Is Social Media a Double-edged Sword for Recruiters?

The Australian Defence Forces (ADF) receive as many as 80,000 applications each year, but only recruits around 8,000 of these across the three forces of navy, army and air force.

With that kind of demand, you might think that the ADF could sit back and wait for the right applications to roll in. Instead, they seem to be becoming more innovative as they reach out in their drive for the right people.

Practicing the Defence Block 

The most recent recruitment strategy from the Royal Australian Navy harnesses two powerful forces - current personnel as advocates and social media - as it curates its online brand and seeks to reach the right kind of recruit.

Under this new strategy, the navy launched a competition called "You be the star" in which the personnel creates two-minute videos to showcase their lives in the service. Videos can use several themes, from “unsung heroes, working hard to be the best we can be, it’s more than a job, an extraordinary day in the life and an experience you can’t buy a ticket to.”

According to the project launch, the strategy “recognizes that everyone in the Navy can play an important part in recruitment."

The result will be that the competition will uncover some new poster boys and girls for Navy recruitment centers, but also importantly the winning videos will be pushed as hard as they can be online through navy's social media accounts.

The social media angle is one which is gaining momentum as an alternative channel for recruitment, as organizations reach out to new employees in new ways, often leveraging new digital technology.

While Navy personnel are planning their videos for release on social media, the Chinese real estate company China Evergrande Group is using a similar strategy.

Earlier this month, the company’s recruitment advertisement went viral on China’s ubiquitous social media platform WeChat as it seeks to recruit 8,000 experts for its new business in manufacturing new energy vehicles.

With over one billion active monthly users, and a wide range of available apps, WeChat presents as an ideal channel to reach out to talent not only in China but also throughout the Chinese diaspora. It is hard to imagine that any popular employment website would reach as many people.

Making the Lunge

So far, it seems that employers are playing catchup to employees when it comes to social media channels.

According to U.K. research from recruitment firm Robert Walters, 85% of job seekers have Linkedin accounts, and 75% are on Facebook, and yet only 50% of employers use Linkedin and only 11% use Facebook. A full 21% of employers do not have any social media presence at all.

Anecdotally, recruiters who have more success are using traditional online recruitment tools alongside social media channels to give themselves a better chance of finding the right talent.

In Australia, the market for candidates is tightening as new immigration laws heighten the competition for local hires.

There is also a belief that positive social media exposure helps create a more engaged workforce, which works both ways.

The platforms are used by the business to promote its work and its brand, while employees promote themselves and become advocates for the organization.

Social media posts which have a recruitment focus appear more organic and natural when they come from organizations which already have a strong and active social media presence.

Employees are highly aware that their social media profiles will be carefully examined by employers.

According to the Robert Walters research, 59% of professionals have amended or would amend their social media profiles to make them more appropriate for employers to see.

Over 90% are happy to be solicited for jobs through social media, notably through Linkedin, while 70% are actively participating in online groups specific to their industry group or sector.

Beware the Kill Stroke

But as with everything online, there are scammers. One of the most spectacular has come out of Nigeria.

Earlier this month it emerged that the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) was investigating a job racketeering syndicate which specialized in defrauding unsuspecting applicants through text messages and other online platforms.

The scammers have been sending fake messages to registered recruitment candidates and asking for money transfers as part of the recruitment process.

This illustrates the ingenuity of Nigerian scammers, but also sends a general message that while social media has become part of recruitment, the recruitment process is now omnichannel and people need to spend time cross-checking as part of their ongoing research.

The Robert Walters research found that nearly 80% of interviewees will research potential employers on Linkedin before an interview. On the other side, fully one-third of employers do not use any social networking sites at any point during the recruiting process.

Evidence, once again, that employers are still playing catchup with the candidate market when it comes to engaging social media in their HR approach.