Finding Work Through Social Networks Essay
____of January, 2015
Social media increasingly become a full-fledged marketplace where potential candidates and employers can connect. Today, the social media is one of the key players in the recruiting and job search process. In the “Social Economy” where various social technologies streamline both social interactions and business processes, many companies are widely exposed to social media influence in the recruiting process. Though there’s a difference in the levels of adoption of social technologies between end-users and businesses (McKinsey Global Institute, 2012), many recruiters use the social media to communicate available vacancies and to screen and select candidates. For candidates, social media also became an important source of information and a key instrument for building personal brand and professional reputation. This paper’s purpose is to examine the question whether the social media job search can be an effective strategy, and also to review the possible advantages of social media for recruiters as well as key challenges faced.
Job Hunting through Social Media
Social networks are one of the most popular ways to research available offerings and to apply for a job along with personal connections and job boards. According to Jobvite Job Seeker Nation Study (2014, p. 6), 21% of jobseekers have obtained their best job through online social networks. This trend is completely in line with employers’ preferences: the same study tells that about 60% of recruiters rate the candidates coming from the social networks as the highest-quality applicants. No wonder, because social job seekers are young, educated, active and wealthy as compared with other candidate categories. Generation ‘Y’ representatives are more active in social networks then others (Millenial Branding, 2014.). Here’s the typical “social job seeker’s” profile compiled by Jobvite Job Seeker Nation Study (2014): 70% female, 70% aged 18-39%, 30% with annual income exceeding $100 K, high school or college graduates. It’s necessary to mention, that the increasing part of personal referrals, being still considered as the most effective way to connect the recruiters with the successful applicants, are made via social networks.
There’re a lot of social media used as for job hunting such as LinkedIn (business-oriented network), Facebook, Twitter, Google+, blogs, etc. LinkedIn with it’s over 90 million of users seems to be the most convenient way to showcase the professional profile and to explore available opportunities with a variety of tools. A survey conducted by Right Management (as cited in University of Kent, 2013) reported LinkedIn as a top social media source for job hunting for 94% of interviewed candidates, while it was named the top social source of applicants for over 70% of recruiters.But Facebook and other more ‘general’ media should not be ignored, because many companies promote their job opportunities on their pages and through the network of their followers.According to Jobvite Job Seeker Nation Study (2014), three quarters of all social job seekers find their current job using Facebook. But for recruiters, LinkedIn remains the preferable social media to source candidates.For recruiters, social media appear to be even more effective than for job seekers with LinkedIn and Facebook showing the highest indicators of overall performance (Zanella, &Pais.)
The usage of social sources claimed to be effective for the following reasons. First of all, social media sites are widely used by recruiters to source and to select new personnel, about 80% of HR teams used this option in 2013, according to Konetic study (as cited in University of Kent, 2013.) The study by Cook (2012) evidenced that over 70% companies (the author researched marketing and PR businesses) used social media sites for recruitment purposes (as cited in Betances, Solarczyk, & Bellows, 2012.) CareerBiilder (2013) data prove that 46% of interviewed recruiters consider social media helpful (12% - very helpful) in searching for new personnel. Some HR professionals and managers say that social network help them to find new candidates even more quickly than job boards (Schwartz, 2013.) The study conducted by Adecco Group, reported that almost 30% of the candidates have been contacted via social media by a recruiter, and 9% got their job offer (Zanella, &Pais, 2014.)
Secondly, social media give a job-seeker an opportunity not only to follow job openings of a specific company, but also to make a preliminary research of the employer, its reputation, corporate culture to decide whether it could be a “dream job” indeed. Next, social networks like Facebook and Twitter can be a good place to ask for advice, references or to seek help in job search. And, finally, social networks give a job seeker wide opportunities to make a positive impression through professional representation, wide network of industry contacts and proper content. To summarize, it’s necessary to say, that social media give a job market participants a variety of tools to build personal brand, to lookup potential employers and research their reputation; to distribute the CV, to search for specific job openings, to submit applications and to participate in professional networking. All these opportunities were available before boost of social media through professional events, classified ads, recruiting agencies, job boards and professional events, but social media combined, empowered and streamlined all these functions, enabling job seekers to position themselves, get the prompt feedback from the market and to achieve desired results with minimum costs and efforts required.
