Hiring 3.0

Last Updated: Mon, Oct 15, 2012 05:35 hrs
Hiring scenario in India's top metros

If version one was managed offline and two was led by job portals, social media is where the third version of hiring is unfolding. Here's how the process has become more efficient

If you still haven't included social media in your recruitment plan, it's time you called in your HR manager for a little tete-a-tete. Most millennials, industry surveys suggest, don't trust professional recruiters simply because they know there are far better ways to find a job. These millennials, who make up more than half of the total internet population in India today, have some form of social networking presence - be it on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest among others - and trust these platforms much more than traditional channels to hunt for jobs.

And what are the real benefits for recruiters?

A recent IBM study reports that social media can give a company not only a platform to hire excellent employees but it also helps in building a talent pool online and engage with them regularly, job offer or no offer. Also, what many HR managers do not readily admit is that a traditional employment agency charges anywhere from 20 to 30 per cent of a successful candidate's first-year salary for recruiting while talent scouted and hired through social media postings and referrals cost practically nothing. Other intangible benefits include saving precious management time that is otherwise spent on interviewing and hiring candidates that are deemed "best fits" for the company by an external agency.

But the argument that wins the day for social recruitment is that conventional hiring methods mostly provide information that a candidate offers, while through social networks a recruiter gets to know things about a candidate's skill sets, interests and behaviour that she wouldn't care to put down in her resume.

While the benefits are obvious, the adoption of social media tools for recruitment has been slow in India - studies show just about 6 per cent of the companies are currently using social or professional networking sites in India as compared to over 30 per cent in developed countries (source: Market Xcel ).

Globally, companies like Salesforce are often cited as a test case for social hiring. In an official blog post, the company says, "One facet of our recruiting efforts is that at Salesforce.com we are increasing use of the video job description. We figured it's much more engaging to hear about an open position straight from the hiring managers' mouths rather than skimming a long page of text for a job's details." The company even maintains a YouTube "playlist" that has the latest roundup of open positions and job details with Salesforce.com.

While it's hard to see many Indian corporates adopting Salesforce' social hiring strategy, a start has been made by a few smart corporations. Thanks to the growth of the social networking sites in India, coupled with inadequate recruiting platforms, many Indian corporations have started incorporating social media in their overall hiring plan - either as their main hiring tool or as an add-on to their traditional hiring strategy or simply as a means to check facts and solicit references. The sluggish economy has only accelerated this trend, say experts.

The industries that have taken the lead in this are those that have a considerable online audience, including those in software, e-commerce, digital media and marketing, says Gautam Ghosh, an HR expert. LinkedIn, with over 16 million users from India, leads all other social platforms when it comes to hunting for prospective candidates. It has worked with over 500 Indian companies to help them either in straight-forward hiring, or in marketing a company to potential candidates and this list includes names like ING Vysya Bank, Volkswagen, HCL Technologies, American Express, Wipro, DSP Blackrock, Biocon, AT&T, Citi, Dell, Hewlett Packard and Philips among others.

Irfan Abdulla, head of hiring solutions at LinkedIn India, points out, "An average Indian company has about 70 per cent of its employees active on LinkedIn." LinkedIn Recruiter, designed to meet hiring needs for India, is meant to help recruiters search for profiles as per requirement; services like Jobs Network, Work with us Ads, Targeted Recruitment Ads and Talent Direct are also used by companies to build a talent network on the professional networking site.

Scanning candidates
Industry data indicates that more than two-thirds of all HR professionals now run internet searches on job applicants. According to surveys from Microsoft Research and the Reppler Company, a candidate's online interactions are watched closely by potential and current employers. About seven in 10 employers or recruiters have disqualified job applicants after finding material/information they don't like on the social media. Some recruiters also check for grammar and spelling on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, say other surveys.

Dell India, for instance, goes through LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter (in that order). Savneet Shergill, head, talent acquisition, Dell India, says, "We post jobs on LinkedIn regularly. We also use its 'corporate recruiter licenses' to source profiles. Our team of recruiters regularly updates their profiles with statuses in terms of the positions that we're hiring for." Dell India team is also active on LinkedIn Groups, participating in conversations and keeping a tab on what's brewing socially.

The company claims that the Careers at Dell Facebook Page has become a handy tool to disseminate career-related information to candidates online. "We've got a job search widget on Facebook that helps prospective candidates look for the positions that we're offering... We've got over 27,000 followers on our Facebook page as of now," points out Shergill. On Twitter, the company interacts via its twitter handle @CareersAtDell with its 1,500 followers, posting jobs, career-related information and even answering questions from followers.

