Crowdsourcing. Or shall we call it Talentsourcing?

Crowdsourcing has become one of the most efficient and somewhat controversial ways for companies to solve business problems. It is a distributed problem-solving model in that a company broadcasts their key issues to be solved to a mass of unknown groups of people. With web 2.0 open social platforms, there are a lot of companies practicing this. You have probably seen or even participated in one of them through either a contest, a forum, or a site which allows people to ask any question that they need answers to and have the masses of people reply with their answers.

A typical model would be:

1. Company has problem

2. Company broadcasts problem online

3. Online crowd participates and submits solutions

4. Crowd vets and debates/discusses solutions

5. Company rewards winning solutions

6. Company owns solution

So you can see the positives for the organization

• Engages the audience into their brand

• Gets people talking about their company

• Collection of different thoughts and ideas from different perspectives

• Company gets to keep ideas

But then you can also see how some of this stirred up some controversy. Sometimes ideas are the easiest to rip off. Intellectual capital is pretty much placed right on the table for the world to see. And the value of the individual’s idea may become diluted and taken advantage of. The risks of open transparency.

So what about crowdsourcing for recruitment needs? Ironically, crowdsourcing is like recruiting in and of itself. You are not recruiting the individual per say, but his or her intellectual capital. In other words, ideas become social currency that is exchanged, shared, manipulated, discussed and even rated. Let’s take a view of how the model relates to recruitment:

• An individual’s ideas and thought process are great indicators of a person’s ability to work at your company. 

• Engaging people into your challenges gives them deeper levels of engagement into your employer brand

• The people you are specifically targeting with the challenge can self select themselves in or out whether they could fit there

• Gives the feeling of ownership and an empowering/learning environment for growth

• People are already contributing to the growth and success of your company

There are some very successful crowdsourcing type events that companies have used for recruitment. Mainly targeted towards students in the form of business challenges and technology contests. However, you could get real creative with this. Imagine the types of challenges you could put out there that differentiates you. Or what about turning people over to address recruiting that difficult hire. That could be real interesting. Candidates helping you recruit candidates. Sounds like an external referral program. 

TMP Worldwide
Written by TMP Worldwide


  1. Ted Williams

    Great post and I think this is the future. Create a community of individuals that like your brand and have them talk and work on cool stuff – then evaluate those conversations and hire the talent that rises to the top. It is easy to talk about and tough to execute. What I am talking about is far beyond crowdsourcing a logo. It is all about interaction and community feedback.

    I built a product that does this for university recruiting. We ran a pilot this past spring and companies/students ate it up. We re-launch this Sept. Should be exciting.

    Cool topic. Thank you for the post.

  2. Joshua Kahn

    Hey Russell,

    great post. Timely too. You’ve touched on some very interesting points.

    I can speak from experience on this that crowd-sourcing in recruitment can work, but it may not come in the form we as recruiters will think. I guess that’s true of a lot of things in the "social" space; its tough to pre-engineer what people will respond to and act upon.

    We recently crowd-sourced a job description at Best Buy. There’s a lot more to come on the story but its gotten an incredible response. For the beginning of the story see the announcement on the CMO’s blog; Help Us Write the Job Description.

    The other day I wrote a blog post on our experience so far if its of interest; Best Buy, Twitter, Crowdsourcing, and the Associated Press.

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