Social Networking and Recruiting – Is Keeping People Out As Important As Getting People In?

Josh Letourneau Driving Productivity, HR Technology, Social Media

Back in the day of the BiG BiLLeR-dom, executive recruiters labored away conquering fire and creating inanimate communities of endless paper stacks and unsightly manila folders . . . and these stacks were full of “members” who never knew they were really community members. The 3-dimensional candidate stack was full of names, titles, written professional history, and phone numbers . . . until the flat file db was born (cutting down from 3-axes down to only 2), allowing community members to co-exist harmoniously side-by-side in a calming sea of 1s and 0s. “Ah yes, those were the days, my Jedi-Recruiter child . . . . “

But wait . . . was that really a community? According to the highly revered Sir Wikipedia, “In biologicalGated_community_2terms, a community is a group of interacting organisms sharing an environment.” Could a name be classified as an organism? I don’t really think so. Why not? Well, organisms have “properties of life” . . . (but then, hold on, what about viruses? . . . Ok, reign me back in here – we were onto something!) So, how about the concept of environment? Are stacks and folders an environment? Is an environment real if the names don’t know they’re being held in one? But names don’t have brains, so they can’t know anything anyway . . .

To my point: Doesn’t a community only exist when members of the community acknowledge the very existence of the community itself? Today’s construct of community within the social media context is the alter ego of “The Matrix”, a simulated reality created by sentient machines in order to pacify and subdue the human population.

One thing is for sure – times have definitely changed! With the exponential expansion of social media like Myspace, Facebook, and the viral genesis of social networks like Ning, the notion of community is now the hottest topic to hit the recruiting world since Monster (and then Jobster) were going to put recruiters out of business for good!

So, how do you grow a community? Do you toil for 6 days giving it life and then rest on the 7th day? In my estimation, the challenge moving forward will be to create communities that inspire people to give back . . . and contribute . . . and brainstorm . . . and invite other people back, who are just like them. But even Jason Davis, the Dr. Frankenstein of the ever Borg-like ballooning RecruitingBlogs.com, will admit he didn’t buy the domain and see instant success by uttering, “Let there be light.”

I think it’s about treating the community like a living, breathing organism. You have to till the ground, fertilize it, plant the seed, water it, de-weed it, etc. . . . and continue to tend to it as the plant grows. If I may take a gander, I think the conversation in 18-months will be more about how to secure the community than grow it. In other words, I see the conversation shifting from how to grow the plant to how to create a permeable membrane that only allows in those candidates we want, while providing a barrier of protection from other recruiters who want to swoop in like an eagle and take our eggs away.

Yep, I think we’ll be talking less about plant-growth and more about preventing against those beetles that are chomping at the bit to come munch on our beautiful plant’s leaves. One other prediction? Recruiters will still be in business.

Josh Letourneau is the owner of Knight & Bishop, an Executive Search and Human Capital Intelligence firm, with an emerging focus on Social Network Analysis (SNA). Nope, not like MySpace, but more like who is connected to whom in organizations and how does that impact their influence on decision making and P.O.V.s. And you can learn more about all of this on his new blog .