Social networking may partially replace traditional recruitment methods in the near future and could therefore reduce agency income. This is the view of Stephanie Lee, Sourcing Specialist for European Staffing for Intel Corp UK. Intel is the world’s largest semiconductor chip maker, and invented the X86 series of microprocessors that are found in most personal computers.
At a packed meeting of recruitment agencies and hirers of agency workers, recently held by the Association of Recruitment Consultancies*, Lee explained that Intel had a reputation for only employing ‘geeks’ and in order to rectify this image, had developed a ‘social media vision’. She estimated that Intel was now the sixth biggest user of social media in the world.
Special social networking groups had been set up to reach out to potential employees and to explain more about the company as an employer. Thus those looking for career opportunities had been targeted and a ‘virtual relationship’ fostered through blogs, posts, and other social networking outlets.
According to Stephanie Lee, the objective was to spread the Intel message and to attract a larger number of potential candidates and at the same time activate a dialogue process that would help enable Intel’s internal sifting team identify the best recruits. She told the audience that Intel anticipated significant savings in recruitment costs as a result of social networking but that this method of recruitment would still require face to face interview with candidates who has passed through the sifting procedure.
She added that the new process would result in reduced use of job boards and a growth in social media platforms such as Twitter job-search and Linked-In’s automatic candidate matching functionality. Lee stressed that the ability to use trackable URLs to track how many people have been recruited through a particular method, was another useful tool for recruiters. Unlike the unilateral nature of job-boards, permission to join hiring ‘groups’ could be granted and refused at the hirer’s discretion, and admission was often refused to recruiters
Recruiters also learnt that the use of social media was spreading to other major organisations such as the Royal Bank of Scotland, which has a particular image problem at the moment for potential top flight candidates. Mark Bainbridge, Head of Recruitment Marketing at the bank, explained that it planned a forthcoming social media ‘hub’ through which candidates would flow from other social media platforms. These plans are due to go live in August and reflect similar projects by Microsoft and the Army, who are thought to use social media for 90% of their recruitment.
The benefits of having your own social media platform, he explained, included some fantastic opportunities for CRM touch-points as well as the creation of a large and intelligent database with sophisticated segmentation. The resulting rich profile information could really help to facilitate useful conversations and to boost marketing campaigns such as RBS’ recent viral videos of people involved in transactions.
He warned recruitment agencies, however, that RBS would provide less work for them in the future as the bank sets up its own internal team of recruiters using the social networking methodology as a cost-avoidance measure. But Bainbridge added that the bank did not see social networking as the only method of recruitment and it would be used alongside the more traditional methods, so that recruiters would not lose out altogether. He estimated that between 30 – 40% of hiring could derive from social media, although this was predicted to be mostly low-level recruitment. He also added that the cost to benefit ratio had yet to be fully assessed.
ARC Chairman, Adrian Marlowe, offered a word of caution. Recruiters, whether end users or agencies, who intended to use social networking sites as part of the recruitment process, should balance the apparent advantages that social networking offered against a recognition of the legal and practical issues.
Some information apparent on media sites could lead to discrimination, and inappropriate dismissals of existing staff; and on line contact lists could create contractual difficulties relating to confidentiality. He wrapped up the meeting by concluding: “While there is a rush to use social media, only time will tell if the advantages of instant communication and information that it offers really bring something to the table. Employer branding is different from recruitment, and agencies have developed sophisticated methods of assessing candidates which might not be apparent in hirings made purely on the basis of social networking. The new technology should be embraced but only with the knowledge of the potential dangers and costs involved.”
Mike Innes, Director of the engineering recruiter TRS Staffing said “from our perspective it confirmed that many of the larger blue chip clients see direct sourcing, particularly via social media platforms as their primary channel to market as the economy continues to go through significant change.”
Don Searle of the Facilities Management recruitment specialist Catch 22 described the event as lively and informative and providing “excellent insight into the thinking of large organisations such as Intel and RBS about the potential power of such media in aiding direct recruitment in an underperforming economy.” He went on to say ”The opportunities for recruiters to use such media are expanding rapidly…”