The buzz word on everyone's lips at the start of 2007 is user-generated content and social networking sites. User generated content means using your audience to create content and communicate on your site. The owners of these sites created the technology to facilitate this and then users input the content. Although the content is free to the developers, marketers and recruiters are noticing this new space and are figuring out how to use this 'new' space for their business. A Newsweek article in April of 2006 discussed how user-generated content would dominate the web, but I don't think anyone thought there would be quite as much of an increase in the use of sites, such as myspace and flickr, during the last half of the year as there was.
As is typical, new technologies are invading the recruiting space. But, here is the twist. Users do not focus on generating content, but rather on creating networks. All the recruiting gurus in the blogosphere agree that this is the year web 2.0. grows up and is embraced by recruitment.
Recently I reviewed one of these networking sites for a client who was going to purchase a new piece of technology to create a company specific network. This was being presented to recruiters and staffing managers as the new way of finding passive job seekers but I do have to ask the question why a candidate, passive or otherwise, would join the network of a competitor company in their industry to look for a job?
There may be some sense in an application of this kind for college graduates or for summer jobs, but this group has resources such as facebook.com which they are most likely already members of. Professionals however would most likely find jobs by seeking out a company they'd like to work for or hear about a specific job through a referral. Network sites like linkedin have a place in our lives as these networks expand beyond the job seeking world and become more of an online resume which you can choose to make public or not. This has a broader application than job seeking.
When considering network tools in your recruitment strategy, it is important not to think of this as the "silver bullet" for attracting passive job seekers. User commitment to a network can be very powerful but it works both ways: as much as it can increase perception of your organization being forward thinking, a network that offers no value can potentially be damaging to your brand.
If you are thinking of using networking tools to find candidates, consider what communication strategy you have in place to provide something of value to the audience. After all, no matter what flavor of network site you visit, the age old question applies...every user, whatever age, will ask the question "What's in it for me?"
For more information on utilizing networking tools and harnessing the power of user generated content or web 2.0 in your recruiting strategies, talk to your account representative.