Cloud Recruiting – What is it supposed to be?

August 25, 2009

To the best of my knowledge, the phrase “cloud recruiting” was coined by Peter Weddle in February of ’08 (see The idea is based on Google’s philosophy of “the power of free”, which is the notion that free content is a powerful way to enhance online experiences. In the case of recruiting the idea is to offer free, value added content to passive job seekers, and that this in turn is helps to cultivate relationships with a better class of candidates. Weddle sums it up this way:

Cloud recruiting involves shifting our attention from the transactional activities on which we have traditionally relied to fill requisitions to a new focus on relationships. As with cloud computing, the locus of this activity is online as that enables us to leverage the time and reach advantages of the Internet and efficiently tap “the power of free.” The approach has two important characteristics:

  • It recognizes the real differences between passive and active candidates.
  • It overcomes the practical limitations we face when recruiting in the real world.

 (again, see

Regarding the first point, the idea is to establish a many (candidates) to one (recruiter) relationship that takes advantage of the utility of the Internet, and does so in a way to offers free access to information and tools that passive job seekers will find useful. The second point refers to the fact that cultivating relationships in more traditional ways can be very resource consuming, and that providing this kind of content can be an effective way of dealing with that obstacle.

So my first question here may seem a bit tongue-in-cheek, but what exactly is the cloud? If we take a very generic (but therefore more applicable) sense of the term “cloud” into consideration, we assume that it refers to a collection of resources that provide a service or resource of some kind. In computing, the term has been applied to a number of different technologies, such as platform as a service (and other XaaS’s) as well as business applications. The metaphor is based on the Internet as a cloud, which leaves the phrase “cloud recruiting” with a significant element of ambiguity: is the pool of candidates (and how we access/build relationships with them) the cloud, or is the pool of free resources offered by hypothetical sites the cloud (like the kind recommended by Weddle)?

If we stick with Google’s “power of free” philosophy, it would seem that the correct way to look at it is the latter of the two. If enough recruiters adopt this approach (or maybe one agency with the proper resources), then candidates have a cloud from which to draw resources for their career goals. But if we reverse the point of view, we might be tempted to think that the cloud is the pool of potential candidates. I think that the first is the stronger reading and closer to the spirit of Google’s philosophy, and more importantly, it is a better war to harness the power of its approach.

In my next post, I will take a look at how some recruiters have adopted the view that the cloud is something that they make use of, instead of the candidates. And as you might suspect, I think that this is the wrong way to think about “cloud recruiting”.



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