Strike a balance with social media use

By Adam Gifford

Online recruiting strategies can have both benefits and pitfalls

Some firms have found ways to integrate social media into their recruitment strategies, but a leading recruiter says there are dangers. Photo / Thinkstock
Some firms have found ways to integrate social media into their recruitment strategies, but a leading recruiter says there are dangers. Photo / Thinkstock

With so many eyes glued to social media during work time, employers are increasingly considering how sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook can help them hire staff.

Some organisations have found ways to integrate social media into their recruitment strategies, but a leading recruiter says there are dangers.

Shaun Philp, AMP's head of human resources, sees social media as a way to get to the type of candidates his organisation needs. He wants people to not only have the necessary skills but also to fit in with the company's culture, saying: "Culture eats strategy for breakfast."

That means creating a recruitment process that draws in the right people without breaking the bank or, in AMP's case, financial services company. The opportunity to do that came with the merger of AMP and AXA two years ago, when all systems were looked at for cost, efficiency and relevance.

Philp says that at the time a decentralised hiring policy meant divisional managers spent a lot of money on external recruiting companies.

That was replaced with a strategic resourcing team backed by a few boutique recruitment agencies.

At the same time there was a deliberate engagement with social media platforms, including LinkedIn and Facebook. Philp says social media is not a quick-fix replacement for traditional recruitment but it is a complementary tool which needs a lot of thought and planning to get right.

AMP created a new corporate profile on LinkedIn, resulting in a 40 per cent increase in followers, another 3000 connections. That helped to drive more direct approaches from candidates. All AMP's social media sites and its job-board listings drive candidates on to the AMP careers page.

With more than 200 placements a year, there was a lot of money at stake. In its first year the new approach saved $1 million in recruitment costs. Almost 80 per cent of external roles were placed directly by AMP's team.

Supplier agreements were renegotiated, and of the roles that were released to agencies, 85 per cent were filled by preferred suppliers.

"External relationships still play a part, especially in an industry that has some highly technical needs, so it is about getting the balance right."

More than a quarter of positions were filled internally, as staff had more visibility of what potential promotions or changes were available. Staff also get incentives to refer individuals for jobs.

Philp says doing more direct recruitment has helped AMP increase diversity. Last year, 48 per cent of senior roles were filled by women.

Social media is proving a two-way street. Not only is the company able to reach out to prospective hires, but people are using the same tools to check the profiles of the people they may be working with.

Philp says that's why it's a good idea to suggest that employees spend a little time updating their profiles - and if they are proud to be working there, they should say so.

He says it's important that organisations get their message right and be consistent, so the impression people get from Facebook and LinkedIn is the same as they get from the company website or its newsletters and tweets.

While Philp is pleased with the way AMP's social media strategy is developing, a report from recruiting firm Robert Walters says job-seekers still favour traditional avenues. When the company surveyed 700 job seekers and 400 hiring managers in Australia and New Zealand it found that 49 per cent of job-seekers prefer to use job boards, 30 per cent register with a recruitment consultancy, 11 per cent use their existing professional networks and 5 per cent apply directly through an organisations's website. Only 4 per cent look at ads on LinkedIn, and only 1 per cent would use personal social media sites.

When it comes to advertising roles, 42 per cent of employers prefer using a job board, 24 per cent a recruitment consultancy, 19 per cent advertise directly through their own website or career portal, 7 per cent tap into their existing professional networks, and 6 per cent post adverts on LinkedIn; 61 per cent of employers don't use social media at all to advertise roles.

While there seems to be consensus that LinkedIn is a site for professional use, there's a big difference in perception of the rest. Only 9 per cent of hiring managers say they would headhunt a potential candidate through personal social media profiles other than LinkedIn. But half the professionals felt comfortable with organisations approaching them directly on other social media platforms.

Among hiring managers, 62 per cent use social media as part of their screening process - a warning to think carefully before posting that embarrassing shot on Facebook.

The Robert Walters report says that although social media has proved its worth in building brands and fostering communication between organisations and their audiences, in recruitment many of the best candidates may be happy in their present jobs and won't be constantly looking on LinkedIn.

It also says there are not only ethical, moral and privacy issues in using social media to screen candidates, but that managers could be distracted by aspects of a candidate's profile that are unrelated to the role, so they could end up excluding top talent.

Sean Brunner, the director of Robert Walters' Wellington branch, says that while there is a lot of commentary in the marketplace suggesting recruiting through social media is the way forward, organisations need to strike a balance between the new and the old ways of doing things.

"With research indicating social media still isn't a common job-hunting method, a measured approach must be taken to prevent an excess of time and money being invested to push career opportunities in a place where no one is job seeking."

- NZ Herald

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