Online social networking is now very common practice for individuals and business alike. Most college students spend on average, 7 hours a week on social sites such as Facebook, while the professional social network LinkedIn now has 2.5 million UK-based users. Today, perceptive businesses are taking advantage of this trend and looking to hunt out and recruit the best talented candidates for their jobs.
A social network can be defined as, a platform used to build social relations with people who share the same hobbies or interests. The majority of social networks today are online and allow individuals to communicate through the internet via email and instant messaging. These sites allow users to discuss and share ideas on a variety of topics; from cooking /favourite recipes to business-to-business marketing or religious beliefs.
So, how can social media help recruiters? E-Networking is an important element of candidate sourcing; it is commonly underrated and yet has the most potential for businesses that are looking to recruit the best calibre of candidates!
Those born between 1980 and 2000 (known as Generation Y) are the next generation of talent with whom social recruitment seems to be having a particular impact on. This is because Generation Y were brought up with computers, mobile phones and the internet and who find that technology and thus, social media comes naturally to them.
In the recruitment environment, social media provides many benefits, both to potential employers and candidates. The direct nature of the medium promotes communications and allows strong and personal connections with potential candidates. This ‘opening-up’ of direct communications through social media activities saves time and money, while also allowing a wider net to be cast and effective communications with multiple connections at any one time.
Savvy employers can also use the ‘network’ to find talented prospective candidates who have not previously applied for a post or candidates that weren’t even looking for a new job, until the direct approach made them aware of a possible opportunity. Social media can help to pre-assess individuals on how they may contribute to the company and whether or not they are a good match, before moving into more formal recruitment practises.
However, social media for all its good can also leave some people exposed in a bad light, if they allow it. Strong views and certain online behaviours may not come across too well to prospective (or current!) employers. A good example of this was last year when a teenage girl posted on Facebook how dull her job was, along with rude and unkind comments about her boss. She had forgotten that she had actually added her boss as a friend and he was able to see everything she wrote! As a consequence, she was dismissed.
So to candidates, a word of warning… if you are going to use social media to make yourself more attractive to potential employers, you ought to think about how your character might look to casual observers and the impact of your ‘online persona’ in the future, as Tweets, posts and online opinions in your name, can hang around online for a very long time.