An exploration of social recruiting.

Is there really such a thing as “social recruiting”?

Definitions of Web 2.0 vary greatly but it is nearly impossible to deny the prevalence of social media in this newest incarnation of the Internet.  In a remarkably short time, social media has shifted from being its own movement to being an application used by other Internet verticals in order to create new business models.  For example, social media is now applied to the consumer-based web resulting in “social buying”.    Most interesting to jobsites from the Web 1.0 days is the advent of “social recruiting”.

 In the early days of Facebook, InsuranceWorks.ca created a group for our users to connect.  Those were the days before company fan pages.  My, how much has changed in just over 6 years!   We invited our entire user community to join our group on Facebook so that we could all discuss employment issues facing jobseekers and employers in the Canadian Insurance industry.  If memory serves correctly, the term social media was not even used in the common vernacular quite yet.  Surely, the idea of “social recruiting” was not even considered, let alone debated, but we knew that we were excited about connecting with our users in an objective space outside of the confines of our job site.  We also wondered what the growing popularity of social media would mean for the traditional job site services we provided to our community.  Just how would it change the way our users interacted with each other on our platform?

Employers everywhere were hopeful that social media’s rise would mean free access to countless potential employees.  The traditional costs associated with recruiting including recruiting firms and jobsites would be eliminated.  Looking at their bottom lines, the hearts of Employers must have skipped a beat.  Just create an account and connect to people in your industry...then pound them with messages regarding your available jobs.  For a staff recruiter or hiring manager with limited time, that approach required a considerable time investment to build up a network vast enough to make such an approach viable.  Especially for large companies, it was a difficult transition to allow employees such free-wheeling freedom to interact in such a public forum without the benefit of a marketing rep scripting every word.  Just ask the companies whose social media campaigns went off the rails in spectacular fashion causing harm to their brands.  American Apparel and Gap were both criticized for using social media posts about Hurricane Sandy to promote their products.  The line between acceptable and unacceptable can sometimes be very thin when it comes to social media.

Combine these with quickly-forming rules of social media etiquette that made it uncouth to blast your network with such a blatant agenda, and it became clear that recruiting on social media would not be that easy.  Then, social media sites one-by-one transformed into full-fledged job boards with social media features when they launched job posting services.   If social media sites were launching job posting services identical to those on job sites...what exactly was the difference between a job posting on a job site and a job posting on a social media site?  Is social recruiting really the sole domain of the latter?

In fact, there really is no difference because all recruiting is social recruiting.  Whether an Employer posts a job online on a traditional job site, posts on a social media site, attends a job fair, recruits on school campus or networks at an industry function the representative of that company is engaging in social behaviour.  Recruiting requires a company to reach out to the public; to socialize within the job market in order to attract the best of its industry.  To use the term “social recruiting” is more than just a bit redundant because online or offline, all recruiting is by its very nature social recruiting.  By making a distinction between recruiting using other methods and social recruiting, we run the risk of forgetting that recruiting is in fact a social exercise.   

The great thing is that social media sites learn from job sites how to monetize their traffic and job sites learn from social media sites how to enhance the services that they already provide to their community.   The most dramatic is the shift in sole focus from the Employer to a shared focus on both the Jobseeker and the Employer communities.  Jobseeker accounts traditionally were just elaborate forms used to post information that could be accessed by Employers for a fee.  Social media sites paved the way for a greater focus on the biggest creators of jobsite content –the Jobseekers.  Keep an eye out for new Jobseeker services coming soon on www.insuranceworks.ca! 

We at www.insuranceworks.ca can’t wait to see how the social media movement evolves and how that evolution will further enhance recruiting!

What do you think about social recruiting?  Let us know on Twitter @insuranceworkCA