Image courtesy of Flickr/stevenson_john
When Joseph Roualdes decided to post a video from a 2011 scuba diving trip to Maui on social media, his intention was to share his memories with family and friends.
But when a hiring manager came across the photos, Roualdes found himself the subject of a targetedrecruiting push.
“I wasn’t looking for a job,” Roualdes, 33, said, “but I received an InMail from a hiring manager at LinkedIn, and it was a great personal note that started with a comment about how she had seen my video, and that she, too, was a diver.”
Along with sharing an interest in scuba, Roualdes said the hiring manager noticed he had the skills and experience for an open position as a public relations manager for LinkedIn Talent Solutions, a division of theprofessional networking firm LinkedIn Corp.
“I established the connection and went on to interview and accept an offer,” Roualdes said. “It was partly because of that human contact at the start that I was interested.”
Roualdes’ story is not uncommon. As use of social media has increased, so has the level of information available for recruiters to source prospective candidates. In fact, social media has become one of the most-used recruiting tools. According to Jobvite’s 2014 Social Recruiting Survey, 94 percent of recruiters incorporate LinkedIn in their strategy, with 73 percent of recruiters hiring a candidate through social media.
Yet, this added transparency to recruiting should come with pause, industry experts say. Having increased access to personal candidate information means companies should be more cautious in how they use it.
“In the world of big data, companies thrive not by their ability to collect information, but in how they analyze and distill it down to meaningful trends,” said Joseph Ungemah, vice president and head of the leadership practice at Corporate Executive Board Co., a member-based leadership advisory and research firm.
Through interviews with recruiters and other human resources professionals, here are some practices to consider when building a recruiting strategy in the age of transparency.
Actively look for ‘passive’ candidates.
Human resources professionals and other recruitment industry experts agree that the most effective benefit of social recruiting is the ability to interact with passive job candidates.
“Passive talent is the sweet spot of recruiting,” said Brett Underhill, director of recruiting programs at financial services firm Prudential Financial Inc. “This is the hot talent that other companies are holding onto and trying to retain, so it’s the talent our recruiters should be going after in order to get the best hires.”
Social recruiting has provided easier access to those who aren’t looking for a job. This is because even though so-called passive candidates aren’t job hunting, they’re still likely to maintain public profiles on websites like LinkedIn.
A 2014 study published in the journal Employee Relations found social networking platforms are among the most-visited websites on the Internet behind Google. Among professional social networking sites, LinkedIn — with 330 million members — is the most-used website byrecruiters.
The transparency of such platforms has allowed recruiters to ditch the old “post and pray approach,” in which a job is posted to a job board with the hope that the right candidates will come across it and apply. Instead, Underhill said, “We’re able to actively seek out candidates that are a good fit for a role based on their profile and experience, and we’re less concerned with whether they’re ‘actively’ looking.”
Increased transparency also makes it easier for recruiters to find candidates for positions in which skills are in short supply. Sarah Doll, senior director of talent management at Chicago-based tech firm Enova International Inc., said “the emergence of these sites has opened up the talent pool for companies like us that constantly need to find new talent, especially those with high-demand or niche skills sets in the tech sector and emerging fields.”
Even if the candidate decides not to follow through on the offer, the brief informal interaction on a social network is viewed as beneficial. “The goal is for all these passive candidates who interact with your brand to think of you first when and if they are looking for a job,” Doll said.
The résumé is still a key informer.
Even with the rise of social professional networking websites, experts say the résumé is still a useful tool.
To some, a social profile is a broad recruiting tool that still has some limitations. “LinkedIn and other sites like it certainly make the pool much bigger for recruiters,” said Julie Zide, an associate in people analytics at financial services firm Goldman Sachs Group Inc. who is writing her dissertation on the influence of social media in recruiting. “But in terms of trying to fill a role, companies really need to know how to assess those résumés effectively and put less emphasis on the social pieces.”
Moreover, the plethora of information found about candidates on social networks might not be a precursor to hiring success. “A profile showcases a candidate’s personality, and academic research shows personality has yet to be validated as a predictor of job success,” Zide said. “In fact, much research shows the more information you have, the less accurate your predictions are.”
Zide said this “illusion of knowledge effect” is particularly relevant when looking at a company’s hiring practices and how LinkedIn and other websites can influence the accuracy of decision-making. “In the previous world, you had a job description that you were matching to a résumé and trying to correlate the skills and ability,” Zide said. “In some ways this new, sometimes irrelevant, information can dilute the validity of the information that the recruiter already has via the résumé.”
Be wary of unintentional bias and understand risks.
With new visibility into the personal lives of potential hires comes the risk of introducing unfair hiring practices or bias.
According to Zide, this just reinforces the objective value of a paper résumé. “If you have a standardized approach to evaluating candidates, you need to apply the same set of measures that you would in any hiring process, regardless of what you see online,” Zide said.
She said the best way to achieve this is to have a documentedlist of all the skills and qualifications that candidates must possess for the job. Then make sure everyone coming in for an interview has a majority of them. “Applying the same set of measures to all candidates helps you focus on what’s really important for success in the role you’re hiring for and reduces your legal risk,” Zide said.
If hiring for a sales role, for example, a recruiters’instinct might be to filter an online search by those who have more than 500 LinkedIn connections or appear extroverted. But Zide said it’s important to resist those temptations. “Instead, use quantifiable parameters that if you conduct your search in this manner, [it will] protect you from legal risk,” Zide said.
Prudential has established guidelines to help recruiters avoid unintentional bias. For example, Underhill said once a recruiter has identified a candidate to bring in for an interview, they aren’t allowed to Google that candidate’s name for additional information. “We tell recruiters they can use Google as a tool to search for people but not to investigate,” Underhill said.
Prudential also gives its recruiters guidelines for how they take notes as they search social profiles. “We tell them to focus on skills and attributes and be hyperaware of what could be disparaging or discriminatory,” Underhill said.
Some websites provide settings so recruiters can opt out of seeing certain content to prevent the likelihood of bias. Comila Shahani-Denning, an associate professor of psychology at Hofstra University and author of “LinkedIn and Recruitment: How Profiles Differ Across Occupations,” said LinkedIn allows recruiters to “turn off” access to some forms of content, like user photos, which can help prevent bias from creeping in.
When used strategically, these sites can really open up opportunities for recruiting to a more diverse population. “One of the things our customers love about using social to discover candidates is that they can use it for diversity hiring,” said Peter Kazanjy, co-founder of TalentBin.com, an online talent search engine aggregator owned by Monster Worldwide Inc. “They can find candidates of color, LGBT hires, veterans, tech experts — whatever they want.”
There still are legal considerations that are worth noting when using social media to make diverse hiring decisions. “For example, it’s illegal for a recruiter to use social media to purposefully target a woman over a man when making a hiring decision,” Shahani-Denning said.
Furthermore, the transparent nature of theseresources allows employers access to demographic data that can’t legally be used in making hiring decisions,accordingto U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission regulations.
“Employers can potentially use this information byactively recruiting on sites or groups that have a more diverse membership, which encourages a diverseapplicant pool,” Shahani-Denning said. “In other words, these sites are great for recruitment, but can be dangerous for selection.”
To learn more about the skillsets that modern recruiters should possess, read the sidebar that accompanies this special report here.