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Recruitment in a digital world

Watch Dr Lisa Harris, Nic Fair & Sarah Hewitt discuss the role of social media in recruitment from the perspective of employers & potential employees
LISA HARRIS: OK. So now we’re going to look more specifically at the job market and how it’s changing. So Sarah, I think you’ve found some stats for us.
SARAH HEWITT: Yes. According to a survey in 2015 by Jobvite, they say 92% of employers use social media in the recruitment process. And the main tools they use are LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. They also say that 80% of employers have been positively influenced by a candidate’s professional and social network profile. And also, that 78% have been negatively influenced towards a candidate by their inappropriate use of social media like selfies, for example.
LISA HARRIS: So what’s the advice to job hunters from recruiters then?
SARAH HEWITT: Well, they say we should be using social media to highlight volunteering and other social enterprise experience, and engage with current events, and of course use correct spelling and grammar. That’s really important. Obviously, don’t post selfies, share details of your drinking exploits, or even don’t delete your profile, because they find having no profile makes them quite suspicious as well.
LISA HARRIS: So is this what we mean by the expression personal branding, then?
NIC FAIR: Well, yes. But it also includes more than that. So you can be proactive in terms of doing such activities like blogging. And this can develop new skills in communication, creativity, and critical thinking. And actually, many powerful blogs, particularly around issues such as gender or race or women’s rights, when done effectively, can really help to establish the reputation of the blogger in the wider world. For example, Black Lives Matter or the Everyday Sexism campaigns are good examples of that.
SARAH HEWITT: I do. I blog regularly as a way of building up my profile, which will help me when I finish my Ph.D. But also, we mustn’t forget things like videos, creative videos produced by candidates also play quite an important role in the job application process. Tweeting, participating in relevant online communities, and LinkedIn of course. Apparently 40 million students and recent graduates are now on LinkedIn, making it the fastest growing demographic.
LISA HARRIS: And it’s not just about the employee’s social media, is it? It’s the employer as well. Employer branding is critical in this activity.
SARAH HEWITT: Yeah, absolutely. If we remember that at any one time the best candidates are probably already in a job, 90% of the workforce is actually working. When they do look for another job, for something new, then social media is the place where employers can engage with them and promote themselves as the best place to work, the best company to work for.
NIC FAIR: But of course in order to do all that, you need to have some level of digital literacy. You need to really know your way around the digital world in order to do that most effectively.
SARAH HEWITT: And we need to build our digital skills to use digital technology in the future. We need to have well-developed digital literacies.
LISA HARRIS: So what exactly are digital literacies, then?
NIC FAIR: Well, simply put, they are basically all the skills that you need in order to be effective in the digital world.
SARAH HEWITT: IT proficiency.
NIC FAIR: Yep. Information, media, and data.
SARAH HEWITT: Communication and collaboration.
NIC FAIR: Digital learning and self-development.
SARAH HEWITT: Digital creation and innovation.
NIC FAIR: And of course finally, you’ve got to be carefully thinking about your digital identity and your well being. Having a professional online profile and being safe while you do so is really important.
LISA HARRIS: OK, so the information we display on social networks should be really encouraging potential employers. So instead of focusing on the negativity of social media, we should be using it in a professional way that people will appreciate our skills, and we will improve our prospects in the job market. And all this talk, we mentioned just now about paying it forward. I think that’s something that will benefit us all in the future if we can apply those principles in a consistent way. So we’re really looking forward to exploring all of these issues with you, the learners, as we go through the course.

In this short video, Dr Lisa Harris and PhD students Nic Fair and Sarah Hewitt talk about how social media can be used when looking for employment.

In this section you will learn what the application of digital technologies means for how employers are recruiting and how people get jobs. Recruitment is one industry that is being profoundly changed by social media.

Why should you care?

It’s because a standard CV (resume) is no longer sufficient to stand out from the crowd in a rapidly changing global job market:

‘We are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist, using technologies that haven’t been invented, in order to solve problems we don’t even know are problems yet.’

Quoted by Karl Fisch in the viral YouTube video ‘Did You Know?’ (46 seconds in). The original quotation was a prediction by former U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley in a book called The Jobs Revolution: Changing How America Works.

According to a survey in 2016 by Jobvite, 96% of employers now use social media in the recruitment process. The main tools they use are LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

  • 80% of employers had been positively influenced by a candidate’s professional social network profile. For example, if it demonstrated volunteering or social enterprise experience, engagement with relevant current events, and correct spelling and grammar.

  • 78% of employers had been negatively influenced towards a candidate by their inappropriate use of social media, such as posting selfies or their drinking exploits!

Personal branding

The basic principles of social media marketing can also be applied to ourselves to attract the interest of an employer. For example, creative videos produced by candidates are playing an increasingly important role in the application process, as are blogging, tweeting and participating in relevant online communities such as LinkedIn. So maintaining a ‘personal brand’ through online and offline networking is now a critical aspect of career development.

40 million students and recent graduates are now on LinkedIn, its fastest-growing demographic – source: About LinkedIn (accessed 14th April 2017). For job seekers this is not just about deleting a few embarrassing photos – it is essential that the information we display on social networks such as LinkedIn is going to actively encourage rather than discourage potential employers. We should make all that data actively work for us. Increasingly, opting out is not seen as an option – finding nothing about a person on a google search raises questions in itself, like – what do they actually do then?

In order to do all these things effectively – and be able to continue to use digital technology in the future – we need to have well-developed ‘digital literacies’, as discussed in previous steps.

Our research into the benefits of social media for personal branding ‘Building a personal brand through social networking’ can be accessed form the link at the foot of the page.

Employer branding

By using social media to identify key talent and encourage conversation with selected individuals to build relationships with them, employers can promote their company as a ‘great place to work’ which helps them to attract the best people. Social media management company Hootsuite is a great example of a company that does this ‘employer branding’ well, as evidenced by a number of recent awards.

Remember that the best candidates might not even be seeking a new job, (only about 10% of the workforce are actively looking at any one time) but recruiters can easily identify and engage with key prospects through social media networks. ‘Head hunting’ in itself is not new of course, but social networks offer a global dimension to recruitment and greatly increased scope to evaluate talent.

Nik Nyman from GroupM, the world’s largest media investment group, provides a recruiter’s perspective in a blogpost ‘Using social media in your job search’ on our blog.

Encourage rather than discourage potential employers

So in summary, the information we display on social networks should actively encourage rather than discourage potential employers. Rather than worrying about them finding our dodgy photos, we should focus on making sure that they will see positive things about us.

These professional activities evidenced through social media can help establish our credibility beyond the job market – developing a reputation as a trusted source can reap future benefits in unexpected ways, as our earlier discussion of ‘paying it forward’ showed.

So digital marketing principles can be applied to job hunting – we network and attract potential employers by building a personal brand to stand out from the crowd. We can establish that brand through growing, managing and activating our personal digital networks in all sorts of positive ways.

Resources to help you get started or enhance your professional online profile:

You’ll find more useful resources in the next step.

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The Power of Social Media

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