Social media and recruitment: made for each other?

If you’re a go-ahead person who wants to make sure you’re on top of the best opportunities for your next career move where is the best place to find them? The decline of job advertising in newspapers and magazines continues as most job seekers turn to the internet for help. The proliferation of job sites both reflects and meets the demand for an easy way to access a wide range of jobs in multiple locations and industries.

But, with the relentless rise of social media, the desire to tell and know all about colleagues, friends and strangers, the idea of “interactive connection” has become crucially important.  This interactivity is the single defining characteristic of all social media.  Will people move away from the traditional job boards which just don’t offer the connection levels of social media, don’t have “personality” and give no guarantee that a human even considers your application?

Arguably, the recruitment industry is all about interactive connections and it was only a matter of time before the recruitment firms moved their focus away from traditional job boards, and gravitated to social media websites to grab a share of this activity. 

This poses two questions for the industry as a whole: is it going to work and which of the current platforms works best?

There are of course so many social media platforms inclusive of internet forums, weblogs, social blogs, podcasts and micro-blogging; but for the sake of brevity, I will keep my observations to what are commonly regarded as the three major sites.

Linkedin users often don't regard it as a social media platform, but it is – "Facebook for business" is how it is always described to me.  In between the endless recommendations, the change of photos and jobs, the likes and all the rest of it, many recruiters are now posting job ads.  The ads started small, almost apologetically as if acknowledging that this wasn’t really what Linkedin was all about. Increasingly, though, the ads have become more prominent and more frequent as recruiters and readers recognise that this is a really good way to reach a specific target audience.

Facebook’s arrival was probably when social media really took off and became the communication medium of choice for millions of people all over the world.  Suddenly, no-one was out of reach, and you could almost say anything to anybody at anytime, provided you were friends.  Sharing information was a key component and many businesses took the opportunity to promote their products and services by setting up their own profiles.  Become friends with Fruity Cereal Inc. and they will keep you in touch with what they’re doing and who else is in the ‘club’. Recruitment firms did the same and started posting job ads to those who joined up, and they also made these ads available to others if they used the search function.

Twitter is the new kid in town (at least in terms of public perception) but is rapidly outstripping the competition.  Despite a limit of 140 characters per ‘tweet’ this platform is dominating the instant market (i.e. what’s happening right now) in a quite extraordinary way.  Because messages are so short and so immediate it doesn’t appear at first sight to be an ideal medium for recruiters – trying to fit complex and technical requirements into the 140 limit, and still make sense, is a real challenge. But, like the other platforms, once one recruiter starts to use it then others will follow.  I know for example that some firms are already asking for applications using Twitter – try fitting your career into 140 characters or maybe you have to think differently……

So is social media going to work for recruitment firms?  Certainly yes – it is another means to tap into new and existing networks of people, to promote a message broadly and cost effectively, and to open up new candidate pools. Remember though that this is about interactive connectivity.  If people feel they’ve been ignored or treated badly, they can tell the world about it.  Right away.  There is no hiding behind the anonymous job board and those typically automated application responses.

Which of these social media platforms to use?  Current thinking suggests that recruiters need to have all three sites up and running because that’s what a growing number of people expect.  Believe some advocates, and everyone is managing to tweet, poke and connect multiple times a day, every day. 

I like to think that the consumer is more sophisticated than that and is ultimately drawn to the platform that they think meets their needs best.  Linkedin for now, still has a more business-like feel that will attract the traditional business crowd, whilst Twitter is undoubtedly for those who want something different and want it now.  Facebook feels in the middle which ultimately may or may not be the best place to be.

What are your thoughts?