Crowdsourcing for Recruiting: Has Its Time Come?

Written by Ed Epstein, VP Staffing Solutions, Be Group

Companies like Amazon, Cisco, IBM and Starbucks all use crowdsourcing techniques to generate ideas new product and service innovations.

What is crowdsourcing? Coined around 2005, it’s the process of obtaining services, ideas or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people or an online community. Crowdsourcing combines efforts of many self-selected volunteers; each person’s contribution combines with others to achieve a cumulative result.

Crowdsourcing advantages include cost reduction, speed, quality, flexibility, scalability and diversity. Some real-world examples:  

  • New product development: Mattel and Lego used crowdsourcing to identify new product lines. Barbie’s career doll came from this method. Ben & Jerry’s, Dunkin’ Donuts and Vitaminwater used crowdsourcing to launch new flavors. 
  • Building software: Ever heard of “open source”? It basically refers to free software developed collaboratively and shared by developers and programmers worldwide. 
  • Advertising &marketing: Ford’s first television commercial for its 2013 Focus came from 580-recorded videos from 100 spectators. 
  • Research & shared information: Wikipedia. Pinterest.
  • Fundraising: Go Fund Me.

Crowdsourcing for Candidates

Hard-to-find or best talent is not submitting resumes, engaging with career sites or responding to unsolicited recruiters. These are people in high demand. Their next assignment or employer comes from their network.

The race to secure top talent is leading employers to adopt innovative hiring practices. Companies like Google and Zappos have set the benchmark. Zappos hires employees exclusively through social recruiting from its existing employee community.

The stage is set to realize the potential of social recruiting. Crowdsourcing may hold the answer, but it’s not that easy. It’s not a magic wand without a plan, process and incentives.

Some search companies have approached crowdsourcing by offering a portal to the employer. Such platforms provide employers a cost-effective way to source talent by offering a place to post jobs to many professional recruiters. Recruiters receive compensation for successfully starting candidates. In other words, these portals are aggregators of requirements and recruiters, where commission fees are split.

The presumption is these recruiters have an inventory of pre-vetted, qualified candidates left over from similar searches.

However, these presumptions aren’t valid. Recruiters don’t have good candidates waiting around. Good candidates between jobs or looking for their next employer have viable options. Additionally, recruiting agencies are normally compensated between 20-30% placement fees and aren’t interested in presenting their top candidates for a fraction of the fee. Lastly, agencies understand the employer is the client; they need a relationship and chemistry with them. Throwing a resume to a portal process has a low chance of success for all parties. Therefore, this type of crowdsourcing is focused in the wrong place and will result in high speed but low candidate quality.

Is talent acquisition ready for crowdsourcing? Yes, but crowdsourcing through an aggregator or portal isn’t the answer. Crowdsourcing for talent acquisition would be better labeled as empowering the Human Cloud. In other words, enlist the power of 7.5 billion people to help drive hiring initiatives. The model includes creating public incentives where anyone in the world can refer talent. This platform is built on social media and supported by strong marketing.

If you’re an employee or candidate thinking about what’s next for you, then network! The interaction will get you to your next great thing. Your contacts will lead you to a crowdsourcing effort that will set your path to your future employer.

As an employer, if you’re in the market for talent and strong new hires, then candidates through crowdsourcing could be your solution; this is how Be Group recruits, identifies talent, and delivers for our clients.


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