How Social Media Hurts Recruiting and What to Do About It (Part III)

This is the final piece in a 3-part series exploring the negative impacts that social media is having on recruiting departments across the world, and offering strategies and tactics to mitigate this downside exposure for corporate recruiting departments. As always, reading the first two articles is recommended before diving into this one.

In Part I, we explore the Social Gap … the gap in expectations created by the intersection of social media with what is a highly transactional process designed to be reasonably efficient and effective and scalable, at least at most companies. This is primarily a gap of expectations, because most corporate recruiting practices are currently incongruent with supporting the social graph. In part II, we discuss the issues related to Social Proof, and how social media is fueling the reputation economy which places far more pressure on organizations to create candidate marketing impressions that are true.

The third problem that social media creates for recruiting is The Back Door Problem: The social graph has plumbed new conduits for communication, and these create material operational inefficiencies for departments operating at substantial scale. Part 1 and Part 2 of this series allude to this issue: candidates are reaching out to contacts in their social network to learn more about companies. But it goes beyond simply validating the value proposition or finding out more information; this uber-networking phenomenon has created a large breach of (admittedly candidate-unfriendly) processes as modern-day candidates are forgoing traditional application mechanisms (e.g. applying through the career website) and instead networking their way into companies. The problem with this is that it does not scale: corporate recruiters are responding to referrals from inside their company in numbers never before seen. This is one reason why corporate recruiting departments are so busy and feel overwhelmed.

The second facet of the Back Door Problem works in reverse of the first: hiring teams are now using their social network to conduct unauthorized references on candidates in numbers never before seen. Now, we all know that these ‘back door references’ happen at all companies and in many different ways and that this is not a new development. But never before have we seen this back door reference’ mechanism be executed so efficiently. Now, it’s simple for hiring managers to find references in their social network and invite them to chime in on candidate viability. Because social media brings such efficiency to managing relationships, it also proliferates the number of backdoor references.

The problem with this practice is that these backdoor references negatively impact recruiting yields with little substantiated correlation to quality of hire. This makes sense: the more backdoor references that one obtains, the more likely one is to find “evidence” (unsubstantiated as it may be) that the candidate should not be hired. For example, at Google, the company’s evaluation of the Google hiring process using multivariate regression analysis is widely documented … but what is far less often discussed is a simple analysis that was done to correlate number of interviews to quality to hire. As you might suspect, it turns out that there is a ‘tipping point’ for interviews after which the quality of hire does not improve, but recruiting yields decrease. In simple terms, if one puts a candidate through enough interviews, eventually one is going to find someone on the interview team who torpedoes the candidate. So more interviews past this tipping point simply erode yields with no lift in quality of hire.

The same is true for references, and with social media accelerating the rate at which unauthorized, unsubstantiated references are being conducted, recruiting yields are suffering. This is again one of the reasons why corporate recruiting departments are underwater.

Article Continues Below

To recap, there are two facets to the Back Door Problem created by social media. The first is that candidates are inadvertently redrawing the recruiting process by networking their way into your company. The second is that hiring teams are using their social graph to execute ‘back door’ references in ways that are unprecedented.

There are tactics that smart recruiting leaders are deploying to mitigate The Back Door Problem:

  • If ever there was a time to invest in a scalable, automated, employee referral program, now is the time. If your company doesn’t have one (many companies do not), make it a priority for 2011. If your company does have an employee referral program, spend time in 2011 evaluating the effectiveness and scalability of its operation.
  • Invest more in job spec creation and validating success criteria for key jobs for which you recruit; train your recruiters in conducting effective launch meetings.
  • Educate hiring teams at the launch meeting on the value of references and protocols for using them effectively.
  • Control the number of interviews. Above eight or so interviews, most organizations see little increase in quality, but recruiting yields start to deteriorate. If you are still letting hiring teams put candidates through 12 or more interviews, you are simply wasting resources and saying “no” to candidates who may actually be a fit.
  • Train hiring managers and recruiting staff on authenticated selection and assessment methodologies. This goes beyond interviewing skills, and includes validated job performance analysis, competency model development, and related job specification refinement skills.

Social media clearly provides significant utility to recruiting, but it also bring substantial negative consequences. As has been the case before Social Media, the key to driving effective recruiting strategy is leveraging the upside while mitigating the downside and related risks. Social media is clearly changing the landscape of recruiting, but by scrutinizing both the positive and the negative impacts, recruiting leaders will produce the greatest levels of success.

As always, sound off in the comments.

Jason Warner left corporate America to focus on entrepreneurship with a clear mission: to help organizations recruit better. In early 2011, he founded RecruitingDash, a recruitment software company that delivers world-class SaaS-based reports, metrics, dashboards, and analytics from existing applicant tracking software. As with other trends in Big Data, RecruitingDash turns the wealth of data in the recruiting "supply chain" into valuable information and insights to improve recruitment efficiency and effectiveness for companies of all sizes. A former corporate recruiting and talent management leader at Google and Starbucks, he has successfully built, scaled, and led large global recruitment and talent management functions during critical growth periods for some of the world's most recognized fast-growing companies, including Google and Starbucks. At Google, he led the largest learning, training, and people development group at Google -- for the Sales and Operations group across Latin America, Asia Pacific, and North America. During the peak of Google's growth, he also led recruitment for the Global Online Sales and Operations Group. He was previously the director of North America recruiting for Starbucks Coffee Company.


