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Technology changes the way companies recruit

Friday, October 31, 2008
Friday, October 24, 2008
High tech hiring
Technology changes the way companies recruit
Austin Business Journal - by Laura Bond Williams Contributing Writer

It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.
The symbol of this tried-and-true axiom used to be a bulging Rolodex. In 2008, search strategies remain grounded in the networking axiom, but hiring tactics are moving from the desk to the laptop.
Technology and the Internet are fueling changes on both sides of the hiring equation. Hiring managers have vast resources to announce openings via corporate Web sites, Web-based job boards and word-of-mouth. Job seekers have access to more than 50,000 job boards bulging with data on openings at every level in every industry.
Web-based “talent development” software services from companies including Kenexa, Taleo, Ultimate Software, SuccessFactors and Jobvite are changing — and arguably improving — the way companies of all sizes attract, assess, hire and retain employees.
In less than a decade, software and consulting for human resources organizations has progressed from providing an electronic filing cabinet to creating sophisticated tools for writing job descriptions, parsing résumés to find candidates and using interactive screening tools.
On the Internet, social networking sites such as LinkedIn, Naymz, Plaxo and Facebook are recruiters’ treasure troves of employee data. Another trend is for hiring managers to broadcast new openings to a presumably attentive, well-connected audience on Twitter, a real-time messaging service that lets people send and receive messages, known as “tweets,” using their computer and mobile devices.
“The whole world changed because of Monster.com,” says Judy Sweeney, vice president and head of Taleo Research, which studies trends in human resources organizations. Monster.com and its peers were pioneers in recruitment strategies because hiring managers had easy access to so-called “passive candidates,” people who are not actively looking for jobs. Now passive candidates abound in numerous social networks.
“In the old days, 20 years ago, a recruiter was getting a list of employees in a company and picking up the phone,” Sweeney explains. “Now it’s being done by recruiters surfing social networks, whether it’s something like LinkedIn or Facebook or MySpace.”
Since 2006, there has been a 17 percent increase in human resource professionals who use social networking sites as recruiting, résumé verification, and applicant screening tools at least occasionally, according to a recent survey by the Society of Human Resources Management. The Internet lets recruiters embark on a fact-finding mission to find the players and what they are known for, all fodder to make the first phone call more effective.
“Large social networks account for just 10 percent of all candidates sourced at the executive level,” says Lauryn Franzoni, vice president at ExecuNet, a membership-only networking organization for executives. “But given that many of these sites didn’t exist even three years ago, 10 percent is notable.”
Software services like Taleo and Kenexa simplify and improve the screening/assessment process.
But job seekers wonder if their personal networks matter when software, not people, is sifting through the hay of résumés and applications.
Technology is taking time out of the hiring cycle, making it more efficient and improving companies’ ability to find the right person, says Russell Becker, managing partner of assessments and testing at Kenexa, a provider of recruiting and employee management services. In a down economy, companies must get more done with fewer employees.
“The critical need for a right decision has never been more important,” Becker says.
Résumé processing systems are good but from a candidate’s perspective, they have to game the database, says Franzoni. As a result, the application process becomes depersonalized. Kenexa’s Becker says technology is simply making the process more objective.
Employers and employees don’t seem to agree on which parts of the Internet are most effective in the hiring and search process. Taleo’s Sweeney says that seventy-three percent of companies surveyed said that corporate Web sites are highly effective for finding candidates, while only 29 percent of employed adults found them effective in finding a job. Those Web sites are weeding out candidates, and the disparity reveals the growing importance of screening and assessment, she says.
In Austin, some hiring managers are creating their own talent development strategies to fill positions, using a combination of social networks and Web-based talent development software. A recent search for “Austin recruiters” on Twitter returned 14 profiles of recruiters and hiring managers at companies including Bulldog Solutions, Silicon Laboratories and Ultra Electronics.
One of Austin’s most active Twitterers in human resources is Bulldog Solutions’ HR manager and corporate recruiter, Kim Haynes. With more than 7,000 messages to her name, Haynes out-“tweets” her peers by at least 6,925 to 1.
Bulldog Solutions specializes in lead generation using Internet marketing strategies, so Haynes wants potential employees to know its turf well. She actively connects with leads and prospects using several social networks including LinkedIn, Facebook and MySpace. Last month, for the first time, she hired a candidate whom she met on Twitter. Haynes says she hasn’t placed a classified ad for a job since 1998.
Another Austin company, nGenera Corp., “tweets” about its openings, but its main strategy is to capitalize on its employee’s social networks. Katie Carty Tierney, nGenera’s talent acquisition manager uses Jobvite to reach outside the walls of the company. Jobvite is a subscription-based software service that turns all company employees into recruiters by making it easy for them to forward job openings to their networks.
“The absolute best way to do this is to mine the social networks of the people you know and trust, who tend to be your valued employees,” Tierney says.

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