Social media identifies the passive job seeker

Social media networks are such an ingrained part of the cyberspace community that it is almost hard to believe that there was once a time when they didn’t exist. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have all become an essential cog in the machine of proactive user engagement, with millions of people happy to post thoughts, photos and life status updates at a moment’s notice.

This willingness to share experiences or like certain events or brands has seen a subtle shift in the way that companies approach the retail marketplace, drawing on the rich seam of user-provided data to enhance their own business objectives and goals. While the focus has been primarily on selling concepts and products to an online consumer population, the staffing software sector has also seen the value in identifying potential job seekers through social media activity and targeted recruitment techniques.

“It’s giving employers a lot more information to act on,” said Ray Wang, CEO and principal analyst of Constellation Research Inc., according to Workforce.com

Turned upside down
Social media has, in the opinion of industry analysts, turned the recruiting world upside down, in many ways shifting the employment search from a potential candidate to the recruiter or company themselves. With millions of job openings not only being posted online everyday but also being sent directly to both active and passive job seekers, the social network is no longer just a conduit for displaying an individual lifestyle.

“Social media features will become a permanent part of recruiting software systems, but the transformation is far from complete,” said Chris Gould, senior director of the talent acquisition solutions group for Aon Hewitt, according to the news source. “We are seeing a lot of consolidation in the marketplace as HR vendors try to gain traction in this space. But they are still figuring out how to integrate them into their talent suites.”

The challenge for recruiters and human resource managers is to ensure that social media networks are able to to provide the information or data that will identify whether a prospective candidate is right for the job, and (conversely) if there is anything in a user’s history that runs a red flag up the virtual flagpole. With virtual interaction no longer limited to the PC or laptop, recruiting software has to be flexible enough to cover mobile devices and other established electronic communication tools, all of which ensure that the job seeker is constantly connected, and by association, available for contact.

Virtual launching point
According to the BBC, social media is now a crucial tool in the recruiting software field, with hiring managers increasingly using professional sites such as LinkedIn as a means of checking out a candidate profile. A recent survey of the human resources sector showed that 65 percent will use the information presented as a means to determine relevant experience, with a virtual presence deemed to be essential as a “launching point for job seekers.”

The study also revealed that educational background was an important facet of the data mining process, with 38 percent of those surveyed citing this as what they looked for first, although for 37 percent of respondents, references and not activity was key. However, there are some signs that despite the high-profile nature of social networks and their potential relationship to recruiting, they may still be lacking in translating job search to successful employment, with the BBC reporting that only 2.9 percent of hires could be directly attributed to social media.

“My anticipation is that we will see more ‘social sharing’ applications that will integrate with mobile, social media and customer relationship management or applicant tracking solutions,” said Gould. “These apps will make it easier to share jobs and will provide the ability to track click-throughs and sources.”