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HR Professionals, Social Media, and Talent Acquisition of the Future

By Ebony Scurry, PHR, GCDF-I

Social Media for HR Professional Development

Should HR professionals be using social media tools? Being connected with social media tools can make it easy for an HR professional to stay up to date on the latest trends and resources that will impact themselves and their customers. Human Resources professionals can receive the same type of information and professional development elsewhere, but it will likely take more of their time. Social media is a fast and efficient way to learn new information when leveraged correctly. Also, if the HR professional doesn’t know how to leverage social media correctly or if they do so to a negative degree unwittingly, then they should not use social media tools. It’s better not to use them than to use them incorrectly. There are many important aspects of being able to effectively leverage social media. I’ll mention only one of them here: it’s the ability to think critically about the information that comes your way.

Social Media as a Cost-efficient Recruitment Strategy

Human Resources professionals in the top private sector organizations are being required to increase their social media literacy. It’s not something they “should” do. It’s a requirement. Unlike the majority of the federal government, top private sector organizations (specifically the top 100) are not passively waiting and sorting through candidate applications. They are laser focused on their search for talent. This means actively searching for the right candidates using social media and other non-traditional mediums. Therefore, their HR staff must be very knowledgeable in social media use.

It’s normal for federal agencies to upload vacancy announcements and wait for applicants to apply. One commonly held belief includes the idea that the more applicants who apply, the better. Agencies then sort through the hundreds and thousands of applications. This takes a significant amount of people-power and resources when the results are only a varied amount of success. In contrast, by targeting specific sources and contacting applicants through social media, fewer candidates are considered, but they are also likely to be a better fit with the specific skill sets required.

Talent Acquisition & Marketing of the Future

Additionally, leaders in talent management are starting to target children as young as middle school in order to market themselves for the purpose of being their employer of choice when the child becomes of working age. This is what the new economy and globalization of talent management in the future is all about. The ethics of marketing to children so young for this purpose can be debated, but it’s a fact. In any case, the top private sector companies are already there, but at least one agency is on this track as well. I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

On the surface, you may not recognize the marketing and recruitment purpose for what it is, but it is what it is. The real or main purpose is not intended to be obvious. NASA is holding a contest using Transformers (mostly a children’s interest) to market to children for the purpose of eventually being their employer of choice in their future. It creates an interest in Space for these young children, connecting them with NASA so that the child’s chances of eventually pursuing a career involving space and technology… and eventually working for the agency will increase. It won’t be spelled out for you on the website of course (it might even by flatly denied if NASA were asked directly), but it’s just one example of the strategic talent management initiatives that the most innovative and future focused organizations are implementing. Years ago this same concept started at the college level (internships), then high school (science fairs and work-study, etc.) and now it’s starting as early as middle school.

Here’s the NASA website http://ipp.gsfc.nasa.gov/optimus/ for your reference.

This is copy directly from the NASA website: “…They are NASA spinoff technologies, and like OPTIMUS PRIME, they work to save lives and protect our planet. …join NASA and OPTIMUS PRIME in their mission to make Earth a better place—with the help of space”

In other words, if you like Optimus Prime and want to “save lives and protect our planet”, join NASA. Children will love this and because they love Optimus Prime, will come to love NASA too.

In Summary

HR professionals engaging in social media should focus on quality and not quantity, despite what others are doing. Increase your social media literacy and think of creative ways to leverage it in support of Federal Hiring Reform. Think critically about the information received from both colleagues and potential recruits through online mediums. There’s a lot to learn from NASA and the top organizations within the private sector that for them, the future of strategic talent acquisition is now. Despite the cost-efficiency and promising results in which targeted recruitment through social media can create, the ethics of the means used, particularly as in pertains to marketing to minors should continue to be discussed and not dismissed.

~ Ebony

Ebony Scurry, PHR, GCDF-I

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Ebony Scurry, PHR, GCDF-I

Hi Steve !

Thanks for sharing your opinion. You’re the first one to comment on my blog post, thanks for your contribution!

Everyone can find all of my replies and feedback from the ”Rock your Resume Segment” here:

Marsha Stril – http://ning.it/yr68LQ

Kathy Foster-Sandru – https://www.govloop.com/group/rockyourresume/forum/topics/rock-my-re

Steve Spacek – https://www.govloop.com/group/rockyourresume/forum/topics/rock-your-

The ”Rock your Resume Segment” is a great place to submit your resume for feedback if you’re interested in a federal job.


~ Ebony