Posts Tagged ‘User-generated content’

Impact of Web 2.0 and Social Media on graduate recruitment

June 21, 2009

In this post I want to explore what kind of impact Web 2.0 and social media are having on graduate recruitment and how I think recruiters should tackle it.

Quick summary of Web 2.0 and social media:

Web 2.0, described by the founder of Flock as the ‘participatory web’ is all about websites providing a platform for users to share, collaborate, and interact with each other (i.e. Flickr, Facebook etc.). Social media on the other hand is content created by ordinary users using easily accessible tools; according to Wikipedia it is: “transforming monologues (one to many) into dialogues (many to many) and is the democratization of information, transforming people from content readers into publishers.” It can be seen in the form of blogs, forums, wikis.

So what impact are these having on graduate recruitment?

I see it impacting in two main areas: (1) information about companies and their recruiting processes getting much greater exposure, (2) students and graduates making much more informed decisions about which organisations to apply to.

1. the rise of blogs, social networking sites, forums and wikis have led to a massive increase in the number of people sharing their experiences of companies, their recruitment processes, and what is actually involved in a job. So students and recent graduates now have much more information readily available to them than even five years ago. There are both positive and negative aspects to this… applicants may share the details of recruitment processes, I don’t think companies are particularly pleased when details about their current assessment centre case studies appear on the internet! But it can lead to candidates being more prepared for what to expect, reducing their nerves and enabling the company to see the true person.

2. With all of this extra information available at their fingertips, students/graduates are able to make more informed choices about their future careers and graduate employers. By having all the information about a particular role, career, or company available at their fingertips graduates are able to refine their job search to the most relevant careers and companies, and make more informed, relevant and honed applications. Benefiting both the applicant and the recruiters.

So how can recruiters get the maximum benefit?

Some organisations were quick to get a presence on social networking sites, and some of the biggest graduate recruiters have had diary-like “blogs” (PwC used to, but I can’t find any on their website nowUpdate: PwC now have a section dedicated to blogs by 8 employees at PwCPeople). But in the beginning these invariably were monologues, with no two-way conversations between readers and ‘publisher’. The only way I can see organisations benefiting from either a presence on social networking sites or engaging in social media is to provide and maintain a dialogue with the readers. One good example I have found is Ernst & Young‘s Facebook page , where someone is actively involved on “the wall” responding to and encouraging questions from prospective applicants. But this is only US-focused… What are the EY’s HR people doing in the UK about engaging with social media?

I see this simple act of engaging with applicants (much like real-life graduate job fairs), as adding to each applicant’s experience of the organisation, and that may help sway them to apply to your roles. Having a page on your careers website where someone writes a diary about their work life, while providing a good idea of what is involved in a career, does not really cut it in terms of answering people’s questions and providing a human aspect to the big corporate image!

But what about the things the recruiter cannot control?

With all of this user-generated content, it is possible for a few people sharing a negative experience of your organisation for your image to take a big hit (i.e. “Dell Hell”). To counteract this, not only is it necessary to have a right-first time approach to costumer-facing areas of a business but also to engage your target audience on their own turf. You have to be involved in the parts of the web where people might post comments, questions, or rants, and ideally respond to them, get involved.

That may be very hard with the likes of Twitter, but on targeted forums (such as those at WikiJob) it would be possible for a recruiter to develop a good dialogue with the people they need to attract to their organisation. I can see that this may pose issues for many organisations in terms of cost for someone to sit there and answer questions. But they could make a good start by embracing the ‘democratisation of information’ and opening up about all the steps in their recruitment process and what they are looking for (e.g. on the wiki pages at WikiJob).

Richard’s Conclusion…

Social media and web 2.0 platforms are here to stay, and with ever more internet savvy students and graduates it will be a necessity for graduate recruiters to get involved and by developing a dialogue with your target audience portray the true culture of the organisation, not stick to the publishing model of brochures and static websites dictating what you are about. Let graduates feel it and make their own mind up, trust me they will be taking what you say in your brochures with a HUGE pinch of salt. They would rather hear what it is like, and what is involved, from a real person (preferably one of their peers).

So recruiters: you will have to do it eventually, so why not start now and be the company all the graduates want to work for!

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