LinkedIn, as we do on Facebook. We also use Twitter. We've been quick to embrace a lot of social media platforms to be able to interact with customers and potential employees in our processes. And people are interested in the Walmart story.

How do you manage the language issue?

The lucky thing for me is, for the senior roles that we recruit for, speaking English is one of the general criteria. Not all the time, but most of the time, we require English for roles that have a reporting line back into the US or some of our different regions. So, often we're looking for English skills as much as other capabilities. All the same, on my team we have recruiters with language expertise for the countries that we recruit in.

How much of your recruitment effort is in traditional print and broadcast advertising in comparison with your use of social media?

I can't say that I've ever done any print advertising for the roles that I personally recruit for. However, we may do some local media around the store level recruitment. We'll use job boards.

I think job boards are seeing a similar fate as some of the traditional print media. As time goes by, some of the social media is taking precedence over things like job boards. And job boards are changing as well. You've got BeKnown, a Facebook application for professional networking, which is essentially a product from Monster, the job board.


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