Only a few years ago, social media seemed like the latest technological toy designed for the younger generation. Today, according to the latest figures, Facebook posts, Tweets and, now ‘twesumes’ (the Twitter version of a resume) are here to stay.
The 2013 Yellow Social Media Report found that more than 60 per cent of respondents use social media, with smartphones overtaking laptops as the most popular way to access social networks.
“The big thing we’re learning from the report each year is the continued, really large growth of social media across Australia. Every site is growing and it’s a testament to how important social media is becoming,” says Kelly Brough, Sensis digital partnerships and innovation executive general manager.
The fear factor
A fear factor still surrounds the medium, which is fraught with legal problems and commercial pitfalls.
A recent article in the UK’s Financial Times newspaper with Zain Wadee, managing director of Hyphen Recruitment Agency, spells this out. “There will always be an element of risk for any organisation when opening up social media communication channels for recruitment,” says Wadee.
Case study: Starbucks
American coffee chain Starbucks decided to do something about this. The company’s former employment brand manager Jeremy Langhans, who is now global head of brand and talent attraction at Expedia, says social media was first used to keep unsuccessful candidates engaged.
“The issue was we were saying no to job applicants and then assuming they’ll go and buy a coffee from us. We had to balance this negative process with something more positive as our candidates were also our customers,” says Langhans.
He adds that during its first year, Starbucks’ jobs-related Twitter account of more than 20,000 followers delivered a better return on investment than the company’s recruitment suppliers.
The advantages of social media
Professor Jeffrey Tobias, an expert in social media at the Australian Graduate School of Management’s Australian School of Business, says the advantages of tapping into technology outweigh the disadvantages.
Companies need to ensure they have effective policies and guidelines in place regarding the use of social media and a detailed strategy to make the most of it.
“Everyone is grappling with whether to run a social media strategy, but they had better live with it if they choose not to because this is the world now,” says Tobias.
Using social media for recruitment
This torrent of new technology, which can help HR staff shortlist candidates, conduct automated first-round interviews, stream video interviews or start the onboarding process, means less work is being outsourced to recruitment agencies. Such offerings include Peoplestreme, Talentbox, Sonru and RecruitLoop.
Despite the drawbacks of e-recruiting, companies are rising to the challenge. Statistics from the Society For Human Resource Management in the US show 85 per cent of recruiters use LinkedIn for hiring, compared with 78 per cent who use Facebook and 11 per cent who turn to Twitter.
Human capital and management consulting giant Aon Hewitt has enhanced its social media presence with a Virtual Assessment Centre where a job applicant goes through the motions as if it is their first day at work.
They are asked specific questions and expected to sort emails and piece together information from them as well as undertake psychometric tests.
Candidates can take the assessments on smart devices and tablets. This is an added bonus considering the number of mobile employees in large organisations is expected to increase by 50 per cent by 2020, according to PWC’s report on the Future of Talent Mobility.
Meanwhile, professional services firm Deloitte, which has a huge online presence and operates the global system Taleo as its ATS, is using social media to enhance its employee referral program, Find Like Minds, which was recognised in the 2012 Awards for Marketing Excellence and was a finalist for Best Recruitment Strategy at the AHRI Awards.
Employees receive $5000 if they refer a successful job candidate to the company. “It has been by far the most successful external source of hire, bringing higher quality and higher volume hires,” says Tanyth Lloyd, Deloitte’s national recruitment director.
Attracting Gen Y candidates
Cisco’s 2011 World Technology report revealed that 56 per cent of college graduates and young professionals will not accept a job unless the company allows for work access to social media networks.
International projects firm Sinclair Knight Merz, which also uses Taleo, aims to use the best of old and new recruiting methods.
“Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Keep a balance between traditional and new medias to create a richer format to engage people,” advises Jo Dellicott, SKM’s global sourcing manager.
“We use LinkedIn to research candidates and then use it as a base to begin conversations with potential candidates,” says Dellicott, who combines jobs board announcements with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and jobgrams to maximise reach.