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Dark Side of the Moon

by Oct 13, 2011, 5:41 am ET

The Dark Side of the Moon’s themes include conflict, greed, the passage of time … –Wikipedia

To be critical of social media, in any and all formats, sentences the writer to one of three modalities:

  1. You are a geezer
  2. You do not get it
  3. You are in the way of progress

Wrong on all counts. We are thinkers and evaluators first — recruiters or whatever a distant second. Armed with only our experience and limited time to get things done, we must question how we spend that time every single day. Time wasted equals fewer hires — and fewer hires devalues our existence.

Let me jump in hard and fast. Social media is big, firestorm big, and it seems to be everyone’s favorite child. As such, it has rapidly permeated almost everything we see and do on a daily basis. I am not opposed to this. One can’t be “opposed” to social media but I will tell you to what it is I am opposed.

  • I am opposed to the lack of critical discourse — the lack of careful analysis and review that surrounds social media as a tool for effective recruiting. I see fun and excitement and new and cool. I need a more balanced perspective for evaluation.
  • I am opposed to universal acceptance of a format that has not yet developed its chops — demonstrated a significant track record of accomplishment as it relates to ROI with investment being our time.
  • I am opposed to those who accept it more as a religion than a methodology to achieve results. Personally, I see it as a business tool, nothing more. Furthermore, I have concerns that the mixture of recruiting and social media — neither of which has a bar to entry — might often have more sizzle than steak.

As I write this, Google is rolling out a new social media platform, Facebook is under fire as many users eviscerate it for recent changes, LinkedIn requests are endless, and Twitter is has morphed into a circus.

Chris Brogan, founder of Human Business Works, writes that if you have to ask what the ROI on social media is, you just don’t get it. In this brave new world of overnight gurus, on fire social networking divas, and badass hipsters who intend to change the world, I still look for ROI because I am a capitalist. I need to see the money. Even in a world gone mad with celebrity rage and unacceptable behavior as the norm, one thing remains constant: people will spend money in exchange for value … less so if they do not see the value. It is critical for us as recruiters to remember that the value we bring are hires, not connections. How we spend our time is critical because time is money.

We must understand that social media is in its infancy. The next five years will generate explosive growth that will require critical judgment and consideration to ascertain real world value. Each of us needs to determine what works for us and what is just cute. Allow me three points of reference:

  1. Measurable value. Where, exactly and specifically, is the concrete value that supports our organizational objectives? (Tweeted that HR job 16 times over the last 13 days with no takers. When do you stop? Why do you stop?)
  2. Our bandwidth is limited. Bob Seger said it best. “Deadlines and commitments; what to leave in and what to leave out.” We only need the tools that result in real-world deliverables that justify our existence. Connecting is easy. Delivering is not that easy.
  3. Beware the experts. Beware the seductive promise of the tool and the technique that will “revolutionize” the recruiting/HR community often promulgated by those who are self proclaimed and often know little of our business and its unique problems. (See “What’s Up With The CelebutaHRd” for brilliant perspective.)

To me, social media is a grand adventure but it can be a time sink. I have no problem with this but to even the most untutored of us must see that if we try to keep up with endless conversations and threads and tweets on endless groups we will soon have to make a choice. To build our careers or to build our networks. Can do both? Maybe. I am simply not sure.

We face dangerous times ahead and navigating our destiny will not be easy. We must now deal with a world economy that is fragile, a government that is gridlocked, and poverty returning to the United States in frightening numbers. Divided, we will not stand. Unproductive, we will not stand. Ineffective, we will not stand. How we spend our time is the last best way to control our success and ultimately our destiny.

This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to offer specific legal advice. You should consult your legal counsel regarding any threatened or pending litigation.

  • http://www.matchpointcareers.com Paul Basile

    This is full of adult wisdom, I like it a lot. I anything, I think it is polite and understating the content-free nature of most social media. It’s a fad with huge gains for people who know how to leverage fads. It also feels a lot like the 1990s when anyone who doubted the rocketing valuations of new .com businesses was considered a luddite.

