Social Media Recruitment. What is the impact on professional recruiters?

Report based on out partnership with CSA


Traditional recruiting methods have served well in the past to deliver the resources companies need to achieve their business goals. Social media is increasingly becoming the space where professional life happens. Social media today is heavily used by companies and recruitment professionals to promote their brands and to find talents.


They use social media portals such as LinkedIn, Xing, Experteer and others. An Adecco study in 2014 reports that 5 out of 10 job seekers use social media for job search purposes and 7 out of 10 recruiters use social media for their daily HR activities.


Companies and professional recruiters need to be where candidates are in order to engage them in the recruitment process. Initial contact with candidates through Social media can be fast, efficient and cost effective. Using this method alone however, takes the personal note out of relationship building and candidate identification. It is therefore unlikely to completely replace the traditional recruitment methods in the near future.


Initial contact with candidates through social media can be fast, efficient and cost effective.


In the past, to recruit employees, companies would simply advertise jobs in the local press; engage a professional recruitment consultant or, more recently, post jobs online via the company website or on popular job boards. This passive approach of recruiting will no longer be actively used. Today hiring managers and professional recruiters find that they need to be more proactive in their approach, by engaging with talent across a wide range of social networking platforms. Essentially, companies and professional recruiters need to be where their candidates are in order to engage them in the recruitment process.


Recruiting today is proactive. Some sources report a large increase in the time spent on social media sites. More than half of UK job seekers use social media sites in their job search, including Facebook and LinkedIn.


A major differentiator here is the way professional recruiters communicate with candidates and the level of trust they are able to create in this digital world.


Another question arising is this - if all of these candidates are online waiting to be approached, why do companies need to engage a professional recruitment consultant to find them? The candidate database in effect becomes public, and some would argue, the recruiter becomes obsolete.


Although there are some claims that social networking might replace the CV, candidates and employees are constantly being advised to be selective in which information they place online. Online profiles don't necessarily present an accurate picture of the individual. Both candidates and employers have to be cautious about the content of online profiles. There is always a need for personal communication to bridge the gaps. Candidates therefore might feel more secure if they are being represented by a professional recruiter, and are willing to share relevant information in a confidential transaction.


The employer's perspective is different. Not all employees are activity looking for a new role and these individuals are also usually the most sought after candidates. Employers are aware of this and therefore, in some cases, are urging employees not to promote themselves too effectively online, as they can essentially become vulnerable to be excessively approached. Furthermore, it doesn't factor the importance of candidate referrals into the recruitment process. There is also a hidden cost in the time you have to invest to get results.


However, even with all these opportunities in social media, it's all about building real personal relationships.


The relationships shared between consultants and senior executives are, however, no longer exclusive to those two parties. With the arrival of social media, professional relationships have been democratized. Recruitment firms, many argue, will have to add real value in order to survive.


The recruiter therefore has a key role to play. Value can be added by becoming an expert in using social media to source the right candidates. This can be achieved by going beyond a simple database search and developing search strategies across many different interactive platforms (blogs, webinars, and social networking sites) and engage appropriately with the desired individuals.


It is most likely that traditional recruitment methods will continue to be complemented by technology based recruitment methods. Ultimately, however, success will be measured by the quality of the shortlist. This is only achieved after a robust identification, interview and evaluation process.


As social media technology continues to evolve and become more widespread, it presents an exciting opportunity for the recruitment industry over the next decade. Recent research (by Jobvite) highlights that LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook are the most popular sites used by hiring professionals. Others include Xing and Experteer. These sites can generally be used in three ways - to search for candidates, to post jobs and for employer branding.


This phenomena has been extremely accelerated by the wider adoption of Smartphones. The number of smartphones in use globally was 2 billion in 2016 and expected to be 3 billion in 2020 (www.statista.com). Recruiters are beginning to look at ways in which to extend their services to the mobile device through the development of apps, or taking advantage of popular location based tools such as Four Square as another recruitment channel: posting jobs and seeking referrals through a specific location network.


No one is more aware and engaged in social media than a recruitment consultant - the advantages are obvious


Rather than recognizing social media as a recruitment solution (where the recruiter becomes obsolete) employers are instead realizing that they need to work more closely with the experts in order to get their hiring right first time - not making the mistake of investing a significant amount of time and resource into social media and not getting a return on their investment.


It is unlikely therefore, that social media will replace the traditional recruitment methods in the near future. As a conclusion we can state:


  • Recruiting agencies and executive search firms will benefit from social media as they can operate faster and base their search on much more reliable information.
  • However social media will never substitute recruiting agencies and executive search firms.
  • Recruiting agencies and executive search firms have to focus on their core competencies and improve them by adding value to the recruiting process


Recruiting agencies and executive search firms that are able to add value will be able to survive in the war for talent acquisition. Social media is just one of the tools to be used for this in the next decade.


Written by Dr. Peter Dienst

January 2017

Managing Director, IT-Personalberatung Dr. Dienst & Wenzel GmbH & Co. KG