Is social media a help or a hindrance when recruiting candidates?

Whilst online social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter are being heralded as the future of job seeking by recruiters and employers alike, it is being argued that the chances of social media applications replacing traditional CVs are actually slim.

According to research published by recruitment company Hyphen, fear of not presenting themselves as a serious candidate is putting many applicants off. The results showed that 43.6 per cent of candidates prefer traditional methods of application because a lack of faith in social media as a legitimate recruiting tool makes them anxious about the possibility of underselling themselves online.

Nearly a quarter of the professionals surveyed by Hyphen also say that even if they did apply for a position using social media, they would not expect their application to be taken seriously. The news will be a blow to many recruitment companies who have spent the last few years developing recruitment channels to source talent in the online sphere.

Hypen’s managing director, Zain Wadee, argues, “Developing recruitment and talent-focused channels on social media sites should not be seen as a simple broadcast service to potential talent that offers information about recruitment schemes and new roles.

“Effective use of social media in recruitment should seek to encourage engagement and affinity with the employer brand, and adapt to the needs of the target audience.”

Indeed, he highlights the issue that many large companies utilise systems during the recruitment process that prefer applications to be submitted via Word documents. The applicant tracking systems often struggle to receive and manage submissions in any other format, meaning that key information can be lost or an application can even be rejected outright.

It would seem that despite the vast arsenal of recruitment software at the fingertips of recruiters – including Bullhorn, Jobscience and HireVue – most systems still at their core are reliant on traditional methods of job seeking.

“The utopian recruitment technology just isn’t out there yet that can replace the human resource”, said Stuart Jones, a consultant and recruitment trainer at Omni. “Plenty of companies are advertising vacancies via social media and contact applicants through these channels. However, very few have an effective way of enabling applications via social media channels.”

Still, he is hopeful about the future, believing that the next decade will usher in a generation of more social media-savvy managers. Indeed, despite not utterly revolutionising the application process, Jones claims that social media has still prompted some beneficial developments.

“Previously, you would have sent a covering letter and a CV and nobody else other than the company would see it,” he said. “There was more room to embellish. Now, if you’re building a LinkedIn profile and putting your skills and responsibilities on show and it isn’t quite accurate then people can see it. We are certainly starting to see more honest applications.”

So it would seem that at a senior level, headhunting has become a digitally networked activity and a useful tool to source candidates. Consequently, whilst social media is not necessarily yet taken off as a mechanism for job application itself, prospective employees who choose to abstain from it altogether run the risk of being missed altogether by employees seeking new talent.

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