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 capitalwhuffie – 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?

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