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How the use of social media is essential in the recruitment process.

E-Recruitment as a Cost-Effective and Efficient Method

The internet has completely revolutionized how individuals communicate with  organizations in the context of work. Organizations are under pressure to adopt the internet in their recruitment process to stay ahead therefore, they are actively implementing E-recruitment programs and use of social media for bringing quality and efficiency. These days job seekers especially the younger generation use social media sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook for employment search and build an online presence. The social media is a potent tool for the employers to target a specific segment  in a fast and efficient manner and also serve as a source of supplementary information which may not be available in the resume. On the other hand, the candidates can seek additional information about the company and its employees to get a realistic assessment of the job profile ex. the online site www.glassdoor.com profiles the comments of the past and present employees to give a realistic view of the company. However, there are important ethical issues of privacy and discriminating against those segments which are not adequately represented or don't use the social media or even the veracity of information about the employees or companies which are posted with malicious intent and how to interpret the same.

E-recruitment is far more efficient and cost-effective method compared to the traditional methods of recruitment. It extends the reach of the hiring process to both local and global candidates. Recruiters can do interviews through Skype, WhatsApp and other video options, conduct online psychometric tests and communicate with prospective candidates through automated processes. At the same time, recruiters can keep a track of potential and past applicants, maintain a database and also keep a track of the costs involved in the hiring activities. It can also personalize the experience by providing multiple language support and improving the accessibility of interviewing from remote locations. The recruiters can use job sites which are either industry specific like computerjobs.com or telecomjobs.com or generalist sites like moster.com or headhunters.com etc. The companies can also include recruitment pages on their websites and post open job positions regularly and provide an online option to apply.

The social networking sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter allows users to create their own web pages or profiles which can be effectively used to market job seekers and potential employers. It also serves as a cost-effective initial screening source to gain additional information about the prospective employee as well as the employer. However, at the same time, the risks associated the display of negative information such as drug abuse or alcohol consumption might either lower the chances of selection or reduction in salary offered. On the other hand, if the companies don't have a stated social media policy they might face privacy issues or find it difficult to base the evaluation of the candidate basis the social media information available to avoid negative repercussions. A relatively large number of companies are using social media in screening, recruitment, and selection of potential candidates. They use it as an interactive marketing tool rather than the approach of using online recruitment as a job boards to publicize vacancies. It is also used to attract the prospective employees to the company website and also build the corporate image. However, the evolving online and social media tools for hiring are being used as a supplement to the traditional forms of hiring and selection. The company characteristics like the size of the company or nature of the industry might also define the extent of adoption of social media in the recruitment process. The small companies which have a low hiring requirement may find the social media process very cumbersome and expensive to implement whereas a large company can easily integrate the same in the other online initiatives of the company. Similarly, the new age industries like E –commerce, technology, engineering or finance companies are more likely to adopt social media versus the traditional industries like agriculture or manufacturing etc. Some of the examples of social networking sites and tools are Blogs, Facebook, Google, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, Podcast, and YouTube. LinkedIn is one of the most popular sites especially for professionals and is used for recruitment followed by Facebook and Twitter. Some companies use these tools only to search or advertise while others use more complex online interactive platforms. This also depends on who the target audience is, for example, the millennial or the younger generation, college graduates, skilled workers and executives who are more familiar with online activities, are computer savvy and skilled in the use of technology are amenable to this approach.   

Benefits and Risks of Social Media for Recruitment

LinkedIn is usually used to target Senior and Technical employees as this tool has a wider global reach and most of the times the recruiters advertise the vacancies on their own accounts or the LinkedIn groups. The jobs can be posted on specific groups available on the site such as Retail professions, Telecom professions, CEO’s club etc. Twitter, on the other hand, is used for tweeting vacancies to the right communities and engaging with the potential candidates. It also gives an option to re-tweet the same to give it a wider reach.

