Fine-tuned candidate matching
With mobile broadband taking South Africans online in rapidly growing numbers, social media now gives companies access to a vast selection of potential candidates for top positions.
Thanks to advanced big data analytics and the business tools available on some social networks, employers can search for suitable candidates by skills, years of experience, interests, qualifications and even the networks they are connected to.
World Wide Worx managing director Arthur Goldstuck says the latest South African Social Media Landscape study indicates a significant increase in local use of major social media networks.
"The main site for business networking and recruiting, LinkedIn, has grown from 1.9-million users last year to 2.7-million now," says Goldstuck.
This is considerably lower than Facebook and Twitter adoption, he says, but considering that LinkedIn is a purely professional network, its local growth is still substantial.
Recruiting on social media
"Local use of LinkedIn as a recruitment tool will likely grow strongly," says Goldstuck. "This is not rocket science, it is one of the key reasons for the platform."
He says most major corporates have extensive LinkedIn communities — often running to tens of thousands of people.
"Searching for suitable candidates can begin in this community, among people who already have an interest in the company and the sector. It's fairly common for people to begin their ‘headhunting' on LinkedIn."
Goldstuck also sees an increase in the use of Twitter to promote companies as employers of choice.
"Anglo American, for example, does this quite effectively. It uses the platform to position the organisation in a positive light to investors and job candidates."
Positioning the company as a desirable employer is becoming increasingly important in the quest for high-end and scarce skills.
Melissa Attree, creative director at integrated strategic communication agency Cerebra, says the use of social media to showcase companies is possibly more exciting than the ability to use social media to identify job candidates.
"In many cases, recruiters are using social media to do ‘blanket searches' for possible candidates based on their current job title alone, without drilling down into the available information to see if their skills and experience match the post available.
"This can be counter-productive and simply serves to annoy people," she says.
She admits that she has personally blocked recruiters on her social media pages as a result.
"My previous designation was business development manager, so I was receiving ads and offers for jobs in the motor industry and other sectors completely unrelated to my line of work," she says.
However, Attree says smarter use of social media for recruitment can be highly productive and can save recruiters a lot of time and money.
"But I don't see recruitment agencies disappearing as a result of social media recruitment tools," she says. "Social media simply adds a new dimension to matching candidates and companies — particularly on the middle to high end."
One area where she sees innovation delivering benefits in the recruitment space is the use of photos and videos to showcase companies.
"Overseas, we are starting to see companies posting short video walk-throughs of their offices, including interviews with key employees. This allows candidates to get an accurate feel for the environment and corporate culture.
"It shows so much more than a print ad possibly could and it helps the job-seeker determine whether they are a good fit for the company or not. It even spares them the embarrassment of dressing incorrectly when they arrive for a job interview."
Stephan van der Stockt, predictive analytics specialist at IBM South Africa Software Group, notes that there are vast volumes of data available about candidates on social media.
"In the past, it would have been impossible for recruiters to search through thousands of profiles to screen candidates around the world, to find the appropriate combination of skills, experience and interests.
"Now, recruiters might use big data technologies to search thousands of CVs to find a candidate who accurately matches the requirements for a particular job," he says.
Social recruiting on the rise
Jobvite, a US-based recruitment platform for the social web, recently announced the results of its annual Social Recruiting Survey. Among more than 1600 recruiting and human resources professionals, the survey found:
• 94% of recruiters use or plan to use social media in their recruitment efforts
•78% of recruiters have made a hire through social media
•Through the use of social media, recruiters report a 33% average jump in time to hire, a 49% average improvement in the quality of candidates and a 43% average increase in the quantity of candidates
• LinkedIn (94%), Facebook (65%) and Twitter (55%) are still the recruiters' social networks of choice
• Jobvite's research also indicated that top recruiters use social networks at each stage of the "recruiting funnel" — from searching for, contacting and vetting candidates, to showcasing the employer brand and posting jobs.