"I would rather be tied up to stakes in the Kalahari Desert, have honey poured over me and red ants eat out my eyes than open a Twitter account. Is there anything you can say to change my mind?"
-Maureen Dowd, New York Times Columnist
"Well, when you do find yourself in that position, you're gonna want Twitter. You might want to type out the message 'Help.'"
-Biz Stone, co-founder Twitter
Twitter, which allows you to send 140-character text messages, and other social media have changed the landscape-and the recruiting landscape is no exception. If you haven't yet added social media, also called Web 2.0, to your repertoire of recruiting strategies, it's well past time. Even the CIA has ventured into social media for recruiting: they're on both Facebook and YouTube.
Although an increasing number of companies is creating a presence on social media Web sites as a way to attract new talent, if you want to recruit Millennials, a social media presence is mandatory. Today's high school graduates have been exposed to the Internet since early childhood. Their plugged-in world is creating a level of connection and interactivity that is changing how we communicate-and do business.
But it's not just Millennials who are benefiting from the networking and convenience social media offer to recruiters and candidates alike. An increasing percentage of senior-level candidates is also adopting Web 2.0 to network and job-search. The Economic Times recently quoted an HCL Technologies executive who said that 25 to 30 percent of its senior hires now come from social media connections, and other companies are reporting similar percentages.
Web-based recruiting has mushroomed into a $522 million industry in the U.S., and it's predicted to grow at a rate of eight percent a year, according to 2008 Forrester Research.
The New "Standards" in Social Media Recruiting
Social media may not replace recruiting software, at least not any time soon, but they add power to every company's recruiting efforts. Social media sites are getting more in tune with recruiting needs and continually responding to them with new capabilities; and companies are getting creative in how they use these new tools.
Take Twitter, for example, whose user base jumped 343 percent in twelve months, from September 2007 to 2008 (Workforce.com). In addition to following company executives, Twitter gives candidates access to real-time job postings. Employers use Twitter to connect with passive job seekers, access directories to follow job seekers by industry, and use tweets to communicate the benefits associated with a specific job or the attributes of their company.
LinkedIn is the king of business networking sites with 35 million members and 1.5 million new members added every two weeks. As companies lay off tens of thousands of people, LinkedIn has become the first stop for many job seekers. LinkedIn has added a new suite of prospecting tools for recruiters that includes a stand-alone applicant tracking system, a new internal e-mail marketing campaign tool, employment ads, annual subscriptions for job listings and customizable profiles that companies can use to display job information to LinkedIn members based on their network profiles.
Many companies are being proactive by creating their own Web pages on Facebook and MySpace and posting videos on YouTube to attract candidates. Recruiters are also using Facebook and MySpace to get insight about prospective candidates through their profiles on these social networks. However, there's a caveat: many candidates don't want prospective employers using social media to check their backgrounds, and employers risk losing a candidate's respect - and their interest - if candidates feel that their privacy has been violated. There is also a legal risk to consider. These highly personal sites can give employers an inadvertent look into things like a candidate's age, marital status, medical problems and plans to start a family, which answers questions that cannot be asked in interviews because they can be grounds for discrimination. Recruiters should cautious about how they use these sites.
There are companies whose recruiters regularly scan blogs and Web sites, as well as the professional and personal networking sites. Internal social networks and blogs provide companies with an online platform for discussion and networking about their industry, company and jobs, and provide an informal way to find specialists in specific areas.
What's in Store for the Future?
"The future of work is here; it's just disguised as a game," says Diego Rodriguez, a partner in the consultancy IDEO, ranked as one of the world's most innovative companies. What Mr. Rodriguez is talking about is this: computer games that allow companies to cast a wider net for new talent. Players are challenged by starting companies, developing R&D strategies, or leading a company as it launches a new product. As virtual CEO, players pick the best time to launch a product, establish their sales force, and manage the product over a number of years. The McKinsey office in Germany has used a game called CEO of the Future, modeled loosely on the reality show The Apprentice to help choose talent with executive potential since 2000. Johnson & Johnson orients new hires in a virtual world and uses an online game to train them.
This is just the beginning of a new world for recruiting. Tweet if you want to stay competitive, and attract new generations of top talent.