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Bullhorn monitors social media to help recruiters and companies find candidates — before they're on the market

Posted by Scott Kirsner  July 8, 2011 11:48 AM

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Are there things you do on LinkedIn and Facebook that might be quiet clues that you're about to leap into the job market?

Bullhorn, which makes software used by recruiters and human resources executives, thinks so. The Boston company has created a feature called Radar, part of a new, free software offering, that tries to identify talent before that talent is actively out looking for a new gig.

"It's career suicide if your boss catches you putting your résumé on a job site," says Art Papas, Bullhorn's CEO and co-founder. Radar aims to help recruiters and HR execs find people who haven't yet taken that step. It starts by examining the first- and second-degree connections that a recruiter has on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter (IE, people in their networks, and people in their friend's networks — but not friends of friends).

Has someone updated their LinkedIn profile, added endorsements from former colleagues, and connected with a recruiter or two? Odds are they're dipping a toe in the water, says Papas. Same thing if they've added information to their Facebook profile about places they've worked. Papas says Radar also notices if you start untagging yourself — removing your name — on potentially-embarrassing photos on Facebook. "That's an indicator of a potential move," Papas says, "especially if you haven't changed your relationship status." In other words, if you're dissociating yourself from photos but haven't recently ditched a significant other, you're probably thinking about changing jobs.

The next step for Radar, Papas says, will be trying to extract information from people's Facebook status messages. "You see complaints about work, or people writing that they're excited that Friday is almost here," Papas says. "If we can crack that, it will be really powerful. But it's hard to know if you're just excited about something happening this weekend, or truly tired of your job."

Within Bullhorn's new software, Bullhorn Reach, the Radar feature creates a list for recruiters and HR execs that shows them individuals who may be looking for a job. It gives them the option of contacting the potential job hunters through one of those social networks. Papas explains, "A recruiter will usually get in touch to say, 'Hey, I'm just checking in to see what's going on. We're always looking for great people. Do you know of anybody?' It's a very low-pressure line to get a conversation going." If a recruiter dings an individual twice, indicating that they're not actually interested in a new job, Radar learns from that. "Clearly we did something wrong, and we put that into the algorithm to make it smarter," Papas says.

Yes, Radar sounds a bit stalk-y. But for job seekers, the benefit is being able to get found by new employers, without having to openly wave a flag and declare that they're in the market. Papas says, "There hasn't been a good avenue for folks who are gainfully employed and want to keep it that way, but also want to poke their heads out and see what might be available."

Bullhorn launched an early version of Bullhorn Reach last October. Next week marks the official launch. The company, funded by Highland Capital Partners and General Catalyst, has 165 employees.

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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