image85Over the last years, social networks have experienced exponential growth. Employee networks have grown accordingly, offering access to structured career data through sites like LinkedIn in particular, and unstructured
data through networks like Facebook. Employees are continually adding new contacts and growing personal
networks. Job seekers are increasingly connecting with their peers in organisations they want to work for. This offers access to data for mining and matching, and reach for personal messaging via an established connection.


Applications like LinkedIn are an indispensable tool for search firms and in-house recruiters.

In Norrie Johnston Recruitment’s recent study of the Impact of LinkedIn on Executive Recruitment it was revealed  that although a significant number of organisations surveyed used LinkedIn to check out candidates (46 per cent), actively head hunt for people (31 per cent) and advertise posts (31 per cent) not many (only 6 per cent) use the services of specialist LinkedIn experts. Having said that, 1 in 5 organisations surveyed assumed that their executive recruiters used LinkedIn and 45 per cent said that their internal recruitment teams used it.

“The most commonly perceived  LinkedIn drawbacks were the veracity of information and the immensity of the LinkedIn database,” says Graham Oates, CEO of Norrie Johnston Recruitment. “Almost half of the organisations that we surveyed said that endorsements are not reliable; they are too easily generated and cannot be fully trusted. A further third argued that recommendations are often simply swapped with a friend or colleague and 29 per cent said that profiles might be less honest than a proper CV. On the volume side, almost half of the organisations that we questioned stated that simply accessing a massive free pool of candidates isn’t enough and 19 per cent argued that senior, highly technical roles require specialist recruitment skills that internal teams simply using LinkedIn may lack.”

In Norrie Johnston Recruitment’s research on the Impact of LinkedIn on Executive Recruitment it was revealed that there were 3 million active job listings on the platform, almost a 10-fold increase on the previous year. And yet only around 1/3 of organisations questioned were using paid advertisements. There are reasons for this not least the fact that advertising is rarely the most effective route particularly when seeking to fill senior roles. But this is clearly a big trend and one with some way to go. Despite the noise about the efficacy and importance of other social networking sites there is little hard evidence to show that Facebook and Twitter are getting anything like the same traction as LinkedIn –  and the results were: Facebook 2 per cent and Twitter 5 per cent.

Oates concludes : “So whilst global
networks like LinkedIn have made, and
are making, a huge difference to the
world of executive recruitment, the key
priority for most HR Directors is that they
can be sure that they will get a shortlist
of qualified, well-matched candidates
in a predictable timeframe.

The second trend  has been the urge to mobilize technologies and applications in the recruitment space, in particular the growth in the importance of social networking in recruitment and mobilisation of the technology.

“With people spending an increasing proportion of their time browsing the internet on mobile devices it is vital that all the stakeholders in recruitment: companies, job boards, social networks, recruiters etc should ensure that their shop windows are optimised for the mobile experience,” says Graham Oates, and goes on to share his belief that these two trends will strengthen in the future, not least because both are responding to changes in the way in which people live and work. “It is clear that many employers are aware of the difficulties of acquiring and retaining top talent and that this will become an increasing problem with changing demographics and different expectations regarding work/life balance in the younger generations.”

In a recent survey by LinkedIn of 4,125 talent recruiting decision makers across 31 countries the three most essential and long-lasting trends in recruiting were seen as: Social and Professional Networks (37 per cent), Upgrading Employer Branding (33 per cent) and Sourcing Passive Candidates (26 per cent).
There is a clear theme that runs through all of these priorities, which is the increasing need for employers to reach out and sell themselves to their potential and/or future recruits. Whilst many employers talk about the importance of Employer Branding for successful recruitment this requires a calibrated blend of marketing and recruitment skills that take advantage of all key Social Networks where LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

According to Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, CEO of Hogan Assessment Systems, and a Professor of Business Psychology at University College London, and Columbia University, our online behaviors are now also of interest to recruiters and employers, who are trying to translate them into “digital reputations” and use them to find talent online.

In an HBR article: Market-Driven Approach to Retaining Talent, he goes on to declare 3 reasons that employers are likely to find their future leaders in cyberspace.

First, the web makes recruiting easier for employers and would-be employees. For instance, a company with 100 employees will probably have close to 100 employees on Facebook or LinkedIn, and each of them will have at least 100 connections on these networking sites — this means targeting 10,000 people who are first-degree connections, and since they will have at least 100 connections each, the job ad could reach over 1,000,000 if we include second-degree connections.  1 in 6 job seekers credits social media with helping them find a better job.

Second, the web makes recruiting less biased and less clubby. Most recruiters are already using social media to identify talented employees outside their usual networks. According to a survey by Jobsite, 54% of recruiters use Twitter, 66% Facebook, and a whopping 97% LinkedIn, as recruitment tools. While this widens the pool of recruitees, recruiters are still subject to the same biases that operate in the physical world (notably prejudiced inferences about someone’s character or values based on their appearance).

Third, web analytics can help recruiters become more efficient. Big data and data aggregation algorithms are growing exponentially. Data integration — combining people’s multiple profiles into one  is already happening. We already have machine learning systems that automatically match candidates to specific jobs and organizations.

But how can recruiters put all these pieces together to quantify potential hires?

Recruiters will deem candidates unemployable if they fail to find information about them online. Unless you are hiding an undesirable history or do not exist, you are now expected to have an online profile.

According to Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic the  implication is that you need to invest a considerable amount of time managing your digital reputation. The only thing worse than not having a profile is having an undesirable profile. Indeed, your chances of being headhunted online are inversely related to the amount of inappropriate self-disclosure found in your Facebook or Twitter profile. Egosurfing — self-googling — is now more important than updating your CV.

Graham Oates concludes that in all this the key priority of identifying and attracting passive candidates, who tend to be the most important group for senior hires, will remain.

“Developments in employer branding may activate the interest of passive candidates but more likely they will make it easier to sell opportunities to passive candidates once they have been identified and matched to an opportunity.”

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