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Dave Foxall Social Recruiting Software: The New Age of Talent Acquisition Technology

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 By Dave Foxall

A Practical Look at Hiring and Social Media

Once upon a time, "social recruitment" might have been someone recommending a friend for a job. These days, however, it means something a little more sophisticated, organized and strategic. With monikers ranging from Hiring to Recruitment to Talent Acquisition, the process of finding new employees is the HR function with the most widely-adopted outward-facing utilization of social media technology to date. As Kay Calivas, Managing Director at Stephen James Associates says, "The main benefit is quick access and networking: reaching people through an open medium ultimately broadens a recruiter's center of influence". Indeed, simply by engaging with potential employees on non-traditional ground, organizations are able to trawl wider and deeper talent pools and simultaneously enhance their own image as a forward-looking employer of choice. For organizations on the fence about social recruiting, consider the following questions:

1) Why Leverage Social Media Recruiting?

While the specific benefits of incorporating social recruitment software into an organizational strategy are many, recent 2011 research from SHRM (The Society for Human Resource Management), Social Networking Websites and Staffing, offers several specific reasons to leverage social recruitment as part of the overall hiring process. Specifically, by utilizing social networking websites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ and Twitter for talent acquisition, organizations can realize the benefits of:

  • Recruiting passive job candidates who might not otherwise apply or be contacted by the organization.
  • Saving costs compared with other, more traditional, methods of recruiting job candidates.
  • Increasing employer brand and recognition (and driving higher-quality candidates to apply).
  • Targeting specific job levels to recruit or contact (e.g., entry-level, managers, executives, etc.).
  • Targeting job candidates with a very specific set of skills.

These social networking sites are being used to fill the full range of positions, from hourly employees to C-level posts; a fact that undoubtedly contributes to the incredible uptick in adoption rates (more than doubling in the last 3 years) SHRM found among its members.

2) How widespread is the Use of Social Media in Recruitment?

As it pertains to both organizational practice and software features, recruitment has the strongest presence and deepest functionality in terms of social media. In fact, of HR Lab's own analysis into the top social HR software vendors (e.g. NewsGator, Jive, Telligent, Atlassian, IBM, etc.) the leveraging of social networks for hiring reached majority adoption in 2011 according to SHRM research—with fully 56% of companies using social recruiting software and social networking websites when recruiting potential job candidates. While LinkedIn is seen as the most popular site for sourcing candidates (with 95% of respondents using it), Facebook follows in usage at 58% and Twitter at 42%.

3) How are Social Networks Being Used to Recruit?

Using social networking sites, organizations are able to create permanent virtual recruiting stands which, when supported by regular updates, contribute passively but effectively to the talent pipeline. CedarCrestone's 2011-12 HR Systems Survey found the following specific activities in use:

  • Performing social network analysis against social network data.
  • Using social tools for communications with candidates.
  • Maintaining records of potential hires through mining social sites.
  • Connecting new hires to internal networks to engage and enhance productivity.
  • Using tools such as high definition video for remote interviewing, etc.

One activity that many organizations are shying away from though, is using social networks to screen job candidates (according to SHRM research, only 18% of respondents do so). The reasons for this caution include concerns about legal risks (e.g. discovering information about protected characteristics – age, race, gender, religious affiliation, etc.); the inability to verify the information with confidence; the abundance of non-relevant information in candidates' network profiles; and general concerns about privacy.

4) Are There Any Specific Pitfalls to Avoid With Social Recruitment?

As Maslow's adage goes, "If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail". Social media networks are an excellent addition to the recruiter's range of options but in the words of Jason Hill, partner at Sound Advice Consulting Services, "While I believe that social media recruiting has become and will continue to be an extremely powerful and potentially dominant tool for talent acquisition, HR and TA professionals must continue to use and keep other channels of communication open with their target candidate audience. This should include employee referrals, multifaceted company marketing and branding campaigns, as well as traditional recruiting vehicles such as career fairs, job boards and other sourcing methods". Indeed, not every suitable candidate uses the major networking sites and too narrow a focus (however modern it may be) runs the risk of missing a segment of the talent population.

Final Thoughts on Social Media in Recruitment

Ultimately, as long as social networking exists, its place as an essential element in any recruitment strategy is assured. Add to that the increasing use of social HR technologies in workforce management, learning, and talent management and it becomes clear that social technology use at the recruitment stage is just the first step towards introducing new hires to a new way of working and collaborating throughout the employee life cycle. However, as mentioned above, organizations should be mindful that social media tools are only as useful as the processes that support them; and social technologies for recruitment, at least for now, can only take those processes so far. End

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Simply by engaging with potential employees on non-traditional ground, organizations are able to trawl wider and deeper talent pools and simultaneously enhance their own image as a forward-looking employer of choice.


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