When Social Networking Works

Social networks like Facebook and others are good for building relationships and for keeping track of all 156,977 of your closest friends — but no one really gets hired from them, right?

Tell that to nGenera. It has hired 63 people through its employee and recruiter social networks, which accounts for 70% of its 91 hires since last December. For those 63 people, that means no job boards. No third-party recruiters.

nGenera started in March 2007, and acquired six companies in one year. The company’s products (while hard to understand from its website) include call-center software, incentive compensation software, simulation software, and more.

Katie Carty Tierney (pictured) manages the recruiting function for the Austin, Texas, company, which has just under 300 employees, most virtual. “Our recruiters were relying heavily on job boards in the past, and we wanted them to look beyond that,” she says. “They weren’t necessarily getting the right candidates. They weren’t necessarily getting the right matches. There was a lot of turnover. That’s not the way to hire people.”

“How are you going to mine the network you already have?” Tierney asks. “Everyone’s got a network. Everyone in the world has someone they know. They’re not formal networks. They’re loose networks.”

nGenera’s plan wasn’t as simple as “let’s go put an ad on social-networking sites instead of Monster” (in fact, it wasn’t even very successful posting on Facebook Marketplace). It was more about building a culture where recruiters, and more importantly, all employees, spend their work time on social media. “If you’re discouraging people from developing relationships, they’re going to leave when the market’s better,” she says.

Employees were encouraged to explore and build out their social networks. It told them: “Go reach out to people you know. Go join Facebook. Go link out to people on LinkedIn. Join Twitter. In the long run it benefits you as much as it benefits nGenera.”

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Meanwhile, the company reached out to alumni, as well as employees of legacy companies (predecessor companies). Tierney also started following people on Twitter who seemed to have the skills it was looking for. If it could “follow” those people on Twitter, those people could see who was “following them” — and perhaps take an interest. Tierney’s also getting her jobs sent out, for example, via AustinTXJobs on Twitter.

nGenera also uses Jobvite (not to be confused with Jobster, which Tierney tried but wasn’t thrilled about). Everyone has access to it — not just hiring managers and recruiters. They can look at openings, send them to their friends, track email conversations, and more. The company pays a flat, monthly fee, rather than a per-person cost.

Job boards aren’t dead at nGenera. Niche boards, in particular, have been used to look for people with OATS (Order Audit Trail System) compliance, for example. But, Tierney says, “I found that LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter are giving me what I need.”

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17 Comments on “When Social Networking Works

  1. Thanks for writing this article. I am glad to see this form of relationship building is working for finding “real candidates”. What is your feedback on a site like notchup.com from a recruiters perspective.

    We this article gives me the confidence that professional relationship cultivation through social media technologies does have its place. See ya around on twitter or facebook!

  2. Katie was on a Social Media Panel in front of 241 colleagues for our Minnesota Recruiters event Friday. In response to a question of how much time is spent on Social Media, Katie replied with “constant partial attention.”

    Most everyone write that down.

    I had been trying to think of a phrase for some time and she nailed it in three words.

    Thanks again friend for sharing your thoughts. You, Josh Kahn and Erica Steffenson were awesome.

  3. Couldn’t agree more. I always encorage my Onboarding Gen Y clients to enable internet and social networking tools. They’re afraid of the produtivity loss, but are being too short sighted. Thanks for additional reasons why access is good!

  4. Interesting post, we advocate social networking as well and have created one of our own for virtual assistants and virtual professionals. We welcome readers of this post to join and begin networking to uncover and connect to virtual opportunities. Here is the link:http://www.findvirtual.com/

  5. Great post. I have just recently started using social networks as a recruiting tool for our company and am encouraged to hear that they work and can truly function as an integral part of the recruiting process.

  6. Hello, the last 10 people I hired were through social networks. After a recent posting on a social network, 93 responses were received…93 qualified or near-qualified and viable responses. Now I have a candidate pool for today and for future hires since you can connect and stay linked. Another asset to the social networks are those fabulous “what are you working on” tags which has turned out to be a free instant marketing blast tool.

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