Social Recruiting is Dead on

“The promise of social recruiting was that it could scale. There’s no evidence that that has happened.” – John Sumser

This week, there are several simultaneous industry conferences in San Francisco: the Recruiting Innovation Summit, TRUSanFrancisco and InfluenceHR. Each in their own way is a view of innovation in the business. Each offered precious little on the subject of social recruiting. In fact, social media is only mentioned in a vicarious way.

That’s a drop off in coverage that’s comparable to the disappearance of the Harlem Shake from our consciousness. While google trends show the term ‘social recruiting’ holding relatively steady in search results, the term has been driven by industry hype. When that goes away, the topic dries up.

Part of the problem is that using social media for recruiting purposes is just one arrow in a quivver. The sourcing part, which is one big data grab, is straightforward enough. The practical  business of attracting people into online social relationships for the purpose of recruiting is another thing entirely. It’s always a one off deal.

This problem (the inability to scale actual recruiting) is not new. Recruiting is a bidirectional sales process that must be tailored to the unique characteristics of the potential relationship. While you may be able to to help recruiters increase their productivity with CRM style tools, it’s a linear improvement.

The promise of social recruiting was that it could scale. There’s no evidence that that has happened. None of the tools and processes help recruiters develop their judgment. None of them offer ways to handle higher volumes of relationships. All of them fall short when it comes to the two hard parts: traffic acquisition and relationship development.

Social Recruiting might be best defined as ‘what you do after you’ve acquired the data’. Social sourcing is its precursor. Because there’s a ton of data involved, social sourcing (also not particularly discussed at these innovation forums) isn’t so quick to die.

There are two sorts of social sourcing tools that are rapidly coming to market.

One group, like TalentBin, OpenWeb, Entelo and Gild, are various forms of data aggregation with various levels of smart on the front end. Basically, they each give sourcers faster ways to sift through and discover interesting potential employees. The tools work best in markets where skills measurement is easy. Their deep and most important utility is in technical markets.

The other group, born in the assessment world, attempt to provide ways to improve the odds that a particular relationship will work. The big rumor in this segment is that eHarmony is coming to town. Most of the players in this space have no Recruiting experience and ‘just know’ that they can disrupt the industry. Interestingly, the video interviewing companies are finding their way under this umbrella.

Just to poke at the eHarmony example. Introducing two people to each other is one thing. Introducing one of those people to someone who is acting on behalf of the other potential spouse is another thing entirely. The way that you disrupt a process is by delivering a different level of quality at a lower price/hassle point. Unfortunately, the recruiter is the spender here.

The shift in the landscape, away from tools that help recruiters and towards tools that help sourcers is going to be short term. The question about the future of social recruiting remains open but it will be a rebirth, not an extension of historical trends.

Read previous post:
Data is evidence by Heather Bussing on
Data is Evidence

Legal Editor Heather Bussing catalogs the online sources where lawyers, employers and other agents are tracking your digital footprints.