Today I spoke at Social Media: A Recruit­ment Rev­o­lu­tion, where I debated (kind of) Seek’s Jake Andrew on the sub­ject Do you need a job board when you have social net­work­ing? The text below is the argu­ment I put for my case (more or less).

The big news media. The music indus­try. Recruit­ment agen­cies. Job boards. These are all ideas whose end times have come. At least in their cur­rent form.

The emer­gence of social net­works (some­thing humans have done for a very long time) under­pinned by tech­nol­ogy that allows us to extend those net­works beyond Dun­bar’s man­age­able 150 or so has intro­duced, in the words of Clay Shirky, a “pos­i­tive sup­ply side shock”# to the abil­ity for human­ity to par­tic­i­pate and collaborate.

And par­tic­i­pate we do.

It’s not like we haven’t always done so, it’s just now we have the abil­ity to do so on an unprece­dented scale and in a long-​​term sus­tain­able way. The record of our par­tic­i­pa­tion remains in place, build­ing trust through our open­ness and authen­tic­ity and through that trust build­ing social cap­i­tal — whuffie — that we can use to trade for value, good or ser­vices in our social networks.

It has always been the case that a refer­ral from another per­son — whether for a great new pair of shoes or a prospec­tive new employee — is more pow­er­ful, more com­pelling, the most trusted form of find­ing some­thing we need.

Indeed, for many indus­tries, word-​​of-​​mouth refer­rals, par­tic­u­larly from employ­ees and their extended net­works has always been, and remains, the best source of the high­est qual­ity candidates.

So, to return to the media, music and recruit­ing, and espe­cially job boards. These are all indus­tries that have to now defined them­selves in terms of scarcity eco­nom­ics. But we now live in a post-​​scarcity world. The gate­keep­ers of valu­able resources are see­ing their pre­vi­ously cash cow mod­els rapidly torn down in favor of a par­a­digm where any par­tic­i­pant, given enough time and the right smarts, can do for them­selves what these pur­vey­ors of pre­vi­ously scarce com­modi­ties — whether music, the news or access to the pool of best can­di­dates for a job — once did for them.

We have seen in Aus­tralia, par­tic­u­larly from Atlassian’s suc­cess­ful 32 project, that dis­in­ter­me­di­a­tion of every­thing but the very best sup­pli­ers of tal­ent is pos­si­ble. This is just one of a grow­ing num­ber of exam­ples where employ­ers are seek­ing star can­di­dates for roles. They are select­ing very care­fully and it’s work­ing. The recruiter and the job board are no longer a required part of the process. They do not pro­vide the best, or in some cases, even a decent option.

But why? The answer is simple.

Net­works. Authen­tic­ity. Trust. Reputation.

Recruiters and job boards, unless they are the Pur­ple Cows of their indus­try, sim­ply can­not pro­vide what inside knowl­edge and the net­works of peo­ple you link to in today’s hyper­con­nected world can. And they can never have a level of social cap­i­tal with you that your own, trusted net­work can.

The peo­ple in your net­work already know about your busi­ness, espe­cially if they are also an employee. They will always have a bet­ter han­dle on your needs. They are con­nected to their peers beyond your walls in a way that the recruit­ment indus­try can never be — in the next town, the next state or even another coun­try. They know who’s look­ing (or who might if the right job came up) because that’s the stuff peo­ple talk about in pro­fes­sional com­mu­ni­ties, or at the pub, or over din­ner. Or even on Face­book or Twitter.

If you and your organ­i­sa­tion aren’t mak­ing full use of the net­works within and around your busi­ness — con­nect­ing to peo­ple whether or not they’re actively seek­ing a new job and build­ing your rep­u­ta­tion through­out the net­work by being real, open and authen­tic then this much is true. YOU’RE. DOING. IT. WRONG.

For­get job ads in the paper or online. For­get pay­ing expen­sive recruiters their fees. Turn to those who know — your net­works. Actively lever­age the trust, authen­tic­ity and rep­u­ta­tion there. Make use of the peo­ple who love work­ing with you and for you and get them to be your advertisement.

Are you tak­ing full advan­tage by being a part of the net­works you already have? By being an active and help­ful par­tic­i­pant? By build­ing trust and rep­u­ta­tion so that when you do want to hire some­one new and say so, peo­ple come to you because you’ve already done the hard work?