Hand-written help-wanted sign on a fenceHiring via crowdsourcing is not new. It’s been hanging around in the wings for a quite a few years now in one form or another, with some forms of it having made it to the main stage but only for bit parts and have soon retired to the shadows.

But, things have changed, and crowdsourcing as a hiring model is set to star and take center stage among the other more traditional recruiting methods of jobs boards and career sites.

I hear you asking, “So, what has changed now? Crowdsourcing has been around a while, it was new but it hasn’t been especially disruptive.” Well, I think that there have been several recent and important shifts in the marketplace, which have made the crowdsourcing environment more fertile than ever before.

First, attitudes toward social media advertising spend are changing i.e. decision makers are ready to spend more on social media initiatives. How do we know this? Well, according to a BIA/Kelsey US report, social media ad spend is forecast to increase significantly from U.S. $4.6 billion to U.S. $5.7 billion this year, which is a 24 percent increase and is expected to sustain or exceed this growth rate for the next four years. This means that decision makers in your business are more willing than they have ever been to spend on advertising for social media, the apparatus for crowdsourcing hiring. This makes it a great time for HR and recruiters to be knocking on the door of budget holders and requesting funds to invest in a new social media-based crowdsourcing initiative.

Second, the social media audience, the engine of your crowdsourcing initiatives, are more engaged and attentive than previous times (we are even seeing the rising phenomena of smart phone addiction). Reports from Nielsen suggest that average mobile minutes on Twitter increased by 139 percent year-on-year; the average PC minutes on Twitter increased by 72 percent; and the average time on social networks as a whole has increased by 24 percent year-on-year. So, arguably, investing a fixed amount in social media hiring this year will give you 24 percent greater penetration from a time point-of-view than it would had you invested the same fixed amount last year. This is another compelling reason to start your social media crowdsourcing initiatives as your audience is simply more engaged and geared to respond than in the past.

Third, there are a whole range of new social crowdsourcing tools that have established themselves on the market, such as Meshire, Jobvite, BullHorn Reach, Zao, all of which make it painfully easy to engage in social crowdsourcing hiring.

And finally, there is good evidence to show that hiring through employee referrals, a key mechanism of crowdsourcing, leads to a reduction in hiring times and yields more loyal employees.

So, for me the evidence is clear: The planets are aligned and it is the perfect time to start expanding or evolving your crowdsourcing hiring initiatives. As I have shown, budgets are more likely to be available for social media as a means of sourcing talent, and many tools have emerged to make crowdsourcing very easy to do. Also, employee referrals hiring is proving itself to be one of the most effective sources of hire available.

All that is left to do is build that business case, get budget approval, build an attractive incentive scheme for quality referrals and start experimenting with or expanding your crowdsourcing initiatives to take advantage of this powerful hiring medium, which I feel, in 2013, has finally emerged.

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