52 Comments on “How Social Media Hurts Recruiting and What to Do About It (Part III)

  1. “Control the number of interviews. Above eight or so interviews, most organizations see little increase in quality, but recruiting yields start to deteriorate. If you are still letting hiring teams put candidates through 12 or more interviews, you are simply wasting resources and saying “no” to candidates who may actually be a fit.”

    EIGHT interviews! How about TWO interviews? I would enjoy seeing any neutral, peer-reviewed studies that indicate that more than two rounds of interviews with more than about 5-7 or so combined interviewers produce a sufficently better hire that justifies the added time, expense, and mutual inconvenience of additional interviews and interviewers.

    From a candidate’s perspective, ISTM that any company that does large numbers of interviews/interviewers is likely to be a considerably dysfunctional bureaucracy, and unless you like working in such an environment, stay away from places like that.

    Keith “The SVP of Talent Has no Clothes” Halperin

  2. Thank you for clarifying, Jason. Eight evaluations still seems on the excessive side to me, but as I said, if someone can get me some unbiased evidence that supports it as being worth the extra trouble, I’ll stand corrected.


  3. “… above eight or so interviews…”

    Did I read this right? WHO DOES THIS? Above two interviews and candidates get antsey in my industry.

    Back Door recruiting via Social Media is the prefered method in most businesses. Little cost, higher profit and excellent morale in the staff when the see their “referrals” were hired.

    I am having a hard time understanding from which angle this article is being written. How is social media huring this business? Who is getting hurt is a better question?


  4. Jason your thesis regarding “unauthorized” disqualification neatly bisects the whole “internal v. external” discussion (the subject of several long threads on ERE this month).

    As I have stated many times here, IMO, it’s a classic culture-gap.

    Third-party has a market view of candidates and seeks any angle to include them, Internal has a qualifications view, seeking any angle to exclude them. Internal seeks only A players, but recoils from any selection risk. TPR seeks to present any level of player with potential fit, and faces only a minor selection risk, which premia vary among potential fee-payers, always overwhelmed by the bias of realizing a fee (in contingency) or antother search (in retained).

    The answer is both cultural and technical. Technically, pre-hire assesment has to improve (which will happen once group-dynamics and serious simulation are both made core principles. Culturally, internal recruiters have to be compensated more in line with TPR (i.e. when scoring a hire rather than a base plus bonus), PLUS substantial downstream comp based on accurate measures of the economic impact of the hiring that they do (not simple CPH or TTF, but much more evolved analytics). By doing so, star recruiters may be some of the highest paid people in organizations. That culture shift is a ways away, but I think we will see it someday.

    As of now, no matter what anyone does, internal hiring authorities still simply hire people they like, avoiding those that they dislike, and they use all the classic markers of status, class, in-group signals, and spin that they always have relating to the social expectations of each role. Social Media, as you wisely note, makes it that much easier to accomplish.

  5. The real problem that the “Social” world is creating is the fact that our current realities fly in the face of the dogmatic “Supply-Chain” mindset advocated in our industry. Frederick Taylor’s theories of “Scientific Management” no longer apply, yet he has recast a huge shadow due to the obsession with Toyota’s Manufacturing Process and the obsession with Six-Sigma through the late 90s’ and early 2000s’.

    When I hear about “process controls”, “reduction in variation”, “output efficiency”, etc., I wonder how in the world our industry has started seeing Recruiting as some antiquated assembly-line in which all variables can be controlled and manipulated to our advantage. If we’re manufacturing light bulbs, sure, but recruiting actual Human Beings within a finite Talent Pool, there is a disconnect.

    So while we need an over-arching “process”, Talent Acquisition is anything but linear today. In that regard, ‘Commander’s Intent’ is critical. We need to keep the big picture in mind, while being flexible enough to adapt to the ever-growing Social nature of Recruiting, and more importantly, Business today.

    The time has come to move beyond Industrialization Era mindsets and embrace the fact that our organizations are not Descartian, mechanical clocks. In an economy dominated by transactions, I understand the logic . . . but developed economies rely on tacit knowledge and behaviors that, in many cases, can’t be duplicated despite our best efforts (hat tip: McKinsey Quarterly).

    So how do we do adapt? By not being afraid to respect current processes, but also being willing to look at a blank slate. The two can, and need, to be reconciled moving forward.

    We will adapt, we always do. The question is how hard will we make it on ourselves?

  6. Letourneau has the smartest words on this page!

    Seriously – he actually gets what is going on. I vote for him to write an article around;

    So how do we do adapt? By not being afraid to respect current processes, but also being willing to look at a blank slate. The two can, and need, to be reconciled moving forward.


