Is social recruiting a symptom of larger problems in the world of recruitment – or is it a solution to recruitment woes? Let me argue both sides of this question:
Symptom: def. “something that indicates the existence of something else”
Argument #1 – It’s a symptom: The #1 complaint about job sites in my recent survey of job seekers was lack of response from employers. Candidates want to interact with potential employers – and the most recent crop came of age with Facebook and related social media platforms. So it’s only natural that they would expect the same spill-your-guts exposure from employers – and that they’d be unhappy if they didn’t get it.
It’s also why recruiters and companies savvy enough to actually interact with candidates would see better results. These early adopters stuck their necks out – and (allegedly) reaped the rewards.
But in reality, was social recruiting the solution? Not really – the real problem was lack of communication between employers and candidates. Social recruiting was merely a symptom of this deeper problem – the proverbial canary in the coal mine.
Solution: def. “the act of solving a problem, question”
Argument #2: It’s a solution: Social recruiting is an evolution in the way employers find candidates. Just as job boards replaced newspaper ads, so does social recruiting replace job boards. It’s a new paradigm – employers and candidates chatting back and forth, exposing information, getting fuller understandings of each other.
In this scenario, social recruiting is a solution to a basic change in employer and job seeker behavior: from one where employers held all the power and candidates meekly acquiesced, to one where candidates hold as much power as employers (and aren’t afraid to use it). Platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter enable employers and candidates to engage directly, without interference. The outcome? Better hires.
Which is it? Symptom or solution? Neither? Both? What do you think?
You are completely correct about the lack of communication between employer and employee. It is a significant issue and continues to be with the evolution of automated screening tools and vendor management solutions that create a large gap between the actual needs of the client manager and the recruiters/vendors, etc responsible for solving their problem with the right candidate. But do social platforms fix that issue - YES and NO. Yes in the fact that they create communication channels outside of the norm that allow managers and recruiters to speak. NO in the fact that the corporate processes are the true issues at hand and therefore need revision for there to be true positive movement. Social networking has simply provided a work around.
In terms of the communication with the recruiters and candidates, social networking has provided large benefits, reaching people outside of the "active" seeker and bringing to light networks that can pass word of mouth opportunities across a closed network of people that are typically in the same business field. This is a huge advantage and allows a savvy professional to work with the experts in the field to locate another expert.
I see it as being neither a symptom nor solution. Social networking started for other reasons and someone quickly realized that leveraging that power for recruiting makes sense - therefore it does not qualify as a solution to any problem.
My question remains as this - when are people going to start speaking with people again at the company - candidate level so the proper people get the jobs in a timely manner. Too many automated tools, HR people, etc. in the way for the managers in the trenches to get the people they need. Till that changes, there is no solution.
In essence a great recruiter still has to know how to recruit effectively, legally and efficiently. The tools are out there to help us do "part" of our job. The problem comes in when people assert that the tools will eliminate the need for the operator. This is a people business and when you are dealing with human beings - human interactions is imperative.
The foundation of a strong organization begins with its people. Thus if the goal of an organization is to a build winning team the recruiting strategy has to be multi-dimensional in considering the various facets of key players from executive level to entry-level. Each role and the ability to attract and source these individuals will be different so it goes without saying….
Recruiting is ineffective if you try and design the process to be like a manufacturing plant. I.E post and pray; shout out job from the roof top….
A strategic organization thinks about how their people strategy aligns with their business strategy and then integrates the most effective tools to help them achieve their overall goals. Finally, they recognize that one size does not fit all.
Pamela, to your point, I do believe that in order for social recruiting to have value, it MUST be based on immediate response and engagement, otherwise, you're still at the billboard page. Users of these resources have expectations that your presence in a social network means that you will read and respond in a timely manner to their comments and inquiries... if not, then why is an organization there? The reality, though, is just as you state- people use these platforms at free marketing resources more than anything else.... which is actually a cost effective method for leveraging them.
