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Putting the human back into technology

A recruiter’s journey into social media….with a little help from some experts!
Unless you have been living in one of the world’s most remote locations for the past five years or simply had your head in the sand, you cannot have failed to notice the social media revolution that has taken place before our eyes. From schoolchildren to celebrities, social media has become an increasingly central part of day-to-day life.
Five years ago Facebook barely existed – now it is the third largest ‘country’ on the planet! The rapid adoption of smartphones and faster broadband connections has meant that we have greater access to information, and in more places, than ever before. So what role does social media have to play in business, and in the world of recruitment? In my quest to understand what may lie ahead for the industry, I spoke with two experts who have social media very much at the forefront of their minds – Laurence Buchanan, an executive consultant with Cap gemini, and Eamon Collins, UK marketing director for Michael Page. Your company may well already have a social media strategy, and indeed a social media team; if they don’t, I am very confident it is on the agenda.
One thing that seems consistent from talking to Laurence and Eamon is that genuinely understanding the customer is critical in defining how your business can use social media effectively. I asked Laurence his opinion on the commercial opportunity for social media:
“It is essential to view social media from the customer’s perspective and work out how social media fits into their overall experience with an organisation. Then you can work out how best to mitigate the threats and maximise the opportunities. The worst case studies so far have been those organisations who have taken a siloed approach and have used social media to blast out marketing messages (consumers increasingly see this as spam). Those who have succeeded have taken a customer-centric view.”
In the recruitment industry, we have two key customers – candidates and clients, and there is no doubt that social media has already changed behaviours. Candidates in the professional markets will often update their LinkedIn profile at the same time as their CV, while hiring organisations will use it to check testimonials and track records. For recruiters, LinkedIn is become an increasingly valuable candidate sourcing tool. Is this the only place where social media and recruitment will live in harmony? Here at Michael Page Technology, we have already changed the way we approach the market to incorporate social media. For the previous decade, job searching has moved from offline to online, largely through the explosion of job boards offering a quick and easy way to advertise and apply for jobs. Our market research has shown us that candidates are changing the way they search for jobs, with over 80% now using a search engine as their first step into the job market. With this in mind, we now offer our customers an online solution that leverages a combination of traditional job board advertising, with the increased sourcing capability offered by LinkedIn and Google PPC.
So does social media spell the end for the recruitment consultant? I don’t think so, and Eamon Collins supports this:
“If anything it (social media) will enhance it (the role of the recruitment consultant). Social media is another channel for creating relationships with candidates, but drives a change in the role of technology. To date, technology in recruitment has been all about efficiency, speed and process. Social media puts the human back into technology. You need to have something to say and it needs to be meaningful and add value to your customers. At Michael Page, we have the chance to provide meaningful market advice and guidance to candidates through social media.”
At Michael Page, we are undertaking a global programme with strategic partners to explore how we can use social media to genuinely add value to our business, candidates and clients. The most exciting and indeed challenging aspect of social media for a recruiter is that the future is not defined – opportunities are limitless and changing all the time. It encourages individuals and organisations to challenge the traditional, drive innovation and to think about applying technology to consumer behaviour. We have launched an iPhone app that enables our candidates to search for jobs wherever they may be. The very fact that people are now ‘connected’ at home, in the office and on the move is the most exciting possibility. The iPhone already gives consumers the ability to view a location through their camera and see all of the information about the companies and facilities in your direct view. Imagine if you were also able to see what job vacancies were available in each building you hovered over, and were then able to apply with a click of a button. This is technology that is already available, it is simply a question of when someone launches it. One thing is becoming increasingly clear – a plan for today may be irrelevant in 12 months, as Laurence’s comment below suggests.
“Over the next 12 months we will see many niche communities rise and fall quickly and consolidation amongst the major players. If you’re going to play in the social media space you need to be agile and be where you’re customers are!”
As a professional recruiter, social media offers a world of possibilities – and encourages people to use technology to forge closer relationships and share experiences across geographies and cultures. Long may it continue!
By Stuart Packham, director, Michael Page Technology.