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Social media, virtual meetings help firms enter markets, save capital

For some companies, Twitter has replaced recruiters, and video conferencing is used to conduct interviews

By Fred O'Connor
October 27, 2011 03:10 PM ET

IDG News Service - When cloud computing service provider Nimbula hires employees for its South Africa development office, the Mountain View, Calif., company turns to social networking, not recruiters, to find workers. The company also uses video conferencing to conduct interviews with job candidates and to demonstrate software to potential customers, which saves travel expenses.

Especially for startups looking to enter new markets, this convergence of technology allows them to maximize resources and save money, according to executives. They use social networking as a business tool to reach potential employees and customers beyond their geographic zones with a minor financial investment. Paired with social media, video conferencing is transformed from a dated technology into a vital communication medium that helps companies sell products and select the most qualified workers. Beyond the fiscal benefits, executives also say utilizing these combined technologies aids in overcoming cultural differences, provides employers with an established talent pool for recruiting and helps generate sales leads.

When Nimbula needs to fill positions at its Cape Town development office, practical reasons dictate its use of Twitter to inform people about the jobs. "As a startup company we can't afford ... things like flying people around," said Reza Malekzadeh, the company's vice president of marketing. "We're trying to leverage these tools because they're a cost-efficient way to attract folks and they still allow us to have a good experience."

The 35-hour trip from California to South Africa would cost upwards of $4,000 for coach airfare and lodging, said Malekzadeh, who also serves as an expert for the business-focused social networking website Traveling to Europe would tally around $3,000 and take 20 hours, he added.

The people following the Twitter messages of Nimbula engineers tend to be tech-minded, the same base that the company wants to hire from, he said. In addition to discussing their projects, the engineers also mention Nimbula's internship program and open positions, making the messages easily searchable to people looking for specific company or job information.

"We found that people tend to do keyword searches or look for some brand names or look for some opportunities in [the engineers'] tweets," he said.

Firms should consider incorporating social networking into their human resources strategy to attract their future workforce, advised Forrester Research senior analyst Claire Schooley. Recent college graduates starting their careers use social media on a daily basis and want a more active job search process. Social networking adds that element, she said.

"Candidates today, before they actually apply, like to have a bit of interaction," she said. "Whether it's with the company or the recruiter, they want to get to know a little bit more about the job, get to know a little bit more about the company and then decide whether they want to apply. You can't do that with an ad on Craigslist."

Reprinted with permission from Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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