When Social Networking Works

Social networks like Facebook and others are good for building relationships and for keeping track of all 156,977 of your closest friends — but no one really gets hired from them, right?

Tell that to nGenera. It has hired 63 people through its employee and recruiter social networks, which accounts for 70% of its 91 hires since last December. For those 63 people, that means no job boards. No third-party recruiters.

nGenera started in March 2007, and acquired six companies in one year. The company’s products (while hard to understand from its website) include call-center software, incentive compensation software, simulation software, and more.

Katie Carty Tierney (pictured) manages the recruiting function for the Austin, Texas, company, which has just under 300 employees, most virtual. “Our recruiters were relying heavily on job boards in the past, and we wanted them to look beyond that,” she says. “They weren’t necessarily getting the right candidates. They weren’t necessarily getting the right matches. There was a lot of turnover. That’s not the way to hire people.”

“How are you going to mine the network you already have?” Tierney asks. “Everyone’s got a network. Everyone in the world has someone they know. They’re not formal networks. They’re loose networks.”

nGenera’s plan wasn’t as simple as “let’s go put an ad on social-networking sites instead of Monster” (in fact, it wasn’t even very successful posting on Facebook Marketplace). It was more about building a culture where recruiters, and more importantly, all employees, spend their work time on social media. “If you’re discouraging people from developing relationships, they’re going to leave when the market’s better,” she says.

Employees were encouraged to explore and build out their social networks. It told them: “Go reach out to people you know. Go join Facebook. Go link out to people on LinkedIn. Join Twitter. In the long run it benefits you as much as it benefits nGenera.”

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Meanwhile, the company reached out to alumni, as well as employees of legacy companies (predecessor companies). Tierney also started following people on Twitter who seemed to have the skills it was looking for. If it could “follow” those people on Twitter, those people could see who was “following them” — and perhaps take an interest. Tierney’s also getting her jobs sent out, for example, via AustinTXJobs on Twitter.

nGenera also uses Jobvite (not to be confused with Jobster, which Tierney tried but wasn’t thrilled about). Everyone has access to it — not just hiring managers and recruiters. They can look at openings, send them to their friends, track email conversations, and more. The company pays a flat, monthly fee, rather than a per-person cost.

Job boards aren’t dead at nGenera. Niche boards, in particular, have been used to look for people with OATS (Order Audit Trail System) compliance, for example. But, Tierney says, “I found that LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter are giving me what I need.”

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