It is known that the single most important aspect of the success of any company is the people it recruits. This is also one of the greatest challenges faced by organisations. Recruiting and retaining the right people to enable an organisation to grow and gain increased success and market share places a significant demand on any company as the time and costs associated with the process are extremely high. Over the last few years, we have seen a dramatic shift in the recruitment process as companies fight against the costs and time involved, the increased skills shortage and now, the changing role of technology and the increased use of social media in trying to find the ideal employees to ensure continued success of the company, in an extremely competitive and turbulent business environment. How has technology really impacted on this process?
Traditionally recruiters would use fairly low tech methods such as newspapers and referrals to locate and attract qualified candidates, however as of late the recruitment function has undergone a dramatic change as a result of Information Technology. Technological advances and the increased social media space have affected many aspects of the recruitment process. Three different areas of technological advancement exist -
The first area is the creation of career web-portals such as Career Junction and PNet where digital technology has allowed recruiters and recruitment agencies to advertise job postings to a mass audience and subsequently manage the influx of applications for the jobs they have on the market. These sites have allowed for a swift skill-matching process where data is processed and matched to job specification criteria. Recruitment information systems have also allowed for candidate database management, screening and matching and applicant tracking systems through easy communication with candidates digitally. A strong digital presence has however increased the number of applications for each job listing and huge volumes of online applications are received daily. The outcome has been an increased demand for the management of the volume and for the sifting for the quality in all the quantity.
The second area of technological advancement has allowed recruiters and agencies the opportunity to take the recruitment process one step further. Social media channels have opened the landscape for websites such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to operate. In South Africa, LinkedIn users have doubled over the last year and the future impact of this portal (and the others) cannot be ignored. Besides extending your audience for job postings even further, social media websites allow companies, agencies and recruiters to; head hunt via the web, manage business networking, manage personal or company branding and enhance career planning. Candidate attitudes are changing and they are being more proactive in their employment search by creating online CV's, collecting online recommendations and networking online to set the stage for companies and recruiters to approach them through these sites.
A third impact of digital technology is the ability to 'screen' potential employees via sites such as Facebook. Many employers and recruiters are using these sites to gain initial access to potential candidate's thoughts, attitudes, values, photographs, lifestyle choices and personal hobbies and interest to look for good culture fits and try and preempt any warning signs. It is therefore vital to create a positive personal online presence. Be aware of any information published about yourself that can be looked upon unfavourably.
Although Information Technology has most definitely enhanced our communication channels, networking abilities and career planning tools, there are various downsides and challenges that come with all this new technology. Caryn Robson, IT Recruitment Consultant at Recruit IT Solutions highlights two of these aspects:
The downside for recruitment agencies is that these resources are available directly to their clients too. Businesses themselves are investing in social media websites and are doing their recruiting directly from these spaces themselves. However, as mentioned above, the increased online presence leads to an increased influx of online applications as well as the sifting of mass of applications, will take much time away from the company's core business. It must also be remembered that it is the recruitment agencies that are trained, experienced and skilled in sifting through masses of CV's to find ideal candidates. On top of this, the high level technology can never replace excellent one on one personal service and the importance of long standing, successful relationships as offered by top recruitment consultants. If the above two dimensions are experienced by a client, as well as the recruitment consultant continuously saving the client time and, in the long run, money, it would be difficult to imagine the client wanting to look elsewhere for their recruitment needs.
For candidates, the role of technology is also playing havoc with trying to stand out in a very crowded job market. Standard 'black and white' paper CV's are no longer good enough; candidates are increasingly faced with competition from more sophisticated approaches such as graphic designed PowerPoint CV presentations and candidates promoting themselves with video offerings on You Tube. Candidates are competitively using the new digital means as a way of showing off their skills and personality to attract employers, in a way that a piece of paper simply can't.
According to Caryn Robson, the following can be recommended for successful recruitment in today's evolving industry -
Use existing channels - at the end of the day you are trying to reach active job seekers and your advertising needs to be informative and relevant, to reach your target audience. Digital channels are useful as they reach a large audience quickly, however you need to reach the right audience and it is recommended that existing channels be coupled with new media channels to optimise your advertising to result in relevant responses.
Use niche sites - Although the bigger sites like Facebook and Twitter will get you out to a bigger audience, it is the smaller sites where there is real value to be had. The key is to try and find a smaller pool of more targeted employees on a smaller site rather than trying to hit the masses on big sites. Doing this step properly will mean that you get more targeted potential candidates and will go some way to combating the one of the many advantages that agencies and consultants have, which is their ability to sort through all the noise and find the right candidate.
Use channels to eye up and keep track of the competition - sites can be used to locate employees who may be unhappy in their current positions or looking for new challenges. Companies can be followed to keep track of those that are growing and recruiting versus those that may be going through hardship and letting go of staff. Social media offers a great landscape for informal conversation and information gathering for both candidates and recruiters.
Use social media sites for early screening of candidates and for information gathering of companies and key employees/owners/power players in the industry via sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn.
Social networking sites are not to be used with a "SELL SELL SELL" mentality - for example using Twitter to post job advertisement after job advertisement. Consumers are getting increasingly tired of this approach and agencies should make the most out of social networking to create, build and maintain relationships through engaging their audience, establishing a sense of trust and creating a sense of community with potential clients and candidates.
The above are just some of the aspects recruiters can keep in mind when facing the challenges of new age Information Technology. One cannot ignore the need for recruiters, agencies and candidates to adapt to the changing recruitment landscape and be flexible, innovative and creative in their ways of locating and retaining employees and/or finding new employment and facilitating career change. There has been increased competition for recruitment companies from businesses adopting digital technological methods to do their own recruitment directly, however, the need for recruitment agencies will always remain, in order to provide high, professional levels of service and save businesses time and money. However agencies and businesses need to work together and share the web space. Agencies are skilled in sifting to find ideal candidates as well as in people management, two aspects technology is yet to take over. It is also important for both recruiters and candidates to choose their digital channels carefully - using only trusted methods and relevant tools. Use technological advancements and social networking within your values and within the business you have, to deliver real business value.
Technology and social media is changing the recruitment industry as we know it - jump on board and enjoy the ride!
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