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These Are the 3 Biggest Trends in Workforce Innovation

Keeping up with the changing world requires constant innovation — and this includes hiring. Evolving technology, the shifting generational makeup of the workforce, and a candidate-centric market[...]

February 18, 2020

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Social Recruiting the eHarmony Way

Labor of love

There’s no sense burying the lede on this one: eHarmony no longer wants to play Cupid for lonely singles, it wants to use its platform to connect affection-starved job seekers with compatible employers who are interested in a relationship. By now, most people have heard about the online dating service. You’ve seen the syrupy ads on television. You’ve heard founder Neil Clark Warren’s sympathetic and fatherly assurances between songs on the radio. You may even have used eHarmony. And though it might seem a strange marriage (yes, pun intended), looking for love isn’t radically different than looking for work. They both present their share of anxiety, scrutiny, heightened emotions, cringe-worthy interviews, cultural fits, qualifications matching, awkward encounters, self-reflection, self-promotion and even feelings of infatuation or euphoria.

“There’s a universal desire to discover love and it can be hard to find, but that’s where we step in,” eHarmony’s site advertises. “We narrow down the world of possibilities to a personal A-list of meaningful introductions that get singles closer to finding the one.” And moving forward, “the one” could be a candidate’s next workplace.

The intriguing aspect of this development isn’t that eHarmony wants to assume the mantel of Dolly Gallagher Levi (the brassy matchmaker from “Hello, Dolly!”) with a person’s career, it’s that it spotlights one of the biggest recruitment trends for 2015 -- the undeniable need to embrace and utilize social media.

The human yearning for communication

In the staffing industry and in business, we talk a great deal about social media, as though it’s a new thing that arose from the advent of Facebook or Twitter. While that may hold true with the term itself, the human drive to enhance and increase communications -- to expand our social interactions and networks -- is as old as Paleolithic cave paintings. For over 40,000 years, people have consumed themselves with finding better ways to reach others and share their stories.  

We often think of advances in technology as inventions to make our lives easier. And that’s true. Yet on a deeper level, it’s difficult to look at these marvels without finding some direct correlation to communication. Computers originally solved logic problems. Inevitably, they became our most utilized communications systems.

Carrier pigeons, heralds, the Pony Express, the telegraph, Marconi wireless systems, telephones, pagers, Ham Radios, the Internet and more -- so much of our technology centers on overcoming communication barriers or designing the products that make such transcendence possible.

Social media will continue to dominate the process of recruiting

Today, according to research from Forbes, LinkedIn, Jobvite and others, only 14 percent of U.S. companies currently utilize staffing firms to find candidates. On the other hand, nearly half of all U.S. companies say they’re sourcing talent through a combination of social media. LinkedIn also reported that recruiters’ use of social networking has increased 57 percent over the last four years, which means passive and active candidates, as well as recruiters, can’t afford to ignore this trend.

However, we staffing providers in the industry need to begin thinking of social media as platforms beyond the LinkedIns and Twitters of the world. More companies and recruiting professionals are realizing the value of photo sharing sites like Instagram and Pinterest as potential candidate channels -- sources that reveal more intimate aspirations and motivations for talent. Video recruitment is fast becoming one the most effective strategies for engaging workers through the crowd, along with online staffing systems like Elance. Over 75 percent of recruiters are already using video. And there are other untapped platforms out there. Consider the groups in Reddit, Google Plus Communities, Tumblr, Flickr or Vine. And, of course, dating sites.

eHarmony’s entrance to staffing adds another layer to the social media strata

The eHarmony platform works on a proprietary system of compatibility matching algorithms. Members complete a questionnaire about their characteristics, beliefs, values, emotional health and skills. The system uses these answers to match members with compatible users. There are 500 variables that further optimize the process.

To date, according to the company’s figures, 438 members marry every day in the United States as a result of being matched by the site. A paper presented to the American Psychological Association by eHarmony executives showed that “over 90 percent of eHarmony couples had marriage quality scores which were above average when compared to couples who had begun their relationships elsewhere. eHarmony couples were more than twice as likely to be in highly successful marriages than non-eHarmony couples.”

The core tenet behind eHarmony’s success is matching couples based on compatibility, not interests or hobbies. It’s about who people are, not what they want. And this mirrors the attitude of job seekers today. They are searching for the best cultural fit with an employer -- a match founded on compatible visions, ideologies and mission -- rather than joining a company that merely satisfies a basic want, such as compensation.  

For talent, eHarmony’s new system will operate according to three principles built into the assessments. Interestingly, these attributes reflect the same key ingredients for job prospecting as they do for successful romantic pairings:

  1. Skills and competencies
  2. Values and culture
  3. Personality

To determine values and culture, eHarmony will bucket a candidate’s work values into 16 categories that attempt to ascertain how they manifested themselves in past and current positions. Depending on the responses, for instance, the system might find that a person is highly collaborative yet isolated from a team, which leads to disengagement and a suggestion for a better fit with another firm or industry.

Personality is being presented as a unique approach to standard workplace behavioral testing, aimed at gauging non-tangible yet vital attributes of talent: emotional intelligence, passion, dedication, commitment, integrity, creativity, ambition, competitiveness, team orientation and so on. And if all this seems pie-in-the-sky, it’s not. SimplyHired has already signed on to post some of its jobs on the new site when it launches.