As for Heidi's comments, I agree with almost all of what you're saying, but I fall off the track when I hear people say that social recruiting cannot be managed as a manufacturing plant. In my experience, not only is that how the vast majority of employment marketing done, it is also what job seekers want, and what should be done. No company can allocate the time and resources to filter through social media for every single hire they make. Likewise, job seekers want to know where to go to find job opportunities in a simple and easily digestible manner. This is why job boards (and even newspapers) still and always will have value- it's what the consumers want (in this case consumers being job seekers). The hard truth is that most companies fill most positions with the manufacturing mentality of recruiting because it's efficient and it works. That being said, employers must have other means at their disposal when it comes to filling those hard to fill jobs with those hard to find candidates, and this is where the value of social networks and new media comes into play.
So, Jeff, to your initial question, I don't think an answer can be established yet. Currently, employers don't have the staff or technology to interact and engage with everyone in social networks, despite the fact that interaction and engagement are what social networks were built for. While there is some value in leveraging these resources to reinforce your employment brand and promote your job opportunities, very few have found ways to use this process to fulfill their large scale hiring needs.
My last point is that from my interactions with job seekers, the major frustration that they feel is that they get very little feedback when submitting a resume to an employer. This has always been the case, but the sense of frustration has grown now that employers are increasing their presence on platforms that are designed to communicate, because in truth so few employers are paying folks to sit all day and reply to inquiries from facebook "friends".
I am not arguing against branding and marketing being an integral part of the recruiting process but there is a notion that simply broadcasting a message to the masses is sufficient enough to reach your target audience. This is simply not true in all cases! Because, some people choose not to engage, they do not have access to certain channels or they may turn the noise off... the list goes on. Furthermore just because a company places an ad in the newspaper (past) or a job board does not guarantee that they will get a response with a qualified candidate (past and present).
What I am hearing is that a good marketing strategy supersedes a good recruiting strategy. A good Marketing and PR strategy is a part of but should NOT be thought of as the sole driving force behind a good recruiting strategy. This one size fits all mentality is unacceptable as it pertains to effective recruiting.
Case in point
An organization can use various channel to send a message out but, if the message falls on deaf ears it is pointless. Therefore I would argue that an effective recruiting strategy goes beyond “marketing broadcasting” or mass production recruiting- again it would depend on the organization, location and position.
For example let’s say a highly reputable organization with a strong brand presence is searching for a Maintenance Mechanic or a Center Director with specialized skills in Elkhart, Indiana (or any rural community). The job is posted on major job boards, tweeted, placed on Facebook fan page and ran in the news paper but the company has no success in filling the position. The message is broadcasted but the intended audience does not hear it so the position goes on unfilled. Now you can take those same positions and post them in another city let’s say Houston, TX and you get a floodgate of candidates. You can reduplicate the process across the US and get different results. I have seen organizations waste hundreds of thousands of dollar in advertising and get poor results. On the flip side I have seen them use the same strategy and succeed.
Experience has also taught me that one size does not fit all. Every organization is not a well know brand and they must decided if they want to put the resources into a social media strategy for recruiting purposes. Perhaps the number of hires they have per year does not warrant the need to employ someone full time for that effort.
When crafting a social media recruiting strategy, I think the most imperative questions an organization must ask itself is: who I am looking for, where do they hang out and what effective tools should I use to find and connect with them. In my experience this "manufacturing style" of recruitment was not always successful based upon the type of position in which, the company was recruiting for. If the position is an entry-level customer service role it might work but if it is a physical therapist position you better have a well thought out strategy because everybody is doing the same thing…
Again, every organization is different and they must decide how and when they will use social media to attract talent; it can be used for building communities, marketing, branding and pr or actually sourcing people thorough various channels. At the end of the day you still have to connect with people. ..
Social networks are certainly an evolution in the medium for recruitment, and they create a walls-down perception (also reality?) that probably is a good thing. It's not a solution, any more than any medium is a solution. The internet was cool, but not particularly useful for most of us pre-Google. Social media are cool, but not really break-through useful for recruitment... not yet.