Search going social – why your reputation as an employer is at more risk than ever.

We all know how powerful word-of-mouth and the opinions & insights of friends, family and colleagues can be in the world of marketing.  And an overwhelming majority of us would agree that social media has made it far easier for influence – both positive and negative – to reach more ears and eyeballs than ever before. 

A recent AdvertisingAge article begins to explore the impact the powerful influence of social commentary coupled with the evolving personalization of search results will have – leading to the imminent evolution of ‘friendsourcing’.  No longer can companies go on believing (and many still do) that negative commentary from sources unknown might be disregarded or dismissed because the user doesn’t have a connection to the author of that particular comment or post.  

Working with HR clients for many years (and having been one myself) I am amazed at how little attention has been paid to the ability of candidates to share their negative experiences about a company’s sourcing and hiring practices with others.  Even the recent explosion of social media tools giving high visibility to often negative commentary and years of Gerry Crispin & Mark Mehler’s CareerXroads® job seeker experience research  (among others) has not motivated staffing organizations to be more concerned about what is being said about them online. 

Now, the very real possibility of search results including the comments and opinions of those you know and trust – not random strangers – is upon us.  Just think about the impact this can have on the sourcing ROI of hard-to-fill or high turnover hiring areas.  Good recruiters & sourcers work very hard to penetrate and gain the trust of tight knit groups of hard to find talent such as mechanical engineers, critical care nurses or software developers – looking not only for interested candidates but those willing to refer their qualified and equally in-demand friends and colleagues.  Often – this courting process takes weeks, months, even years – giving those targets ample time to share their experiences with their own networks.  Imagine the advantage gained to an organization whose sourcing and hiring practices are reflected positively and spontaneously within peer groups who actually know their fellow members. Now imagine the magnified impact of that same network receiving the negative commentary. The ROI, opportunity cost and time-to-fill improvements you’ve worked so hard for will most surely take a heavy hit – even if temporarily.

Any good social media pundit will tell you that conversations positive and negative are happening about you already – and now is the time to get involved and join in.   The time for “baby-steps” and “dipping a toe” has passed.  If your staffing organization has not figured out how social media impacts your sourcing strategy and results– your ship is sailing without a captain at the wheel.

I truly believe the impending, if not upon us, collision of search and social will have an impact far greater than the sum of its parts.  Reminds me of that old Reese’s ® Peanut Butter Cup commercial: “You got peanut butter on my chocolate!” “You got chocolate in my peanut butter!” But together – it became something magical. And the rest is history.

TMP Worldwide
Written by TMP Worldwide


  1. Gerry Crispin

    Nice post Karin. Love the image of unsolicited public feedback to recruiters from their aggregate non-fan base of the 100s of silver medalists all told they came in second and the 1000s of qualified but disappointed candidates who took the time to apply but never received more than a " thank you for your resume, please don’t reply but if you try, I’m anonymous anyway"

    If I could, I would create a widget for job-seekers to rate the quality of the experience they had with the firm they targeted and the level of service they received from the recruiter. The ratings would aggregate and eventually any job-seeker could drill down to see how a company would likely treat them before they applied. Hmmm the week is still young.

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