Somewhere there is a team--or an individual--that has been tasked with figuring out "how to use this Facebook thing" to assist with recruitment and assessment. Management doesn't know what they want--they may not even know what Facebook is--but they're convinced the organization needs to use it.
For most organizations this is a complete waste of time.
Yeah, yeah, I know a study just came out from Nielsen showing that Americans spend nearly a quarter of their online time on social networking or blogs (an odd combination if you ask me), up 43% from a year ago, and I know Facebook recently announced they surprised 500 million users worldwide.
But just because something's popular doesn't mean it has direct application in all walks of life. Just because the Kindle is hot doesn't mean you should use it as a cutting board.
This is a classic mis-direction. It's like focusing on re-painting the guest room because brown is the new blue, while meanwhile the rest of your house falls apart.
Don't get me wrong, I'm all about innovation in our field, and longtime readers know I'm no hater of online developments. But we should be spending our most valuable commodity (time) where it counts.
What we should be doing is learning from this shift in online behavior and applying those lessons to our existing efforts. What the heck does that mean? Well, let's look at what people are using sites like Facebook for:
1. Sharing their life. Perhaps surprisingly, a lot of people like sharing their lives publicly, and for many, status updates are the 2010 version of the family letter. Think about the extent to which you allow applicants to share themselves. Does your application process consist only of a resume upload, or do you allow them to upload cool things they've done? Do candidates have the ability to customize their job search based on their background, not your jobs?
2. Connecting with people. There at least three direct applications here: (1) think about the extent to which your career portal allows applicants to contact a real human being; (2) think about the possibility of starting an internal network (e.g., Yammer) to capture all that knowledge sharing, bench strength, and informal connection goodness; and (3) consider publishing employee profiles online so potential candidates know who they'd be working with.
3. Playing games. I've written several times over the years about the benefits of interactive and entertaining recruitment and assessment applications. Video and online games aren't just for nerds anymore (see Farmville, the Wii). Think about how you can make your career portal not only attractive and useful--but FUN. Or at the very least engaging.
Maybe the biggest lesson here: your reputation is out there more than ever. If you don't think your employees are updating/blogging/tweeting about their jobs, you're mistaken. And you may have the best sourcers and recruiters in the world, but if your reputation as an employer stinks, it's all over the web and you've just made their job 10x harder. Know how your employees feel. Work hard on improving their work life. Reward good performance and deal with lack thereof.
Don't let the hype about Facebook get to you. Take your time and identify what you really need to be focusing on to increase your talent pipeline.
Disagree? Think we should be spending more, not less, time with these technologies? Bring it. (ya know, with the comments feature)