Successful recruiting is about connections and interactions

Social networking, as a concept, is not a recent trend or 21st century phenomenon -- it’s a process that has blossomed from a basic human need to interact and commune, enabled today by advances in automation and communications technologies. In 350 B.C., the Greek philosopher Aristotle observed that “man is by nature a social animal.” Few have argued the contrary since.

Any online space where prospective talent gather, chat and share with others is a possible social media platform, as the eHarmony announcement demonstrates. The only limitation in locating sources seems to exist with the term “social media” itself. Many of us hold a narrowly defined idea of what social networks are. In reality, they can be any communications system designed for connecting individuals in the crowd, on a more personal level. Perhaps we should redefine the term, at least in staffing, to something more boundless, such as Global Talent Outreach.

Early social networks like Facebook and MySpace didn’t increase our desire to connect with others, they pioneered new ways of facilitating those interactions. And as other platforms spring up, they will continue to transform the way we engage with different people, share our experiences and goals, and reach ever-expanding audiences. Still, as research from Jobvite shows, 33 percent of staffing professionals have yet to invest any serious efforts in social recruiting.

The eHarmony idea is actually quite brilliant. It also underscores the transformative themes that are defining the future of business and talent, which we anticipated in our first eBook, “The Future of Talent in the Contingent Workforce.” Young workers today, those leaders of tomorrow, are now integrated and connected members of a world community that exists and communicates in the crowd. Social media are the doors to reaching them.

Although only 14 percent of U.S. companies may be using staffing firms for their recruiting efforts right now, there’s a still a place for elite staffing professionals -- an opportunity to recapture that ground, particularly for those who are willing to reinvent themselves in the process as curators, personal brand consultants and job search coaches. Businesses, according to recent study conducted by Beyond, are still struggling to fill open positions -- 75 percent of them, because they’re attempting to match candidates by qualifications instead of compatibility. And 51 percent of those employers are discounting the talent they find because of their postings on social networks, as illustrated by CareerBuilder’s newest research. Here are some suggestions on how staffing curators can lead the way for social recruiting.

Recruiting from the crowd: global talent outreach, not social networking

  • Expand your concept of what social networks are: As eHarmony proves, social media are not limited to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Do some research to determine where quality talent are spending their online time. Define your audience and locate social media most likely to host interactions specific to those individuals. You’ll eventually build a robust list of social networking venues by job category types and skill sets.
  • Become a community member and contributor, not just a headhunter: It’s not enough to post status updates or drop details about open positions you have. Today’s younger talent want a sense of connection -- with you and the companies you represent. Contribute in meaningful ways. Focus on content that engages prospective workers, tells them stories that speak to superior employment brands, include testimonials from others you’ve placed, share useful tips on resume development and interviewing techniques, and take part in ongoing conversations about hiring and employment opportunities.
  • Start using mobile: According to statista, mobile device usage will increase to 52.4 percent this year worldwide. More and more talent will be searching for jobs, applying for jobs and talking about jobs from smartphone apps and even wearable technologies. Optimize your websites, content and images (i.e., responsive rather than static design) to play nicely with these tools.
  • Use social media data to inform your marketing decisions: Hootsuite is a popular social media dashboard that allows you to manage all of your networks on one site, and then provides rich analytical data about usage. Hootsuite also reports that 60 percent of global organizations transform social media data into actionable demographic and marketing tactics. Why shouldn’t you? The data you collect through social networks can help analyze candidate interests, trends, objectives and desires that better inform your talent branding strategies.
  • Generate more employee referrals: When interacting with talent on social sites, groups, communities or forums, you’re also more likely to begin meeting their colleagues and friends. It becomes an excellent means for attracting other candidates, gathering recommendations, generating referrals and identifying prospects who may have been hidden from your other networks.
  • Bridge the gap between active and passive talent: Recruiters focused heavily on efforts to source and recruit passive candidates in 2014. Because these professionals are not actively looking for work, it can be difficult to connect with them directly. However jammed they believe their calendars to be, they always seem to make time for checking in on their social networks. And that’s where you can find them and retain their attention. Video interviewing is also a great way to allow the busiest candidates to record their responses, on their own schedules.
  • Target your audience through more human experiences: Google and Facebook are already making changes to their platforms that push businesses to concentrate more on a “human experience.” Social media, in whatever form they take, are the most conducive resources for helping you promote a human experience with talent.

Social recruiting campaigns allow candidates and employers to vet each other with greater ease and integrity, learn about one another more deeply and determine mutual compatibility. As eHarmony knows, recruiting Generations Y and Z is more a courtship than a resume ranking exercise. We don’t nurture productive relationships in our romantic lives by submitting a list of qualifications and negotiating terms; we seek those who share our visions and our passions, and we arrive at our decisions to commit through a series of exploratory interactions and open dialog.

Sunil Bagai
Sunil Bagai
Sunil is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, thought leader and influencer who is transforming the way companies think about and acquire talent. Blending vision, technology and business skills honed in the most innovative corporate environments, he has launched a new model for recruitment called Crowdstaffing which is being tapped successfully top global brands. Sunil is passionate about building a company that provides value to the complete staffing ecosystem including clients, candidates and recruiters.
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