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HR chief discusses complexities of social media recruitment

Steve Hewitt, head of HR at Lumesse, has written an article discussing the challenges of using social media for recruitment purposes (as below).

Solving the social recruitment complexity challenge

With the global war on talent intensifying, the need for organisations to attract and retain the best new talent has never been so important. Although unemployment figures continue to rise, a skills shortage still exists within competitive and growing sectors such as IT, technology and creative industries, signalling a need for businesses to engage with emerging new talent.

Social media is presenting a significant new opportunity for businesses to engage with the student and graduate demographic two way conversations across these channels are now becoming the norm, with many organisations realising that they should not just sprout information but listen and connect on a more personal level. With these channels set up businesses are able direct students and graduates towards their social recruitment channels.

However, a recent global research report by Universum of 19,000 students found that most do not apply for jobs through social media channels but through a company’s website itself, raising the question as to whether social media is a destination or direction for hiring the most talented graduates. In fact, the survey found that only 13% of students received a job offer through these channels and that, in the UK, many students (36%) thought that live webinars with hiring companies worked better as an engagement channel for students than social media channels (28%).

Social media and the complex why it needs to be embraced

The number of differing social media channels further serve to compound the problem and make forming an effective social media strategy a complex issue. Employers are also faced with the advancement of mobile technology that enables content to be accessed, evaluated and shared anywhere, anytime, meaning that social media strategies can be difficult to implement, track and measure. A recent survey, commissioned by Lumesse, found that HR leaders are struggling to keep pace with the emergence of new technologies and their impact on the business, naming it as one of the top complexities that they regularly deal with.

Furthermore, the global survey of 1,293 HR professionals found that 61% reported feeling overwhelmed by complexity and 52% claimed that they did not have the ability to fully cope with it. Couple these findings with the results from the Universum survey which show that students use, amongst other channels, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google and YouTube to search for jobs, and we have a clear picture developing as to how complexity can equal extra workloads for those using social media channels for recruitment. To complicate things further Univerum’s survey found that the use of these channels is globally diverse, differing from country to country only 38% of UK students use LinkedIn, when 57% of students in France and Norway use the channel regularly.

While it may seem like these findings paint a very bleak picture for social recruitment, complexity should not be seen as a challenge by recruiters but an opportunity. The growing number of different channels and technologies aimed at different audiences enable the businesses to be more targeted in their approach and reach the right audience for their recruitment needs. HR needs to embrace social media complexity and in doing so, they will gain competitive advantage.

By engaging with potential candidates via social media and building awareness of their brands, HR leaders can reach a much wider talent pool. As the & lsquo;war for talent’ hots up in an increasingly competitive and often global business environment, recruiters, both internal and external, cannot miss any chance to reach the right people with the right skills.

Social media: the channel of influence

However, long term benefits do not often come through direct candidate outreach through these channels. Using Facebook pages or LinkedIn groups as a job advertising platform may reap benefits on one-off occasions but the effectiveness of sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube does not lie in the number of hires or even applicants a company can trace directly to one of the social media sites. Ultimately, any good social recruitment strategy must tie back to the aim of raising awareness of the brand as an & lsquo;employer of choice’ in order to attract the very best of the talent. This means using social media as a channel of influence.

Claudia Tattanelli, Chairman of the Universum Strategic Advisory Board, elaborates by suggesting that organisations using social media and connected mobile technologies as part of their recruitment drive directly influence employee perception of the business.

”Social media has become the best way to showcase the personality of an employer and by connecting in this high touch high tech way and if done in a true authentic manner it directly impacts how innovative they perceive the employer to be.”

Changing perspective its impact on measurement

This change of view has huge implications on the way businesses monitor and measure social recruitment internally. Tracking only where your new hire submitted their application is simply not enough to add value to your social media strategy. Social media should be a direction not destination for candidates to find new jobs. Last year recruitment firm, CareerXroads surveyed America’s largest employers on how and from where they make hires. It turned out that although social media accounted for a mere 3.5 per cent of the 213,375 hires, the leaders believe it plays a consistent and influential role in acquiring talent. While the company career site is listed as the official source of hire, 62.5 per cent of the survey respondents believe social media influenced potential candidates in a positive way.

Therefore changing the way that social media recruitment is measured will be important. With the understanding that social media, positive brand awareness and HR are inextricably linked, baseline metrics will have to tie back to measuring levels of social engagement. Specifically, measurement should also look at whether social channels are connecting with the right people with the right skills that you want to hire.

The tailored, collaborative approach to social media

HR leaders should work closely with marketing teams to understand candidate profiles so that they can help identify and advise which channel will reach their audience. For example, LinkedIn is most likely to be the best platform if hiring for a skilled position. In comparison, Facebook, which is used by a whopping 83% of students seeking employment, has the ability to reach a large audience, if you are working for a superstore and trying to recruit en mass for a new store opening. Once the right channels and the right candidate profiles are established, metrics on engagement can be set against these.

Tackling the global/local divide

When considering a global recruitment strategy that needs to be tailored for local needs, research and local knowledge is needed to help to identify which channels best reach students in each region. For example, Universum’s survey found that in the UK, student jobseekers are checking career guidance websites before any other channel. In this instance, the company would be advised to link their social media channels to their career portal. However, those students seeking employment in Poland prefer to check job boards before consulting any other recruitment channel. It is important for organisations to consider this type of data when forming its social recruitment strategy.

Understanding engagement is key

Consistently monitoring the level of engagement across these social platforms will be crucial to the success of a social recruitment drive. Only by building brand awareness on the right social platforms and positioning the company as an & lsquo;employer of choice’ will social recruitment have a long term, positive impact on the business.

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