The Web 2.0 Job Seeker: Faster, Smarter, and More Connected

This year in the recruiting industry there has been a lot of talk about how companies are tapping into Web 2.0 technologies to enhance their recruiting. But how is the candidate community also using these technologies for their own purposes, and what impact is it having on our recruiting strategies?

Web 2.0 Candidates Are:

  • Faster. Candidates can gain access to more available jobs within minutes on any day.
  • Smarter. Access to salary, compensation, and corporate performance data is everywhere.
  • More Connected. Social networks help candidates identify insiders at any employer before or after they apply for any position.

Web 2.0 Candidates Are Faster

When job boards came on the scene 10 years ago, they made accessing available job information much easier for candidates. No more digging through the classified section of the Sunday newspaper, crafting up witty cover letters on fluorescent letterhead to get attention and postal mailing resumes. Remember when we’d put our fax numbers on our ads? Come on: how many candidates really had fax machines in their houses? Today, there are “job aggregators” such as indeed.com and simplyhired.com which put all the jobs from multiple job boards into a single search engine that stream directly into any candidate’s personal home page on Google via RSS feeds every day.

I think one of the main reasons that recruiters are after “passive candidates” is that we think we have more time to get them through the interview process, versus “active candidates” who machine-gun apply from job boards to a dozen jobs on any Monday. With the latter, we have to get them setup with an interview within 24 hours and make a hiring decision within two to four days. That’s how fast the market is moving with so much job data available online.

Web 2.0 Candidates Are Smarter

In addition to having access to an ocean of jobs, most candidates tap into salary and compensation data via sites such as payscale.com and/or salary.com. Not to mention that the younger generation of workers aren’t shy about sharing their comp levels in the lunchroom or over beers, unlike our parents’ generation who considered salary discussions to be so taboo they would only share this information with the IRS when filing their annual tax returns.

Many recruiters have candidates show up with a salary report printed from one of these salary sites and demand that their pay be at or above the level on the report. Candidates don’t care if our job descriptions aren’t perfectly matching the ones on those websites; they just see the numbers and get an expectation that’s usually out of line with our compensation levels. Regardless of how you handle this situation in your interview process, employers are under pressure to know how their pay grades compare to other major employers in their markets.

Web 2.0 Candidates Are More Connected

Remember when you would get an applicant resume, see which companies a candidate previously worked for, and then quickly find which of your internal employees had worked with the applicant in the past, in order to get “inside information” to determine if they were a good or bad prospect? (Never mind that 51% of people will comment positively or negatively on someone because of how they liked their personality — and not their actual work performance.)

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During the interview process, candidates were lucky to run into a former colleague in the hallways. Or if they get lucky in the interview, they will discover who they might know in common with the interviewing managers and try to discover which “moles” they could find within the prospective company, which would help them do their own due diligence on the employer — not to mention that they will try and gain advocates to help them get the job should their interest grow.

Well, because of the growth of social networks (Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Jigsaw, and many more), the minute most candidates apply for any job (and sometimes even before they apply for a job), they can now instantly see who they know at any prospective employer, all the way back to their old high school or college buddies.

This tilts the access of information toward the candidate community — who can now see if there are bad previous bosses or old enemies working within your company, which they may wish to avoid. The candidates’ reasoning will be if your company hires personalities the candidate disliked, it indicates that your culture prefers those types of individuals, which will have an impact on your employer brand whether you get a chance to enter the conversation or not.

This puts a new pressure on employers to create a working culture that will attract these more web savvy candidates. These Web 2.0 candidates don’t believe most of our career sites’ language about having an exciting work environment. They want to find out for themselves (via networking) what it’s really like to work within the sub-cultures within our company, which are driven by management personalities and business cycles which are exciting to certain candidate types, and a turnoff to others.

Doug Berg is Founder and Chief Innovation Officer of Minneapolis-based Jobs2Web Inc. and is an expert in online recruiting strategies. Doug has worked with hundreds of companies to leverage the Internet for recruiting on the web. Prior to Jobs2Web, he founded techies.com, which was a leading technology career site which had nearly one million IT professional members nationally, and won PC Week's No. 1 career website in 1999. He was also founder and CEO of Quantum Consulting & Placement, a Minneapolis-based IT consulting and placement services company.

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