There are now ‘apps’ – applications – which enable people to register with recruitment companies on their iPhone, then search and apply for jobs ‘on-the-go’. A sign of the times, says Michael Moran of Fairplace.
Job seekers are being more creative in their hunt for work. In the current economic climate that’s not surprising. Candidates have to do more to stand out from the crowd and there are lots of high-tech tools to help them do it. Thanks to companies like Apple, Google and LinkedIn people have access to communications devices and applications we didn’t dream of twenty years ago.
Today’s job seekers can blog, create video content, get involved in industry-specific social networking groups to gather knowledge, build contacts and target individuals and organisations they want to work with. Smart candidates market themselves. They don’t need a third party to help them find a new job any more. They can identify the organisations they are interested in, work out the point of purchase, work their way up the foodchain and network a way in.
The recruitment landscape is changing – so what do these social media tools offer employers? Reaching the right candidate is crucial in recruitment and social media can be a help and a hindrance – depending on whether a company is using these tools to browse for potential candidates, or to advertise a vacancy. The power of a group comes to the fore as the network shares and adds value. You can use your network, harness their expertise, as a source to track good candidates on the net.
Online networking mirrors the real world. There are sites aimed at socialising, like Facebook. There are sites that concentrate on work-related matters, like LinkedIn. The sites aimed at professionals are smaller but they are making their presence felt in the labour market. Such tools make it easier to build and maintain professional relationships and networks of contacts. LinkedIn has 500,000 groups that you can join to share ideas and make contacts.
Vanessa Robinson, head of HR practice development for the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development says that social media tools are on employers’ radar but the emphasis – for now at least – is on social media being a complementary addition to traditional recruitment processes, rather than a wholesale replacement.
Recruitment association the Recruitment and Employment Confederation says that increasingly, recruiters are using new social media channels to form and strengthen client relationships, increase candidate pull and enhance their brand.
David Smith, vice chair of the REC’s technology group, sees social media as part of the recruitment jigsaw. "I don’t think the whole of the recruitment process could be done online through social networks, as companies are still going to want to interview someone face-to-face and go through a normal interview process. The social media network has a job in the process – as far as the introduction goes, and for both parties to assess each other."
The recession has driven many employers to invest in new media expertise as a means to reduce costs but cost-cutting is not the only reason for turning to LinkedIn. Social media channels offer access to a broad candidate base, and enable recruiters to access suitable individuals who aren’t actively looking for a new job – the ‘passive’ candidate. Candidates will have to learn to keep their personal and professional profiles separate otherwise they may give away more than they intended!
According to Smith, social media is growing in importance as a recruitment channel across many business sectors. "The phenomenon of social media is so huge that in just about every sector – certainly within the professional sectors as opposed to white collar – then a large number of people are using social networks." Although LinkedIn wasn’t originally designed for recruitment purposes, it is now one of the main uses of the site.
Social networking is becoming established as a versatile business tool that provides easy access to new customers, clients and opinion shapers across the generations. The usefulness of these tools varies depending on the specific business or industry and the type of worker sought and it’s likely that social media will appeal to a younger demographic. So there’s an element of trial and error in developing a strategy. It’s a matter of having a go, learning, adapting and evolving. It’s vital to stay focused on the objectives of any programme and to evaluate its impact regularly so as not to become distracted by the myriad possibilities on offer.
Individuals from around 150 industries are represented on LinkedIn, according to the company. A user’s profile resembles a CV – with extras you wouldn’t usually get on the traditional document such as written recommendations – so the potential as a recruitment tool seeking experienced candidates is obvious. Latest figures from LinkedIn show the site has more than three million UK users. And if your recruitment exercise is international the pool of potential candidates offered via social networks is even bigger – LinkedIn has more than 60 million users in more than 200 countries worldwide.
The recruitment process is changing; the proliferation of social media is just the latest manifestation of the rise of the internet, online advertising and job search sites.
Michael Moran is CEO at Fairplace