17/12/09

By Simon Page, director of permanent recruitment, Parity Resources

It’s no longer the first 20 seconds of an interview that count: it’s the first 20 clicks. Recruiters are now hitting social networking sites to vet and check candidates before they even meet them.

Resourcing candidates through Facebook and Twitter is becoming increasingly popular for recruiters across all industries. However this can be dangerous if businesses don’t know what to look for. With social media providing a popular, low-cost option for recruiters, organisations must be sure they are using best practice when scrutinising candidates.

Without guidance, they risk dismissing suitable applicants or even worse, employing the wrong person. Social media might seem like an easy way to shortlist candidates but there are some obstacles to finding the right recruit that businesses should be aware of.

What are the obstacles?

Social media can delve beneath the subterfuge of the CV. A potential candidate is likely to not only highlight all of their attributes such as experience, skills and work history on social networking sites such as LinkedIn, but also their hobbies, social activities and personality (through sites such as Facebook and Twitter).

For the first time, companies have an opportunity to find out if a person would be the right cultural fit for the business as well as the right professional fit before they meet in person. With recruitment costs so high these days, and businesses looking to concentrate on efficiencies as we head out of the recession, social media offers a vital route for sourcing the right person, quickly.

However, social media also offers candidates the opportunity to enhance their capabilities, experience, hobbies and employability. In a face-to-face interview candidates can’t run or hide their qualifications or job history. Social media removes the pressure of an interview. Most recruiters use the social media stage in addition to the traditional interview, but it is important to remember that a candidate’s true personality and identity can be masked very easily by social media.

Following on from this, recruiting via the web also widens the pool of potential employees, which can create a headache for HR departments.

The popularity of social mediap tools has acted as a catalyst for change across the recruitment landscape. ‘Value evolution’ needs to take place across the recruitment industry if it is to maintain its relevance to organisations striving for self-sufficiency in talent acquisition. Future success will be dependant on agencies securing a position as a critical component of an organisation’s integrated talent management system.

All too often, agencies fail to pay enough attention to what is already in place, to the detriment to the working relationship with their customer. This is a two-way street and organisations need to be willing to engage more closely with their recruitment partners if their talent acquisitions and management strategy is to be served effectively.

Without doubt, social media has revolutionised the recruitment process. The CV is now a secondary tool, and it may not be read at all if a candidate’s online profile does not have the right appeal.

Perhaps more importantly, social media should be viewed as a portal to access talent. Many businesses have setup micro sites on their corporate career pages, which enables employers to create a discussion forum, encouraging the best people out there to make contact with a business. It’s also important that a company recruiting through social media has their own presence on social networking sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter. This offers candidates the opportunity to interact and ensures that the competition is not stealing the talent.

Conclusion

Social media offers an opportunity for businesses to separate the ‘wheat from the chaff’ and distinguish the good candidates. However, businesses must be aware of how to correctly use the tools on offer, effectively.

Companies need to have a designated team or person in charge of online recruitment strategies, with a clear plan or objective, targeted at the right people. Once this is established, social media requires interaction. As soon as a business begins recruiting using social media, it is very difficult to withdraw that facility. Businesses must be clear on what they are trying to achieve and ensure the company has sufficient resources to handle the extra workload.

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