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Putting 'social' back into social media

13th Aug 2015
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Most companies realise they need to convince top talent to join them. As part of this, the use of online social networks for businesses has practically become unavoidable, especially as the majority are now using them as part of their recruitment efforts [1]. Studies show that the majority of candidates want to be in direct contact with the employees of organisations they want to work for. Social media is one way of addressing this, but is it just a gimmick or a fad? A nice Facebook page or uploading cool and modern videos to YouTube is one thing, but creating real engagement and proximity is another. Online recruitment, a figurative marathon On average, a candidate now comes in contact with an organisation seven months before actually applying. A client study showed that 96% of candidates now believe that it is important to be in contact with an actual employee in the position they are applying for [2], they want to know as much information as possible: every day life at the organisation, values and examples of projects they would work on if employed. Social networks are appearing to be a necessity for most organisations: candidates are spending an average of ten or more hours a month on them, with 10–15 connections being made daily—social networks are clearly a medium that should be utilised to meet candidates. What would be easier than contacting future applicants other than going to where they already are? Proximity through social media or just superficial interaction?  Numerous organisations have now started embracing social media to strengthen their brand and to adhere to the new needs and aspirations of today’s candidates. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn... companies and firms and now regularly updating their company profiles to illustrate a sense of work culture and transparency. In practice however, it’s not always as easy as it looks. These social pages unfortunately remain quite superficial in terms of their dialogue and discussion; they are not really ‘social.’ For dialogue to be truly social, it needs reciprocity. What is often found on these company pages is a one-way sharing of recent events, job offers or success stories at career fairs. Whilst helpful, much of this information is available elsewhere. Something that is constantly gaining popularly online is the idea of a testimonial video: a video of a current employee demonstrating the openness of an organisation. Although a step in the right direction, this static information is again helpful but not sufficient. Professionally edited videos— although depicting accurate information—are often seen as just another marketing effort in the eyes of the younger candidate. Foundations for a bright future Some companies are already doing a great job: Deloitte, BNP Paribas, IBM, Barclays and the SNCF, they are all proving that they can be ahead of the game. They went the extra mile by letting their employees act as ambassadors and let them simply engage with their candidates directly. Through the eyes of a candidate, what better medium is there to learn about an organisation other than directly through its own people? Creating this opportunity for online dialogue with employees can have profound effects. By putting the convenience of the candidates first, the entire organisation benefits by illustrating their openness towards transparency. Rather than exchanging through a generic email address like [email protected], you are interacting with an actual person: you can see their name, photo, job title and potentially even their educational background. The human touch conveys a sense of time being dedicated to the candidates. They are able to choose who they want to address their questions to, narrowing their choices by job type, course or university attended. Having these discussions remain online not only helps further promote a transparent work culture, but also help other candidates who have similar questions. If a candidate does not find the answer they are looking for, they know they can ask their own question. These advantages come at little costs, it enables organisations to use their greatest asset—their employees. There is no additional travel or wasted time, yet they can have a significant impact on their organisational brand. The advantages are almost unlimited when it comes to individuals that are unable to attend or meet employees in person due to large distances or even physical disabilities. There is still clearly a lot of work to be done in this space, but we can say that we are on the track. Gone are the days of an intimidating ‘one to one’ with a towering organisation and a frightened candidate; now it’s ‘many to many’ accompanied by a human face. A powerful and effective employer brand is one that is conveyed authentically for the candidates— let us not forget this. [1] Stated a high of 89%, The Graduate Market in 2015 (page 31) and 50% on RegionsJob published 25 of February 2015. [2] Study performed by the National Health Service (NHS) Leadership Academy on their hired candidates in 2014.


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