Social Media Impacts Both Geospatial Job Seekers and Employers
week of every year, at organizations around the globe, managers meet to
discuss their recruiting strategy. They review reports that monitor the
number of days it takes to close a requisition, the number of
candidates applying, and the costs associated with filling each
requisition. The data supplied from HRIS databases refine an
organization's recruiting focus. Managers look at their sources of
hires to figure out what is and isn't working. They look at trends and
watch for deltas that indicate a change in the market. And even when
the data look good, at every one of these meetings, managers solicit
new ideas from the team.
Candidate behavior changes all the time. The best-selling job-hunting book, What Color Is Your Parachute
by Richard Nelson Bolles, was first published in December 1970 and it
is revised (sometimes completely rewritten) and republished annually.
It is republished every year because the workplace is always in flux.
Candidates looking for an edge in their job search sometimes do extreme
things like renting a billboard or standing on a corner at Times Square
with a flashing sign. Most mainline job seekers simply monitor hiring
trends because they, too, are continuously looking for new ideas.
Today, more candidates than ever need practical new ideas for their job
search. The global economic downturn has resulted in an
incredible 10.2% unemployment rate. That translates into nearly 16
million Americans who are now looking for work. The activity will be
dizzying from now until the U.S. returns to full employment. The
geospatial market has fared better than the universal market but every
market has been grim. The market is ripe for another paradigm shift in
the way employers connect and hire job seekers.
Traditional tools for both geospatial employers and geospatial job
seekers have remained mostly the same for the last two decades. Since
the birth of the Internet, hardcopy paper tools like newspaper ads and
printed resumes have all but disappeared. A faxed resume, for example,
will be shredded upon receipt to avoid the administrative burden of
scanning it into a compliant format. Virtually all career transactions
today take place via Internet job boards and corporate applicant
tracking databases. The online job board trend has worked well in the
industry but it is also the trend that is starting to change.
Conventional Internet job board revenue outpaced print newspaper
employment advertising for the first time in the second quarter of
2004, according to the Newspaper Association of America. From there,
the numbers for online job boards get better. Earnings for
publicly traded online employment companies (MWW, DHX) reached a peak
in 2007 before trending to lows in March 2009. Yet, in July of this
past year, comScore Media Metrix produced a study revealing that the
top three sites in the career services category (CareerBuilder, Yahoo!
HotJobs and Monster) had achieved substantial growth in the past year,
with 21.7 million unique visitors for CareerBuilder, Yahoo! HotJobs
with 17.9 million visitors (up 23 percent vs. year ago), and
Monster.com with 14.5 million visitors (up 6 percent). These numbers
expose the relevancy of online job boards.
However, online social media has experienced explosive growth in 2009.
CNNMoney.com reports that the active user base for Facebook exceeds the
U.S. population, at over 350 million. Estimates place the user base for
LinkedIn at 10 million, followed by Twitter with 8 million. Every
career expert will acknowledge that the best way to find a job is to
get a job lead from a family member, friend or associate. Traditional
networking to find a job has proven to be the most effective method to
land employment since the beginning of time. Electronic connections
with every colleague, insurance agent and teacher can add up quickly,
but the value of each digital connection is hard to measure. Still, it
stands to reason that online social media in one form or another will
displace traditional online job boards.
The "new idea" that candidates have discovered is that they can use job
boards as a research arm to find relevant opportunities and then
leverage their social media contacts to get an interview. One approach
is to collect hundreds of followers on Twitter in hopes of connecting
with a hiring manager. However, would it really pay off to "friend"
Kevin Bacon on Facebook? At some point, a friend of a friend of a
friend saturates. Large connection caches are probably too diluted to
make a difference for the average job seeker looking for an inside
track to decision makers. Connecting with professional recruiters
working for hiring managers, on the other hand, has proven valuable for
The reason candidates are turning to social networking sites to get
their resumes in front of a hiring manager is because the feedback loop
in the traditional process seems to have vanished. This social media
approach is the result of too many applicants for too few jobs. The job
board method isn't broken but in this employer market, candidates have
grown increasingly frustrated with their personal success on job
boards. The sound of the click on the "apply now" button seems to be
the only feedback for most candidates submitting to a database
repository. This is a problem that social media won't solve. Only a
table turn in demand will correct poor employer etiquette.
Also, the "new idea" for employers is to brand their company by
creating pages on MySpace or LinkedIn and use those accounts to locate
suitable candidates. They are posting jobs on relevant group pages via
LinkedIn and Spoke. Corporate recruiters are building giant networks of
contacts and updating their status to inform scores of candidates that
they have a new opening. New software platforms have been developed to
link current company employees' personal social profiles in order to
mine their networks for new candidates in place of an employee referral
program. Incentives are provided to employees who participate.
Pitfalls and hazards loom with this "new idea" for both job seekers and
employers alike. The most obvious danger for a job seeker is an online
profile that is unprofessional or worse, downright objectionable.
Maybe that tweet you sent trashing a former employer or supervisor
surfaces and suddenly your chances of getting on the short list
evaporate. Those all important contacts and associations that can be a
social networking asset can also become a liability, thanks to cousin
Vinnie. For all the success stories, there are as many stories that
went the other way.
To employers, social networks pose a compliance threat. Federal, state
and local governments mandate non-discrimination in the selection,
hiring and promotion of employees. Those metrics that managers review
each week are also subject to auditing agencies that look for an
"adverse impact" or statistical evidence of discrimination in an
organization's hiring practices. The Office of Federal Contract
Compliance Programs (OFCCP) took until 2006 to issue guidance for
electronic job board applicant tracking. It might be difficult for HR
departments to collect EEO data from certain tweets without revised
guidance for new candidate sources like Twitter.
The impact that social media is having on career hunting activities is
just beginning. Quickly, job board operators, employer applicant
tracking systems, and even some public agency portals will develop
software integrations that will blend the traditional process with this
social media phenomenon. Best hire practice manuals will be revised and
innovative job seekers will continue to use new technology to get
noticed. To stay on top of the trend, don't forget to click the
"follow" button on those geospatial recruiting blogs.
Published Thursday, January 14th, 2010