Social Media Won’t Transform Corporate Recruiting Unless It Grows Up
In a blog post earlier this year, Chris Dixon stated that “predicting the future of the Internet is easy: anything it hasn’t yet dramatically transformed, it will.” Companies continue to rank recruiting talent as a high priority, but their methods have hardly evolved. At least not yet.
Sure, the internet has fostered some change. Candidates submit applications online, retained search firms update their databases with tidbits from email exchanges, and non-local candidates interview using Skype. But the process remains tied to a transactional tradition, relying heavily on a few brief interactions to judge a candidate’s skills, background, and fit with company culture.
Experts believe that the rise of social media will accelerate the rate of change. Social media enables employers and job candidates to interact on an ongoing basis, presenting an opportunity to replace humdrum transactional hiring with novel relationship-based approaches. The next phase in recruiting, which some call Recruitment 3.0, rests on a single idea:
A company either waits for the moment that someone presses the button and turns themselves into a candidate and then jumps on them, or makes a proposition that is attractive and tempts them into candidacy. Hence at the core of Recruitment 3.0 is that everyone is a candidate. And it is up to us to create candidates not wait.
LinkedIn is the obvious example. A professional social network with 120 million members, it’s made reaching passive candidates much easier. But even this change is more incremental than disruptive. It delivers efficiency to conventional methods but fails to spawn new ways to attract human capital, the lifeblood of organizations.
HR professionals, especially those focused on talent acquisition, should ask themselves the question: what’s possible now that wasn’t possible before?
Meghan M. Biro is not shy about saying that we need to humanize the recruiting process. Emphasizing the need to “see people in 3D,” she explains that a company needs to assess whether a candidate’s personality matches its culture. Yet, HR and hiring managers will continue to struggle on this dimension unless they’re able to increase the frequency and duration of interactions with prospective employees. Biro champions virtual talent communities as one facet of a possible solution, and she’s not alone. Lou Adler, founder and CEO of The Adler Group, describes it this way:
Let me start with the basics of networking and the idea of developing a preliminary list of prospects. Most would agree that a pre-qualified referred candidate from a highly qualified co-worker is the standard of perfection…Of course, you still need to engage with and recruit the person…This concept forms the foundation of the virtual talent community and future of passive candidate sourcing. Automating and scaling represent the hidden ingredients.
I have two concerns about the viability of virtual talent communities. First, I fear that companies will try to engineer them into existence when their value lies in their authenticity. As these communities develop organically, savvy companies – having tossed out the marketing façade – will reveal their culture and establish relationships, on an equal footing, with potential hires.
Second, an environment shapes the type and quality of interactions that take place there. Social media is no different. To truly foster a forum for connection and sharing, internet architects will need to design talent communities with these goals in mind. Jonathan Harris says:
It is often called the social web, but “garrulous web” might be more appropriate. Yes, there is more social communication now than at any other time in the history of the world, but much of that communication is chatter…there needs to be a place for deeper, longer-lasting communication too…we need to take responsibility for the types of behavior those spaces are likely to encourage.
Neither of these concerns is insurmountable. Transformation is certainly possible.
What won’t change, however, is that talent acquisition – hiring skilled employees who are motivated to contribute to the company’s mission – starts with emotionally intelligent leaders who connect with employees as people, care about culture, and endeavor to build a community.
The future of social media, unlike that of the internet, isn’t guaranteed. It may not live up to its hype, but under the right conditions, it just might.