Unfortunately, efficiency of social networks for job hunting process is underestimated. Over 80% of job seekers, interviewed by CareerBuilder (2013), never used social networks to contact people about job opportunities; 66% of the survey participants never used LinkedIn for job seeking purposes. Only a few (2-8%) respondents reported that they actively use social networks multiple times a week in their active job search. In general, 54% of job seekers tried to use social media for job search at least once in their life (CareerBuilder, 2013.)
It’s interesting, than in various geographical regions of the World efficiency of social media in job search facilitating varies a lot. According to Zanella, &Pais (2014), in Western Europe, efficiency of social media in such job-seeking processes as distributing CV, getting contacted by an HR specialist and receiving the offer is almost twice as higher as compared with the global average. In Southern Europe, social media help to distribute CV rather effectively, but on the next stages of recruitment process the efficiency of social channel goes down. The U.S. shows the lowest level of social media efficiency in resume distribution, but the resulting performance is in line with global average. Aside from the geography, there are other predictors influencing possible outcomes from social network job search. The most important factor is personality dimensions such as extraversion,neuroticism, agreeableness,readiness to new experiences and conscientiousness (Wanberg et.al, 2000, as cited in Green, de Hoyos& Owen, 2011.)
Many recruiters use social network for primary screening the candidates. According to a study by Reppler (as cited in Swallow, 2011), over 90% of interviewed recruiters use social networks for screening prospective applicants. The most common networks used for this purpose are Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter; they are even more preferable than search engines. According to CarreerBuilder data (2013), 76% of recruiters use LinkedIn (51% - Facebook, 30% - Twitter, respectively) regularly to research a candidate of interest. Most HR professionals research available social media data right after receiving an application from a new candidate, others – after the first conversation.
It’s well-known that social media representation can attract potential recruiters, but in some cases it can create negative reputation for a candidate. Speaking about positive sides of personal representation, the recruiters value the most the following features of social media “identity” of the potential candidate: working experience, professional awards, bright personality, matching with the company’s corporate culture, personal posts and other’s positive references, creativity and good communication skills.According to Swallow (2011), majority of the recruiting professionals (68%) made a decision about hiring because they liked information about the candidate on a social website. So, people’s online “identity” is very important for successful employment, because the information it contains can affect the recruiter’s decision.
But the online contain from the social network can also turn the employer off. According to Adecco research, 34% of interviewed recruiters reported they rejected a candidate due to inappropriate information, content, photos and posts they have found online (Zanella&Pais., 2014.) Reppler’s study gives even more impressive figure – 69% of recruiters have an experience of excluding a candidate from the process of recruitment because of relatively bad or controversial digital reputation (content, photos, opinions of others, etc.)On the other hand, as only a few young people are concerned about the content of their social profiles (Betances, Solarczyk&Bellows, 2012.) So the candidates should considering their social network profiles as “a first interview” (Hill, 2012.) and try to avoid posting (or remove, if posted previously) provocative photos or information, drunk photos, bad comments about their previous employers, controversial comments about sensitive questions like politics, religion, race, etc. and other content that can potentially harm their reputation.
So, to be successful in social media job hunting, a potential candidate should be attentive to his or her web-representation emphasizing his or her e-professionalism (Cain,Scott and Smith, 2010, as cited in Betances, Solarczyk, & Bellows, 2012), use various channels to collect information and to reach the potential employers (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc.) and not to ignore other forms of business networking like gathering testimonials, asking for references, advice, etc. All these tips also work for top management positions, though most of the positions with the candidates sought in social media are, statistically, non-managerial. For top-level management digital reputation is even far more important than, for example, for a teller.