Sakaar Anand, vice-president, human resources, CA Technologies, says the company is charting its course carefully on social platforms. "We started a dialogue with potential candidates on popular social media sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn." CA Technologies is exploring social media tools to target candidates who are job hunting, those who are watching passively and others who are 'window shopping' for the right 'offer'.

Curating talent
With potential job candidates maintaining profiles on social media sites, the online data dossier of a given worker will only get thicker with professional accomplishments or personal factoids. It is imperative for recruiters to see how they can benefit (and save time) by accessing such information.

Simply put, it's not necessary to go to a LinkedIn or Facebook after you have a vacancy. If your HR team is smart, it will start early. Like Biocon has done - it uses networking sites to stay in touch with "really smart people who can be tapped later, when a vacancy arises". While the company regularly updates its Career Page on LinkedIn for hiring, it has engaged with candidates as they interact with employees via Work With Us ads. "It is not just a way to find your next job, but also seen as a way to be better at the job you are already in," adds Abdulla.

Indian companies like HCL Technologies claims that 90 per cent of its key hires and about 25 per cent of the overall hiring for HCL is through LinkedIn. ING Vysya Bank emphasises that using LinkedIn Recruiter and Job Slots tools for key positions among a pool of both passive and active candidates resulted in better quality talent for a few key positions within five months of them going vacant.

Hiring tools
Social hiring has, in a sense, made the process of information dissemination and gathering in hiring more democratic. It is not simply about putting resumes on websites, hoping someone will come across it, or having employers post job vacancies with the hope that job seekers will spot them. Technology is offering candidates better quality links to potential employers, and for organisations like Goldman Sachs that reportedly invest over 1,00,000 hours each year in conversations with prospective employees, social media can make things move faster by proactively developing a relationship with potential candidates and keeping them engaged over a period of time.

Recruiting through social networks, therefore, is moving beyond plain vanilla descriptions of job postings - like a piece of marketing communication it's about identifying the target audience and tailoring the hiring content to appeal directly to them. Often, this goes beyond employment goals. Social media brings the action to a personal level, and helps in getting to know the types of personalities you intend to recruit.

With a billion global users thronging Facebook, of which more than 52 million come from India, recruiters are willing to experiment with employment apps such as BranchOut, BeKnown and Glassdoor to connect with the young talent. BranchOut, for instance, lets users import LinkedIn profile and leverage their Facebook friends to find jobs, sales leads, and setup relationships with professional contacts. Reportedly, BranchOut also operates the largest job board on Facebook with over 3 million jobs in 60 countries.

Glassdoor, on the other hand, can be used by job hunters to look up salary data on thousands of jobs. GlassDoor also has a job search feature that pulls openings from several leading job boards as well as listings that companies submit. Monster Worldwide allows job seekers to create a private, LinkedIn-style professional network.

Not everyone is convinced. "It's (Facebook) a personal networking forum. I doubt youngsters want to interact with their friends and prospective employers on the same platform," says an HR manager of a Delhi-based electronics major.

Handle with care
The problems facing social hiring have to do with the stage of evolution of the social media. HR professionals admit it's an uphill battle explaining the basics of social hiring to senior executives of companies. "It's hard to make much of an argument around the value of social recruiting, including investing time and money into those efforts - unless it increases applicant flow, shows markedly shorter time to fill positions, improves candidate quality, builds brand preference among talent pool," says an HR manager with a FMCG company.

HR professional Ghosh warns that relying too much on social media currently may be detrimental in India as one might miss out on some really good candidates who may not be active on such platforms. "It may also be biased in favour of the younger members of Generation X and Y but for the more senior baby boomers' generation, this could be a challenge," says Mohinish Sinha, leadership & talent practice leader, Hay Group, South & South East Asia, Pacific & Africa.

For those in traditional manufacturing or service industries, it's difficult to ditch the traditional hiring process entirely. Yann Gillet, general manager, Park Hyatt, Chennai, says, "We still use the traditional means of hiring candidates; putting up ads, asking for resumes to be posted, requesting candidates to bring in their resumes when they come for interviews... But we do perform web searches on candidates - that helps us to expedite the process of hiring."

There's also the issue of information management. Not having a proper plan to check outflow of confidential information can tarnish an organisation's public image. Dell India advises that an organisation should ensure that its employees are trained on what content should be shared across social media channels. "One needs to ensure that there is a content calendar in place that is monitored on a regular basis," says the company. Hay Group's Sinha adds, "We would recommend social leaders conduct routine self-assessments and audits of their organisation's readiness and knowledge before handing the open microphone to customers and employees."

While there is consensus on the fact that social recruiting can give quicker results, cut down on unproductive vacancy days, experts also say that for best results it should be looked at as a long-term strategy, to build and maintain an online talent pool, rather than just that-a cost and time saving tool.

More from Sify: