I really can’t wait to see social recruiting at its best. Until then…?

I’ve come to the conclusion that most of the current crop of social recruiting experts out there are simply full of it.  In a vacuum, this statement is going to delight one of my partners, who routinely rejects any application of ”science” to the “art” of retained search (yes, we know you had to walk ten miles barefoot to school every day, Grampa John).  However, I believe that social recruiting, and the creative use of current and future applied technologies, will have a huge impact on talent acquisition and the way we engage with the individuals we want to join our companies.  But here’s the thing:  I just don’t think the people leading the charge at the moment are very good at it.

 

I’ve reviewed the published lists of social recruiting gurus and the bios of speakers at talent acquisition and human resources conferences.  From these sources, it would appear that the two most significant qualifications required to be anointed a guru are: “I tweet a lot!” and “I have a ridiculously large number of LinkedIn connections!”  This, my friends, is a very low bar.  However, the demand for social media expertise is high, and if you tweet more than your clients then, to them anyway, you are an expert.

 

I equate the current state of the burgeoning social recruiting consulting industry to the state of retained search in a booming economy.  Just about anyone can throw out a shingle and make a quick buck when the demand for talent is red hot.  It’s when things slow down that you separate the wheat from the chaff.  Only then do the truly excellent practitioners thrive, while the rest wait to jump on the next bandwagon that doesn’t require a lot of depth or expertise.

 

So, what then is the wheat and what is the chaff of social recruiting? Here are some signs that the social recruiting “guru” you’re currently chatting with might be looking for another line of work when the industry matures:

 

  • They use the words “cool” and “fun” in every other sentence;
  • They are wearing a tiara in their twitter profile pic;
  • They refer to themselves as a “disruptor.”

 

Tons of folks like this are currently making a living on the speaker circuit without actually having credentials beyond the fact that they are a chapter ahead of you in “Social Recruiting for Dummies.”  Other than that, they really can’t point to any impact that they’ve made for their employers or clients.

 

Conversely, here are some indications that the person you’re speaking to may actually have the goods:

 

  • They understand data and predictive analytics;
  • They can write an algorithm (or at least correctly spell “algorithm”);
  • They can help the recruiting artist understand how to use the available science to improve results.

 

If the person across the table from you looks like she may have taken a job as a NASA Engineer back in the ‘60s, then you might want to hire her.  (What’s NASA?  You know, the guys who saved Tom Hanks’ life in “Apollo 13.”  What, who’s Tom Hanks?  He’s Woody from Toy Story.  Wait, when did I get so old?)

 

I’ve managed to pontificate on several occasions in both public and private settings on the failure of the recruitment industry to engage the “best of the best” candidates.  Technologies like email in the 90s and more recently LinkedIn have made us lazy as an industry.  We’ve created these many-to-many and one-to-many relationships that have failed to engage the exact people with whom we most dearly want to.  Social recruiting has the potential to help us create one-to-one relationships and, in concert with a strong data analytics program, deliver customized messages across multiple platforms that resonate with the person receiving those messages.  It can truly unlock the art of recruiting and the ability of a skilled recruiting consultant to engage with their candidates in very creative and meaningful ways.

 

But, only when it grows up.  Until then, enjoy the tiaras!

 

John Touey
John is a Principal and member of the SSG management team. He has over 20 years of experience providing executive search, human resources and management consulting services to a broad range of organizations and industries including healthcare, financial services, utilities, manufacturing and pharmaceuticals. You can follow John Touey at @JohnTouey on Twitter.

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