Opportunities and Challenges for Recruiters
Social media provide incomparable advantages for recruiters. The random candidates coming from job boards rarely appeared to be top-performers. The most desirable applicants (some HR managers call them “purple squirrels” (Schwartz, 2013) always come with recommendation. Almost a half of all employees at top performing companies come from referrals (Sullival, 2012.)Social media allows combining opportunities of job openings distribution and candidates seeking with referrals. Most of the recruiters agree that social media help to save resources needed for recruiting efforts and to get quality candidates with recommendations and minimum risks. The media like LinkedIn and Facebook help the recruiters to reach maximum number of potential candidates and to scan their professional reputation through professional networking. That’s why the social media are considered to be one of the most effective talent acquisition tools with lower cost-per-hire as compared with traditional sources (first of all, in comparison with print advertising and outsourcing recruiting companies).
Secondly, the social media allow the employers to screen the potential candidates to support their decision whether or not this exact candidate is a good fit for their company and for this position. According to Kennedy and Macko (2009), the HR teams research the candidates’ personal information posted in social media in order to perform their “due diligence” to minimize risks and to be sure they hire the best candidate for the position (as cited in Betances, Solarczyk& Bellows, 2012.) Next, social networks help headhunters to recruit passive candidates “who might not otherwise apply or to be contacted by a company” (SHRM, 2011.)
But, together with the benefits, there’re some risks imposed. Hiring managers can show signs of discrimination against applicants“who seem like bummersbased on their wall postings and interests, but will get into trouble if what the Facebook user has said about their religious views affects the hiring process” (Hill, 2012.) Realizing that recruiters screen their social network lives, the candidates are more like to perceive the hiring process as unfair, biased or even invasive regardless the actual outcome. So, organizations using social profiles screening are exposed to the risk to turn the potential talents off. Moreover, the companies face ethical and even legal risks.The common concern of the job-seekers is that using social networks inrecruitment process may disadvantage applicants who do not have access to social media to or do notuse them intentionally (Broughton, Foley, Ledermaier& Cox, 2013.)
The other concern is the risk that information found about an applicant in the social media is non-accurate or irrelevant. It’s well-known that many people create “virtual identities” for various kinds of reasons, and their online representation can reflect rather their expectations and perceptions about themselves than who they really are. For example, some people exaggerate their achievements listing them in their LinkedIn profile; as for testimonials, they often ask their friends or colleagues to post the endorsements, offering them ready texts to post. In the same way as with resumes, people sometimes address professional writers to prepare or edit the LinkedIn profile for them. Sometimes it helps to emphasize the actual merits of the candidate; sometimes it can mislead the hiring manager. These issues raise an important questionof “whether job-relevant characteristics can be measured accurately” via social media (Davison, Maraist and Bing, 2011, as cited in Broughton, Foley, Ledermaier& Cox, 2013.)
There’re other biases possible. Often, the recruiters reject candidates if they found posts regarding drug or alcohol use in social networks. Some companies look for extraverts (for example, on position of PR, marketing or communication specialist), but studies show that extraverts are “more likely to post about drugs or alcohol on Facebook” (Shipman, 2013.)
Another risk is related with the company’s web-representation. It’s obvious that the candidates look at organizations’ web-page, look for testimonials from current employees or other applicants and readily share their positive and negative experience from communicating an organization (CareerBuilder, 2013.) So, web-reputation of the organization is a significant part of its image as an employer.
Social media is considered by many people as a primary vehicle of communication in the modern World (Smith, 2013.)Social media changed the job market landscape both for recruiters and job seekers, facilitating networking and building recruiting relationships.As the evolution of social media gains momentum and the yesterday’s graduates(who are active social networks users) move on to managerial roles, more and more applicants will be researched and recruited via social media. So the power the social trend has on job market dynamics is expected to grow in the future.
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