The role of social media within the employment process is often fiercely criticised by academics. Some of them, for example, simply argue that employers should not be using social media as a way to select and filter job applicants. The most common argument is that scanning the social media profiles of candidates is unethical or, at the very least, inefficient. As the information featured in these profiles is personal or private, most academics argue that it doesn’t reflect the professional abilities or behaviours of job applicants. On the other hand, some modern thinkers like Lancaster – also quoted in our previous blog post – declare that “employers have to be expected to take advantage of all the resources available to them when making a decision about who to employ” (Lancaster, 2014). This debate is highly topical and relevant, but the real question we must ask is this: are recruiters actually using social media to recruit students and, if so, how? And from the other perspective, are students using social media in their job search?
1) Do recruiters actually use social media to hire people?
A few studies have already been conducted on recruiters’ social media use. These unfortunately give little insight regarding the actual degree of influence that a candidate’s online presence can have on a recruiting decision. However, these studies at least clearly show that recruiters do use social media, and that this is not only a growing trend, but has truly become a standard tool in the recruitment process. Benson and Morgan ran a study revealing that “91% of the recruiters surveyed indicated that they used social networking sites to screen prospective employees. Whilst 48% screened candidates on LinkedIn […], 53% screened candidates on Twitter and 76% on Facebook” (Lancaster, 2014). These numbers are also confirmed by the company Jobvite Inc that states in a report: “93% of recruiters will review a candidate’s social profile before making a hiring decision, and they are not just limiting themselves to LinkedIn” (Jobvite Inc, 2014, p. 10).
2) At which stage(s) of the recruitment process do they use social media?
If these data confirm the widespread use of social media by recruiters, they also help us to determine at which stages of the recruitment process recruiters actually check applicants’ social media profiles (and what could be their motives in doing so): “47% of recruiters checked candidates’ profiles on social networks straight after receiving the application. This would presumably inform them who they could take forward into the recruiting process. 27% screened candidates using social networking sites after an initial conversation with the prospective employee. And 15% screened candidates only after detailed conversations” (Benson/Morgan, 2014, ch. 13).
3) How does what they find online actually influence their behaviour & decision making?
McGrath referenced a Microsoft-sponsored study (in Benson’s and Morgan’s) that reported: “79 percent of hiring managers used online information to make a decision about a candidate and 70 percent had rejected a candidate because of that information” (Benson/Morgan, 2014, ch. 11). However, a more promising result was shown later in their book concluding that: “68% of employers who had hired someone based on the information they had posted on social networking sites. And 39% of employers stated that this was because they displayed their personality in a positive way, as well as revealing how they would fit into the organization” (Benson/Morgan, 2014, ch. 13). This is valuable information because it shows all the potential power of personal branding for graduates and how much their online presence can positively influence their job search when done right.
But are students actually aware of the role that personal branding plays in their job search process and are they putting enough effort into building a professional online presence? That is the question we are going to answer in our next blog post!
Thank you so much for reading!
Please share your experience on this topic in the comments section. More insights from both recruiters and job seekers would be highly appreciated.
We are collecting data and insights for an educational project about recruiters’ use of Social Media. If you are a recruiter/headhunter, you can support our work by completing this online form: http://bit.ly/21fTUuQ
Best regards from the team.
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Benson, V. & Morgan, S. 2014, “Cutting-Edge Technologies and Social Media Use in Higher Education, 1st edn, IGI Global, US.
Jobvite, I. 2014, Social Recruiting Survey Results 2014, Jobvite.com, Available from: http://bit.ly/1x4En41. (Last accessed 08/2015).
Lancaster, T. 2014, “Teaching Students about Online Professionalism: Enhancing Student Employability Through Social Media” in Cutting-Edge Technologies and Social Media Use in Higher Education, eds. V. Benson & S. Morgan, 1st edn, IGI Global, US.