Recruitment after the Social Media Apocalypse: What happens when everyone can find anyone

There is talk lately about social media revolutionizing how companies recruit, with some concluding that we’re witnessing the end of the recruiting profession as we know it.

While I agree that social media will transform recruiting, I don’t think it will make things any easier

The arguments go like this:

  • Social media tools (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, blogs etc.) will change the way companies find prospective employees. Search will be faster and more targeted.
  • Companies will use these tools to build relationships with pools of highly qualified individuals (who might work for them tomorrow or sometime in the future).

Here’s my take on how things will look and work after this big online wave washes over us.

What happens when everyone can find anyone

Imagine a utopia where everyone has a detailed online profile. Every recruiter will be able to ‘see’ all of the talent and companies will have equal opportunity to market to candidates.

A world like that will soon be overflowing with competing messages.

Generating a targeted message that will be heard above the noise will become increasingly difficult – and more critical. More than ever before, companies will compete for the top people in every industry.

The war for talent will rage, but it will do so in an online world.

How to win an online war for talent

The companies that attract talent will be those who:

A) Deliver a compelling story

Recruiting great people will be like marketing and selling a product. A company’s message will not be the only one that candidates hear. HR will need to borrow strategies from PR.

Companies will need to understand what motivates talented people and offer a ‘product’ (aka job description and career page) that gets them excited. For instance:

Will they work with leaders and innovators?

Will they build revolutionary products or solve meaningful problems?

Will they be challenged professionally and be given opportunity to grow?

Remember, these people will probably be happily employed elsewhere. In order to entice them, the company must offer a compelling opportunity.  And the product message must be delivered professionally by real people who can answer tough questions.

Finding the best candidates will be easier, but attracting them will be more difficult.

Companies will also need to . . .

B) Build long-term relationships with future candidates

Smart companies will stop looking at recruitment as a reactive process characterized by bursts of frantic activity.

Social media tools will enable companies to build an engaged audience of individuals interested in their message and their vision.

Teams will be built based on the value great people can bring, rather than qualifying against a grocery list of skills and keywords.

Many Recruiting Companies and Recruiters will Drown

I am actually hopeful that a big wave of change is coming in the world of recruitment. I won’t miss the high-churn personnel agencies selling mediocre talent to desperate companies, or the recruitment departments that act more like purchasing teams than sales teams.

In many ways this apocalyptic change will be good. The new world of recruiting will be smarter, faster and tougher. The role of the recruiter will change.

As in every apocalypse, only the resourceful will survive.

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