Are Your Employees Vulnerable To Social Media Headhunters?

When headhunters approach your employees directly to hire them away on behalf of their clients, that’s called employee “raiding.” Like stealthy cats, it’s their job to spirit resources away–your firm’s trained & capable team members. Even if your employees are happy, who wouldn’t be tempted to move on for more money or other incentives?

Fox In The Hen House
Headhunters charge fantastic prices, up to 30% of the first year’s salary. That’s because the booty is worth the loot and it’s hard work to make the connections. Great employees are hard to find. This back room recruitment dynamic has always existed and always will.

Now, radical social media tools, hidden in otherwise innocuous networking functionality, have made the headhunter’s job frighteningly easy. Friend-finder tools, in social media settings like Facebook and LinkedIn, make building a niche’ professional community much easier these days. Connect the dots as to how savvy headhunters use these “friendships.”

Here’s an explanation of how Facebook social media headhunters search candidates by location/job title and by raiding specific firms:

[Author’s note: In order to honor Facebook’s Terms Of Service & Code of Conduct, we’ve created fictional users, photos, companies and screen capture mockups. They mimic actual Facebook information design, using NO Facebook data, public or private. Resemblance to any company or person is totally coincidental. Also, AIMCLEAR does not advocate use of walled garden Facebook content for professional purposes which violate TOS. This post is simply about targeting new friends.]

Social Media Headhunting By Job Title
First We’ll search for the job title we’re hypothetically recruiting for. In this case I’ll type in “web designer Duluth.”

(Remember, this is fictional data) In the results, we easily locate a lady by the name of Ruth Anderson, a graduate of University of Minnesota Duluth. Good! She went to college in our city, which makes her a good candidate to start.

By drilling down deeper into Ruth’s profile, which she has designated as visible in her privacy settings, we learn that she is actually the Lead Web Designer for Acme Web Solutions. Ruth designs, builds and coordinates the development of websites for a variety of clients. Cool! It’s easy to “friend” her, which starts the relationship by introducing ourselves. It’s rare that folks refuse friendships from aligned local businesses.

Also in the results we find Billy Johnson.

Billy is potentially a prize fish. He’s the Interactive Director of Kolstad Advertising, a venerable and well-respected regional advertising agency.  Sure Billy was just promoted, but scripted courtship and cash often have a way of shaking great people loose to pursue exciting opportunities. Groovy! We smile a wry grin as we invite Billy to be friends.

It’s easy to see how searching Facebook for job title & city names result in mining friendships that could lead to deeper professional relationships. Let’s look at another, more aggressive method.

Social Media Headhunting By Competitor
Here we’ll search for Northern Llama, a decade+ old web marketing company in Duluth. We find Samantha Butler, a Senior at The College Of St. Scholastic in Duluth.  (BTW Samantha, you might want to eliminate the rammy pic.)

Samantha works part time as a Web Specialist @ Northern Llama. Add her to the recruitment list (or not 🙂 )

Facebook displays as much of someone’s employment history as the user includes. That’s how we found Nicholas Martin, who shows up in the results because he used to work @ Northern Llama.

He’s an awesome prospect who happens to now work at Acme Web Solutions. Since users often post their entire job history in their profiles, the search for Northern Llama yielded this interesting candidate who no longer works there. Bingo! This guy’s the real deal.

Watch Your Back
We love getting cold calls from executive recruiters, employment agencies, executive search firms, staffing and personnel agencies. Invariably they work hard to sell themselves as a conduit to our next employee hire. Given the value of social media to assist such services, we laugh and suggest that they instead hire us to help them find candidates via social media networking sites.

Finding qualified employees in any community is as easy as a few minutes of research, friend making, networking and a carefully placed private message. Social media headhunters can now search by company, job title, college and many other criteria. We’ve talked about Facebook here but other social sites also lend themselves completely to human resources recruitment.

Employers, be realistic. Your staff’s propensity to list their employment situation on social media networking sites leaves YOU exposed to headhunters who can line them up and pick them off.

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