Have social media made it harder for companies to find new employees?

Social media is the best tool to find new employees, right? I held a masterclass on lead generation and employee marketing at an HR-convention, but the response was very different from what I had expected…

Update April 2020: Thank you for the grand response to this article here on Medium.

It is fantastic to see that you appreciate these insights and they (have) helped you in some way or another. I have decided to add a quick personal (video) note on how this article came to be and what I address in this post.

Last week, I was asked to speak at an annual meetup of Human Resource-directors in Glarus (Switzerland). An interesting round of HR-professionals, who work for companies with at least a couple of hundred employees.

They asked me to share my thoughts on how digitalization has and will change the job of HR-teams. Most specifically, they were very interested to learn more about the application possibilities of (professional) social media networks (such as LinkedIn, XING and the likes).

The main topic: “How can social media be used effectively in recruitment processes?”

I thought I would share some of the key learnings with you guys right here. Maybe some of these topics apply to your daily work and will help become more aware of what it takes to attract new talent.

Finding personell has never been harder

Transparency is generally a good thing and professional social media networks have created just that”

Professional social media networks have created more transparency on who works where and what employees have “really” done. Without going into the numbers, I think it is fair to say that the number of people on professional social networks like LinkedIn has grown steadily in the last few years.

Some industries have adopted social media networks faster than others. Professions in which networking, sales and business development are important have been the logical first movers. Yet, there is a steady increase of people on professional networks who do not really “need” it on a daily basis in their line of work too.

“I think self-promotion has become an integral part of work itself”

Interestingly enough though, companies generally say that it has become more difficult to attract talent and fill the gaps with great new employees in recent years.

This negative trend has become ever stronger with the rise of professional social media networks (as the research by E&Y on the Germanmarket above suggests as well). Whereas one in three companies said that it was “fairly easy” to find new employees in 2015, this number has gone down to a mere one in five in 2017.

I believe that larger entreprises have been especially slow to adopt the new tools and possibilities that digital platforms offer them.

Hence, we have seen that companies have come to depend more on headhunters and other service providers to fill their candidate lead funnels.

A nice little niche has opened up for service providers and headhunter offices, who are able to adapt to the new tools far faster than traditional organizations.

The talent that knows how to work with these new tools is simply lacking in many organizations and it is not easy to address this problem top-down.

Let me tell you why and what you need to do to stop this trend…:

How has the job of your HR-team changed?

Recruitment used to look so different. Just a few years back, candidates would apply for their dream job at their dream company whenever they felt like it was time for a change.

“But the last few years the game has changed around entirely. Companies need to fight to attract the talent they need.”

Creating awareness for your organization — that made potential candidates take your company into consideration in the first place- used to be a job done by the marketing teams.

The classical role of HR-teams was to:

  1. Processing the applications
  2. Select the right people for their teams
  3. Take care of the administrative things that need to be done to hire new talent.

But this role has changed dramatically…

The paperwork (administrative side of the recruitment process) is slowly but steadily being digitized. And the core role of the HR-teams has become more and more of a promotion and marketing job.

The HR-team needs to make sure that potential candidates:

  1. Become aware of the open positions
  2. Take their organization into consideration
  3. Make sure that it is easy and painfree to apply for a job

The job description of your HR-personell within your organization, has most probably changed more than that of many other positions. It is not very strange that larger organizations are struggling to keep up.

HR-team focus tasks and focus has changed too

One of the biggest organizational challenges is that the tasks of the people who work in HR and that what is required of them has changed strongly as well.

These are the four main focus topics that your HR-team should be working on right now:

  • Learn how to create awareness and consideration for your organization using modern day tools.

The reason why a high dependency on headhunter and service provider has developed within organizations, is because the HR-employees do not know how to leverage professional social media networks.

“HR-Teams will need to learn how to use professional networks and communication tools to search for, attract and communicate with potential applicants”

Most HR-teams are not set up to promote their own company USPs effectively to potential candidates that they would like to reach. It will take a new setup with different types of team members to make this transition.

Possibly adding resources from the performance marketing team to your HR-setup can really give your company a boost.

  • Make it easy and quick to apply for a job.

Many potential applicants are not skilled at applying for a job. The hurdles they need to take to apply for a job in the first place are what keep them from applying in the first place.

Tip: Make use of the tools that LinkedIn and XING already provide. Let applicants apply directly from within the social media networks that they are used to working with on a daily basis.

You can always import the data into your system later, whenever it becomes apparent that this is a lead worth pursuing.

  • Standardize application procedure and use different (more) available data points when selecting the right applicant.

In addition to that, social media networks give us as employers the power to find out far more about the applicants than ever before.

You need to start using the information that is readily available to you and pay attention to different variables.

Tip: Have you ever considered scoring your applicants?

A few things that you could use to score your potential employees on with the information that is available on professional social media networks:

  1. Is this potential new employee a good networker? Can he or she be a brand advocate for my company? How big is his or her professional network?
  2. Does the candidate already know people from within my organization? This could help us to get more insights on the candidate and next to that, it could be a good indication for a corporate culture fit.
  3. Do other openly recommend the candidate? Personal recommendations can be a strong indication of how a candidate would perform within your company. It shows us whether or not he or she is a teamplayer.
  4. Does the public profile fit our job description? It is hard to lie on a public profile, whereas it is fairly easy to change your cv to fit a job description. If the public profile contains a high number of “keywords” that fit our job description, this is probably a well-suited candidate.

“Professional social media networks have changed the game, now it is time that you start to change yours”

The changes and challenges in human resource management are immense. It is not easy to keep up with the technical and cultural changes that are happening on the market today.

Therefore it it very important that these issues are addressed top-down. In my opinion it is imperative that top-level management needs to provide the HR-teams with the necessary resources and technical support to invest in organizational change from within the companies.

“Human Resources is the gateway to your company and it deserves your attention”

Of course it is still early days to say which professional network will be most important in the future. But, I think that it is best to start learning how to use the tools today, instead of having to rely heavily on third party support from headhunters and the likes in the years to come.

I hope you liked this article and you’ve enjoyed the read. If you would like to receive more insights and tips, please show your love and appreciation and follow me on Medium or on Twitter https://twitter.com/rlivain

Images and diagrams rights: www.gandt.ch

Dutch Digital Entrepreneur. Love to share thoughts on innovation and digitalization (ceo @gandt ventures) - writer @thestartup

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store