Canadian firms use social networking tools to find top talent

While a lot of folk lament the IT talent crunch in Canada, small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs), such as Nurun Inc., are really feeling the pinch.

A digital media consulting and marketing firm headquartered in Montreal, Nurun has offices in various parts of the world.

Over the past few years – like many other Canadian SMBs – Nurun has felt the impact of a shrinking tech talent pool in very tangible ways.

For instance, résumés the company receives each month dropped dramatically. “Previously, we would get around 1,000 a month; it went down to 200,” said Simon Lauzier, recruitment and HR consultant at the firm.

Lauzier said finding and hiring suitable candidates started getting tougher each year. “Most applicants, who came here had already been to two or three [prior] interviews.”

He said conventional initiatives, such as a better Web site or an online campaign, didn’t help much. So Nurun decided to try something distinctly different:  it started using social networking tools to score top talent.

Specifically, the company deployed Taleo Business Edition (TBE) Recruit, an online recruiting application from Dublin, Calif.-based Taleo Corp. that’s specifically targeted at SMBs.

Among other things, TBE Recruit helps hiring managers take advantage of online social networking applications, such as popular business-oriented social networking site, LinkedIn. (As of May 2008, LinkedIn had 24 million registered users spanning 120 industries).

Following an alliance Taleo forged with LinkedIn Corp., the creators of the site – TBE customers enjoy default integration with this business networking site.

TBE customers can use LinkedIn’s proprietary application dubbed “Company Insider” to identify which of their own contacts has worked with a candidate at a prior company. This capability, it is hoped, will help recruiters better assess a candidate’s suitability.

Lauzier said in the year-and-a-half since TBE was implemented at Nurun, the firm has experienced several benefits.

For instance the online jobs posting process has been simplified and speeded up.

Job postings are done in 10 clicks and are easy to customize, Lauzier said. From within the TBE program, recruiters can apply to get background checks done by service providers such as Intelius, HireRight, and Verified Persons.

Results are delivered directly to the TBE dashboard.

Prior to implementing TBE, Nurun did much of its hiring through referrals, and this continues to be a good way to find talent, Lauzier said. “Last year a third of our employees were from referrals.”

An attractive feature of TBE is the fact that there’s no software to maintain, according to Jason Blessing, general manager for Taleo Business Edition.

“Many of our customers configure the system in minutes, get up and running in hours, and launch their customized career Web site the same day. This is a vast improvement over using e-mail systems and spreadsheets to manage recruiting and hiring.”

Traditional referral or networking initiatives are often limited, as they rely on the scope of recruiter’s contact list or personal relationships, Blessing noted. So the information can’t be captured in a centralized database

Such limitations don’t apply to online social networking applications or services, he said. “By using technologies such as Facebook or LinkedIn, you can encourage an ongoing conversation with the people you are hoping to recruit.”

Lauzier said after one day using the TBE tool he was able to create an application that searches LinkedIn, Facebook and Google by entering a key word.

Another Canadian digital marketing firm is also successfully using LinkedIn in the recruiting process to identify potential hires.

“We get great responses within hours,” said Steve Mast, vice-president and managing director at Delvinia Interactive Corp. in Toronto.

Mast says while Delvinia also uses Facebook to a certain extent, it usually serves as a follow up tool. His company also relies on Twitter – the free social networking and micro-blogging service – to identify potential recruits.

While such networks serve a very useful purpose, Mast says companies need to exercise caution when using them, and they need to be supplemented with other methods.

“There’s nothing like a face to face meeting.”

As for job boards, while they are still very popular Mast says they are victims of their own success because of how big they now are.

“They essentially connect [you to] someone with a résumé.”

And just as résumés tend to sit on a desk, job board-generated resumes just sit in a mailbox. Job seekers need to follow up with a phone call in order to push through that barrier, the Delvinia executive said.

Even the Taleo application isn’t without some drawbacks, Lauzier says.
For instance, he says the reports created by the business edition are not comprehensive.

Another issue specific has to do with the languages. While Taleo includes French, English, German and Spanish, it cannot serve Nurun’s Italian and Shanghai offices.

He says time management is the greatest benefit it offers Nurun’s HR department.

While it cannot increase the number of résumés, or the quality of the candidates, it’s very helpful for historical tracking, he says.

“If I met a candidate last year, I can make a note in Taleo and follow up.”

Moving forward, Nurun intends to incorporate video capabilities in its use of the tool, says Lauzier.

For instance, he says, using Taleo software, Nurun would be able to post a video about  what it’s like to work at the company.

Other methods, such as hosting events, also work well, the Nurun executive said.

“We had an event last spring featuring a Web development guru, and we will definitely do it again,” says Lauzier. “The young generation want to work with a “cool” company and events are a good way to showcase this.”

“The next generation of TBE Recruit will be focused on more onboarding tools,” says Blessing.

“We are also launching TBE Perform this fall which will provide SMB’s with an intuitive way to manage employee goals and the review processes. Similar to TBE Recruit, Perform will be highly configurable and include automated workflows and performance review processes.”

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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