  7. This three part series was well written – but it seems to me that Jason has positioned himself in such a way that he HAS to demonstrate the flaws in our new recruiting reality (to meet the premise of his series) – instead of embracing them and using them for advanced candidate engagement…

    In using language like “back door” Jason makes it seem dirty to use all the tools at our disposal to uncover the best fit for an opening. The whole yield v. quality point of view is hilarious to me! Isn’t it the whole point to hire the best quality candidate? Questioning the source of information about a person – ie – the Social Web – and its accuracy is an amazing point…as talent evaluators isn’t it our job to review the information available to us? It is not a question of Social Web veracity about a person – its using common sense to evaluate this info in the entire evaluation process. When one considers the low percentage of personal interview accuracy its hard to fathom that a recruiter would ignore Social Web referencing data – from where I sit its called Assessment!

    A point that does need a review is the Employee Referral Programs where Social Networking is a source of people the employees really don’t know who have reached out to them for Employment Brand details – with employees then referring these unknowns internally earning a referral bonus. This activity should be encouraged but the bonus system may be out of whack for this type of referral…just a thought.

  8. Joshua I admire your humanistic view, but I’m afraid it’s becoming more of an anachronism by the day.

    I think large organizations would rather have sub-optimum results WITH visibility and control as opposed to transformative results and dealing with risk and variability.

    As long as the environment is not changing or challenging, the former approach works. In times of rapid change, it fails.

    I sense that our era of globalization and technical uptake actually means more stability in the business environment, almost regardless of political or cultural upheaval, because the elites driving the train are becoming trans-national “citizens of the world”, and their values seem to filter down as fast as mass values filter up.

    There will always be room for niche players who seek the edge given by superior leadership, motivation, and arbitrage of “undesirables”, but I think those niches will be fewer and smaller in the coming few decades absent sudden disaster like a supervolcano, asteroid strike, or successful bio-weapon. Slow-motion change like AGW or energy-matrix shifts seem to be well-handled by modern organizations.

  9. First off, this is a great discussion.

    The issue being discussed is really one of optimizing for Quality, Time, and Cost. Generally speaking organizations get to choose 2 of the 3, and the remaining third will be suboptimal. So you can have high quality hires quickly, but it’s very costly. Or you can have super fast hiring cycles that are cheap, but quality will generally be traded away. At scale (eg, 100’s or 1,000s of hires) these decisions are paramount.

    Generally organizations don’t think this through particularly well… we need to recognize this in the discussion, and presuppose that organizations are committed to hiring the highest quality talent. It’s certainly what I would recommend, but it’s not true in most organizations. Proof if this is inherent in most corporate recruiting departments today: they’ve been downsized and had their budgets cut. The stark reality is that most corporate recruiting departments are so capacity constrained that the quality, cost, time interdependencies have been mandated: and guess what, cost was/has been the most important thing.

    Now the pendulum will swing back, once organizations start missing their hiring targets.

    Martin, I agree with your statements. Third Party search is fast and can be high quality, but it’s expensive. It’s one of the reasons the dichotomy you allude to exists.

    Joshua – I mostly agree. There’s theory, and practice, and in theory I agree. Clean slating it and rethinking the linear model is certainly coming. But in practice, within the confines of large organizations who are already in motion, the supply chain model will exist for a long time (it has to exist for a long time given the interdependencies). But in theory, yes. Perhaps the recruiting department goes away and we surround hiring teams with assessment and management technology that organizes their social graph. Kind of a TweetDeck for recruiting efforts. But there’s an opportunity cost that Managers will incur as a result, at least in the short run. And this is a difficult hurdle to get over.

    K.C – there’s no tone or negativity that I was trying to imply with the article. The problems I was describing are real… inherently neither good nor bad however. They are just issues.

    My position in terms of demonstrating the issues is rooted in scale recruiting organizations (my background is running large groups responsible for thousands of hires annually). I pointed out in Part 1 or Part 2 that if you are a small company, rejoice! You can build the model to scale within the new paradigm. Build processes that allow for the social graph to be highly utilized.

    But if you are large, the pain points are real, the yield impacts are material, and my goal was to highlight the issues (I’ve not heard anyone talk about Social Media and Recruiting other than “it sure is great we have these tools…”) and provide some considerations that organizations should examine as they chart course.

    Their are practical realities and constraints. So although it’s easy to blue sky it the issues with Social Media and just say, “the linear model needs to be disassembled and redesigned” the practical reality is that recruiting leaders can’t do that today, tomorrow, or in most cases, even this year. Instead they need to respond to the world of today and mitigate the issues. For example, it’s easy to say that Google should launch a better product in Social, or Microsoft should innovate more or improve their offerings in the mobile space.

    The same is true for recruiting operations in companies. Not to pick on Jeremy, but it’s simplistic to say “just adapt”. Indeed, we must. But for the foreseeable future, those recruiter and recruiting leaders that are operating within the existing models, with existing resources and existing processes and mechanics, there’s the ‘here and now’ and there’s ‘future state’.

