Recruitment in the 21st Century: Joining the Social Media Revolution

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As most working recruitment and sales professionals with experience will tell you: nothing trumps traditional networking and face-to-face interaction. However, the success of online recruitment and networking can be attributed to its mimicry of these traditional interactions. The golden standard—job wanted ads in the paper—have essentially been replaced by big internet job boards (like Monster and CareerBuilder) as well as local and niche industry job boards. It was only a matter of time before the other job search standards, such as job fairs and networking events, found their digital equivalent in the now publicly-traded LinkedIn.

The world is moving much faster now. Every business and professional has the potential to be on a national or even global stage beyond the limitations of yesteryear. Social media, once thought to be a passing fad, is definitely here to stay— however we have yet to see which players survive long-term. As companies like LinkedIn are now just starting to sell Initial Public Offerings, it is too early to tell.

Recruitment in the 21stcentury has changed. The transition to the Internet has forced an alliance between human resources and marketing departments to present a unified message in reaching customers and potential recruits. With the advent of social media and Internet advertising, your brand reaches whomever you want much more efficiently than before. Recruiters can now be more proactive and not passively wait for folks to come across their newspaper ads. Any company at the forefront of recruitment practices undoubtedly has the following:

Online presence on some or all of the following:

  • Job Boards: Monster, CareerBuilder, and Craigslist
  • Search Engines: Google, Citysearch, and Yelp
  • Social Media: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube

Local community presence on some or all of the following:

  • Schools/Universities/Colleges: Local high schools, private/state universities and colleges, and community colleges
  • State Career Centers: Ex. One-Stop Career Centers by DETMA in Massachusetts
  • Non-Profit Job Assistance Programs: Ex. Career Collaborative, Operation Bootstrap, ROCA in Massachusetts

There is no question that social media is now a part of almost every household. However, many professionals are still against signing up for Facebook for personal use. This personal choice should not hinder their organizations. If someone has no interest in a personal Facebook page, they should at the very least ensure a company page is created for both marketing and recruitment purposes. According to their website, Facebook has over 500 million active users, 50 percent of active users login daily, over 700 billion minutes are spent monthly, and over 30 billion pieces of content are shared monthly. The average user is connected to 80 community pages, groups, and/or events, creates 90 pieces of content monthly, and has 130 friends on average.

There are numerous corporate uses for Facebook. You can post products, reach potential new customers, update customers with new products, and post open jobs. A clever use is the ability to locate references provided by job applicants. Where former supervisors used to disappear off the face of the planet, Facebook can serve as a directory to locate people once they have left a job.

LinkedIn is becoming known as the "Facebook for professionals," boasting of over 70 million members in over 200 countries, including executives from all Fortune 500 companies subscribed as members. Users create a profile summarizing their professional expertise and accomplishments much like a digital resume or CV. As the counterpart to adding friends on Facebook, LinkedIn users can "link in" or connect with their business contacts, in effect creating a digital rolodex. With so many people connected by field of expertise, LinkedIn recruiting is becoming increasingly popular: it has become the go-to destination for recruiters to look for talent.

Social media is clearly the future of the Internet. It has become a new communication channel both for personal use and for businesses to reach their consumers in a new, interactive way. Facebook has helped facilitate this new shift to a personalized Internet where products and services are recommended by friends and promoted by online peer reviews. Having a presence in the ongoing online conversation is of the utmost importance as more and more people skip or fast forward through TV commercials due to the advent of TIVO and DVR’s.Don’t turn a blind eye. HR professionals must be engaged proactively. Even if you choose not to participate in social media in your personal life, it has gotten to the point where having a corporate account should be a part of every engaged HR professional’s job.

Apart from the recruitment and marketing aspects highlighted thus far, social media is also important for employee relations. Your employees are on these websites many times talking about their work. It is up to you to monitor this activity to a certain extent. There are already cases of litigation worldwide regarding freedom of speech, which is why it is instrumental to implement a Social Media Policy at your company if you have not done so already.

Web 2.0 is a new frontier and with that comes new rules. Be sure to outline the rules and expectations for your employees. Protect your company's online image. While social media can be your greatest ally to improve your profitability, be wary of the pitfalls of any new technology. It is far better to be a part of the conversation and address any negative comments about your company out in cyberspace than to leave them unaddressed and influencing potential customers and future employees.