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Identifying passive candidates is always a struggle. Recruiters value them because they typically have higher retention rates, but how can sourcers find them among millions of online profiles?
Two new technology tools are now on the market to make that endeavor a little easier. One tool allows passive candidates to self-identify; the other points out passives to recruiters before the candidates even know they're being observed.
LinkedIn's Open Candidates feature allows job seekers to signal to recruiters that they're open to a new opportunity and to specify what salary range, industry and functional roles most interest them.
Michael Beygelman is CEO and co-founder of Joberate, a startup that aims to harness the power of "big data" to help employers better understand their employees and to better target the top talent they need to grow. Joberate mines publicly available data regarding candidate behavior on social media and assigns an individual score to candidates, a "J-Score," representing the likelihood that they're open to a new opportunity.
LinkedIn's feature is activated by the user and is exclusive to LinkedIn. Joberate aggregates metadata on individuals from across many different social media platforms, resulting in a comprehensive and real-time picture of someone's potential job-seeking activity, according to Beygelman.
The LinkedIn feature "helps to validate what we've been saying for nearly three years: identifying job-seeking behaviors is at the top of the recruiting funnel," Beygelman said. "The fundamental issue with recruiting today is around interest and availability. Recruiters might need to contact up to 100 people to yield one interview" because passive candidate behavior can be so hard to predict.
Job-seeking behaviors that would increase an individual's score on Joberate include:
Amy Stark, recently a talent acquisition practice director for Helios HR, a consultancy based in Reston, Va., suggested that recruiters could look at individuals' Joberate scores and set up a notification to see if a particularly sought-after candidate's activity increases.
In fact, recruiters already make these types of inferences about candidate openness based on activity they can observe in their social media newsfeeds. However, Joberate elevates the data analytics, collecting data on a wide sample of candidates and aggregating it into something actionable.
"Before these most recent developments, you were guessing [when contacting a candidate on social media]," Stark said.
LinkedIn has stated that Open Candidates user activity will not be shared with recruiters at an individual's current employer. Stark predicted that LinkedIn's new tool could be useful, but pointed out that "because confidentiality is not guaranteed, many individuals who are open to new opportunities may not opt in."
Many Joberate clients are also leveraging the technology to gauge employee engagement and satisfaction within their workforce. HR departments are familiar with the phenomenon of employees reporting high scores on pulse surveys because they don't trust the confidentiality of the survey process or because they're being pressured to answer positively by managers who worry about their reputations.
By contrast, the J-Score generated by Joberate is measuring actual behavior because employees do not know they are being watched. It's also important to note that companies using this data for the purpose of understanding internal employee sentiment are currently focusing on data in the aggregate instead of drilling down to evaluate what specific individuals are doing. This helps to avoid situations where an employee may feel targeted or singled out.
"Employers should be careful about how they collect this kind of data, how they use the information, and how they disclose the collection and use of the data to employees," cautioned Daniel Alvarez, a partner in the data privacy group at law firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher, based in Washington, D.C. At the very least, Alvarez said that it will be important for companies to review their existing policies on the collection of employee data and determine whether use of a tool like Joberate is permitted under those policies.
Stark recommended that employers looking to measure internal satisfaction with Joberate's tool be intentional about their analysis.
For employers that discover dissatisfaction, Stark advised taking the same kind of action that companies should take to drill down on any talent management problem. "You should integrate these insights with things your business is already doing like town hall meetings, one-on-one management interviews or leadership lunches."
Amy Gulati, SHRM-SCP, is a freelance writer based in the Washington, D.C., area.
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