Web 2.0 Tools Still Scarce in IT Recruiting

New steps are needed to attract entry-level IT workers and retain retirement-age staffers, but IT managers are slow to try Web 2.0 tools that could help.

In mid-May, Hewlett-Packard Co. participated in a virtual job fair using Second Life tools from Linden Lab in San Francisco. HP had been invited by one of its external recruiters, TMP Worldwide Advertising & Communications LLC in New York. During the virtual event, recruiters and job applicants alike created avatars, or personas to represent themselves in the virtual world.

At least thats how it was supposed to unfold. Four HP recruiters were slated to spend four hours a day on the site for three consecutive days to interview 40-plus applicants. Fewer than 20 avatars showed up, however.

Some candidates who didnt show turned out to be inexperienced with [Second Life], didnt have their avatars created in time or werent interested, says Betty Smith, manager of university recruiting for HP in San Diego. Two of those who did take part warranted follow-up interviews, though HP hasnt extended job offers to either candidate yet, she says.

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HPs willingness to step into the Web 2.0 world for recruiting differentiates the company. In Computerworlds latest Vital Signs survey, none of the 233 IT professionals responding reported using Second Life for recruiting. A scant 4% said they used blogs or social networking sites like Facebook to engage potential IT job candidates. And only 15% reported using professional networking sites such as Linked­In. Moreover, 52% of the respondents said they dont use any Web 2.0 tools for recruiting.

It seems that most IT organizations are missing out on a huge opportunity to connect particularly with the talented twentysomethings who inhabit the virtual world. These Gen Yers are tribal and accustomed to the very collaborative relationships that Web 2.0 tools enable, says Tom Casey, senior vice president and workforce transformation leader at Kingwood, Texas-based consultancy BSG Concours.

But a few companies do see the potential. The IT leadership team at Quicken Loans Inc., for example, is ahead of the curve. In February, it rolled out a recruiting Web site that includes a blog called The Diff (addressing the gap between average and outstanding performance), which employees use to articulate why Quicken Loans is such a great company to work for. One of the chief benefits of the blog (www.whatsthediff.com) is that it helps company workers connect with potential employees in a genuine way, says e-commerce marketing director Matt Cardwell.

So far, more than half of the blog posts discuss whats cool about working for the online mortgage lender; the others highlight external people or companies that Quicken Loans employees admire. Its about connecting people up, says Cardwell.

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