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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

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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