    I use social media a lot, my business requires it and I embrace that enthusiastically. I like social media personally. That’s not the same as I see it’s potential to help solve our serious problems and move the world forward. It might even be the opposite.

    Social media is a force for chatting and for reaching to the fringes of one’s contacts. Beyond that, the jury is out.

  • http://sggh.net Ronald Katz

    Way to go Howard! I am in your demographic, I love social media, I tweet, and I blog. But I, too, am a capitalist and I need to see results. We need to get people focused on results if we are going to get out of this national and business cycle malaise. You can tweet til the cows come home (I use that expression intentionally to show how old I am. ps, no one really knows when they come home anymore) but you’d better be making something of value and generating revenue too. Once you figure out how to best use social media as part of that strategy, then you are on your way.

  • Chris Marker

    Howard, you focused in on the very thought process I’ve been dealing with; as has been echoed, I am a capitalist as well, the reason for successes being that time management and using the right tools in the determined time is king. I had a business partner ask me if I was using RSS feeds for recruiting – while interesting, I’ve just not seen the true process that brings results. I’ve tweeted multiple times, and got 1 person from India. Any matricies that you may be privy to that will enhance the capitalistic mindset/usage of these tools is greatly appreciated! Production must be had for the interviews and hires to transpire, which equals dollars in the bank. Case closed. Thanks for the adult-level wisdom, as has been mentioned. Someone has to bring some levity and user-based FACT to the table!

  • http://www.inboundrecruiter.com Brian Kevin Johnston

    Thanks Howard.. I use a tool Hubspot to “filter” my key words. I schedule social media on the calandar, and I only play in the pools (niches) I work in, and I bring my suntan lotion (protection), so I don’t get burned. I have been asked to blog/speak/present with subject matter experts in our industry, many of which on on this site, mainly because the “leverage” social media bring to the table. As far as Recruiting, I am on the 1st page of google for all my key words “organically”, and a day does not go by that I don’t get a qualified “unsolicited” resume in my inbox… Thanks again, for the thoughtful post! BEST TO ALL…

  • Pingback: Social Media: Smart Thinkers Take Their Shots at Conventional Thinking

  • Howard Adamsky

    Ronald, I was never really sure of when the cows came home either. Sounds a bit messy.

  • Sandra McCartt

    Howard,
    What a delightfully sane article in the face of all the wild eyed proclamations of social media as the silver bullet and final solution to all things recruiting. It is time, I think, to take a breath,take a step back and evaluate. I am starting to hear voices of reason in the sea of hype. Yours is one of the finest.

    Social media has perhaps at least provided a means for many who have been only marginally successful in recruiting to develop a new career path.

  • Sandra McCartt

    Oh, and the cows come home late evening, being some of the first capitalists they figure out pretty quickly where they get fed and where the water is located. The exact time varies depending on how hungry and thirsty they are. :)

  • Howard Adamsky

    “Social media has perhaps at least provided a means for many who have been only marginally successful in recruiting to develop a new career path.”

    Sandra, that is brilliant. I have never even considered that as a possibility. If recruiters who do not understand the game see social media as the total solution, this is a serious problem.

    To me, you are a recruiter when you can pick up the phone, cold call a candidate and discuss a job you need to fill.

  • Sandra McCartt

    It is simply my observation that social media is easy, any kid over 8 can become an sm guru in a matter of a few weeks. Effective recruiting is not easy nor can it be based on instant gratification which seems to be the siren song of all the vendors of technology in the recruiting sector.

    Perhaps like all the innovations we have seen in recruiting, social media will come of age. I had one of those nutty dreams the other night. I dreamed I had just closed my iPad and there were all these little people trying to get out . I opened it back up and there they were on Twitter. I woke up laughing about all the little people who live in my iPad.

  • Ken Schmitt

    Excellent article! The role of social media is important in the recruiting business because it is where the people are these days. And these people are potential candidates. I have had great success using social media in my business. Not only has LinkedIn brought countless people to the table, but it has allowed me to provide relevant market and industry information through articles and discussions. Hiring a social media manager has helped my company grow and continue to have a notable presence in the social media world.