    The article was intended to highlight the ‘hear and now’ problems that are being created by Social Media, and what do it about them.

  10. One correction: In the comment in paragraph three, there’s a material typo: We should NOT presuppose that organizations are committed to the quality dimension (more than cost or time).

    Presupposing that organizations are committed to quality over time or cost is an error. Most say they are, but the evidence suggests otherwise.

  11. Just a thought pertaining to the TweetDeck of Social Graphs for recruiting – an idea that sounds excellent by the way (and one that is sort of already available) – what do you mean by a Manager incurring Opportunity costs? It would be great to hear what you are referring to here…

    Just think if an in-house recruiter could add a social graph of attitudes, interests and motivations gleaned from Social Web activity to what’s already available in their ATS (app, cover letter, resume, etc.), and how much more successful the pre-interview assessment would be.

    …hard to see what opportunity costs this would place on a hiring manager. If done well, it potentially could replace ineffective phone screens or at least make them less of a crap shoot (big time savings for mgrs…).

    The way I see it, Social Recruiting if evaluated for its full potential with the best parts of it embraced – the cynical view that companies only say they want quality hires while concentrating more on cost and time/quantity may actually be able to accomplish all three!

    Jason: Didn’t say that you’re negative – I actually appreciate the thoughtfulness of your subject… (I too have worked for very large organizations [hiring 1,000’s annually] as both VP Recruiting and as a non Recruiting VP – and at least from my experience, if any of our managers didn’t strive to hire the highest quality person for their openings – they wouldn’t be in management for long…)

  12. ISTM that unless there is something major to disrupt the recruiting status quo, there will continue to be largely incremental changes, e.g., as long as well-placed, high-level, arrogant idiots can get away with a highly dysfunctional recruiting process, then it will continue pretty much as we have it, with consant conferences, webinars, etc. over the latest “technique du jour” and continued howling about the “war for talent”.

    Finally, I still equate SM with “sourcing” as opposed to “recruiting”, and also more with creating a viable pipeline of potential candidates (which few of us have the bandwdth to do) than sourcing for immediate needs- both tasks largely an $11/hr remote-sourcer type of work. It’s my impression that the high-powered sourcing professionals like Maureen use the old-fashioned direct phone call to find “purple squirrels” with great effectiveness, as opposed to using SM. I would be very interested in examples of SM used within the actual hiring process itself (can’t think of what that would be, but you never know).



  13. i just re-read all 3 posts and all comments.
    now i’m tired, BUT…..

    bottom-line = jw has proved;

    a.) cutting edge innovations should sit outside production (read: acquisition, req owning recruiters) and under a strat leader w/ partnership to other synergistic functions (ask me about this offline)

    b.) change management is an iterative process that involves looking at pros & cons, although in this case the pros (read: brand) out weigh the cons (if you are doing point a.) above)

    c.) nothing really new here, but a good topic to keep front of mind for leaders (read: shock & awe will always be laughed at, but looking at things objectively is world class)

    <3 ur friend,

  14. ps. i would rather see, in future posts, an actual SME talk about this work. no offense, but jus’ my .02. ya’ll (ere/etc) want to resonate w/ your audience. most of us doing “social work” are over reading mashable right now 😉

  15. KC – the opportunity cost is that most hiring managers don’t have enough cycles to do all of their own recruiting. They also don’t have much SME in the space. Otherwise I am pretty convinced they would be doing so for a litany of reasons.

    Keith – it has been my experience that incrementalism is really important… it is actually how most change occurs. Very few lift and shift processes / huge changes that happen in Corporate America.

    Jeremy on:

    a.) maybe. Cutting edge is over-rated. If the innovation has true value, it will become standard. Good ideas spread. But all through the quality/cost/time matrix. If you have something innovative, you should be able to demonstrate that it improves quality, cost and time commensurate with what your organization is willing to pay for. The last sentence is the key.

    If you do so you will create change.

  16. @Jason: Incrementalism works well in some circumstances when organizations are open to certain types of change, but often the status quo resists even minor changes which they perceive threatens them. The GAFI Principles of Greed, Arrogance, Fear, and Ignorance/Incompetence are very strong and well-ingrained in many organizations.

    @Jeremy: Cutting edge is over-rated. If the innovation has true value, it will become standard. Good ideas spread. But all through the quality/cost/time matrix. If you have something innovative, you should be able to demonstrate that it improves quality, cost and time commensurate with what your organization is willing to pay for. The last sentence is the key.

    If you do so you will create change”

    ISTM that this is true if and only if you are able to overcome opposition, because someone almost always benefits from the way things are now.

    I’d REALLY like to see an SME teach us how to get things done in a dysfunctional, highly-political, corporate snakepit.

