Talent Acquisition Using The Social Web

There is no question technology has had a major impact on talent acquisition. From recruitment to screening to selection and hiring. One of the shifts in the process and trends we are seeing is recruitment and screening being blended together as part of some activities. These are becoming almost seamless in the talent acquisition process.

Traditionally, if you had an opening you would post the position via advertisement/job board, wait for the respondents then proceed to screen the candidates. The latest estimates are that 80% of jobs openings are unadvertised according to College Recruiter.com. Jobs being filled via social media and employee referrals are not counted as ‘advertised’ jobs since candidates coming from job postings on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. are considered to have come from someone the employer already knew. In many cases, from a ‘trusted’ source.

Increasingly the initial referral, prior interactions with the individual and information obtained online is taking the place of the reference check and other similar activities that have traditionally been done during the screening and selection process.

David Willard, CEO and Founder of Stillwater Human Capital, expands on this, “Where organizations are getting better through these talent communities, when we talk about on demand talent it’s not only finding the right person at the right time, but it’s finding the person before you ever have the opportunity so that you’re recruitment organization is staying engaged with that person, whether it’s 60 days, 90 days, 6 months or longer, until that opportunity presents itself. They then have that person prequalified and assessed to make the decision quickly. I think what’s happening is the technology companies are getting smarter with the technology, and they’re relying more heavily on the technology to do the reporting, to do the brand push, to make sure that these communities are staying connected to our organization so when the time is there to make the hiring decision, you’re reducing the time to fill, because you’re already engaged.”

With the increasing dependence of social media for information gathering and trust building, there is a need to be cautious of how much trust you are putting in the information and where it is coming from. This is particularly true at the executive level. A true ‘circle of trust’ doesn’t go far beyond those who have immediately worked with the individual and even then, personal feelings and experiences can influence (both positive & negative) the information sharing. In a recent conversation with an executive about his expertise and skill sets, one of his first comments was “Please don’t refer to my LinkedIn profile. I don’t have that much experience in the skills I am highly recommended for while the ones I have spent most of my career doing are at the bottom.”

Social media is a good starting point but we caution it’s being used as a leading indicator, particularly at the executive level. One smart use of online recommendations is whether they reflect the skill sets and abilities you are looking need. If you need someone to be hands-on and focus on execution but most recommendations rave over his/her strategic abilities, this is a potential red flag.

In turn, employers need to have an increasing awareness of their online footprint and their reputation, particularly within their network and their employees. Your relationship with each candidate starts long before they respond to an open opportunity or your first call during the screening process. To Dave’s point, social media is a great tool for curating candidates long before you have an open opportunity for them. When they see the posting or are contacted by you, they have no need to ‘Google’ your company. Prior to this, they will have been following you on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, etc. They know your company, your activities, your employees, what is being said about you, etc. One of the best ways to gauge this is the Net Promoter Score. In the current job market, a candidate can find out more about working conditions there prior to walking in the door, than they would have discovered after an hour long, in person interview.

Social media has become an integral tool far beyond the initial recruitment of a candidate. It is now integrated more than ever into a company’s talent acquisition process from beginning to end. Successful companies now even have two marketing strategies – one for customers and one for candidates.

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