I am sitting in Vermont this morning reading a local newspaper with the headline: “Vermont lost 2,000 jobs last year.” But the article does not attribute this to the slowing economy; instead, it attributes it to the aging workforce.
Now, Vermont is a tiny state and certainly does not represent most of the United States. Its unemployment rate is low, its workforce a mix of highly skilled professionals and those engaged in farming, forestry, construction, or tourism. But what is noticeable is that this loss of jobs is attributed to demographics.
Andy Condon, chief of the economic and labor market information section of the Vermont Department of Labor says, “We believe it is demographic, that working-age population is beginning to decline in Vermont.” He goes on to say that as we come out of this recession, companies “may have a hard time finding workers.”
While this may be an isolated example of the impact of an aging workforce on employers, I believe it is validation of the claim that we will face a large shortage of qualified workers because of exiting Baby Boomers and the lack of younger skilled workers to replace them. Of course, many young workers have left Vermont for warmer and more prosperous climates, but this trend underlines the larger issues all organizations, state and governments will be facing over the coming decades.
Social networking offers the beginning of a solution to finding qualified people, no matter where they are, and connecting and communicating with them about opportunities. Social networks give recruiters the channel to market what they have to a broad, global audience.
They give recruiters a chance to develop personal relationships with people they have never seen face-to-face and to learn a great deal about them. Vermont’s issue may simply be that people are not aware of what the state offers or what jobs are available. Connected recruiters could make a difference in changing that perspective.
Being proficient at searching for candidates on the Internet also extends your reach and power when it comes to filling those hard-to-fill positions. I have been in discussions recently with recruiting leaders in remote areas of North and South America who are seeking mining engineers, one of the toughest professions to find. Without the Internet, they would not be able to find half enough of these engineers to meet their needs. By using Internet search techniques, they are slowly building talent pools that will continue to grow as they are linked into a private social network.
Connecting Recruiters to Candidates
Some social networks connect recruiters to potential candidates. Examples of these include LinkedIn.com, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and a host of small emerging networks. Compete.com’s recently released figures on the number of visitors to social networks show LinkedIn growing by over 700% in one year, Facebook by 77%, and Twitter by more than 4,000%!
Any recruiter faced with building a talent pool will quickly find value in creating a Facebook page or a LinkedIn entry directed to a network of potentially interested job seekers.
For example KPMG, Deloitte, IBM, Microsoft, and scores of other organizations that recruit large numbers of college graduates have numerous Facebook pages to communicate with potential candidates and provide them with information and contacts within the organization. Microsoft has even published a blog entry aimed at college students who are reluctant to be candid in their Facebook pages for fear they will be denied an interview or a job.
Smart candidates and recruiters are realizing that the age of job boards is declining and that the age of social networks has arrived, being pushed by the strong wind of an aging population and an increasing need for skilled workers on a global scale.
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Of course there are challenges. There are legal concerns about how the information is being used and when it is being used. Organizations need to establish internal polices about how employees and recruiters use these networks, and candidates need to also learn how to create entries that are honest, candid, and fun as well as useful when seeking employment.
Connecting Recruiters to Recruiters
Other social networks are focused more on connecting recruiters and in allowing them to share best practices and experiences. Dave Mendoza of SixDegreesfromDave offers one of the largest of these networks. Dave’s is actually a meta-network, where his group feeds the growth of a recruiters’ LinkedIn network.
Dave states that this network is “a staffing professional’s social networking group which values the building of passive talent relationships as a means of enhancing best practices, meeting pipeline demands, and building value in community.”
I can attest to its power. He recently added me to the network and within a few weeks, I had grown my LinkedIn connections from around 450 to almost 2,000. This means I am within two connections to more than eight million other recruiting professionals around the world. Leveraged well, this gives me the potential to reach almost any type of candidate I could imagine anywhere.
Shally Steckerl of JobMachine offers training, online resources, and workshops that teach how to leverage search and social networks to create talent pools and find people with scarce skills.
For a large list of resources for recruiters you should take a look at Recruiting-Online.com. They list dozens of sources, local and global, that you can use or join to improve your skills at search and at actually using social networks productively.
It seems as clear as these blue skies of Vermont that being able to find people anywhere, quickly, at low cost, and then maintaining a relationship with them over the Internet will become the core skill of a recruiter this decade.
If you would like to follow me on my journeys, both physical and intellectual and sometimes just for fun, join me on Twitter. You can find me as kwheeler on Twitter. It is a wonderful and quick way to stay connected and share ideas, travel, and resources.