    Keith “Been in a Few of Those” Halperin

  17. If I read all of this correctly, a conclusion could be that larger organizations need to start thinking like smaller companies. Logically then, larger organizations should break up their staffing into small squads of specialists (like Navy SEALS or any other Spec Ops group). Isn’t that what most agency recruiters are?

    Additionally, the trouble that I’ve seen with larger companies is internal culture and hierarchy. Sourcing specialists are generally paid less than the relationship managers (full cycle recruiters) in a corporate environment. Any one truly good at what they do is going to follow the money, or respect. Good sourcing specialist aren’t any different. They will go to the agency side where they can and will get both. Create a level playing field between the specialities. Look at it as a marriage between sourcing and recruiting. They are after all 2 sides of the same coin.

  18. Martin, do not worry, Lady GaGa proves your point for you. 🙂

    But inside of most for-profit enterprises, I submit that innovation is generally shackled to the quality/cost/time constraint model.

    It certainly is true in nearly all cost centers, including recruiting.

  19. Jason were that to be true, but I have been in business too long to know that it’s not: people buy/behave to be fashionable in many, many cases and you can draw a bright line between firms that market to/for/around fashion and those that do not.

    Sometimes the fashionable choice IS better on a quality/cost/time basis, but many times it’s either not better or it’s a temporary edge that goes away long before the perception does. Apple is such a firm IMHO.

  20. A couple thoughts:

    @KC: I am feeling your comment: “Just think if an in-house recruiter could add a social graph of attitudes, interests and motivations gleaned from Social Web activity to what’s already available in their ATS (app, cover letter, resume, etc.), and how much more successful the pre-interview assessment would be.”

    What you’re describing is a shift from what’s “within” the Candidate, such as attributes like education, gender, yrs experience, Myers-Briggs personality type, etc., to what’s “between” individuals. A Social Graph (a properly constructed one with real data) will show relationships and interactions, indicating how “influential” or centrally positioned (peripherally, between, etc.) relative to discussions/conversations around important topics. When we think of our organization as a “network”, we recognize that the node-centric, Human-Capital lens is limited. Note that I’m not fantasizing the informal versus formal structure; I’m just agreeing with you that there is more to “Talent” than somebody’s drop-down attributes.

    In fact, Gerry Crispin, myself, and Eric Burd (VP, Product at Theladders) were discussing this last week over dinner at the #PositionAccomplished Summit. I mention this because conversations are being had . . . so I can see some progress beyond the Industrialization Recruiting Cocoon.

    Maybe I’m out on a limb here, but I’d suggest that HR needs to be reinvented into HN (“Human Networks”). Let’s respect yesteryear’s Human Capital lens, but recognize that individuals don’t deliver on our value propositions; networks do. Some “roles” are more important than others, but it’s the network that is driving performance nonetheless. This means that what is ‘between’ is as important, if not more important, than what is ‘within’.

    @Keith: I understand where you’re coming from with your question, “I would be very interested in examples of SM used within the actual hiring process itself (can’t think of what that would be, but you never know).”

    It’s a valid one, but perhaps we’re looking through the wrong lens on this one, too. Instead of asking how we can better use SM for Recruiting, I think we can recognize that Candidates are using it in greater and greater numbers.

    And the bottom line is that they’re tired of our stinkin’ process 🙂 We might find it easier to push Candidates through the meat-grinder assembly-line that has a front door in the Career Site and ATS, but Candidates are finding ways to climb in the side-window and slip through the “back door” Jason mentions. We can continue to try to lock them out and instill new “security”, as Henry Ford would do . . . or we can just accept that there is no going back to the old way of doing things. Us Humans have always been “Social”, it’s just that the Web is starting to catch up.

    Further, the number of Candidates using SM is growing as well – I’ve seen data that SM is growing the most today within the Boomer segment. That’s saying something. It’s not just Gen-Y . . .

    Great conversation, Everyone 🙂

  21. @ David: many different *”snakes”, but not an infinite number.

    @ Josh:
    If they’re so tired of our stinkin’ process, then why aren’t “employers of choice” with FUBAR processes (you know who you are) having to lower their requirements or improve? Because they don’t have to.

    Also, I don’tt care how someone applies as long as it doesn’t create more work for me; I believe that the best hires are those directly recruiterd or employee-referred.

    Finally, I believe thjat we WILL keep on doing things more or less the same until something major happens to upset the applecart. The biggest change would be to have a powerful and well-protected sr. staffing executive tell the founders or C’s of a major corporation that the hiring processes are wasteful, inefficient, and counter-productive, and that anybody good that was brought in through them was in spite of rather than because of the process. I don’t expect that to happen anytime soon….


    *9 Types of Bosses – from Work Is Hell, Matt Groening

    1. The Angry Behemoth
    aka The Ape, Mr Tantrum, Grumpy, The Grouch…
    Quote: “I don’t pay you to think. I pay you to cringe while I scream and rant.”

