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Social media for talent hunt


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Facebook has more than 1.2 billion fans around the globe. LinkedIn offers you connections with more than 260 million users. Social networking has started shaping our lives in a big way. How can we use it for attracting talent? Has it been successful so far? Today’s column will begin a discussion on the use of social media for hiring and other HR activities. Overview With the rapid technology advancements over the years, social media have come to the forefront offering solutions to people issues. Social media refers to the means of interactions among people, in which they create, share, and exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks hiring, essentially deals with the acquisition of right employee to the right job. It is a case of ‘buying’ talent offering right rewards. According to the technicalities of human resource management (HRM), recruitment is filling the pool of eligible candidates and selection begins thereafter.   Social media is commonly known as social network web sites (SNWs) such as Facebook, MySpace, and the more professionally-oriented LinkedIn. SNWs, as well as related applications (e.g. micro-blogging web sites such as Twitter) also allow recruiters to conduct extensive background checks. SNWs can also be regarded as well-established as a consumer and brand oriented set of tools. Increasingly, they are being offered as an innovative solution for internal effectiveness. SNWs have made a significant impact in the US social life. According to a recent study by KPMG, the following numbers show how they SNWs are shining. 76% of US companies used LinkedIn’s 100 million registered users for recruiting. 84% of job seekers have a Facebook profile, and 48% of them have done at least one job-hunting activity on Facebook in the past year. 61% of millennials (those who have born after 1980) don’t go to the traditional company support groups first; they prefer to turn to the Web and other external resources. Corporate e-mail is growing 20-25% per year, with data storage costs soaring. 41% of 2011 university graduates used social media in their job search. 40% of companies admit to having no training or governance of social media. Social networking is still the fastest growing active social media behaviour online, increasing from 36% of global Internet users to 59% managing their profile on a monthly basis by the end of 2011. China is the most socially engaged market in the world, with 84% of Internet users contributing At least once a month to social networking, blogging, video uploading, photo sharing, micro-blogging, or forums – they are followed by Russia, Brazil, and India. 36% of social media users post brand-related content. 60% of employees would like help from employers to share relevant content. SNWs and HRM As we are much aware, talent attraction is increasingly becoming challenging. As the above mentioned KPMG study states, talent acquisition is one of the first areas within many companies to embrace the social media opportunity. At its best, this can include accelerating the entire recruiting process from posting openings to sourcing candidates, reviewing résumés, making an offer, and on boarding. Advances in talent acquisition can present a challenge to your company’s internal communication and HR practices. Newly hired employees who had great online experiences may be surprised to find that the internal systems and culture are not as advanced or sophisticated; they may not even have access to those same recruiting sites while at work. As technology advances, human resource (HR) managers are increasingly inundated with new sources of information. According to Ross Slovensky and William H. Ross from the University of Wisconsin, there is an increasing trend of HR professionals using SNWs for hiring. SNWs allow individual users to post personal information on the internet in order to communicate with friends. Twitter allows short weblog (‘blog’) messages of 140 characters (called ‘tweets’) and full social network web sites such as Facebook, Google Buzz, and MySpace allow users to post multiple pages and include photos and videos; friends can also make comments . Much of this information is unprotected and available for anyone to view that finds it – although SNW users can usually adjust their ‘privacy settings’ to allow only ‘friends’ to see certain information. Facts such as age, location, relationship status, as well as personal thoughts and pictures are widely available through these media, and allow a level of immediate intimacy that has never before existed. For example, users can access Facebook and find a person they recently met and immediately learn personal details of the person’s life – details that may have taken months or years to learn in previous generations. Apparently, many people who post such details do not carefully consider their potential audience. Who is reading their SNW profiles? HR Professionals, of course. HR professionals in the USA are increasingly looking to SNWs to find information about candidates so the correct hire can be made. As a Careerbuilder.com survey done five years ago revealed, the%age of 2,600 managers who look at SNW profiles as a way to screen candidates has risen from 22% in 2008 to 45% in 2009. Approximately 11% more plan to use social media to screen applicants. Approximately 29% report using Facebook, 26% use LinkedIn, 21% use MySpace, 11% search blogs, and 7% utilise Twitter. As Facebook is currently the most popular social media site, it is not surprising that American employers visit this site. Further, only 17% of employers consider this type of background check to be a violation of an applicant’s privacy.  I am sure, five years later; the trend would have further amplified. Not only are employers frequently reading SNW profiles, they are using them to make hiring decisions. Almost 35% of US employers in one survey report that they have found content on social networking sites that caused them not to hire an applicant. Rowell (2010) reports that 70% of HR managers say they have rejected a job applicant for his or her internet behaviour. There is an interesting incident I found in the literature, involving a 22-year-old master’s degree student from California. The student allegedly posted on her Twitter feed, “Cisco just offered me a job! Now I have to weigh the utility of a fatty paycheck against the daily commute to San Jose and hating the work.” A Cisco employee saw the tweet and responded by asking who the hiring manager was. The exchange attracted commentary from others; the student ultimately turned down the job, perhaps because she believed that Cisco would have withdrawn the offer anyway. It is apparent that checking social media sites is a part of the hiring process for many employers and is becoming an increasingly used avenue to hire – or reject – applicants. Relevance to Sri Lanka We have seen the media reports of the good, bad and the ugly use of face book in Sri Lanka. Some teenagers come home, and straight go to their rooms and get connected with facebook friends without even showing their face to the parents. With the presence of more than 3 million Sri Lankan users of internet, the increasing trend of using the SNWs for multiple purposes is obvious. With regard to the corporate sector, use of SNWs for hiring is also coming to the forefront. Based on one of my on-going research related to Sri Lanka, several key IT firms have benefitted from the SNW-based hiring. It might not appeal to traditionalists who prefer formality and face-to-face meetings as opposed to face-book chatting. They may also highlight the policy issues and procedure inadequacies. Yet, the fact remains that the emerging workforce is more tech-savvy and internet-friendly. Luring talent through SNWs is handy in such a context. Ricing popularity of the  internet usage for socially-critical events such as releasing of exam results,  utility payment gateways is a sign that  Sri Lankan HR professionals also should put their act together in moving more into e-hiring. SNWs could be a significant source for such an endavour. Way forward We saw the shining shape of SNWs, so far. What are the promises and pitfalls of hiring talent through SNWs? Are we really ready for it? What precautions one must take to mitigate risks associated? Next column of Humane Results will discuss these further. (Dr. Ajantha Dharmasiri is the Acting Director of the Postgraduate Institute of Management. He also serves as an Adjunct Professor in the Division of Management and Entrepreneurship, Price College of Business, University of Oklahoma, USA.)

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