Social Media in Recruitment

From creative crowd sourcing to internal communications, and everything in between – companies are seeking ways to use to save money. One of the services high on the list of costs to cut is recruitment agency fees.

In this post we look at the proposal to utilise Social Media to cut out the recruitment agency, and seek to give our insight into the views of candidates and clients, as well as our thoughts on the current situation and the future of Social Media in recruitment.

Benefits and drawbacks

Candidate perspective

Currently the active Twitter audience is relatively small. By active we mean that a user is familiar with etiquette, follows strategy and understands how to leverage the channel to communicate and engage with their chosen audience. By developing a tight follow strategy around the clients of and key persons at businesses the candidate wants to work for, it means they are able to target those businesses directly. This gives them direct leverage, so long as the contacts are interested in engaging directly with potential employees on an ongoing basis.
Additionally, to make it easier for them to find jobs in their chosen market areas, candidates have access to a plethora of tools at TwitJobSearch, a job search engine run by Twitter .

The drawback for candidates is that a great many businesses don’t channel their recruitment through their social media channels and if they do there is often not a robust response mechanism in place to handle the response. This reflects badly on the brand because the candidate’s interest in them is not acknowledged or taken to the next stage.  Additionally, many clients don’t use social media at all, which means that the candidates are required to search not just social media, but adverts in the press, job boards and to use recruiters in order to offer themselves a wide search net so that they can secure the most suitable job role.

Client perspective

By utilising their Facebook fan page, Twitter stream, or LinkedIn group the client can quickly post that they are looking for candidates, direct them to their website to apply and potentially have them in front of a decision maker in double quick time. this removes the need to put an advert in the press, or to brief recruitment agencies – both of which are deemed time consuming and expensive.

The only negative to this is the fact that the engaged audience is currently relatively limited . Therefore the market coverage of potential candidates is quite small. However, Clients report that they are receiving high quality applications for their roles through their Social Media. So the audience quality is quite good at the moment – however it won’t be long before we see the rise of the Social Media Stalker.

Social Media, when used well, offers a recruitment brand the opportunity to build an audience (client and candidate) ahead of that audience’s need to find a job or recruit a member of staff. In short, a steady investment of time and energy coupled with a philanthropic approach to broadcasting advice and industry insight, a recruitment agency can develop a loyal audience of candidates and clients that are interested in what they have to say – this builds the brand, both economically and directly with the target audience. Developing positive brand sentiment with your audience allows the recruiter to channel those specifically interested in job opportunities or recruitment services to other channels (website etc) through which the recruiter can then generate their fees.

Social media done badly, as it usually is by recruiters, does nothing but shout into the Social Mediasphere that the company has jobs it is looking to fill – effectively turning off the interest of those in the audience who are not in the market for a new employee or job.

It is fair to say that the use of Social Media channels has had an effect on the fees that recruiters can generate – clients will often first turn to their website to post the job details and to Social Media to amplify the opportunity to the market. If this doesn’t deliver results quickly enough other channels will be considered usually including recruitment agencies.

So what does the future hold for the recruitment agency? Will Social Media kill us all off? What problems can Clients and Candidates expect as the use of Social Media in recruitment grows?

To answer this question we can look back to history. When job boards were first created, everyone sounded the death knell for recruiters. Headlines like ‘Recruitment Agencies Won’t Exist in 12 Months Time’ and ‘Recruitment Agency Fees Will be Slashed With the Advent of the Job Board’ were frequently written.

Clients, job boards and Social Media

When job boards were first introduced, they were hugely popular with clients and to some success. However, this enthusiasm waned, particularly in the specialist skills markets.

Clients quite frankly can’t be bothered to search the reams of CVs that the job boards hold; their searching of CV libraries is much like shopping at TK MAXX, in that you need to spend hours searching the rails to find a anything resembling a gem. They just don’t have the time. The job boards don’t filter out unsuitable candidates well enough. Fundamentally, there are relatively no barriers to market for the candidate on a job board.

The time-pressed and quality-demanding employer needs a more direct route to employees with great potential that doesn’t without first having to filter them at length, and this is where Social Media will fail to remove the need for recruitment professionals.

As Social Media adoption increases, so will the quantity of applicants and the time it takes to process them all. The mean quality however, will decrease. On top of this, because the potential employee has the opportunity to communicate directly with a department manager, their inbound enquiries will go up via LinkedIn, Twitter, email, phone, direct mail etc….This additional external distraction will either distract them and take them away from what they are supposed to be doing in their job while they try to respond to everyone, or it will generate the problem of poor brand sentiment if they don’t respond!!

The only way Social Media can be truly effective for recruitment done directly by a client is when that client is able to spend time and resources to engage with potential employees on an ongoing basis. That isn’t about posting jobs, it’s about creating an audience that is interested in them, whilst developing an engagement strategy centred around their likely future recruitment needs, and putting out content that keeps the passive audience engaged and interested.

Candidates, job boards and Social Media

Candidates (potential employees) suffer the same problems that Clients do. Job boards in their early days were helpful to them as they were able to post their CV and search jobs effectively. But as the number of jobs increased, so the ability to pinpoint a suitable role became more difficult. This was compounded by candidates getting a huge amount of calls/emails from direct employers and recruiters alike. Many of these propositions were inappropriate and the audience was thus turned off.

In Social Media we forecast the same issues. Openly announcing that you are looking for work can attract a lot of unwanted attention from the wrong type of employer/recruiter, whilst the increasing number of jobs posted by companies/recruiters on Social Media means that finding an appropriate roll takes you back to TK MAXX!!

In summary

Social Media is just another media channel and should be treated as such. We see that particular clients and candidates, those interested in speed of response, accuracy, personal service, filtration and depth of knowledge, will ultimately find that recruitment through these channels laborious and relatively ineffective compared to the experience that they can have with a trusted recruitment partner.

As a trusted partner to the majority of the clients and candidates that we work with, we’re quite confident that although Social Media is here to stay and grow, it will work to compliment the existing channels that job seekers and employers utilise rather than remove one………namely us!