    2. The Robot from Planet X
    aka The Bureaucrat, The Watcher, The Living Dead, Zombie…
    Quote: “Your 10-minute break is over in 5 minutes”

    3. Mr Softy
    aka Whatsitsname, Squishy, The Pushover, Jellyfish
    Quote: “Gosh, I don’t know about that. I’ll just have to think about it for a while. I just…”

    4. The Slippery Eel
    aka The Manipulator, The Liar, The Sneak, The Genius
    Quote: “Just keep quiet and do you job and 12-24 months from now I think you’re due for a surprise – No promises.”

    5. The Great Unknown
    aka The Lurking Unknown, The Creeping unknown….

    6. The Spitting Cobra
    aka The Snapping Turtle, Poison Ivy…
    Quote: “Good Morning” “What an ugly shirt” “It figures” “Oh Cheer Up”

    7. The Horny Toad
    aka Sleazebucket, slimeball, scumbag..
    Quote: “Let’s forget about work and just relax” “How about a little drink”

    8. Wonder Boss
    aka I don’t believe it, God, Perfection…
    Quote: “Good news everyone, because of a great year of fun and profits, I have hefty bonuses…”
    Warning: Could be the slippery eel in disguise.

    9. The Psychotic Boss – Monster from Hell”
    aka The Rampaging Beast-thing, Here Comes Trouble, Yessir Right Away Sir…
    Quote: “How dare you duck when I throw things at you!!”

  22. Never have so many made so much noise banging their egos or said so much utilizing every buzz word known to man as well as every well worn trendy cliche. Just an observation.

  23. @Keith, regarding your comment: “The biggest change would be to have a powerful and well-protected sr. staffing executive tell the founders or C’s of a major corporation that the hiring processes are wasteful, inefficient, and counter-productive, and that anybody good that was brought in through them was in spite of rather than because of the process. I don’t expect that to happen anytime soon….”

    Why would change need to be started through such a seminal and perhaps career-limiting event? Changes can start in much smaller fashion. When you have some success, you can then roll the change out more widely.

    The last time I caught up with Jeremy Langhams here, he told me about some of the cool things they were doing at Starbucks. We can call them “changes”, but they were more or less improvements to the overall process, which gave a boost to their Employment Brand as well. As he mentions, these things are working at Starbucks.

    What I’m suggesting is that there are entrepreneurial-minded Recruiters and Sourcers that are taking it upon themselves to do some cool things . . . then setting the example for others in the company and building a case study of success.

    Change isn’t always started by a central Leader of a Staffing function – it’s happening by those at the front lines where the rubber meets the road.

    Change can happen – we’re not all doomed to the past, right? 🙂

  24. “Letourneau has the smartest words on this page!” Good lord, what is happening to us?

    I will have you know I called Letourneau him last week and he has not called me back yet. I guess he was too busy writing really smart comments on this article!

  25. Howard i am sure that Josh would have called you back if he had not dropped his social graph and smashed up the bandwidth on the node of his Human Capital lens. As far as analyzing networks, just ask em who they hang with, or who was on their team. it takes a lot less time but doesn’t sound nearly as highblown. I am going to run over to “Human Networks” and see if somebody can tell me who is the most talented janitor we have. Somebody just puked from all the oxygen being sucked out of the air..

  26. Howard, didn’t get your message – my apologies as we just spoke about a week and a half ago. I’ll definitely call you tomorrow. I imagine this thread has now ended abruptly – too bad as I was enjoying the continued conversation in the comments.

    P.S. The only reason I’m commenting here is to indicate that I do, in fact, call people back. Again, my apologies and I’ll reach out tomorrow.

  27. ROFLMAO <-Thanks for that you guys (you know who you are!) “The biggest change would be to...tell the founders or C’s of a major corporation that the hiring processes are wasteful, inefficient, and counter-productive, and that anybody good that was brought in through them was in spite of rather than because of the process. I don’t expect that to happen anytime soon….” I thought that's what we smidgens did all the time in here.

  28. aww shucks all that book-learnin and fancy skoolin don’t make no differnt when u tryin to rip up a body and plant em somewherez else- all u needs is a good ole phone and a janitor…. all that fancy yankee tawk is jus to phool em into signin some paper anyways, we dont truck with no papers win jus a handshake has always been good enuff !

  29. Think of it as a multivariate POV effecting a paradigm shift that perhaps dialogues forward thinking cerebral exercise into clear communication.

    As my old friend Boone Pickens once said, “while all these bright folks are sitting around stratigizing and analyzing, I am going to go talk to the folks out there who own their stock”.

    The rest was history.

  30. now Sandra THERE is something we can agree on: our mutual love affair with cash money ! I may put on the airs of a pin headed-poindexter, but when the bucks drop on the floor, you don’t want to be between me and my precious 😉

  31. There’s probably no single solution to address every Back Door practice or opportunity, but I have found asking one question on referrals makes all the difference – “Would you be willing to make the final presentation/case why we should hire or pursue this person?”

    Listen, I expect people to refer family and friends and people they know of or share connection with someone else. But I’ve also found people aren’t willing to take it to the extreme or risk their own personal capital unless they truly think someone’s a reasonable fit.

