This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

December 6, 2006

Internet Recruiting and "People Search Engines"

As the saying goes, "Information wants to be free." Savvy job-seekers know this. Millions of people go online every day to research companies and compare potential employers. Company web sites, job boards and other recruiting sites, and blogs posted by disgruntled former employees and upset customers provide a treasure trove of information to help us make career decisions.

The web is also finding application for recruiting purposes. Increasingly, employers are using social and professional networking sites and "people-focused search engines" to identify and evaluate candidates early in the recruiting process.

While referrals still rank as the most valuable recruiting source, according to a recent Direct Employers/Booz Allen Hamilton study, social networking sites have edged out employment web sites as the number two recruiting source, based on the number of new hires recruited and employers' recruitment budget allocations.

One such tool is Zoominfo, which bills itself as "the premier summarization search engine." Zoominfo approaches information found on the web like pieces of a digital jigsaw puzzle. It aggregates and cleans data and manipulates the pieces until a clearer picture of each subject emerges. As of November, 2006, the site boasts profiles on more than 33 million individuals and 2.6 million companies.

Variations include Ziggs, which focuses only on professionals and Blue Chip Expert, an invitation-only site for top-caliber hires. Newcomer Spock will take the invitation-only approach to the masses. Spock aims to have 100 million profiles when it goes live in late 2006.

Internet recruiting isn't limited to third-party search tools, however. Some recruiters use candidates' own words to weed them out. According to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, one in four employers uses social networking web sites such as or to screen out applicants based on the information they post there. A survey found that about 63 percent of employers decided against hiring someone after seeing content the person had posted online. Remarkable!

As user adoption reaches the tipping point, expect these sites to become even more robust and include more tools and options that delve even deeper into personal and professional lives.

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