Part III: The Reality of “Social Recruiting” and How to Approach It

 In Part I, we broadly discussed some of the challenges facing many staffing firms in coming to grips with extensive new technology to enable and support so-called “social recruiting" processes and practice.    In Part II, we focused on a shift in staffing business thinking, FROM one that “delivers people/workers as products” TO one that “provides talent as service” by developing processes of “continuous engagement” (organized, dynamic, ongoing connectivity and relationship) with the real living human beings who possess talent and skills (in other words, not just searching and storing the "records" about them). 


In Part III, we focus more on the choices related to the technology landscape and possibilities--something which should be an outgrowth of thinking about what “social recruiting” really is, not a determinant of it.  If we start thinking about “social recruiting” from the stand point of a staffing firm transforming to become more about “continuous engagement,” then we can think about what we need (from the vast and expanding universe of  technology solution providers) to achieve that longer term goal.

We propose a simple framework for thinking about enabling technology solutions, a framework that relates to the requirements of the “continuous engagement” process model as well as to the current state of staffing firm enterprises and technology solutions.


The model is very simple:  in the middle is the “engagement hub;” that is, the staffing firm “enterprise” (with its own enterprise technology capabilities, such as ATS, candidate website, etc.). 


On the outer fringe are the candidates and the platforms through which they can be found (Job Boards and Aggregators such as Career Builder, Monster, Indeed; Social Networking Platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook; and Vertical Community Platforms such as Dice or; and in the middle are what I am calling Connection Tools (any tools that support reaching out to and connecting with candidates) such as BullhornReach (pushing job posts into social networks and engaging prime candidates) or TalentReef (helping to germinate your employer brand in cyber/social space and attract candidates into communities).

In the real world of technology solution provider “offerings,” some providers may profess that their position in any one category is the key to arriving at “social recruiting.”  Or some providers may have “offerings” that cut across these categories.  Bullhorn, for example, was a provider of ATS/Front-Office solutions that expanded the scope of its offerings to include a Connection Tool—what is now a highly successful offering called Bullhorn Reach.  Conversely, LinkedIn, a professional social networking platform provider, has expanded its scope of offerings with a set of Connection Tools called LinkedIn Recruiter: Talent Solutions (which of course only connects with the LinkedIn social networking platform). In reality, the world of third-party-provided Connection Tool solutions is a small world today, and a complicated one (as different providers try to figure out what is needed and how to help).   

And in many staffing firms, “social recruiting” simply means having recruiters who find and engage candidates on different social networks, like LinkedIn or Facebook, and then process them business-as-usual through existing processes and systems.  Moreover, some, firms may also have difficulty "just getting started," getting recruiters engaged in social recruiting practices (as suggested by the mostr frequently cited barriers in the graph below, as presented in Part I):

Once again, this barrier can either be behavioral (as in the recruiters need to up-skill, etc.) or it can be managerial (simply being uncertain about what to do, being confounded by the myriad, complicated technology choices). 

But bearing in mind the centrality of the “continuous engagement” process model and the “engagement hub” technology model, staffing firms can have some principles by which to navigate the “boiling ocean” of “social recruiting.”  It is not only important to be clear about the processes and outcomes you are trying to achieve under the “continuous engagement” process model, it is also important to think about technology solutions using the categories of the “engagement hub” technology model.

  1. Ask yourself, what platforms on the fringe (the outer ring) will I need to connect with in order to access the candidate populations I need to access and engage.  Do they offer open APIs, etc.
  2. Ask yourself and evaluate, what is the state of my current enterprise processes and systems?  Organizationally, do I have significant process change and personnel behavioral change ahead?  Are the architectures of my current candidate website and front-office systems flexible and open enough to accommodate the coming process changes and additional solution integrations that will be needed to support “continuous engagement”/”social recruiting?”   Many websites today are static and one-dimensional and do not support candidate interactions/engagement.  Many ATS systems were not designed with the open architectures needed to integrate with many other added solutions and with new types of data and ways of using it.
  3. Finally (and knowing what candidate population platforms you need to connect to and what processes your enterprise needs to support), ask yourself, what are the necessary “Connection/Engagement Tools” I need to connect from point A to point B and bring my organization/personnel along ?

As for these last issues, there will be different choices.  On the one hand, key providers (Like Bullhorn, LinkedIn, et al) will offer “large chunks” of (bundled) “social recruiting” solutions which cut across the categories of the “engagement hub” technology model (and these ”large chunk” solutions will make sense for many staffing firms).   On the other hand, for some staffing firms, it will make sense to make specific, unique system choices in all of the different “engagement hub” technology model categories. 

This latter approach will necessitate more time and effort to understand and evaluate your needs/choices related to (1) candidate population platforms, (2) internal enterprise systems, and finally (3) connection/engagement tools (with the latter category involving the most uncertainty).  But that uncertainty can be resolved by exploration and assessment, even as more and more solution providers innovatively try to “hit the mark” in delivering truly valuable connection/engagement tools.  For example, a very new company like QueSocial offers an add-on/overlay solution that actually helps your organization (behaviorally) to adopt and become effective in social branding and other social engagement practices.  Another very new company, TalentCircles, offers an add-on/overlay solution that enables dynamic (but highly organized), multi-media engagement of candidates and the development of proprietary candidate communities and talent networks (a pretty good alternative to having your recruiters leave your business with their LinkedIn accounts and their candidate networks in their pockets). 

This second approach (”make specific, unique system choices in all of the different “engagement hub” technology model categories”) may involve—though debatable---greater risk for some staffing firms, and it will almost certainly involve more time and effort for most.  If a staffing firm determines that it cannot be suitably served by a “larger chunk solution,” then I do believe the alternative (second) approach can be a viable one for some firms that will take the time and make the effort (applying the right competencies) to explore, assess, and implement incrementally (guided by “continuous engagement” model process goals). 

Going back to my original suggestion in Part I of this series when I said (many of these new innovations appear to just be offering different (maybe better?) ways doing what we have been doing all along (finding talent directly or by referral, engaging talent, evaluating talent, etc.), I also asked:   So are we really talking about such a disruptive revolution in what we do?).  Perhaps “becoming social” and practicing “social recruiting” needs to happen in  a truly evolutionary way that is not disruptive, but actually enhancing of… [staffing firms’] core business principles over time

“Growing” the new practices and enabling systems (along with/in collaboration with your organization/personnel) over time, may be better than trying to rapidly “impose” a broad set of new practices and enabling systems. 

Personally, I think that many staffing firms could be successful in taking this second, more evolutionary approach.  Certainly, in the real world to follow,  a range of different approaches, variously based on different sized “chunk” solutions will succeed or fail in varying degrees for different firms.  Just as there is no “holy grail,” there is also no “crystal ball.”  And my inputs and discussion are not an attempt to persuade you in any particular direction, rather simply try to provide a launch pad for your thought-process and planning with respect to The Reality of “Social Recruiting” and How to Approach It.



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