The Job Cloud - Why Twitter is the future of Job Boards

The debate on the future of Job Boards seems to become more polarized by the day. Depending on your viewpoint / agenda it seems you should either believe they are going to suffer a painful death and all shut down tomorrow or carry on regardless effortlessly circumventing the massive digital changes that are effecting every other industry so dramatically. History should teach us that changes in the recruitment industry are never so black and white but instead always come in a million shades of grey. With all of this in mind I've been pondering recently what the future might actually hold and some recent experiences are indicating the emergence of a massively disruptive trend.

As anyone who has properly experimented with social media will tell you, it's all about conversations. It's all about connecting, listening and engaging and the ability to do this on an enormous scale offers the glimpse of a brave new world for recruitment. Emerging "conventional" wisdom says that bulk feeding jobs into Twitter is at best missing the point and at worst cynical spam. While I strongly agree with the "conversations" viewpoint I would now argue that Twitter job feeds are not necessarily mutually exclusive. After all following someone's Twitter feed is an opt in choice and it is impossible to spam users on Twitter if they are not following you. The flip-side of this though is that not many people will want to follow an automated job feed, making its potential reach distinctly unimpressive

However a few weeks back I became aware of a fascinating paradox. While I was doing a project for a big corporate employer they started experimenting with an automated Twitter job feed. Expectations were low and the number of followers the Twitter stream attracted was even lower! It soon became clear though that something very unexpected was happening. Despite only having 50 followers the Twitter account started generating over 200 quality CVs / resumes a week. Since then I've found numerous other corporates and job boards who are experiencing the same thing and keeping it to themselves as a kind of "dirty secret". Before anyone starts thinking this has got anything to do with brand or employer brand it's also worth noting that a lot of these feeds are anonymous!

So what's happening? Well in addition to being an excellent tool for conversations, Twitter is also an open platform that it is very easy to get content into and out of. While people may not be following job feeds directly, they are obviously using Twitter to search for jobs somehow. This may be via general search engines like Twitter Search, via vertical ones such as Twitterjobsearch or by other means. While we may not be exactly sure how these quality candidates are accessing the jobs, the evidence that they are doing so and in numbers is pretty strong.

If this trend continues and more and more employers set up free job feeds, we'll start to see the creation of a what I'd call a "Job Cloud". Effectively a free Twitter powered open access database of jobs much bigger than the closed databases job boards currently hold and charge for. This is highly disruptive and would certainly dramatically alter the recruitment advertising landscape. Rather than the focus being on the publishing of jobs it would shift to be providing users with the tools to access, find and filter jobs within this "Job Cloud".

How will this pan out? Well I'm not exactly sure at this stage but I would suspect that as an industry we should start taking companies like Twitterjobsearch and the many other start ups offering Twitter job filtering very seriously indeed. Although they could be an even more radical viewpoint that this will be a concept that is impossible to monetize. If that's true it would be great news for employers but bad news for the job board industry.

Whatever people might say, two key revenue pillars of the recruitment industry have always been "owning" candidates and "owning" jobs. LinkedIn is already disrupting the candidate ownership space and it looks like Twitter might be about to do the same thing with job advertising

Social media and HR - arch enemies or vital partners?

This article was originally published on Changeboard.com The recent ban by Portsmouth City Council on their employees accessing social media sites such as Facebook while at work, has provoked much debate in other companies and organisations.

I suspect that a large number of HR departments up and down the country are looking at the issue in more detail than ever. Retailer magnet Theo Paphitus encapsulated the social media detractor’s point of view very well when he said this in a recent interview: “At Ryman, we had to knock this problem on the head about a year ago, when it became obvious that too much staff time was being eaten up by this nonsense”.

What HR departments might be less familiar with though, is the strong case for the integration of social media into the workplace. Tony Hseith of Zappos, has this to say, “If you don't trust your employees to tweet freely, it's an employee or leadership issue, not an employee Twitter policy issue” While he might not be as well know in the UK as the Ryman’s Dragon, the recent sale of Zappos to Amazon for the best part of a $1 billion illustrates that he also knows a thing or two about running a successful business. Indeed it’s not a coincidence that Zappos is considered by many as the best place to work in US.

What this tells me is that producing a sensible, successful corporate policy on social media usage is very difficult if you don’t use it yourself. It’s very easy to jump on the bandwagon of negativity if you have no idea what the advantages could be for your department and your company.  If you’re struggling for a place to start then it’s well worth considering some of key benefits of social media for the HR profession

Information intelligence

Over the last two years there has been a proliferation of blogs covering HR and recruitment issues. Information can be updated in an instant and breaking news now travels in seconds rather than hours or days. Relevant industry conversations take place daily on sites like Twitter and useful content is continually being uploaded to sites such as YouTube and Slideshare. Is this market intelligence you can afford to miss?

Networking

LinkedIn and Twitter offer the opportunity to expand your professional network like never before. Organisations like “The Firm” (The Forum for In House Recruitment Managers) are also proving this isn’t just happening in cyber space. After starting life as a LinkedIn group they now have regular events, which allow corporate recruiters to meet and network in “real life”.

Recruitment strategy

Recruitment budgets have been slashed and the recession is making it less likely that the very best people will be tempted to move role. Against this backdrop, “social recruiting” is giving many companies a cost effective and dynamic way to evolve their recruitment communication strategy.

Communications

Social media is also driving a corporate communications revolution for many organisations. Major CRM systems such as Salesforce.com are integrating Twitter and Facebook so that customers can communicate with companies directly via these channels. Secure network services such as Yammer are making internal communications more informal and useful while social networking and wiki technology are finally dragging the corporate intranet into the 21st century.

The aggressive consistent growth of the social web should be proof in itself that we are dealing with revolution not a fad and progressive companies like Zappos have already integrated it deep into the culture of their business to great success. As similar positive case studies emerge expect the debate to become more balanced and social media to start being seen as the force for corporate good rather than something that should just be banned.

Thanks for coming to the Summer Recruitment Tweetup #RTU

A belated thank you  to everyone who came to the Summer Recruitment Tweetup a couple of weeks ago. Particular thanks must go to my co-organiser Jamie Leonard (now working at The Ladders) and our generous sponsors TwitterJobSearch and 1Job.co.uk We'll be looking to do another one in October or  November  so if anyone has any good ideas about formats or venues please get in touch.

For those of you who couldn't make it on the night this is what you missed.....

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