Social Media and Hiring Supply Chain Talent

Erik Qualman, author of “socialnomics,” was a keynote speaker at RedPrairie’s Redshift 2011 conference in May. He gave the most interesting conference speech I have seen in years. The following week Don Tapscott, author of “Macrowikinomics,” gave another great keynote speech at Manhattan Associates’ Momentum 2011 conference. In both cases, the speakers grossly overstated the impact of social media on business and the world. Nevertheless, I could not help thinking there will be big impacts on supply chain management, but that we don’t completely know yet what they will be!

One area where the impact is obvious is in hiring supply chain talent. By now everyone has heard stories of young graduates not getting hired because a human resources manager found inappropriate material on the candidate’s Facebook page. While Facebook is the preferred social network for private contacts, LinkedIn is preeminent in business.

It is going to become more difficult for organizations with bad managers to employ good young talent. The next generation of employees has already learned to network via Facebook and other social media sites in a manner that surpasses what most of us in earlier generations are capable of. Upon being hired and becoming part of the business world, most young professionals will begin to build similar networks on LinkedIn.

Here is a scenario that I am sure is already occurring. A candidate applies for a job. The company is interested and brings him in for an interview. The candidate discovers who his manager will be and then goes to LinkedIn, conducts a search, and discovers who in his network works or has worked at that company. He then branches out to discover who has worked for that specific manager and contacts them to discusses their experience. After hearing about the manager’s shortcomings, the young professional decides not to accept the position with the company.

One website, glassdoor.com, posts jobs, but also allows visitors to see average salaries and bonuses, along with anonymous reviews posted by current and former employees about their opinion of what it is like to work at that company. This is useful information, but I still think young professionals would rather hear from someone in their network rather than relying on anonymous postings.

There is also discussion about what companies are looking for in hiring a young professional, with some arguing that a company is hiring not just the person, but the value of the candidate’s network too. A group of analysts were arguing about this at the RedPrairie conference. One analyst argued that this idea is bogus—that what we are going to see is a bunch of inflated networks where young professionals attempt to link to everyone in any way connected to the field of supply chain management. Even if true, just the effort to build a network shows ambition and a desire to succeed. Personally, I’d be delighted if my kids thought this way.

Social media makes it harder for companies with bad products and bad managers to hide. Any company with a supply chain function will be affected by this, but Third Party Logistics firms will arguably be the most affected because hiring supply chain talent is core to remaining competitive for these companies.

(Note: Manhattan Associates and RedPrairie are ARC clients)

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