    Do people still refer “questionables?” Of course, especially if that person happens to be someone they know who needs a job. Even then though, the disclaimers usually present themselves early. You often then hear, “I don’t personally know or recommend her/him, but it’s from someone I trust.” It’s a tough call, but you have enough info right there to determine whether it’s a white-glove referral or not.

    If someone wants to be really bold in handling it, add more detail to the referral process. Instead of accepting tons of general referrals, ask the referring person to be specific why he/she believes there’s a fit. You’ll see enough dropout at this point that the concern will be perception that the referral process is too complex. That said you won’t lose any ground if the same high-quality referrals that get hired make it through leaving you with a better return on your resources and total investments.

  32. Dear Poindexter,
    Preposterous posturing rarely leads to a pile of precious, nor does prevarication positioned to produce prominance. Prior, proper, preparation, prevents piss, poor ,performance thus presenting primal portals to achieve precious. “Bottom Line”, performance pushes punditry into the pond of puffery.

    In short, we agree.

  33. It certainly seems as if yesterday’s after dinner commentary to this article got sent off the rails…probably poor quality scotch…

    Anyway, I think it is important to consistently review how we approach our business. Its interesting how many new ones make use of only what we already use (job ads, apps, resumes, phone screens, etc.)- instead of rethinking what a best “fit” really is and how to fit these doweling pieces in their proper round holes…

    Josh mentioned yesterday that he had recent discussions with Crispen and Burd about the “between” v. “within” of a candidate. I like to simplify a bit to “what you know how to do” v. “how you go about doing it.” If you’re looking for a way that Internet Social Networking can make a big impact on talent management and acquisition – this could be it. We all learn how to do things that pay us a living – the most successful – learn how to do them with the greatest impact. For this thread – a person can make a cappuccino and become proficient at it, the most successful talk to their customers and other cappuccino makers and discover how to make the frothiest foam. We can initially judge this frothy barista by the length of employment or the type of coffee shop in which they worked, but if through Social Networking Graphs we could judge the value of their Network (the quantity of barista thought leaders in their network for example), and understand what their interests and motivations were – we could possibly find the best team for this foam maven to join…

    Now I can hear Sandra howling already – I can just ask them like ol’ Boone would (you got gas down there…then drill!). Instead, I prefer to have more than their say so, or my gut, or my “evaluation” of the little I know about them to “piece” it all together – before I decide who to spend my valuable TIME with. Using instincts to drill down to a few finalists that I’ll invite in to interview is extremely inefficient… I could be wrong, but one of the biggest inefficiencies we face is the small amount of information we have to make our hiring decisions (of course, I am referring to the 85-90% of [non agency] hires we all make…).

    There are so many efficiencies built in to the evolution of the last 90 years of recruitment that it is amazing that so many of us are opposed to embracing methods that mitigate these efficiencies (and no, C-Level DM’s aren’t always needed for this…). There are solutions available TODAY in the marketplace that tackle some of these issues, with more coming soon…and yes, many of them make use of Internet Social Networking. Keith commented about change management and how innovations should occur – again only as I see it, looking back on today from the Fall of 2013, I would bet that we will wonder how we ever got along without the things we’ve added to our “Recruiting Tool Box” (that’s for you Jason!)

  34. Darryl – your tactic for solidifing referrals is excellent…we have used a similar approach with interviews – most of which include up to 6-7 interviewer participants. One of the evaluation questions is asking if they will participate in making the case for the hire to the final Decision Maker – it definitely gets the uncertain interviewer off the fence…

    Will have to look to incorporate this approach for referrals – thanks!

  35. @Sandra: You really hit a home run here.
    Some folks have turned the Jargonator up to 11.

    @Maureen:”I thought that’s what we smidgens did all the time in here.” As Tonto said to the Lone Ranger:
    “What do you mean WE, White Man?

    @KC: I’d be interested in finding out if the actual speed, cost, or quality of hiring a given person has improved substantially ove r the past 5, 10, 15, 25, or 50 years.
    (I have my suspicions, but will keep it to myself for now.)

    @ Josh: I commend people who are able to get anything positive done in a bureaucracy. At same same time, a “little here and a little there” ends up with a hodgepodge. I suggest an alternative:

    Manifesto for Agile Recruiting
    (This was “sampled” from the Agile SW Development Manifesto. -kh)

    We are uncovering better ways of hiring people by doing it and helping others do it.
    Through this work we have come to value:
    • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
    • Quick, quality hires over comprehensive documentation
    • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
    • Responding to change over following a plan
    That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.

    Principles behind the Agile Recruiting Manifesto
    We follow these principles:
    • Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of quality hires.
    • Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.
    • Deliver quality hires frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.
    • Internal customers and recruiters must work together daily throughout the project.
    • Build projects around motivated individuals.
    • Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.
    • The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a recruiting team is face-to-face conversation.
    • A quality hire which is on-time and within budget is the primary measure of progress.
    • Agile processes promote sustainable employee development.
    • The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
    • Continuous attention to professional excellence and first-class service enhances agility.
    • Simplicity–the art of maximizing the amount of work NOT done–is essential.
    • The best requirements, processes, and hires emerge from self-organizing teams.
    • At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.

