November 10, 2008

Social networking is the buzz word these days. Linkedin, Facebook, Orkut, Myspace and their ilk are on everyone's lips. Creating one's virtual identity on these social networking sites is de rigor. There is no doubt that these social networking sites provide a platform for excellent networking, be it professional or personal. But social networking throws up another emerging possibility that could change the fate of online recruitment services.

To make it less dramatic, some of the social networking sites like Linkedin are real threat to the survival and growth of online recruitment services. With the increase in number of people who are active on social networking sites, these sites have become a large sea of resumes. Who needs the paid services of online recruitment services when one can access endless quality resumes from across the globe for free? All one needs is time and willingness to separate diamond from coal.

Linkedin can be the real party spoiler for online recruitment services. With 25 million users worldwide including 1 million in India, it has the potential to dig the grave of online recruitment services like Monster, Naukri, Jobsahead, etc. Linkedin has the added advantage of the depth and range of talent that is active on it. People from CEO level to a management trainee are available on Linkedin. Another advantage of searching for talent on Linkedin is that you can learn a lot more than the resume. You can get to know what others feel about the person (check recommendations), who the person knows (his connections), and the depth of expertise of the person (check Q&A section). When these information are cross checked with information generated from the virtual profile of the person on other social networking sites (Facebook, Orkut, Myspace, etc.), it can provide a fair idea of the standing and capability of a person for a job profile.

The biggest advantage of social networking sites vis-à-vis online recruitment services is that the former not only provides the resume but also other relevant details of the person (who he knows, what he feels about a subject, how he talks online, what groups he is associated with, and what other activities he is involved in. All these help in much better preliminary evaluation of the candidate.

So what should online recruitment firms do? The simple answer is – evolve. Online recruitment services are still operating in the web 1.0 world while social networking sites are operating in web 2.0 world. While social networking sites are dynamic and interactive; online recruitment firms are static with predominantly one-way communication. If online recruitment firms wish to compete with social networking sites in recruitment space, they must evolve fast and provide a more user friendly and interactive platform for the recruiter and prospects to know one another better.

Let's see how this saga unfolds in near future. But odds seem to be in favour of social networking sites!