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Recruitment via social media: recommendation and interaction are key

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"If you are looking to employ a manager to start working at your company in four weeks' time, you're starting a year too late," says Pete Crosby, chief sales officer of Viadeo.


It is a sentiment that was echoed by the other guest speakers at our recent gathering of HR and recruitment professionals at Social Media Week (SMW) in London. The rules seem to be changing in recruitment. The traditional model of ‘advert, CV and interview’ is being shoved aside and the consensus is that social recruitment is the future, but only if it starts right here, right now.

Every day, millions of people use social networks to interact with friends, keep up-to-date with breaking news stories and share content with numerous communities. For many young people in particular, social recruitment is a logical next step, but for most businesses it still represents a bit of a leap. The problem many companies have is working out how social recruitment fits within existing models for finding new talent and how effective the medium will be.

Matt Alder, digital recruitment strategist, and a speaker at SMW, suggests that although companies have enthusiastically clambered upon the social media bandwagon, they are not yet taking advantage of the full communicative potential of the medium. Instead they are simply using social media channels to advertise and distribute job opportunities to a larger, targeted audience. While this can be a successful tactic, it does not capitalise on the attributes of social recruitment.

One of the reasons that social media resonates so greatly with a mass audience is that it encourages dialogue. This dialogue can be extended to businesses and potential employees, which is something Viadeo and specialist sites such as BraveNewTalent.com are trying to achieve. The emphasis is on establishing a fluid relationship with potential employees, where recommendation, continuing communication, culture and ultimately matching skills come to the fore. It is not static, like a job board, but interactive and continuous.

But what does this really achieve for recruiters? The aim is to improve the recruiting process by matching talent more efficiently with vacancies. The idea is that an ongoing relationship would reveal suitability for a job. In effect, the job will find the talent and not vice versa. This means that both parties have to sell themselves better – online and offline – regardless of whether they are looking for a job or have any vacancies to offer. A reputation online is garnered over a long period of time, not overnight.

With the emphasis firmly on communication and networking, professional social networks (PSNs) such as Viadeo have a role to play in this process. The professional network is distinct from the brand-building that takes place on consumer-social media, in that it offers professionals an opportunity to network online, to develop a reputation and to link with potential employers, business partners or suppliers. For recruiters, this is one of the best ways to connect directly with people passionate about working within a particular industry or indeed for a particular company.

That is not to say that posting a CV on a social network equates to social recruitment, because it doesn’t. That’s no different than posting an ad on a job site. Recommendation and interaction are the key words here as sites try to open up new opportunities for professionals that traditionally would have been stuck in a file in a careers office. The emphasis is on both parties to make it happen – the individuals to engage with companies that match their interests and for businesses to identify and source potential employees based on the strength of their evolving rich media profiles and their reputations based on online recommendations and ongoing interaction.

Ultimately, social recruitment gives recruiters an opportunity to avoid the pitfalls of traditional recruitment methods. Using pre-defined filters for CVs (often set at an academic grade, for example) and relying on one or two interviews is a tried and tested process but has never really been efficient. Appointed candidates are not always suited to the vacancies, sending businesses back to where they started – posting an often expensive job advert on a newspaper site or job board again.

As with most things, you get out what you put in. Social recruitment is no different. It is a process that uses social media tools to help people engage with each other about working practices and environments. If the experts are to be believed, it is the future of recruitment, a future that could also see the death of the traditional CV and, it is to be hoped, a happier, more enthused workforce working for companies they want to work for.

Wayne Gibbins is partnerships director, Viadeo