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Andy Campbell 1This is a guest post by Andy Campbell. Andy is the HCM Strategy Director at Oracle and has years of experience and knowledge in the areas of HCM, SaaS, Modern HR, Talent Management, Talent Analytics, Big Data, Operational Excellence, Innovation, Creativity, Employee Engagement and Business Change.

Social recruiting is getting a great deal of attention in HR circles, and rightly so. If done right, social media offers companies a means to promote job openings on a much broader scale and tap into their employees’ personal networks in order to recruit the best talent.

However, there are some concerns. As my colleague Vance Kearney, VP HR EMEA, puts it, social recruiting could easily just become “Refer-a-Friend on steroids”.

There is an obvious risk when it comes to companies asking employees to pitch in by reaching out to their personal connections. The majority of my personal contacts on social media sites tend to be people from similar backgrounds and demographics. Certainly I try to minimise Facebook contact with my children and their friends, primarily to help my stress levels! Anyway, there are two sides to the argument. On the one hand, if companies hire like-minded individuals with a similar perspective and values to myself, they are likely to be a good cultural fit for my organisation. On the other hand, we risk missing out on the diversity and varying opinion that make a company truly engaging and innovative. So while social recruiting will be invaluable to businesses looking to hire hidden talent, HR will need to ensure their recruitment strategies remain geared towards developing a varied, multifaceted workforce. This is especially the case when one considers roles and skills such as ‘cloud guru’ and ‘digital ninja’ that are still relatively new.

Finding untapped talent is high on HR’s agenda, but it’s not always easy. The best candidates aren’t necessary visible, and in fact most are so good at their jobs that they are being well treated and have little incentive to seek work elsewhere. And while social recruiting will help businesses reach out to these individuals, it will often take more than just a singular instance of proactive outreach to pique their interest.

We live in an age of transparency; one in which anyone can use a wide variety of information sources to easily learn about what it’s like to work for a company.  As its name suggests, a website like Glassdoor offers job-seekers a clear window into what it’s like to work for virtually any company that interests them, and the brightest candidates are sure to take advantage of this. Recent research from the CEB, an advisory company that specializes in transforming enterprise performance underlines this reality. This revealed, perhaps unsurprisingly, that employee brand messages were only 20% as effective as other sources of information in influencing candidate decisions. The majority of information that prospective employees relied upon about their potential employers wasn’t controlled by organisations but rather by other sources such as their current and former employees.

Openness on both sides of the glass pane is therefore essential. People want to work for organisations whose values align with theirs, but these values will vary from sector to sector. Despite the buzz around young start-up tech companies, not everybody wants to work on a tech campus riding Segways from one bean bag chair to the next, nor is such an environment conducive to productivity in every field. It’s hard to imagine this approach working out too well for the fire brigade, for example. Like in so many ways when talking about people, one size does not fit all.

There needs to be congruence between an organisation’s values and those of the individuals they are looking to attract. After all, the most expensive part of the hiring process isn’t actually the time and effort spent recruiting a new employee, but rather the aftermath of recruiting the wrong person for the job. It’s therefore in everybody’s interest for new hires to know what to expect and what will be expected of them. And yet, further research from the CEB has found that only 36% of new hires feel they receive an accurate picture of what it would be like to work in their new role during the hiring process.

I’m not saying that companies should only recruit complacent robots – disruptive people are an absolute necessity for organisations that want to differentiate themselves – but they do need to prepare themselves and their new recruits to make the integration as smooth as possible. Having a consistent and engaging experience throughout the whole recruitment and onboarding process is vital in ensuring that new employees are contributing and fully productive as soon as possible.

In this era of openness, the glass door only represents part of the equation. To complement third-party sources, people want to see for themselves how a company works before joining, much like they want to peer through a shop window before deciding whether it’s worth going inside. The emergence of social media has made this type of transparency crucial – and quite frankly inevitable – across the enterprise. It’s up to companies today to make sure the right people like what they see when they put their face up to the pane.