7 Ways That Social Media Is Changing Talent Management and HR

Editor’s Note: Dr. John Sullivan has been a strategist in HR and talent management for over 30 years. His specialty is HR strategy and designing world class HR systems and tools for Fortune 200 firms. He’s never been shy about telling it like it is.

That’s why TLNT asked him to share his thinking in a video series titled “$#*!@ Dr. John Sullivan Says!” Look for these videos weekly here at TLNT.

“When you talk to business people these days — HR people also — the buzz is social media,” Dr. John Sullivan says. “Some people think it is just a fad, while other people think it has major impact.”

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Well, it’s not a fad, according to Dr. John, and here’s why: because it changes the way we are going to do business and is “probably the most important change in the last century when it comes to HR.”

7 ways social media is changing HR

He lists a number of areas where you can see this at work, including:

  • Recruiting — where it allows you to connect with people (potential candidates) and build relationships, make referrals, and build talent communities;
  • Best practice sharing — because internal and external social networks allow people to share best practices on a global basis;
  • Learning — because people can post questions online, or do a Google search, and get “hundreds of answers from hundreds of people” immediately instead of having to find and consult a textbook or get on the phone with an expert;
  • Identify talent for development (succession planning) — social media allows you to identify high potentials or thought leaders, even from a remote vantage point;
  • Innovation — because social media encourages more collaboration between people on the same team who are not necessarily located in the same place’
  • Identifying workplace problems — social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Glassdoor can serve as an early warning device for HR to plug into issues or problems before they start to really take off; and,
  • Competitive intelligence — Linkedin gives you the ability to track what companies people are leaving, where they are going, and what the market demands.

John Hollon is Editor-at-Large at ERE Media and was the founding Editor of TLNT.com. A longtime newspaper, magazine, and business journal editor, John has deep roots in the talent management space. He's the former Editor of Workforce Management magazine and workforce.com, served as Editor of RecruitingDaily, and was Vice President for Content at HR technology firm Checkster. An award-winning journalist, John has written extensively about HR, talent management, leadership, and smart business practices, including for the popular Fistful of Talent blog. Contact him at johnhollon@ere.net, connect with him on LinkedIn, or follow him on Twitter @johnhollon.


3 Comments on “7 Ways That Social Media Is Changing Talent Management and HR

  1. I agree that these are all opportunities for HR to shift and harness the social media platform but I wonder how many HR depts are actually still focusing upon how to protect the mother ship from potential damage to the brand by errant employees and enthusiastic/evangelistic officers?

    It’s only my experience but it takes a strong leader and a particular culture to clear the muddy waters round social media so that HR officers feel empowered to step into the space without having to explain themselves.

    In some corporate organisations perhaps the sole reason for allowing FB/Twitter etc through the filtering service would be to investigate reported staff misconduct where the reputation of the organisation is at risk.  There are still, I suspect, enough people out there who are sufficiently unaware of the potential impact that their social media activity could have on their long term work prospects.

    I hope that each of these 7 changes for HR come to pass I really do but the cultural values perpetuated through many leaders into their HR department will ensure that the benefits aren’t fully realised for quite some time.

  2. John –
    From my experience, potential liability is the biggest deterrence to organization’s maximizing the value that social media can offer (closely followed by IT governance). The NLRB has started to take a stance on social media in the work place and more boundaries are starting to become more black and white (while still quite gray). That being said, if the organization you work for views social media more as a threat than an opportunity, it might be time to look for another organization that recognizes social media is a strategic component to an overall business strategy in the new marketplace. It’s a global market and attracting the best talent is only increasing in difficulty. Do you really want to be competing with a hand tied behind your back?
    So the question really is how do you influence or sell social media to key stakeholders? I’m not going to give you the pitch piece by piece here, but there is mountains of data being released everyday supporting social media. You must also have a precise strategy that aligns with your organization’s business priorities and meticulously lays out how you will utilize social media to accomplish this. Additionally, lots of organizations claim to have a social media strategy but only 1/3 of them are truly effective. It’s not about posting jobs on Facebook, it’s about fostering emotional relationships and creating talent communities.
    I highly recommend checking out the Jobvite 2011 Social Recruiting Survey and a recent article from the Journal of Corporate Recruiting Leadership – “A Guide to Recruitment 3.0” (June 2011). In the end, if you present your case for social media utilizing the data and providing a detailed strategic plan, I think the sell is one of the easier we are faced with as HR professionals.

  3. Learning is not “post[ing] questions online, or do[ing] a Google search, and get[ting] ‘hundreds of answers from hundreds of people.'”

    Learning is the process of assimilating knowledge, applying critical thinking to that knowledge, and evaluating that knowledge in the context of actions and events around us.

    This is one of the pitfalls of information gained via social media. It should be compared and evaluated against other sources for credibility.

    This imperative reinforces the value of critical thinking skills and establishing a learning culture within the enterprise, that includes HR and the discipline of talent management.

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