Wanted: Social-Media Experience

Demand is spiking for HR professionals who are savvy about social media -- and not just for recruiting purposes. The number of HR job listings in the United States calling for social-media experience increased 160 percent in a year's time.

Thursday, September 22, 2011
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Demand for HR professionals with social-media skills has skyrocketed in the last year.

According to Wanted Analytics, a platform that supplies real-time business intelligence on jobs, employers and talent, more than 1,000 new job ads posted for HR occupations over the last three months have included requirements for social-media skills.

This represents a 160-percent increase in demand over the same three-month period in 2010.

HR occupations most commonly seeking these skills are recruiters and training specialists, according to the platform, created and monitored by Wanted Technologies Corp., headquartered in Quebec City, with primary U.S. offices in New York.

"We've heard the 'buzz' about social recruiting," says Bruce Murray, CEO of Wanted Technologies, "but the facts are showing that forward-looking companies are now expecting their recruiters to have mastered this core competency.

"Social recruiting," he says, "has moved beyond 'buzz' and is definitely mainstream."

Comparing the company's data between the last three months of this year versus the same time period last year, the number of HR job listings in the United States calling for social-media experience increased to 1,062, from 413.

In addition, the number of listings for recruiters increased to 946, from 307; and for training specialists, the listings increased to 115, from 70.

Among the job listings were preferences for these recruiting-related competencies:

* Developing new recruiting strategies and sourcing top talent through innovative sourcing techniques, including utilizing: Internet, social media and various networking sites,

* Should be abreast of new, innovative sourcing techniques and recruitment best practices, including utilizing social media to source and attract top talent,

* Utilizing web searches, job boards and social-media sites to create community and generate leads,

* Direct web traffic to corporate career sites through social media, and

* Build and maintain a pipeline of prospects through networking and social-media research (a robust LinkedIn profile is a must).

But HR needs more than being able to source and recruit candidates, says Randy MacDonald, senior vice president of HR for Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM.

"HR is looking for social-media skills not only to seize the technology's promise in the area of recruitment," he says, "but also to enable business in the emerging areas of sentiment analysis, expertise location and global collaboration.

"Companies, and HR functions, that ignore these competitive realities," he adds, "will be left behind."

There are also the legal considerations, says Nancy Flynn, executive director of The ePolicy Institute in Columbus, Ohio, and author of The e-Policy Handbook and The Social Media Handbook (the latter due on bookshelves in February 2012).

HR professionals must also understand the law as it applies to social-media screening approaches and protected statuses under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act, she says.

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"If you conduct an online search of an applicant and discover a protected status and then decide not to hire this person," says Flynn, "you could find yourself on the wrong side of a discrimination claim. And it could be proven electronically that you did this.

"Employers are realizing their HR people better know these things," she says, "which many do."

Another motivation and possible explanation for this surge, says Flynn, "is that it will be the HR person in many companies who will be drafting the social-media policies and will be the one disciplining the people who are breaking those rules."

With the National Labor Relations Board now looking at and deciding whether disciplinary actions violate employees' protected activities, companies need HR professionals on board who are knowledgeable and seasoned when it comes to the evolving rules of conduct in the social-media frontier -- for both employees and employers, she says.

In addition, Flynn says, "your HR professional is the liaison with the younger employees" who expect social-networking tools to be made available in the workplace."

"There are still many seasoned top HR leaders who are reluctant, for whatever reason, to adopt social networking," she says, but at least they see the wisdom of having somebody in the HR department who is social-media savvy.

"This social-media train is moving," she says. "It's not going to stop. It's so important that every HR department contain at least one person who's truly up on this."


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