Recruitment after the Social Media Apocalypse: What happens when everyone can find anyone

There is talk lately about social media revolutionizing how companies recruit, with some concluding that we’re witnessing the end of the recruiting profession as we know it.

The arguments go like this:

Social media tools (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, blogs etc.) will change the way companies find prospective employees. Search will be faster and more targeted.

Companies will use these tools to build relationships with pools of highly qualified individuals (who might work for them tomorrow or sometime in the future).

While I agree that social media will transform recruiting, I don’t think it will make things any easier

Here’s my take on how things will look and work after this big online wave washes over us.

Imagine a utopia where everyone has a detailed online profile. Every recruiter will be able to ‘see’ all of the talent and companies will have equal opportunity to market to candidates.

A world like that will soon be overflowing with competing messages.

Generating a targeted message that will be heard above the noise will become increasingly difficult – and more critical. More than ever before, companies will compete for the top people in every industry.

The war for talent will rage, but it will do so in an online world.

How to win an online war for talent?

The companies that attract talent will be those who:

A) Deliver a compelling story

Recruiting great people will be like marketing and selling a product. Companies will need to understand what motivates talented people and offer a ‘product’ (aka job description and career page) that gets them excited. For instance:

A company’s message will not be the only one that candidates hear. HR will need to borrow strategies from PR.
Will they work with leaders and innovators? Will they build products or solve problems that challenge them professionally?

Remember, these people will probably be happily employed elsewhere. In order to entice them, the company must offer a compelling opportunity.

The product message must be delivered professionally by real people who can answer tough questions.

Finding the best candidates will be easier, but attracting them will be more difficult.

Companies will also need to . . .

B) Build long-term relationships with future candidates

Social media tools will enable companies to build an engaged audience of individuals interested in their message and their vision. Smart companies will stop looking at recruitment as a reactive process characterized by bursts of frantic activity.

Teams will be built based on the value great people can bring, rather than qualifying against a grocery list of skills and keywords.

Many Recruiting Companies and Recruiters will Drown

I am actually hopeful that a big wave of change is coming in the world of recruitment. I won’t miss the high-churn personnel agencies selling mediocre talent to desperate companies, or the recruitment departments that act more like purchasing teams than sales teams.

In many ways this apocalyptic change will be good. The new world of recruiting will be smarter, faster and tougher. The role of the recruiter will change.

As in every apocalypse, only the resourceful will survive.

Views: 115

Comment by Brian Meeks on December 2, 2009 at 10:31am
I think that the next 'thing' will be recruiters that use virtual worlds for their recruiting. Meeting clients, talking with prospective canidates, arranging interviews, and holding job fairs, will all move into a virtual space like Second Life.

About 3 years ago, when SL was much smaller, one of the newspapers I wrote for wanted to hire a couple of staff people. They decided to hold an inpromptu open house. I volunteered to hang out at the front of the office and greet people, talk with them, get their information and try to determine if they were good for the positions. We posted something in the search and within an hour had 14 really good canidates show up. That is back when SL had less than 1 million registered accounts, today I think they are north of 30 million.

I liked your article. I am not worried about the end of recruiting, because ultimately there will need to be people who understand hiring, jobs, and people, and recruiters do that very well.
Comment by Jim Johnston on December 2, 2009 at 11:27am
Great article Kristina. It's been my experience that first movers who leverage new technologies are the ones who show the resourcefulness to survive the changes. Great thing for 3rd party recruiters is that these things tend to "cull the herd" so that only the best remain.
Comment by Feargall kenny on December 2, 2009 at 10:29pm
Great article Kristina. I have been thinking a lot about this as someone new to the recruiting game but a "Veteran", if such a thing is possible, in the social media space. I have seen a few misguided ideas around B) above where some have suggested that employers build up their own social networks for prospective employees (they will never get critical mass or continuity) but I agree that long term relationship building is key. I think the biggest reason recruiting wont die as a profession when this apocalypse comes is that information overload will drown out the benefits of the new reality of almost full information on everybody. It will be like the resume overload there is now with the people out of work except (fingers crossed with the turnaround of the economy) most prospects will be actually employed by the time it happens.

I totally agree with you Jim though - may the fittest and most resourceful survive


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