Facebook is one of the most popular social media tools and used extensively by potential recruiters to engage with the prospects. Most of the companies have their own Facebook page which is used to display organization relevant information like announcements of new launches, industry leaders joining the organization or any new development and is usually used to attract younger generation for junior level jobs like vacancies in stores or other frontline jobs. This media is usually used to engage prospects and direct them to company sites rather than posting too many jobs. YouTube, on the other hand, is a site where one can post video messages which get a wide circulation. Many companies use this medium to target technical roles or very senior level recruitment. It also allows building the brand image of the organization by posting videos relevant for the target audience. The companies can post videos where the senior leadership team can talk about the role from different perspectives and give a candid picture to the prospective candidates. These videos while can be uploaded on YouTube can also be embedded into the recruitments Ads on the company website. Some of these innovative ways of disseminating information to prospects also help build the company image and attract talent to the organization.

Social media as a screening tool for recruitment is mostly used by companies to quickly gain information about the prospects that is not available in the resume or maybe even disclosed by the candidate during the interview. This may at times become the deciding factor for even rejecting the candidate prior to an interview. The reasons for such judgment is either alcoholism and drug abuse or use of inappropriate photographs or use of objectionable language or even the kind of groups a person is a part of. Also, many companies end up hiring candidates through use of social media if they find strong recommendations about the prospects from others which LinkedIn and other social media sites display or they see creativity and good communication skills. However some companies who do not use social media for screening are either worried about the legality of infringing the privacy of the individual and also not sure of how to verify the veracity of the information obtained through this means as many prospects might create dummy profiles or try to project a social media image which is contrary to their real self. In many companies, due to this reason alone, this practice is formally not allowed by the HR rules and regulations. The screening as a technique is increasingly used sparingly by small companies as hiring consultants for this process can be very time-consuming and expensive and this method works out cost effective and provides them with both quantity and quality of fit with the desired profile. 

Popular Social Media Platforms for Recruitment

The benefits of using social media for recruiting ranged from being able to target the right segments of prospects or getting a large no of prospects at a relatively lower cost. This can be used to target certain groups matching the profile fit in terms of either qualifications or other demographic profile and also reach other non-traditional applicants like experts or consultants who may not even apply for such jobs in the normal course. In the case of many start-up who do not have a budget to hire a full-time marketing resource due to lack of funds may be able to use the services of freelancers, consultants or experts at a partial cost through the use of these tools. Moreover, the use of social media may also increase the quality of applications and helps improve the quality of recruitment in terms qualifications, experience, and overall job fit.

It is widely accepted that the traditional form of recruitments which involves the use of advertising,  HR consultants, and other resources is five to ten times more expensive that use of online and social media for recruitment. The benefits are even higher for senior level recruitment. On the other hand, most of the social media sites have large databases and offer sophisticated and efficient tools for doing relevant searches based on demographic and psychographic profiles of the desired candidates at a fraction of the cost and time. The traditional methods involved sifting through tons of physical profiles of candidates which was a manual job and prone to individual judgment of some junior level HR resources in the organization who may not even be in a position to judge the relevance of profile however, on the other hand the online and social media sites can fairly quickly provide close or exact matches basis a defined criteria and help expedite the entire recruitment cycle. The process of recruitment has become so simple and easy these days with the availability of sophisticated tools and applications which scan the profile of the candidates who click on the online job posting on the company's website and help sort out the suitable applicants or even maintaining a database of interested profiles for some suitable vacancies later. In the traditional methods organizations used to maintain manual folders of candidates profiles who had either applied in the past and also ran the risk of the same candidate being called multiple times for the same job that he or she was previously rejected wasting recruiter's time and resources. Additionally, it also eliminates the probability of the same candidate applying and being considered for jobs at multiple locations of the same company. This saves a lot of time and money that would have been spent on a recruitment agency to do that job as now the same tools are available to companies at fraction of the cost.

Using Social Media as a Screening Tool for Recruitment

The social media tools give an opportunity to the potential candidates to get role information and a realistic preview of the expectation on the organization even before applying for a job. On the other hand for the employers, it helps to promote the organization values and culture and helps the candidate to understand the general feel of the company before applying. In the traditional methods, the interview was the only contact between the recruiter and the candidate and it did not provide enough opportunity to ask the entire relevant question on either side to judge the cultural fit. As an example many Retail organizations expect their employees to work on weekends or holidays as it is peak business or BPO's require their employees to work in shifts and sometimes even in odd hours and someone who is from a different industry may not even comprehend these hazards or peculiarities of a particular industry as this may be assumed or not even discussed during an interview, however, if this is available as a prior information to the prospect either through discussion  forums or through a role purview on the company's website it might save a lot of time and effort on both sides. It also helps improve the recruitment experience of the UN selected candidates as this brings in more transparency and a personalized positive experience. 

