The story of social media in recruiting is a familiar one. A disruptive new technology arrives, and it creates an explosion in creativity. Pretty soon, every sector has its visionaries who are claiming that this new tech will be an “industry game-changer”.
Social media became a big part of our everyday life a little more than a decade ago. Suddenly, individuals could access networking technology that allowed us to share our interests, occupations, and skills. And it let us connect with brands and employers who were looking for talent and could provide opportunities to new candidates. It seemed inevitable that social media would revolutionise the candidate experience: making it at once more efficient for the consultant, cheaper for the client, and more personal for the applicant.
But, ten years on, has this really been the case?
A new study of talent sourcing by leading recruiters has put social media firmly at the bottom of the barrel for most firms. The B2B ratings company Clutch has learned that almost one in four (24%) of recruiters consider social media as the least effective use of their time in a talent hunt. It means that social networking places lower even than passive recruiting strategies (18% said this was least effective). Other approaches that have fallen out of favour are university careers fairs and generic candidate tests (12% and 12% respectively named these least effective for hiring).
Yet contrasting data shows that more than two thirds (67%) of candidates choose Facebook or Linkedin for their next career move. So why do the different sides of the jobs market view the effectiveness of social media so differently?
Asymmetry in effort tells us why we view social sites so differently
One explanation may be the asymmetry in the online experience. What do we mean by this? A job hunter finds social media easy. It is low effort and accessible almost any time, anywhere. A candidate playing the volumes game and applying for multiple jobs may easily find benefits in targeting social sites. In this use-case, the social networks would indeed provide an effective platform.
But the ease-of-use which social media affords the candidate is usually at the cost of additional workloads for the consultant. Sorting candidates manually, interpreting incomplete or unclear candidate data, and attempting to understand the applicant as an individual via the inherently brief and highly formatted channel of social postings can require extra effort for little chance of improved outcomes. It leads to a situation where consultants also begin to use social channels to play a volume games with talent. And, as one respondent to the survey highlighted: “what candidates really need is to be nurtured over time.”
But does the research provide any concrete conclusions? Clearly there is still a rich seam of talent that engages with social media for recruitment. It would be short-sighted to dismiss social networks altogether. However, for agencies that fail to gain traction on social sites, it may be comforting to learn that they are not alone in meeting only partial successes on these platforms.