Recruitment is broken – and it has been for years. Nothing much has changed, for a very long time, in the formulaic, process-driven way that people try to find the right companies and companies try to find the right people. The ability to put CVs online has made this process more efficient and scalable, but in a world where relationships, culture and fit are ever more central to the way we do business, there is a tangible need to re-invent the way we find our others.

This is why our first Foundry investment is Somewhere, an engaging visual sharing platform backed by a strong, creative management team that is trying to solve this very problem.

For individuals, Somewhere helps to share the work content, objects and inspirations that make them unique, helping them build a more authentic social connection with individual collaborators or potential employers in advance of any formal hiring taking place. For companies, Somewhere helps to improve their employer brand by sharing the work inspirations and objects of real people inside their organisations, to help them attract potential hires who share some of those passions and interests.

Somewhere’s model has recently been described as a Pinterest for business, an Instagram filter over LinkedIn (to be clear: it isn’t) and a new visual platform for showing off your work and skills. Stowe Boyd perhaps put it best in his recent review:

“Instead of a CV and the paperchase of endorsements, Somewhere is a highly visual, social, and story-filled way to learn about others, and present yourself in your own way.”

In a fascinating Fast Company piece by Tim Leberecht, Somewhere is seen as a visual discovery platform for the enterprise:

“Somewhere is emblematic of the changing nature of the workplace. Our conceptions of work have shifted from time card and job title to mindset and narrative. Millennials in particular view work as a powerful vehicle for finding meaning in their lives […] Somewhere illustrates that we are moving further into more contextual and nonlinear portraits of our ‘selves’ at work. The site redefines work as something beautiful, careers as ambiguous and ever-evolving, and a professional’s identity as a fluid persona.”

But we think that it is also about re-igniting our collective love affair with a socially-connected world where – if you get it right – life and work blur into a joyous single endeavour for all the right reasons. Or, as Erika Heikkila recently posted:

“Today was the day when I got re-inspired about having the job of my dreams. Seeing all these people in Somewhere, all enthusiastic about their work made me think it’s not mission IMPOSSIBLE, but mission ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY FOR SURVIVAL. Thanks :)”

Somewhere is part of a rising tide for change in the way hiring is done in forward-thinking businesses – and online social platforms are at the core of this evolution. As leading social HR advocate Jeanne Meister correctly observed last year,

“It used to be that if you wanted to work for a certain company, you went in for an informational interview or waited for a job opening and submitted your resume. These days, you may be better off liking the company on Facebook or joining their Google+ page. That’s because smart companies are no longer waiting for the right candidates to apply. They’re actively seeking them out on social media.”

This year, Jeanne predicts that HR departments will need to “start creating ‘social media playbooks’ to determine their game plans”, as a number of innovations – and the expectations of an increasingly socially-savvy workforce – are beginning to bite. She is not alone in seeing the potential for social technology to make the hiring process not just more efficient, but crucially also more human.

Others, such as Anne Marie McEwan, are beginning to call this the consumerisation of work and pointing out its implications in terms of skills and continuous learning – not something traditional enterprise structures are built to accommodate, let alone encourage. As Stowe Boyd recently wrote in A new charter for HR:

“The emerging 21st century business has a distributed workforce that works socially in increasingly ad hoc teams: teams that involve customers, suppliers, outside agencies, and freelancers and that erode the traditional boundaries of the company. These changes mean that the premises underlying human resources today must be reformulated and take into account the tectonic shifts in the workforce and workplace.”

So, the humanisation and redesign of outdated corporate processes are no longer just nice-to-have, it seems, but increasingly central to maintaining a competitive business edge. For companies, this is not just about recruitment process ‘optimisation’, but about evolution and survival in a rapidly-changing, global business landscape.

For us, this is also plain common sense. Since we first started out trying to convince businesses to become more open, digital and social, the companies we co-founded have employed hundreds of wonderful, creative, talented people over the years. Throughout this time, our most successful hiring dynamic – which we were not perhaps fully conscious of at the time, but which has since become obvious – was one where potential employees found us through various social channels and offered to work with us because they genuinely shared the ideas, professional interests and world view which we freely published on the social web.

As Justin McMurray wrote some time ago, whatever your role in the world of work you need to:

“Show the world what you really do. Be open, visual and honest. There’s enormous beauty and opportunity in the extraordinary world of 21st century work. Share it. Certainly, burn or delete your CVs. And companies, take a hard look at your ‘employer branding’ (i.e. marketing spin). Show the world your work and you just might find that it liberates your search for the right place, attracts like-minded souls, and at the least, helps dispel the naiveté of 21-year olds who believe in unicorn-filled, double-rainbow-illuminated workplaces.”

And if you’re trying to build a 21st Century business, this kind of passion and engagement can only be a good thing.

(PS: Somewhere is still in beta, but if you’d like an invitation code to join the early adopters please get in touch.)


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