Imagine getting a job offer based on your online search activity or the content you've posted on social media. On one hand it's creepy, but just as marketers are using data analytics to deliver relevant content to consumers, similar tactics are being used to find qualified job candidates. Every recruiter knows that sometimes the most qualified person for a job isn't looking for a new job. But before the rise of social media and online communications, employers and job candidates had limited ways to connect. Companies, however, are increasingly turning to data analysis and pattern recognition to uncover passive candidates.
Google, for example, has a clever way of recruiting people with coding experience. Google employee Max Rosett told theHustle about his experience being recruited by the company based on search terms. Rosett was earning a master's degree in computer science and googled "python lambda function list comprehension" for a project. What happened next was like a scene from The Matrix:
"The search results split and folded back to reveal a box that said 'You're speaking our language. Up for a challenge?'" Rosett reports. From there, Rosett solved a number of puzzles and over the course of several weeks, interviewed for a position at Google and eventually accepted a job offer.
Rosett described his experience as "a brilliant recruiting tactic" that identified him "before I had even applied anywhere else, and they made me feel important while doing so. At the same time, they respected my privacy and didn't reach out to me without explicitly requesting my information."
Other companies are also using data to find potential employees with the right skills. LinkedIn offers tools and advice on how to use its trove of data to find job candidates. And Patrick Gillooly, Monster's social media and content director, told me recently that Monster is "focused on the passive [job] seeker." Using tools that comb through online data and web activities, Monster tries to match job seekers with employers.
"For instance, say I'm Patrick and I'm on Twitter," Gillooly explains. "Maybe I've never said publicly on Twitter that I know how to use [programming language] C# [pronounced as see sharp] but I have a resume on Monster that says I know how to use it really well...I could get an ad on Twitter from a customer of ours through Monster about the [related] job."
Of course, job seekers would be foolish to depend on employers to make the first move in contacting them. Job seekers should continue to proactively network and respond to job ads. However, these examples underscore the fact that nearly everything we do online can be tracked and analyzed.
And as the recent spate of data breaches have shown, very little information remains anonymous. It also suggests that employers could have access to an overwhelming amount of data about potential job candidates and how they use it remains to be seen.