Saturday, February 14, 2009

Recruiting 2.0

Many entrepreneurs are using social networking, blogging and other Web 2.0 tools to recruit employees. Swati, 34, is particularly enthusiastic about using LinkedIn and Facebook to learn about candidates in depth. "In a typical resume, you might get a line on interests," he says. "On LinkedIn, you can find out who they associate with. On Facebook, you might find some groups and associations and even pictures. It gives us more dimensions than a static resume can offer."

In addition to these well-established general-purpose services, the staffing industry is beginning to offer Web 2.0-style functionality for staffing-specific websites. hooks up candidates, employers and recruiters via IM rather than conventional but slower e-mail.

The mushrooming of Web 2.0 technologies coupled with employers' heightened understanding of how to use these tools to find and hire attractive employees promises to radically reshape the recruiting landscape. There's never been a better way to proactively go out and find and hire people you think are a good fit for your position.

The prices are especially compelling compared to recruiters' fees for successful placements. "Facebook and LinkedIn don't charge 20 to 30 percent fees if you hire someone," Swati says. "Some recruiters may hunt me down for saying this, but in this economy, everybody needs to be watching the bottom line."

The ability to search through resume-like job histories on LinkedIn, blogs, social networking sites and other Web 2.0 resources offers employers some appealing new communication and research channels, to be sure. But Web 2.0 recruiting has a few rough edges, as well. For one thing, more recruiters are joining than employees.

Referrals can work if employers encourage employees to post information about job duties and corporate culture, says Preeti. "If your employees are your biggest assets, why not leverage them to help you differentiate your company and attract and recruit future talent?"

Another problem is that popular sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and MySpace are designed for person-to-person networking, not job recruiting. These sites rely on e-mail, which is slower and less interactive than IM. Even though Twitter offers [real-time] messaging, people get a lot of noise. On Jobirn, everything is about the job.

Relying heavily on Web 2.0 recruiting can also hamstring efforts to recruit a diverse work force. For instance, notes Goldy, if you use Web 2.0 technologies to recruit minority or older workers, their lower rates of computer ownership and internet usage will make them harder to find, not easier. Likewise, top executives are probably not best recruited using a Web 2.0 strategy. "If it's a vice president or senior vice president, the likelihood we're going to find someone who's a good fit isn't as high when you're using these social networking tools," Goldy says.

Ultimately, no one sees Web 2.0 as a substitute for human recruiters and interviewers. "It cannot and will not ever replace face-to-face conversation," Swati says. "It should and can only be used to cast the net wider to find more qualified individuals who have a better understanding of what you're looking for and to get a better understanding of who they are."

As various services enter the world of Web 2.0 recruiting, including some that were never designed for that kind of work, Swati is excited about the concept of "cloud recruiting." "That's the ability to leverage all Web 2.0 opportunities at the same time," he says.

Until then, the Web 2.0 recruiting pioneers will find a slightly clunky but, according to fans, highly effective and little-populated world of recruitment strategies. But it may not be thinly peopled for long. Says Goldy, "Given that it comes at a very low cost and does have such a strong influence on attitudes toward the organization and intentions to pursue employment, organizations would be foolish not to make this part of their recruiting package."


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