    I challenge staffing organizations to adopt, implement, and maintain these policies and principles. Don’t know how? I’ll be happy to show you.


    Keith Halperin

  36. Sandra is mildly amused that all of this is predicated on the assumption of the validity and integrity of the SM information being graphed. Perhaps typed into a profile is more valid than articulated. Back Door referencing has always gone on, now it can just be done anonymously. It will in fact be interesting to watch where all that goes as job seekers find out they have been dinged by the backdoor. The result may be much less social network data to be graphed.

    For the record. All scotch, as well as all the other forms of drugs, is for suckers who require anesthesia or a cup of courage to wax brilliant before the lights go out. Have a great happy hour. 🙂

  37. Maureen, if the “C’s” wanted to hear of our opinions on their hiring processes, they would ask us, inculcate that information and make appropriate improvements.

    85% did not care yesterday, do not care today and will not care tomorrow.

    Enjoy your weekend M!


  38. KC, great comment. If I may, let me briefly clarify the SNA angle, as it’s not about “Internet Social Networking.” SM Mapping has absolutely nothing to do with what I’m describing. This is one of the fallacies I often run into – people see SNA as some link to SM, when in fact, it’s much bigger.

    We can create Network Maps based upon differing factors. For this example, let’s say we’re going to map out the 1. Information-Flow network, and 2. Innovation network. For us to do this, we can take 2 approaches:

    A. Passive gathering of data around “interactions”. In other words, any time there is an email, comment, “like”, phone call, signal, etc. around anything work-related (broadly speaking) or anything innovation conversation-related, we can map out those interactions and then apply a visualization to see what “key players” emerge. This allows us to see beyond the boxes and lines of the OrgChart, the formal or ‘prescribed’ hierarchy.

    B. Active gathering of data around “interactions”. This would involve asking (or surveying) a group of people. For example, we’d ask, “With whom do you discuss new products, improvements to current processes, new ideas, etc.?” From there, we’d build the map and then apply several visualization algorithms, such as outlined above.

    The rub is in the fact that we’re asking people who they go to, not asking people who comes to them. This means the graph is much more accurate, especially if we apply the Passive technique outlined above (which is possible through pulling data from most Social Software solutions.) As a result, the “Social Graphs” we are discussing are highly targeted and specific. So instead of a Candidate being judged solely through the eyes of a single Hiring Manager, they could also show their network position relative to conversations about certain topics (i.e. “Mr./Mrs. Hiring Manager, I understand that I am one of twenty Mechanical Engineers and my performance ratings aren’t quite in the top 10% of the group, however you can see here that I have 4 incoming connections from Marketing, 5 incoming connections from Sales, as well as 8 incoming connections from Operations and R&D when it comes to discussions about new product concepts.”)

    The same techniques are used from fighting the War on Terror, to limiting the spread of infectious disease, to understanding social phenomenon on the Open Web, etc. We are now entering a phase of implementing these technologies and tools so as to better understand organizational performance and effectiveness.

    Anyway, just wanted to toss out there that SNA is much bigger than meets the eye. It’s about interactions within the network, and it’s very real; not esoteric “jargon” in the slightest. For an example, see how we capture Saddam Hussein through SNA ( The challenge is that the maps we generate are not a silver bullet and lead us to further questions; a level of subjective awareness. At least we’re lead to the right questions, however.

    @Keith, see Jeremy Langham’s response and give him a call to discuss what he’s doing/has done at Starbucks. Innovation often comes about through people willing try new hodgepodge techniques that others say will never work. I understand that I have an altruistic view on driving change – I admit it’s not easy, but it can be done by those with the courage to try new things and see them through.

  39. @ Sandra: It’s the “Santa State” made real!:

    You better watch out
    You better not cry
    Better not pout
    I’m telling you why
    Santa Claus is coming to town
    He’s making a list
    And checking it twice;
    Gonna find out Who’s naughty and nice
    Santa Claus is coming to town
    He sees you when you’re sleeping
    He knows when you’re awake
    He knows if you’ve been bad or good
    So be good for goodness sake!

    Happy Friday,

  40. So in other words, it’s asking folks who they hang with, who they email and who they talk to, about important stuff. Now i get it. Sorta like we got Saddam by sneaking around asking the neighbors what hole he was hiding in. Subjective awareness = checkin out rumors to see which ones have substance.

  41. Ahh Sandra…Scotch is a drug for suckers? I’ll remember that the next time I pour myself a neat tumbler of Lagavulan – the robust courage inducing 16 year old Islay Single Malt…certainly one of the most civilized anesthetics available…

  42. Try hitting yourself on the head with a hammer. It feels a lot better when you quit than the effect of fermented wood and the result is about the same.

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