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In e-Recruiting, There’s a New ‘Recruit’

'Social' is the latest twist in the recruiting software world. It is rekindling debates about whether companies should go with niche tech tools or integrated systems.

“Social” is the latest twist in the recruiting software world. And the social evolution is rekindling debates about whether companies should go with niche tech tools or integrated systems.

Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter have fundamentally changed the way companies recruit by giving them a way to identify and connect with passive job seekers who they never had access to before.

In the past, passive job seekers still had to be somewhat proactive for an organization to find them, says Claire Schooley, a senior analyst with Forrester Research Inc. They had to reach out to friends or colleagues about opportunities or respond to recruiting efforts. “Now organizations can come to them,” Schooley says. “It’s turned the recruiting process upside down.”

Social media sites have become such a prevalent part of the recruiting process that most recruiting software providers are integrating them into their applicant tracking and assessment process. Tools today allow recruiters to automatically post openings on social sites, tap into employees’ social networks to mine candidates, and track which social channels generate the most leads and result in the best hires. Many are also offering mobile features that let applicants review openings and apply for positions from their phones or tablets.

“It’s giving employers a lot more information to act on,” says Ray Wang, CEO and principal analyst of Constellation Research Inc.

Social media features will become a permanent part of recruiting software systems, but the transformation is far from complete, says Chris Gould, senior director of the talent acquisition solutions group for Aon Hewitt. “We are seeing a lot of consolidation in the marketplace as HR vendors try to gain traction in this space,” he says. “But they are still figuring out how to integrate them into their talent suites.”

The consolidation trend was anchored by several major acquisitions over the past couple of years: SuccessFactors Inc. bought the social recruiting company Jobs2Web Inc., and then SuccessFactors was immediately acquired by SAP; Oracle Corp. bought Taleo Corp. and launched the Oracle Taleo Recruiting Cloud service; and IBM Corp. acquired Kenexa Corp., a software company that began as a recruitment services firm and is known for its social recruiting features.

This flurry of acquisitions was a natural progression for the industry, Schooley says. “Recruiting is the last piece to be brought into the HRIS suite,” she adds, referring to human resource information systems.

However, there are still many independent recruiting software vendors to choose from. Some offer stand-alone tools that are appropriate for any industry, like Bullhorn and iCIMS; while others offer niche market options, such as JobAppPlus for hourly workers or TempWorks for medical staff.

Still other vendors offer innovative social media add-ons to help employers further hone their talent search process and make it more efficient. TalentBin for example tracks potential candidates based on where they are active online and how prolifically they participate in industry blogs or discussions. That information gives employers access to new or uniquely qualified talent pools. And HireVue lets candidates create video interviews on the fly and send them to employers to view, share and compare with other applicants.

“It’s a platform where people can tell their story in a high-tech, high-volume way,” Gould says.

This evolution of the recruiting software space is likely to continue for the next year or two, Gould says. He predicts that a new generation of venture-backed startups will emerge this year, which will bring continued innovation and integration to the marketplace and spur the HRIS giants to continue their buying spree.

“My anticipation is that we will see more ‘social sharing’ applications that will integrate with mobile, social media” and customer relationship management or applicant tracking solutions, Gould says. “These apps will make it easier to share jobs and will provide the ability to track click-throughs and sources.”

All the new social networking features in recruiting tools are a blessing and a curse for companies. Even as startups and stand-alone products make it easier to reach passive candidates and improve recruiting effectiveness overall, niche products raise concerns about systems integration. Some companies may opt to go with an approach where recruiting software is more closely tied to other HR systems, even if that means missing out on some of the most cutting-edge social capabilities.

When data analytics company LatentView needed to hire 100 new employees last year—doubling its size in just a few months—it knew it was time to upgrade its recruiting software system. The company had been using JobScore, a social recruiting software system that recommends candidates for specific positions, but Pramad Jandhyala, LatentView’s director of HR, felt like the company needed a more integrated tool to meet its growth goals. So she transitioned recruiting to Salesforce.com.

“We liked Jobscore, but most of our other HRIS activities were done on Salesforce,” she says. “It just made sense to move to a single platform.”

Today LatentView uses Salesforce.com’s Vana HCM cloud-based recruiting tools to create configurable job postings, automatically process résumé attachments, and post openings to thousands of job boards. The system’s tracking reports also help Jandhyala plan for future hires based on past experiences. “We can tell which positions were hard to fill, and how many résumés we had to go through to find the right candidate,” she says. “That helps me allocate the right resources and time for each recruiting effort.”

But before choosing any tool, think about what your end goals are, Aon Hewitt’s Gould says. If your focus is on finding the best people, your choice might be very different than if your goal is tracking where the best candidates come from, or shortening the time to hire, he says. “When you start with what you want to accomplish, you are more likely to choose the best system for your needs.”

Sarah Fister Gale is a freelance writer based in the Chicago area. Comment below or email editors@workforce.com. Follow Workforce on Twitter at @workforcenews.