The rise of social media is a modern-day phenomenon and the idea that any business, particularly a recruitment business, should want to ignore it is madness. Clearly, social media is particularly well-suited to recruitment: it provides ease of access to information about individuals and their networks; it provides the ability to exchange information rapidly with a community of interested and interesting individuals; it communicates with people in a way that they want to be communicated with. It is an entirely rational response that an industry such as ours is fascinated by the possibilities on offer to improve performance by leveraging its potential.
But I confess to feeling a little uneasy about the prevalence of social media as the only game in town for recruitment at the moment. Social media is about candidate sourcing, and that is not the same as recruitment. Good recruitment consists of 3 main elements: defining and articulating the requirement, sourcing candidates, and assessing them against the requirement. Of these, the first is the most important. In truth all 3 are intertwined and have to be performed effectively to produce a good outcome.
I suppose it may be something to do with the online company I keep, but my unease stems from the nagging concern that some people think that there is some sort of 'Silver Bullet' solution out there - some killer application, some piece of social-media-manipulating software which will 'solve' all our recruitment problems. The truth is that competitive advantage in recruitment, as in most other industries, comes from doing 100 things across the entire span of activity 1% better than the competition, rather than looking for a complete game changer.
A further danger is that the real value-add for good recruiters, i.e. their ability to spot the right talent for the right job, is diminished if the perception of the client is that somehow the only skill that counts is how and where you find candidates.
Please don't think that I do not value the potential of social media to enhance top class recruitment, because I do. I am very interested to experiment and to learn how others have used social media to improve the quality of the work they do. I just know that it isn't the whole recruitment story.
Defining the shape of the hole you are trying to fill is the most critical issue in recruitment. If you don't get that bit right, everything else you do, no matter how up-to-date your methods of sourcing and assessment, will be misplaced.
The development of an individual company's skill to produce a competency model of 'what talent looks like in our organisation' (and it will differ from one organisation to the next), and the ability to assess candidates effectively against this, is at least as important as the development of social media in recruitment. I would be very interested to hear about companies who might be taking a more scientific approach to talent acquisition to generate a greater and more long-lasting return on their recruiting investment. Now that really would be something to talk about!