HR Uses Chat to Find Jobs

Aliah D. Wright By Aliah D. Wright December 19, 2016
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HR Uses Chat to Find Jobs

​Now that 36 percent of smartphone users are using chat-based messaging apps like Facebook's Instant Messenger and WhatsApp, according to the Pew Research Center, HR has increasingly been exploring ways to find job candidates—and to find jobs for themselves.

At least, that's what they're doing in India.

An HR professional for 15 years, Arindum Deb co-founded a WhatsApp HR jobs chat group—simply called HR Jobs—in Mumbai, India, in October 2015.

Within a year, the group exploded into six separate groups.

"WhatsApp allows 256 members per group," Deb explained to SHRM Online in a series of e-mail interviews. Each of the six groups has 235 members. "The groups are all [called] 'HR Jobs' and only HR folks" can be a part of them—and only HR jobs can be posted in them.

Deb is a general manager of the software unit of SLK Group, a tech company in India, where he heads HR for the company's divisions in the U.S. and India.

Text messages now outrank phone calls as the dominant form of communication among U.S. Millennials, and chat applications have much higher retention and usage rates than most other types of mobile applications, experts tell SHRM Online.

Deb said the HR Jobs groups "in a small way showcase our innovative way to get things done differently." especially since "India's contribution to global HR is a meager 0.3 percent."

Of the initial undertaking "it was fun and scary at times," he said. "People wouldn't abide the group logic—only HR folks and only HR jobs." The groups' guidelines state that people are not allowed to discuss politics or world events in the group space: just jobs and job postings.

"Our people bring in other people" by networking and through referrals, he said. Participants are vetted via LinkedIn. 

[SHRM members-only how-to guide: How to Target Passive Job Seekers] 

"Word of mouth spread and I could, in no time, see the shift from asking people: 'Can I add you to our HR Jobs group?' to getting requests 'Please add me or XYZ to the HR Jobs group,' " he said. "We share our group guidelines upfront and keep posting it time and again to … govern the group content."

So far, group moderators have seen more than 55 success stories of people finding jobs.

What Deb has done in India may be the beginning of a small revolution—a way of finding talent without needing to advertise job openings. The groups operate outside of job boards and job postings.

Recruitment difficulty is increasing in some sectors, and recruiters have long tried many different avenues to find talent.

And "with chat overtaking phone, e-mail and social media as the dominant form of communication, we think it's crucial to connect with candidates on their own terms," said Ed Barrientos, CEO at enterprise chat software company Brazen. Brazen's web-based, mobile-optimized instant chat messaging platform helps employers use chat-based messaging to find and connect with talent.

"It's taken off because this is how everyone communicates today," said Ryan Healy, founder and president of Brazen, during an interview at the company's Arlington, Va., headquarters.

"When you think about how we used to communicate—it was phone calls and in person, but now it's always text first, chat first. Chat makes sense. It's the way we communicate with family and friends and colleagues."

And it's the way many HR professionals are communicating now to find jobs. 

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