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Social media: a revolution

19 April 10

Sponsored column on the use of social media in recruiting

by Fiona Stewart

The social media revolution is upon us. Some say LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook are fast becoming the new email and the pressure is on for businesses to embrace it.

As the economy recovers, firms are once again turning their minds to attracting the best talent for a competitive future and some may look to social media to engage. All the statistics are there: 80% of people are influenced by friends and family while only 14% believe advertising, so it follows that networking sites may be a useful instrument in creating a unique firm brand.

LinkedIn is without doubt an interesting option – public profiles ensure candidates are less likely to exaggerate their skills, recommendations and referrals can engender confidence, and the only cost is time. However this is not without its pitfalls. 2009 saw unprecedented challenges in the profession with redundancies and recruitment freezes in many firms. With time on our hands it was possible to conceive of a social media revolution where you can develop a network of potential candidates online. However as the demands of business now grow again, will we still have the time to chat on LinkedIn and Twitter with every potential candidate? More to the point, do firms really want staff sitting on social networking sites planning their next career move? As the recovery kicks in, the reality is that most people are just too busy. Business demands also often require the commitment and speed of hire that simply cannot be accommodated by social networking.

From a candidate perspective, also be aware that your profile is your “brand”. Many employers admit to checking the profiles of applicants, so if you are sharing photos of a particularly wild night out, be sure to share them only with trusted friends! Also be wary of posting any negative comments about your employer, as one woman dismissed last year found out to her cost.

Only time will tell the true impact of the social media revolution: it will definitely add to the mix as firms cultivate their brand online but it is unlikely to replace proven methods of recruitment – hiring good people is simply too important.

  • Fiona Stewart is Principal Consultant, Search Consultancy. Tel: 0131 718 8038.

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