Gone are the days of registering with a recruitment agency and sitting by the phone waiting for it to ring. Today, moving on in the professional world is all about social media sites such as Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook and GitHub. The aim is to make sure your profile is accessible to as many companies and recruiters as possible.
“Social media plays a key role in our recruitment strategy and processes,” says Craig Whiting, a senior recruiter at Brickendon Consulting, adding that in many industries, Linkedin in particular, is seen primarily as a recruitment tool rather than a networking site.
Using social media sites as a recruitment tool is not a new idea, but it is a growing one. According to a survey published by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) in April 2013, 77 per cent of its members reported regularly using social networking sites for recruiting, up from 56 per cent in 2011. The main reason for using the sites, SHRM said, was to locate passive job candidates, search for active candidates, and create interest for hiring by posting information about their organizations.
Whiting and fellow senior recruiter at Brickendon, Pierre Velinor, say their focus is mainly on Linkedin, largely driven by the pool of candidates Brickendon is looking to target and communicate with. According to Whiting, historically Twitter has been less of a professional recruitment tool and more of a way for individuals to communicate their ideas around emerging technology and the software industry.
“Our primary targets are candidates from the financial services sector and these individuals tend to be more active on Linkedin,” says Whiting. “We are however actively looking at ways to combine other social media platforms, including Twitter, with our traditional methods of searching to tap into new sorts of candidates.”
The SHRM report found that 94 percent of employers using social media favour LinkedIn, little changed from the 95 percent who used it in 2011. Of those human resources professionals questioned, 58 percent said they use Facebook, up from 54 percent two years earlier, while 42 percent said they use Twitter for recruitment purposes, up from 39 percent in 2011.
The evolution of social media has completely overhauled the way recruiters work. Sites such as Linkedin can be used not only as a tool to specifically headhunt candidates for niche roles, but also to build a network, brand awareness, stay in touch with people moving in the market and also to build mini-databases.
“It really is a complete recruitment tool,” says Velinor. “The change has definitely been for the better within the recruitment industry, although there is still no substitute for meeting someone face-to-face and building a relationship.”
However, there are some downsides. According to Whiting, the development of social media sites as recruitment tools has polarised candidates’ opinions, with some banking and IT professionals embracing them as a useful tool, and others rejecting the approach completely. As a result, some potential employees are immediately alienated from the process.
Another risk associated with social media channels involves accusations of intentional disparate treatment. Such sites expose the employer to a wealth of information that can’t be used during the screening process, such as viewing a photograph from which gender, race, ethnicity and age could be inferred.
Moreover, it has been claimed that using these tools creates barriers that make it harder for some people to compete for employment, though Whiting disagrees, saying that the openness of the sites and the increased flow of information around job postings, individuals’ profiles, recommendations and connections, mean that recruitment is judged purely on merit and how relevant a candidate is for a role.
“For us, I think the diversity of candidates we are speaking to at any one time is a good indication that our recruitment tools promote diversity and certainly that it is a level playing field for everyone when competing for employment with us,” he says.
Velinor agrees, saying that social media sites could actually be used in a positive way as an aide to facilitate the drive for increased diversity across the banking and technology sectors.
In addition, the use of sites like Linkedin, allow potential employers to see recommendations from previous employers or colleagues, giving a better-rounded and complete picture of the skill set and how that person is valued amongst his or her peers.
“Social media isn’t new or cutting edge, it’s mainstream and vital to businesses today,” says Velinor. “So to ignore it in recruitment is to ignore something that has become a vital tool in talent acquisition.”