    I do not, however, believe it is the answer to all recruiting. Face to face, networking, phone calls both warm and cold and good old fashion leg work are essential to a successful recruiting firm. However, using the latest and greatest effectively can definitely enhance those skills as well.

    Thanks for a great article.
    Ken C. Schmitt
    http://www.turningpointsearch.net

  • Howard Adamsky

    Ken, you are so right. A great tool is just that and nothing more. A great tool is not a total solution.

    Recruiting is far more complex then meets the eye -far more subtle in its ways and requirements. Legwork in conjuncition with research and talking with people to whom you are NOT connected is still a major part of the deal.

  • Howard Adamsky

    “content-free nature of most social media”

    Brilliant!

  • http://www.techtrak.com Maureen Sharib

    “…you are a recruiter when you can pick up the phone, cold call a candidate and discuss a job you need to fill.”

    I was struck by one of the Sourcecon morning speakers yesterday talking about how she had transformed PNC Financial Services Group’s reliance on third party recruiters from 50% of all positions filled to 1%.

    Jillian Snavley did it by assembling a team of sourcers who are expected to make 35-50 outbound calls a day to, what sounded like to me, people they find on social media.

    Imagine that. Pick up the phone and talk to people.

    I ”spect Jillian would like your article as much as I did!

  • Keith Halperin

    @ Sandra: As always your comments are “straight ahead,” clear, and relevant. The secret of “the latest new thing” is to get just enough knowledge to teach the moneyed folks looking for a quick easy fix to their recruiting problems to shell out enough of their company’s money to get you some of it before something newer comes along.

    @ Maureen: It looks like Jillian has shown what you and other world-class sourcers have been saying for years; the use of effective up-front sourcing can greatly minimize the need for expensive agency searches. It doesn’t sound like Jillian’s team are (or her needs require) folks like you and the others. So, hopefully she isn’t paying more than $11/hr for each sourcer….I heard about a guy whose company will do 2-3 searches at a time with board-scraping and (I think) phone/internet sourcing for $200/week or less

    Cheers,

    Keith
    keithsrj@sbcglobal.net

  • http://www.RecruiterGuy.com Bill Humbert

    Howard,

    Great article!

    As I was watching my Washington Redskins lose to Philadelphia yesterday, it struck me that if they simply performed the football fundamentals well, they probably would have beaten Philadelphia.

    The same is true of recruiting. I agree that social media is a sourcing tool that may be effective in attracting some candidates. However, as far as I am concerned, nothing works best all of the time. Find a set of tools that you may follow the fundamentals of each well to become more effective. Then go win some ballgames (darn mixed metaphors!).

  • http://www.bullhornreach.com Kristin Zajac

    Thank you for this article Howard, you raise many good points. There is certainly a long way to go in fully understanding the ROI of using social media for recruiting, and there’s no doubt that it can rarely (if ever) stand alone versus traditional methods. However, I would argue that recruiters using social media to promote their open jobs is not true social recruiting. True social recruiting is peer-to-peer: when employees get involved and post job openings to their networks. Recruiters’ social media connections are mostly potential candidates, so when they use social media it’s more of a salesperson:prospect communication. When employees get involved, the conversation becomes authentic. We’ve seen this type of success with one of the pilots of our product, Bullhorn Reach Referrals, with thousands of job views, 50 referrals, and 3 hires through one company’s employee referral program in just a couple of short months. Once you extend the social media measurement to employee referrals, the ROI starts to reveal itself quickly.

  • Neal Grabarkewitz

    As always a breath of fresh airs. You again prove to be my favorite contributer.

  • http://www.designsontalent.com/ Linda Brenner

    Could not agree with you more, Howard. 15 to 1 – the number of times I see social media distracting recruiters vs. leading to a hire. And I’m not including LinkedIn here. Are you at OnRec right now? We need more of your ilk in the house! I’m a lone wolf here!

  • Richard William

    “I think everyone knows, if you use social media extensively, you have to accept you get bad as well as good,” Hunt told journalists. “And sometimes bad is wholly unacceptable.”