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UK – Forget social media: traditional recruitment tools still preferred

21 March 2012

Recruiters hear it all the time: use social media as a recruitment platform and you shall be amazed at the impact it will have on your candidate search. But a recent study has now shown that 70% of HR directors do not believe that social media is an effective hiring tool while 63% think it is unlikely that profiles on networking sites will replace CVs in the future. Many HR directors still rely on traditional recruitment techniques such as job boards and employee referrals, a new survey by recruitment specialist Robert Half found.

Managing Director at Robert Half UK, Phil Sheridan, said that many organisations use social media as a commercial or employer branding tool, but said that its effectiveness in recruitment has not been realised amongst the majority of companies. He told Staffing Industry Analysts that platforms such as LinkedIn have proven popular for sourcing and communicating with candidates as well as sourcing references, but “it has not yet proven to be an effective method, according to executives surveyed. One of the key issues that hiring managers face is the lack of time to effectively source recruits and social media makes this task even harder – exposing managers to dozens, perhaps hundreds of profiles that may or may not be suitable recruits. This poses an even bigger challenge in times when workloads are mounting and hiring managers are stretched thin.”

But this could come as a blow to the eight million people in the UK who are currently using LinkedIn, many in the hope of increasing their job opportunities. The survey of 200 UK human resources directors found that only three in 10 executives are using social networking sites to communicate with candidates and again only 30% do so for sourcing them.

The horror stories that go around scaring prospective job candidates about what and what not to put on their Facebook profiles in case a recruiter checks up on them also seems a little bit exaggerated – only one in five HR directors report checking online profiles for behaviour or suitability.

But Mr Sheridan commented to Staffing Industry Analysts that it is not only HR directors in the UK that are reluctant to use social media as those in Continental Europe are also “reticent.”

“Less than one third of UK managers found that social media was an effective tool, compared to an average of 28% of executives surveyed in Continental Europe. This contrasts with some of the emerging economies of South America and Asia, where 47% and 44% of HR directors, respectively, said they found LinkedIn and Facebook an effective part of the recruitment process,” Mr Sheridan said.

What will the future hold in place when it comes to social media? Mr Sheridan believes that developments are unknown. “The best rule of thumb for human resources professionals and recruiters is to use social media as a complement to other recruitment methods. Maximising your recruiting techniques, including leveraging networking both online and off, is the best way to ensure you find the right match between company and candidate,” he said.

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Ashley Healy 21/03/2012 4:35 pm

While I do agree that social media should not "replace," but "enhance" your talent acquisition strategy, I am very surprised to hear that 70% of HR directors said they do not believe that social media is an effective hiring tool. I work for a recruitment software company called Bullhorn and we have over 55K recruiters that use our product Bullhorn Reach, a social recruiting platform. Based on our recent activity data pulled from the user database, Bullhorn Reach users have sourced almost 30K UK applicants over the past year. And, these are “known” candidates from these recruiters’ own networks. I think if you’re looking for proof of whether or not social media is an effective tool, it is important to look at actual data and what recruiters are doing as opposed to what they are saying in surveys. We have reported on some data and plan to release more in the upcoming months, specifically around the UK activity.


David 21/03/2012 9:31 am

Wa tis a survey commissioned by a traditional staffing firm? and targeted at HRDs? most likely averaging 45+ in age for large corporates. hmmm...

anyway, I think the value of new media to build conversation and relevant community will definitely lead to more effective, controlled and direct in-house talent attraction. especially for companies with an engaged workforce who are happy to refer.

Of course the human element will never be removed (as well as the need for skill and background checks), but I believe that companies will take back the reins of this in-house somewhat with the aid of effective social media usage.


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