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. 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 assessments 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, principal analyst and CEO at 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, a former senior director of the talent acquisition solutions group for Aon Hewitt who now works for the consulting firm Black & Veatch. "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 in the past couple of years: SuccessFactors Inc. bought the social recruiting company Jobs2web, then 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 says, 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. Talent Bin for example tracks potential candidates based on where they are active online, and how prolifically they participate in industry blogs or discussions, giving 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, bringing continued innovation and integration to the marketplace and spurring 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."