Job seekers and employers are turning to social media to match skill sets with employment opportunities.

Social media has given rise to an 'always-on' workforce with a well-developed network that shares in a broad range of personal, professional and lifestyle conversations.Wendy Hewson, Kelly Services general manager The recruitment industry is starting to be undermined by social networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn, according to the findings of a new survey.

The Kelly Services' Global Workforce Index reveals that an increasing number of people are finding work via social media sites than through traditional job boards and agencies.

According to the survey of 3500 New Zealanders, 47 per cent of respondents say that networking and social media sites are a good way to provide friends and colleagues with job referrals and job opportunities.

The whole survey questioned 120,000 people from around the world. Of those surveyed, 40 per cent say they are more inclined to search for jobs via social media than through traditional methods, including newspaper advertisements, online job boards or recruitment companies.

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Wendy Hewson, Kelly Services general manager - commercial, says: "Social media in recruitment has altered the way people search for and communicate about work.

"Its emergence has opened up an abundance of connections where people are willing to share information, contacts, views, and alerts about prospective job opportunities."

The survey found that job hunters in New Zealand are more likely to use social media to find a new role than their counterparts across the Ditch. According to the survey, 40 per cent of New Zealanders have been contacted about a potential job opportunity via a social media site, compared with 38 per cent of Australian respondents.

The report also says 17 per cent of New Zealand respondents got a new job opportunity via social media, compared with 14 per cent of Australians.

The good news for employers is that by tapping into people's social networks they can quickly expand the pool of possible candidates.

"The power and the speed of this transformation is having a significant impact on recruiting techniques, but is sometimes overlooked by managers and employers," says the report's author.

It also says Gen Y and Baby Boomers are on an equal footing, with 42 per cent having received a job tip via their social media networks. For Gen Xs the figure is 47 per cent.

Top of the list are people with professional and technical skills in areas such as marketing, engineering, IT, sales and finance/accounting who make up more than half of those who have been contacted for jobs via social media in the previous year. Lower down the scale is light industrial (34 per cent), admin/clerical (36 per cent), education (38 per cent), and call centre/customer service (40 per cent).

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However, the report says the evolution of social media has led to a society that is "always on". It is something that can cause companies problems when staff arrive at work with their own smartphone and carry on with "private" conversations online.

According to the survey, one-third of New Zealand respondents (36 per cent) rate the use of personal devices in the workplace as "important" or "very important". Which means employers need to think hard before challenging them or disabling access to workplace Wi-Fi.

Hewson says the extension of social media into the workplace poses unique challenges for many employers, not least in regard to acceptable usage and content.

"Social media has given rise to an 'always-on' workforce with a well-developed network that shares in a broad range of personal, professional and lifestyle conversations," she says. "The task of managing this phenomenon in the workplace is one that many employers are still coming to grips with.

"Employees are more social and more flexible in the way they engage with trusted friends and work colleagues on social media, and increasingly they expect to have access to technology in the workplace to enable that."

Of the New Zealanders who responded to the survey, 44 per cent say the ability to use employer-provided smart devices for personal use "highly" or "very highly" influences their employment decision-making. This is higher than the global figure of 37 per cent, and Australian figure of 40 per cent.

Hewson says: "There is a strong view among respondents that employer-provided smart devices should be available for personal use. This reflects the growing trend of leveraging laptops, tablets and smartphones as perks of the job."

Steve Hart is a freelance reporter at SteveHart.co.nz