Working Transitions

The Social Media Recruitment Revolution

Social networking websites, such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, are now more a part of our daily lives than many could ever have anticipated. It has been found that two thirds of adults in the US use social media websites on a regular basis, which has risen from just 7 percent a decade ago. Thanks to the rising popularity of such websites, companies increasingly look to them as a potential candidate pool when hiring.

The recently conducted IBM WorkTrends survey investigated ways in which social media can be used for recruitment. The survey included findings from more than 5,000 HR professionals and 10,000 employees. It was taken in a total of 23 countries across a great number of different organisations and job types.

Summary of findings:

  • The majority of individuals in work and seeking work are users of social networking websites.
  • Those individuals who are seeking work are more likely to participate actively in social media, by making posts and reacting to others’ posts, whereas those who are in work will act in a more passive way and simply read through the websites.
  • 77% of recruiters use social media in some form whilst recruiting for new employees.
  • Not all countries are equal with regards to using social media in recruitment. Whereas LinkedIn is popular in many countries, there are others in which Facebook surpasses this.

The most active users of social media are job seekers

It may be assumed that those seeking work would use social media websites more than those who are not, however the difference between the two groups was found to be minimal. The differences were in the activities undertaken when using social media. For example those who are not currently seeking work are more likely to simply read other users’ posts whilst job seekers are more likely, to actively take part in activities such as writing their own posts, making new connections and taking part in discussions in forums and other social networking groups.

Social media is used in many ways by those looking to hire

There has been significant increase in the use of social media to find or attract candidates. Only 23% of potential employers in the IBM survey state that they are not users of social media. Hiring managers use such websites to source new employees, and to assess the scope of the talent pool available to them.

It has been found in other research that the more traditional methods of recruiting, such as making the most of contacts or recruiting from events such as job fairs, are being used in parallel to social media, which means that recruiters now have a much wider choice of candidates than they would have had in the past. To illustrate how widespread the use of social media is when it comes to recruitment, research has found that more than half of employers will search for new candidates on social media, with 40% of these actually using social media websites to directly  advertise roles.

Not only are potential employees being searched for on social media websites, but employees are also using the websites to find out more information about individuals who have applied for roles within their company. There is often plenty of information available online, which can show a lot about an applicant – though this method is not yet accepted as a valid assessment method in official interview process. Despite this being the case, though, the fact remains that 56% of potential employers use social media websites to verify facts that are stated on CVs, and just under half will also use this method to find additional information about a candidate that may note have been obvious from their application. The same percentage state that they use social media websites to assess whether the personality of the candidate would fit with the company. This means that prospective candidates should be very careful just what they reveal on their publicly available media profiles.

There is also evidence that around a quarter of employers use social media to try to improve the reputation of their brand to attract the best candidates and around 16% even use this method  to try and build relationships with candidates who they feel would match their requirements.

Variation of social media usage depending on country

Although many countries commonly use social media in recruitment campaigns, the proportion of employees that use each of the sites varies between countries. Not only are dedicated professional websites such as LinkedIn used, but also websites that are personal to users, such as Facebook and Twitter. In the majority of the countries that were surveyed, Facebook and LinkedIn are the most popular websites used, with other websites being used much less frequently.

On the other hand, however, in Eastern countries, websites such as LinkedIn aren’t as popular, with only around a total of 1 million active Japanese users on the website. There is a theory that this may be due to the Japanese culture, where self-promotion isn’t encouraged and many people remain in the same job for long periods of time – therefore there isn’t such a huge group of people looking to change jobs at any one time.

Germany and Switzerland, however, display their own trends – with Xing being one of the most popular networks used by professionals in both countries. It is thought to be used in a similar way to LinkedIn in other countries.

In China, WeChat attracts a large number of users (650 million) and QQ attracts 850 million users, meaning that these are popular choices for employers looking to recruit. It was found that a massive 71% of Chinese employers have used these two websites for recruitment.

So what?

Working Transitions has been at the forefront of supporting organisations and people through workplace change and career transition for over two decades. It is clear to us that finding and attracting candidates via social media is becoming the norm for most regularly hiring organisations. As well as frequent use by hiring managers, research also found that most recruitment consultants now turn to these sites when sourcing candidates.

Although the research suggests those seeking a change in employment are likely to be more actively managing their profiles than those who are not, we believe that even those who are not actively seeking a new role should be careful about how well their social media profiles reflect their “personal brand”. Having a well constructed profile can help you to build important contacts and extend your network, as well as strengthen your professional reputation. Use of social media for business development is now a well established trend and many first approaches are now made this way so understanding this route to market is equally important for businesses from large corporates to self employed individuals.

We are also seeing the importance of demographics in the job or candidate searching process. The group known as millennials are much more active on social media than the baby boomers. This presents its own challenge. If the hirer is of one generation and the ideal candidate is of another, both parties could miss opportunities by how they use or don’t use social media.

Effective recruiters still use multiple methods of candidate attraction and identification – not least to ensure that they have a diverse candidate pool from which to select. IBM research found that blue collar workers are less active on social media when it comes to job hunting. The traditional methods of attraction – on and offline advertising, agencies, company websites, referral,schemes are still in regular and effective use. However people of every generation who are serious about managing their own career, whether they are looking for a new job or not, must accept that being active on social media is becoming a must. Just as it is unusual to find someone who doesn’t have a CV, it is becoming increasingly unusual to find someone without a social media footprint.

With the proliferation of mobile devices, the growth of profiling and direct targeting of individuals and our increasingly connected work and home lives, we expect to see continued growth and innovation in recruiting via social media. If you want to take ownership for your own career development the power is in your hands to build a compelling personal brand via social media that will help you on the road to attaining your dream job. Start now by doing a Google search of your name – read the results the way your ideal employer might – would you want to meet you? If not, you have work to do!


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Working Transitions
29 July 2016
Supporting effective and successful organisational change


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