Social media gives an opportunity to the organization build a corporate image and show a more human face to the external world which will encourage people to get interested. This helps in getting a wider reach for the job postings when people like or share the same even if they are personally not interested in applying for the same. The impact of the same is difficult to quantify but it does help in building the overall image of the company and also ultimately impact its business as well. If we look at the examples of big consumer brands like Coke and Pepsi who have to build their reputation over the years and when such companies advertise positions on social media you will find many protagonists of these companies taking interest in such posting and spreading the work in their groups and circles. This also helps generate traffic on the company’s websites and further improve the brand image of the company. Many companies also allow their own employees to publicize or share the organization content on personal social media accounts to get wider publicity. For small companies, without much recruitment support, this is a unique method to generate quick awareness and build a fan following for the company. However social media can also generate a negative impact as it provides an opportunity for criticism and negative remarks which can be detrimental. This could be from disgruntled former employees or even existing employees who are not doing well and want to get even with the company.

Benefits of Using Social Media for Recruiting

Though the actual impact of social media on recruitment is difficult to quantify but many companies measure the success of social media campaigns for recruitment in terms of no of likes, shares or re-tweets, views of the content, no of followers and no of people accessing or downloading the company content. On the other hand, it also gives an indication to the employee if his profile is downloaded or viewed by the company and may prompt him to apply or follow up with the companies which have shown interest. In LinkedIn, for example, one gets to immediately know if the profile is viewed by anyone and even on many recruitment sites they provide the status of download or views by the either the employer or the prospective employee. This kind of measurement of response is not possible in traditional methods of recruitment.

The information available on the social media may or may not be authentic and it is very difficult to establish its veracity. At times the information that is shared on sites is distorted to improve social desirability and to project a certain kind of social image. It is a known fact that just to get more followers and likes on the profile many people hide their true identity and even go to the extent to posting socially acceptable attractive photographs and comments. On the other hand, some people may do so intentionally to project a certain image about themselves to the prospective employers which may be completely false. It is extremely difficult for employers to verify such cases and this raises a broader question on whether role relevant fitment can be measured through social media and also whether automated tools and packages should be used to evaluate skills and abilities.

The use of social media for recruiting being a recent phenomenon there are hardly any laws governing the same and it far more informal than formal at this stage. This exposes it to legal risks as employers are not required to disclose the information that was used for recruiting which could be challenged by some potential candidates especially if that information is obtained without their consent. At the same time organizations also run the risk of invading the privacy of the individuals which can be easily challenged in the court of law. In some European countries, the data protection directive restricts the commercial use of any personal data and the same applies to social media as well which might complicate the use of the same to screen and recruit applicants unless with the explicit permission. At the same time, this may also drive away the good candidates if they know that the organization has a practice of looking for personal information on social sites. At the same time if too much information about a person is available online it also exposes the candidates profile to unethical uses by professional hackers who could use this to access bank accounts or credit card information etc.

Comparing Traditional Recruitment Methods with Online and Social Media Recruitment

Conclusions and future trends

The use of social media for recruitment though dependent on the size and requirements of the company is increasing as companies adopt new and more efficient tools albeit more informally at this stage. However, there is a need for clear policy guideline in every organization to protect them from potential legal risks and organizations must verify the information obtained through social media through other sources before acting. Social media should be a supplement to the overall recruitment strategy. The social media tools are much, expensive at times and as new tools and techniques develop the existing tools become outdated, therefore, the organizations should not over invest in the same. At the same time, organizations must ensure that social media presence is updated regularly as a pitfall of not doing so can cause greater damage than building a brand image. The organizations must recognize that it is an informal medium and should use it discreetly and at the same time provide training and guidance to the employees involved in the recruitment as it is a new field and still does not have established best practices. The evolution of technologies is happening at a very fast pace and thought it is very difficult to predict what kind of sophisticated tools will available in the future but organizations must keep pace with the developments if they have to survive. The role of HR will also change in the organization with these advancements.

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