Social Recruiting: The New Normal

Twitter Inc.’s massive stock price spike in its debut on the New York Stock Exchange last month was significant in many ways.

For investors, the social media company’s initial public offering was a sign that they had invested their money well. And for Twitter’s users, the stock offering was a symbolic reminder of the role social media now has in the day-to-day nature of how people communicate.

Within that communication sphere is the field of corporate talent acquisition. Known as social recruiting, tools like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn have blossomed into avenues for recruiters to source and communicate with potential hires.

According to a 2013 survey from social recruiting firm Jobvite, 78 percent of recruiters have hired someone through social media, and 94 percent are already using or plan to use social media in their recruitment efforts.

The survey also showed that the social recruiting evolution is not limited to the traditional outlets.

In addition to using Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, recruiters are tapping sites like Instagram, YouTube and Yammer to gather information on candidates. So-called social recruiting companies, like Jobvite, GitHub and others are also sprouting at a notable clip, hoping to customize the social recruitment experience for recruiters focused on a specialized field.

Talent Management spoke with Shon Burton (pictured), chief executive of HiringSolved, a social recruiting firm that aims to provide a Google-like search engine specifically for recruiters looking for talent, about the future of social recruiting heading into 2014. The following are edited excerpts of the interview.

Where are we at in social recruiting in 2013, and what do you think the big developments are going to be next year?
I think the big developments are just everyone is starting to become aware that social recruiting is the new recruiting. It’s going to be a non-thing in a sense. If you looked at four years ago I had a seven-person recruiting team, and it could be in my own contingency recruiting firm working for Google, Twitter, Apple and Yahoo — hard-to-hire-for companies. And I was urging them to use social tools, and my business partner, who’s an amazing recruiter and works at Twitter now, didn’t want to do it. It was harder, it was difficult, it was more work, and people weren’t very responsive. That’s changed today.

As we go into 2014, the tools have evolved with an amazing uptake in just the information that everybody is posting. We’ve seen the same evolution on something like LinkedIn, where culturally there was a big divide four years ago. When we look at LinkedIn we see people sharing way more information, being much more specific about their job titles and what they’re doing. … We just have so much more information to go on in the social space; there’s so much more interesting information.

What do these developments mean for traditional recruiting documents, like the resume or cover letter? Are they becoming obsolete?
I think it’s starting to evolve in hiring teams where they’re still printing those resumes out and looking at them and making a big hiring package. And a lot of times it’s on paper, but a lot of that information is coming from other places. Like in tech it can be to point out things like GitHub and Stack Overflow. People are out there, they’re just out there in communities, but they’re helping each other out. And as we evolve in technology, it’s not very far-fetched at all to have a machine analyze that conversation very quickly and figure out who is asking questions. Who’s answering them? What are the good questions? What are the good answers? And start to distill some sort of meaning from that.

What do you see as the legal and privacy issues related to social recruiting?
That’s a huge gray area that we’re at a crossroads in trying to understand the implications of. In general, the laws are very antiquated. And we see this everywhere, not just in recruiting. The laws date back into the ’80s on a lot of computer things, computer privacy type stuff. The Internet is forever. Systems are evolving to the point where by the time you take it down, it’s already archived; there is no taking it down. It’s historically saved in a database somewhere — whether that’s Google or some other system elsewhere. So the privacy implications — I’m struggling with them every day. I’m right in the middle of it.

Frank Kalman is an associate editor at Talent Management magazine. He can be reached at editor@talentmgt.com.