Anti-Social Recruiting

AntisocialAlthough I’ve often joked about the concept of anti-social recruiting (as if there was anything other than “social” recruiting), anti-social recruiting does exist, and it is unknowingly practiced by many people and top companies as well.


Allow me to explain.

Social,” as defined by Merriam Webster, is “…the interaction of the individual and the group,” and “tending to form cooperative and interdependent relationships.”

What most people refer to as “social recruiting” is the use of social media and social networking sites to find, engage, communicate and build relationships with potential candidates with the intent to network and recruit.

However, simply using social media is not enough. Social media has the potential for social interaction, but is not automatically or intrinsically “social,” defined as interactive. For something to be interactive, by the very definition of the word, it must be “mutually or reciprocally active” and involve two-way communication (e.g., a phone conversation).

Not all people and not all companies using social media in their recruiting efforts are actually engaging in two-way communication with potential candidates. However, the two-way engagement, communication and relationship building is (and always has been) theĀ “social” part of recruiting.

Anti-Social Recruiting

To be antisocial is to not be interactive, and to not form relationships.

If, as I suggested earlier, recruiting has always been social, how can anti-social recruiting even exist? Unfortunately, quite easily. Anti-social recruiting exists whenever their is a lack of interaction.

Here are a few examples of anti-social recruiting:

  • When a company fails to respond to someone posting a question or comment on their Facebook page, LinkedIn group, or Twitter stream, they are performing anti-social recruiting. Oh the irony!
  • Any time an individual or organization fails to respond to or even recognize any response to one of their job postings, they are performing anti-social recruiting. Automated emails may technically be “responses,” but I don’t know of a single job seeker that would consider automated email confirmations “social.”
  • Any time a person submits their resume and fills out an online application and never receives a response, the company is performing anti-social recruiting.
  • When a company using Twitter has 1000’s of followers and is only following a handful of people, they are performing anti-social recruiting.
  • Any time someone interviews for a position and never receives any real feedback from the recruiter or company, they are experiencing anti-social recruiting.
  • Whenever someone’s resume or social networking profile is automatically captured and added to a company’s database and they are never contacted, they are experiencing anti-social recruiting.
  • Any recruiter who speaks to a candidate only once, submits the candidate’s resume to their hiring manager/client and never contacts the candidate again (the #1 complaint about recruiters, BTW) is performing anti-social recruiting.

In all of the above cases, there is a lack of interaction and an absence of forming cooperative and interdependent relationships with potential candidates.

That’s anti-social.

Bright Shiny Object

I’ve seen people react negatively to the concept of social recruiting being compared to a bright shiny object, but I believe it to be quite apt. The term doesn’t carry an intrinsically negative connotation – being a bright and shiny object isn’t necessarily a bad thing – it simply describes attention paid to newer and more “interesting” things at the expense of being distracted from other things, typically those older and more familiar (and thus dull, I suppose).

I believe a side effect of all of the attention being paid to the use of social media in recruiting efforts is that focus has been taken away from the as-yet-to-be-resolved lack of the “social” element of more traditional recruiting methods and strategies.

I don’t think anyone or any company has ever truly “solved” the challenge of the anti-social nature of job posting and (lack of) response. Applicant Tracking Systems are by-and-large still the “black holes” from which no response escapes that they have always been.

Job seekers are still complaining that they don’t hear back from recruiters and companies after applying for positions (whether they are posted on corporate websites, Indeed, job boards, Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn), posting questions on corporate Facebook pages, tweeting comments in corporate Twitter streams, being submitted to hiring managers and even after interviewing.

I surely cannot be the only person who is scratching his head at the excitement and effort being poured into using social media for recruiting when most recruiters and corporations can’t even get the basics right with more traditional methods.

That’s the bright shiny object syndrome in effect.

People are trying to figure out how to use Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter for more effective recruiting, yet they still haven’t figured out how to effectively leverage their applicant tracking systems.

What about the tens of thousands to the millions of people (yes, many major corporations have millions of candidates in their databases) who have either already expressed interest in a company by applying and submitting their resume and application? These are people who have already taken the first step in reaching out to a company, expressing interest in becoming employees – why aren’t companies focusing on getting good at being social and reciprocating with this huge candidate population?

It seems more than a little backwards to me to focus heavily on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn when most companies haven’t figured out how to be more social and interactive with their applicants.

Final Thoughts

I think that recruiters and corporations should seek to bring more “social” (two-way interaction and engagement) to ALL of their recruiting efforts, and not solely focus on being “social” through Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

As much energy and effort should be spent on trying to figure out how to improve the historically anti-social nature of job posting and lack of response, applicants being sucked into black hole ATS’s, and poor follow up communications with candidates pre/post-submittal and interview.

No aspect of recruiting is social unless it involves “mutually or reciprocally active” two-way communication, regardless of the medium.

So the next time you’re reading about or discussing anything recruiting related – ask this simple question: Does it involve two-way, interactive communication?

If it doesn’t, it isn’t social.