This is an article I’ve had published in the March 2012 edition of Recruiter Magazine.
What does every recruitment firm have in common with social media platforms like Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter and Google+?  We all maintain a large, and growing, database of individuals.  Doing so confers a list of responsibilities which we share, and some which are unique to employment agencies.  Job boards share many of the features of social media platforms too.  They have immense databases of candidates, and share that information, albeit with those who pay for the privilege.   In most instances, of course, the jobseeker can choose whether to share their information, either upon request, or by making their details open to all.  LinkedIn, which also operates as a form of job board now, has always made its entire database open for public view.  And yes, I do view LinkedIn as a CV database.
So now we have all of these unconnected platforms being used by so many individuals, it’s almost impossible for jobseekers to keep track. Wouldn’t it be great if somehow they could connect with each other?
I’ve said this a few times recently – I believe 2012 will be the year of the API.  For the uninitiated, the API (application programming interface) is the technology which allows separate networks to connect, and share information. 
Last week I tried registering as a candidate with some of the UK’s largest job boards, to see how they were embracing the popular social media platforms.
Jobsite allows you to select one social link from a list of platforms. This is then available to any job advertiser, who views your profile and online CV.
Totaljobs allows you to add Linkedin and Twitter links.  Totaljobs has also partnered with the Facebook based professional network, Branchout.
Monster doesn’t appear to offer this option, even though it has the most apparent social media play, in the form of Beknown, which competes with Branchout on Facebook.
In addition to these moves for job boards to engage with the established social media platforms, we are also seeing a raft of innovation from technology providers Bullhorn, Taleo, Glassdoor, Innovantage and many others, which make use of the data and ability to connect via social media networks.  We should see all recruitment-specific software enabling social media features within the next twelve months.
Whilst many job boards are offering the simple ability for candidates to show links to their Linkedin accounts, much more inventive innovation is being developed daily – The Social CV is one in particular (  Just as interesting, is that some job boards are looking to update their databases of out of date CV’s, with information matched and imported from Linkedin.  Linkedin now has over 5 million CV’s in its database in the UK, and they’re all open to the public.  They may not all be actively looking for a job, but neither are all of those on the established job boards. 
Strangely, whilst job boards are becoming more open to sharing via SM platforms, we also find that their login security is often much stricter.  Whilst all online security is important, why must this be more stringent than for Linkedin, Facebook or Twitter?  Job boards would really be doing themselves a big favour if they adopted OAuth (the standard online authentication protocol), and allowed candidates to login with their choice of social media profile.
Connecting platforms and sharing information, via API, is becoming a new battleground, as each player in this sector seeks to reposition for commercial advantage.  We have already seen disagreements between Linkedin and Beknown, and more will follow. Data ownership and access will become very fluid concepts in the next year, where the benefits of sharing data will be weighed against the risks associated with openness. If you are in the business of trading information, where do you draw the line on sharing?
PS. You can hear more of my thought on this subject, in this video interview with DeeDee Doke, of Recruiter Magazine, filmed at #TRULondon5 in Feb 2012.  Skip to 5:20 for the correct section.
PPS. Yes I did write about this before #TRULondon too.

Stephen O'Donnell is a lifelong recruiter, internet enthusiast, fadgadget and peripatetic writer.

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