How A Wilmington, Delaware Twitter Account Could Change the Workforce Landscape

They say the flapping of a butterfly’s wings in Kansas can cause a typhoon in Hawaii.

Earlier this week a butterfly flapped its wings in Wilmington, Delaware, and if we pay attention, the publicly funded workforce system can ride the crest of a tidal wave. If we don’t, we may end up as relevant as classified want ads in the print edition of a local newspaper.

The flapping started Monday, Jan. 26, 2015, when one of Wilmington’s council members, Darius Brown, unveiled a system that is so simple in its design, and has the potential to link employers and job seekers so quickly, that it could spell the end of job boards – all job boards! This includes the labor exchange systems most workforce investment boards embrace.

It is beautiful in its simplicity, really; it’s a social recruiting system. They call it tweetmyjobs.com

Employers list jobs in a web-based platform that immediately shoots out a Tweet or an alert via Facebook. Jobseekers can choose to upload a resume or not to Regardless, Tweets or alerts are sent out daily informing job seekers of vacancies and they apply in accordance with the instructions on the job announcement.

Time will tell if this will work in Wilmington – as I said it’s a butterfly flapping its wings – but here is why this changes everything: Mr. Brown and Wilmington aren’t alone.

a random example of #dejobs posting screen shot
a random example of #dejobs posting screen shot

Hundreds of Delaware jobs are already on Twitter at #dejobs. This suggests employers are embracing electronic free recruiting and doing it on their own by shooting out announcements.

I am not a soothsayer, but I feel pretty comfortable thinking that projects like Mr. Brown’s either are, or soon will become, ubiquitous across the country. Moreover, I am sure there are already hundreds – if not thousands – of regional Twitter-based job listings out there.

If this is true (and I’m pretty sure it is) it begs some questions:

Are workforce professionals wasting resources creating labor exchange systems when employers already have their own electronically based no cost systems?

Are publicly funded labor exchange systems redundant?

Shouldn’t the workforce development system be training clients to apply for jobs they find on Twitter instead of trying to populate its own system of jobs? And, then, trying to shoehorn clients into those openings?

Are workforce developers caretakers of labor exchange systems that are already as obsolete as the Sunday classifieds?

So the $64,000 question is, of course, why are we doing this?

The answer is painfully simple: we’ve always done it this way and that’s how the system is designed. From the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) to the newly minted Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), the system is – to a large part – designed to have workforce business service reps reach out to businesses and develop relationships that result in job listings of high demand occupations for clients. That is an oversimplification of the entire system, but not much of one as it relates to job listings.

If employers are posting jobs and we have access to those postings, why should we compete with them for their own job postings? Maybe we should just let them do it and better prepare our clients to compete and apply for those jobs.

I can read your mind. What about federally mandated performance measures? Piffle, I say, piffle!

With fewer people pounding the pavement looking for postings already on Twitter, workforce development leaders can divert more resources to applicant preparation. Or better yet, realign performance measures to match the new reality of a world where we have access to job listings without having to knock on doors.

Wily HR folks will continue to exploit social media recruiting until someone figures out how to make them pay for it. Until then they will double down and double down again, leaving us out in the cold as far as job postings go.

Regardless, it really doesn’t matter; a bit of workforce survival of the fittest will kick in. If Mr. Brown is right and Tweeting jobs takes off and is replicated or refined throughout the country, the decision will be made for us. In addition, if he and the other Tweeters are right, what should the publicly funded workforce system do?

I am of the mind we can choose to embrace the butterfly and ride the wave, or we can take our chances with the tsunami.

These thoughts are my own and do not represent any policy or discussion of the Delaware Workforce Investment Board, the Delaware Department of Labor, or the state of Delaware. Rather, they are offered as a jumping off point for a professional discussion about the power of social media and workforce development.

 

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