#Hashtags – Not Just For Twitter Anymore

On May, Sourcing7 hosted a roundtable in Seattle (think of Speed Dating meets Sourcing topics). I volunteered to talk about using hashtags for sourcing. I know most people think of hashtags as being almost exclusive to Twitter, but the truth is that they are becoming more and more prevalent in other forms of social media. Part of that is because of the proliferation of cross-platform aggregators/publishing apps, part of it is the organic growth of conceptual information sharing. (Did you know that hashtags are actually one of the few user-conceived and driven internet phenomena?)

Think of the hashtag as the Web 2.0 metadata tag. I think most people understand the role of hashtags on Twitter and in basic social networking, but here’s a refresher: #FIFA (for the world cup), #jobs (for job seekers), #intern. The value of the hashtag lies in identifying communities of like-minded individuals clustered on social media. It is more akin to developing talent communities than it is to direct sourcing. Birds of a feather flock together, as it were.

While it may seem that marketing has co-opted the use of hashtags, that isn’t quite the case. Part of the value of using hashtags for sourcing lies in the fact that they *are* moving over to other platforms thanks to content and curation aggregators. Being able to link your Twitter account to your Facebook newsfeed, Google+ circles, and display your Pinterest board pins means you can broadcast to just about anyone and everyone. In Recruiting, successful ATS’ make use of social media feeds to increase the scope of published job descriptions (check out Jobvite’s Social Media broadcast features.)

My new favorite tool for simple hashtag curation is Tagboard. Think Twitter search meets Pinterest. You can create different “boards” built on simple hashtag searches. Tagboard searches all social media platforms to group posts in an easy to view sampling. You can use it for competitive intelligence (let’s see who our competitors are and then hire their star performers!), geographic clustering (wow, there are startups in Iowa?), conference announcements (#sourcecon bound in October!), as well as people that are interested in the concept/search term you are searching for.

On the flip side, hashtags are a great way to increase your employment and recruiting brands. Devise hashtags about your company and use them in conjunction with broader terms to start “linking” them in the minds of the community you are looking to develop. Tie your concepts together.  “@CorpX takes the #java #engineers bowling for #unitedway, 100% in-kind match! #socialresponsibility”. (A photo is worth a thousand words, so use them if you have them!)

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Hashtags are only going to grow as concept curation continues to trend upward. It is a great way to search and build at the same time.

image credit: bigstock photo

Kristen Fife is a senior technical recruiter in the greater Seattle area. She has been in recruiting since 2004, starting as contract Researcher for the Microsoft Strategic Recruiting Group before moving into full lifecycle agency recruiting for Volt Technical Services. Her move into corporate recruiting started with both sourcing and full lifecycle contract roles at Microsoft (including MSFT Research, Legal, and various product groups). In addition to Microsoft, Kristen worked for 3 years for RealNetworks/GameHouse as the Senior Technical Recruiter and Sourcing Specialist; at the University of Washington/Harborview Medical Centers as a Sourcer, as well as smaller companies such as Varolii (now part of Nuance Communications), Covestic, and bSquare. Currently she is an RPO Senior Technical Recruiter, she sits on the Leadership Team for Sourcing7, and is a regular presenter, trainer, panelist, and speaker in the Seattle area for recruiting forums and job seekers. She has been a regular contributor to the Seattle Times, including an employment topic column, regular blog, and the NWJobs Hire Wire newsletter for the local recruiting industry. Her blog for job seekers receives several thousand hits a week. She has been quoted in several publications including ABCNews, AOL, the Seattle Times, and The Wall Street Journal.

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