Crowdsourcing recruitment applies the principles of an employer using a community of independent recruiters to source resumes for a particular job.

Amazon, Cisco, Facebook, GE, IBM, Pepsi, Starbucks, PG; what do all these companies have in common, apart from being creators of world class products and services? Answer; they have all used crowdsourcing techniques at one point or another to generate ideas that have already or are expected to turn into new product and service innovations.

So what is crowdsourcing and how can it impact recruitment? Crowdsourcing is a concept made possible by technology, where tasks such as idea generation are outsourced to distributed groups of people; these people could be employees, customers, suppliers or even members of the public.

So, if crowdsourcing is being used by the Fortune 500 to conceive great products, surely it’s not too big a leap to suggest that recruiters can build great teams by generating employee referrals from a talent crowdsourcing corporate program? We already know that recruits from more traditional referral programs have higher retention rates than those from career sites and jobs boards and get hired 55% faster than career sites. So, we can be hopeful that, if effectively deployed, crowd-sourcing recruiting will soon be able to do the same.

It’s just a means of attracting applicants – it’s not an automatic hiring system

Crowd-sourcing is just a form of attraction and not an automatic hiring system. It is a way of encouraging your company’s social followers or friends to send you suggestions/ideas for potentially good employees. But that’s all it is, suggestions for new hire. The candidate will still have to submit a resume, be shortlisted, interviewed and tested against selection criteria and finally be selected by the hiring manager. Referrals from crowd-sourcing have the same due diligence as other methods and the manager has exactly the same control as other methods.

Also, communicate the benefits of employee crowd-sourcing, by letting the manager know that recruiting by this method is faster than traditional channels and produces more loyal employees.

Before you even think about social networks, build an incentive structure

Crowd-sourcing it not a magic wand. If you have not built it, they will not come. What do I mean by this? If your employees, followers and friends do not think your company is worth their own or their friends’ attention, they will be less likely to refer – and your potential referrals will also be less likely to apply. Having a crowd-sourcing program will make you more visible but it won’t automatically make your firm more attractive to top talent.

So you must work on making yourself an employer of choice, by building an attractive culture, set of conditions and work environment and you must build a referral scheme that has suitable incentives to encourage employees to refer star potential. If you want to get the most out of croudsourcing recruiting, you must get the basics right.

Implementing Crowd-sourcing Recruitment

There are two models of crowd-sourcing to consider; these are employee based and open crowd-sourcing where the public are invited to make referrals.

Employee referral, (at least in the traditional format), is tried and tested and is the most effective and influential form of recruitment and this seems like a good starting point for employers looking to get into the game. However, whether going with employee referrals or a more open referral system I recommend that you use some crowd-sourcing software to help ensure you execute this process to the highest level. After all, it is likely to be your most powerful and influential source of recruitment. I also think it supports your employer brand in that it conveys the message, “we are not just using crowd-sourcing to save costs, we are investing in a process that we think we provide long term strategic benefit to the business.”

A good example of social employee referral software is MeshHire. There are of course others on the market, but this is a tidy looking system which allows you to develop and manage a ‘Branded Employee Referral Network’ across the major social networking sites. The system really opens up social media as a crowd-sourcing platform. You can invite employees, or any of your contacts to become virtual recruiters for your business, using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc. They can be invited to join your private branded job referral community and you can use the system to encourage them to share your job listing with their in-built referral systems.

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