nextSourcing Part 3: How Social Networks are Improving the Contingent Workforce


In part III of this four-part series on nextSourcing, we’re examining the role played by social networks in fielding a world class, Twenty-first Century contingent workforce.  It’s not surprising that social media is already a favorite hunting ground for recruiters.  Job board website Jobvite’s recently published eBook reports that a whopping 73% of surveyed people between the ages of 18 and 34 found their most recent positions through social media.  It also noted that 55% of surveyed companies indicated that they planned to invest more in social media hiring this year.  Not only does social media aid in connecting candidates with hiring entities, but there are also significant benefits to the overall quality of a contingent workforce driven by the use of social media in the sourcing process.

Here are some examples of how this new method of sourcing is actually improving the composition of the contingent workforce.

Better Matched Candidates
Contingent labor, by definition, is intended to be utilized strategically.  It is either used to help an organization handle peak seasonal volume or to complete highly specialized projects over finite periods of time.  As such, it is best if the candidates in these scenarios come to the job with the right skills, experience, etc.  Having to spend extra time training and orienting contractors takes away from the efficiency gains expected of temporary labor.  Before social networking, this proposition was more hit or miss.

One of the key benefits of sourcing via social is the insight sourcing agents can gather from the abundant personal and professional information shared by social media users. Facebook alone hosts more than 750 million personal profiles and 100 million more profiles on LinkedIn are expressly focused on users’ professional profiles and capabilities. These networks (along with dozens of other social networks) not only facilitate recruiters in finding candidates, but they also provide qualitative data that helps identify candidates with exceptional accuracy.  That accuracy means a contingent workforce that requires less training and exhibits less churn/turnover than those sourced through more traditional channels.

Improved Screening
Criminal background checks, Meyers/Kiersey personality tests and other traditional methods for screening candidates are only useful to a point. They aren’t always as conclusive or comprehensive a measure of a candidate’s real attitude and ethics. A much more accurate picture of how an individual will assimilate into a particular organizational culture is available via the material shared by the actual candidates on their social profiles.  Negative traits such as alcohol/drug use, racist, sexist, violent, antisocial or other damaging behaviors posted to a person’s social media page(s) can alert hiring managers to potential high-risk candidates long before they are even invited to interview.  While privacy advocates may contend that what a person posts on his/her profile(s) should not necessarily be indicative of their actual views, the truth is that most hiring agents would rather err on the side of caution. In addition, many articles in business journals and online warn social media users of the negative consequences of posting controversial material to their pages, no matter whether in jest or in seriousness.

The Power of Referrals
Referrals may be valued more than any other indicator of success. A personal referral from a trusted source is worth its weight in gold when seeking contractors and other contingents. Social medial platforms act as an ad-hoc “Angie’s List” for individuals.  Savvy hiring managers understand the six degrees of separation that exist between every one of us and they leverage these platforms to establish pipelines of pre-recommended candidates.

Building a Better Employment Brand
Having a strong online and social media presence is key to developing a positive brand association with your workplace. Maintaining social media pages for an organization is useful in conveying to potential candidates key information about the culture of the organization and the nature of the experience they may expect if hired to work.  There is simply no better way to communicate this information quickly and easily.

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