21 Feb

I remember about 4 years back when certain individuals (the ones normally working for a social media consultancy) were trumpeting social media as the next big thing in recruiting. In fact it had gotten to the point where it wasn’t even called social media it was just ‘social’. Job boards were going to die because everyone would source people through ‘social’. Well we’ve got some bad news: that just isn’t happening for the vast majority of companies.

In fact we’ve done some research on where job seekers actually find jobs and the overwhelming majority find them on job boards of some sort. A few through referrals and a few through social media sites but job boards are still king. Now our results aren’t indicative of the whole economy as our users tend to be small and medium sized employers. If we analysed the data from major corporates the figures would almost certainly look better for ‘social’, particularly for referral based postings.

So first let’s define what we mean by social media, basically any tool used by an employer to distribute details of a job vacancy free of charge where that media source is not explicitly a job board. The classic examples are posts on company and personal pages on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Linkedin.

The argument put forward by the ‘social’ brigade 4 years back (and still) is that companies could simply circulate jobs to employees who in turn would circulate them onto their social media profile pages and they in turn would then be spotted by the thousands of connections such coverage generates. There’s only 1 problem with that: it hasn’t happened.

We’ve been testing what the user experience is like for a job seeker searching on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin for a Marketing Manager job in London and it’s a pretty patchy experience at best. On Facebook the results are not good. It picks up posts people have added but often they are very old (like years old) because there is no way to filter by date posted and there is no way to filter by a location radius. In addition not all the posts are actually for jobs.

Twitter is marginally better because entries are at least ranked in date order and there appears to be far more listings but it’s still a frustrating experience as there are no filters whatsoever…...can’t filter by any location radius, can’t filter out staffing agency ‘jobs’ and can’t differentiate permanent or contract jobs.

Linkedin…….not good. Do a search for a job on Linkedin and all the entries come from Linkedin’s paid job board listings. We couldn’t find any free entries on the first 4 pages. Free being posts a user has added to Linkedin free of charge. It’s great if you paid to go on the job board, but don’t expect much if you just post an entry on your personal or corporate page.

So if you’re a job seeker it’s a pretty poor user experience finding jobs listed free on social media pages so you can hardly blame them when they go to job boards instead which are optimised for the job seeking experience.

If you’re a big corporate the opportunity to use social media as a powerful sourcing tool is much greater. Why? Well 2 reasons, firstly people will be very familiar with the Twitter feed and Facebook careers page of Apple, Ford, Tesla etc but ABC small company inc with only 100 people, hiring perhaps 15 new heads a year, well their social media pages will be barely noticed by job seekers. The 2nd reason is that the referral schemes of big corporates have the capacity to reach many more eyeballs. If Apple asks its marketing team to circulate a job on each individual employee’s social media pages then that’s going to be a lot more postings than the small company with only 20 employees.

So in short, social media has been and will continue to be a good sourcing tool for big corporates but it’s not going to do much for smaller companies. Now that’s not to say that social media can’t play a part in sourcing you the staff you need, it can, you just need to temper expectations, particularly if you’re an SME.  To paraphrase Mark Twain…..reports of the death of job boards have been greatly exaggerated.

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