retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Michael Sansolo

According to Benjamin Franklin, “Three people can keep a secret so long as two of them are dead.” While Franklin’s famous Poor Richard’s Almanack would be a terrific blog in 2012, in so many ways the Founding Father is really lucky he’s no longer around.

In the age of constant communication the only question on secrets is when, not if, they get exposed, even if just one person knows it. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the world of social connectedness is changing the world of work just as it is changing relationships, marketing and pretty much everything else you can name.

For the past few months I have written here repeatedly about the growing power of social media and the need for companies to start internal discussions about what it means when it comes to building better relationships and communication with customers. But it’s obvious that the same changes are facing management when it comes to the workings of your company.

The democratization of information has changed so much that it shouldn’t surprise us that it is changing the world of recruiting, hiring and retention. This week the fifth segment of “Untangling the Web,” the newest study from the Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council of North America is available for download by clicking here. (And because we at MNB are all about transparency, keep in mind that I am research director of this council and worked on this study.)

This segment of the study examines the changing nature of recruiting and business networking thanks to the social web. Both job holders and seekers today view social media as the single best path for information about advancement, companies and even simply openings. Not surprisingly, social networking is becoming the prime avenue for recruiting with some 85 percent of companies using LinkedIn and more than 50 percent using Facebook.

No doubt a significant portion of that growth comes simply because social media has grown so quickly in the past few years. Yet there’s also a clear impact from the higher unemployment rate of the past four years. LinkedIn, the largest business social media site, saw its population of users grow to 130 million, up from 32 million in 2008, when the recession began.

But the numbers are just a part of the story. What also comes through is how social media changes the nature of research by job seekers and companies. Job seekers, like shoppers of any product, use the social web to learn a lot about a potential employers policy, environment and more. Websites like make this process even easier by providing in-depth information from current employees about everything from salaries to the company environment.

Likewise, companies can learn a lot about prospective employees through the social web. Nearly 15 percent of companies report rejecting a prospect after learning that he or she embellished skills on a resume or bad-mouthed previous companies. And they do this by simply checking in on comments on the social web. (This level of information comes without controversial methods, such as asking candidates for social networking passwords. This information came from simple checking.)

It’s the new era of transparency, which means you need an entire new mindset on information. Even Ben Franklin never predicted that.

Michael Sansolo can be reached via email at . His book, “THE BIG PICTURE: Essential Business Lessons From The Movies,” co-authored with Kevin Coupe, is available by clicking here .
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