Through out my workday I use many methods to find people. When I look at these methods I wonder to what extent are they effiecient for me, but perhaps annoying to those I contact. My goal is never to be annoying or harassing. I use a 3 calls and that's all process. I will reach out to candidates three times then mark them as "uninterested at this time." If they contact back we can always explore the available positions. It all seems very direct and respectful. That is depending on where I get my information.
With the huge push to reduce costs, social recruiting has boomed to the point of being an abstract competitor to more traditional resume bank and job board channels. Why shouldn't it, it's basically FREE! Free, the favorite word of management when it comes to cutting overhead. It really isn't, free. It takes time, which cost money. It takes effort to drive users to your social presence, which takes time, which takes money. If you buy into a board it will cost you money directly. If you use social networks it will cost you time and some money. Is there really any difference? Yes, a very large one.
When you use a social network to find a potential candidate you normally only have a couple options of contact. Inmail, PM or perhaps they have provided their direct email address. Though this is not the value in the social networks. Pairing that information with other information services, i.e. Name and known location searched on a reverse cellphone or public records database. This is where I begin to have some issue with social recruiting. When does trying to reach someone to discuss an opportunity become invasion of implied privacy?
Have you ever had a recruiter call you at work? "How'd you get this number?" you ask.
"We have many tools to find information on the internet." is the relpy.
Being informative and relevant or harassing? With so much information available on the internet and via various database services, you really can not hide your contact information. Scary, but they will find you.
Contrast this with the classic job board. It is somewhere you go when you are looking for a new role. You provide contact information and your prefered contact method. You put out there information relevant to your career and accomplishments. Once updated, if you work in technology, you expect to have your voice mail full each day. Here you are specifically asking to be contacted for recruiters to share and compare roles for you. You invite the communication. It is expected, not intrusive.
Something I have seen on many social profiles as of late, that truly brings this question to mind are statements such as, "If I don't know who you are, if we have not worked together, DO NOT CONTACT ME! No, I don't want your job. When I do, I will let you know."
Or more subtly, "I am happy with my current employment. I will update when looking."
The nice thing about the social networks, any social network, is they make it difficult for recruiters to mass market email. You normally have to view the profile and will notice if someone puts a caption such as those above at the top of their profile. A recruiter contacting you with that information in front of them is not someone with which you want to do business. This is probably your best defense against the overly agressive technical talent market.
Providing some instruction on your social network profile can help keep many of the recruiters you don't want to hear from at bay. The other suggestion would be to setup a specific email account for all your career contact. I suggest this as it is a simple way to keep your personal inbox clutter free. When you're ready to start looking, or just want to see what's out there, check the account. Connect any social network you get too much recruiter noise from to this account. Again, it will give you an easy and central point of managing the overwhelming response to your technical passion.
Use the job-boards as well as social networks when looking for a role. I would not discount the value that a classic job-board or resume bank can provide. If your resume is on one and recently updated employers will find you much quicker than working through the social network process. If you apply for roles through a job board and don't hear back, use the social networks to back up your contact.
In conclusion, if the need for personal privacy outweighs the benefit a new position could bring to you, it is very important to notify recruiters that you're not interested in being contacted by them on your social profiles and job-board posts; or you can't really blame them for doing their job! We are always required to try and reach out in any way it takes to ultimately get an answer from you regarding the available positions we are trying to fill. We are usually well-trained to do this, and have the advantage of an unprecedented surge in digital tools for data-mining and fact-finding at our disposal in the current market s; and it is constantly being preached by management to make every effort to reach out to the passive candidates … and social networks are stock-full of them.
So, the question remains - when does the often blurred line get crossed from diligently performing your duties of locating and contacting potential recruits, to veering dangerously close to a modern quasi-version of stalking or even online harassment? For the foreseeable future, it appears that will remain a judgment call that separates a good recruiter from a poor one.