Posts Tagged ‘WikiJob’

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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WikiJob Poll: Is the recession over?

June 17, 2009

This is the latest post in the WikiJob Poll analysis series. This time I will be looking at WikiJob users’ views on whether or not the recession is over, and how that compares with other people’s views.

The latest poll asked “Is the recession over?” (with answer options of Yes or No) and as of writing this there have been a pretty credible 262 votes cast. With an overwhelming victory for those thinking the recession is not over yet; 216 votes compared with 46 votes for ‘Yes’ (see Chart 1).

WikiJob Poll: Is the recession over?

Chart 1 - WikiJob Poll: Is the recession over?

I had been keeping an eye on the poll’s progress and that ratio has been pretty consistent from the very beginning so it would appear that WikiJob users have not experienced much, if any, of the supposed “green shoots” appearing in the economy.

The CBI recently announced that it believed the UK economy was stabilising but that we wouldn’t begin to see a return to growth until early 2010. (www.cbi.co.uk). This was based on the second quarter GDP and inflation results along with the CBI’s own forecasts.

On the 17th the Office for National Statistics released the latest unemployment figures with a rise in May of those claiming job-seekers allowance of 39,000, less than what some economists had predicted.

Most WikiJob users would, I guess, base their impression of the recession on their experiences and probably from a jobs perspective (given WikiJob is about jobs!). I am sure there are many students who have just finished their exams, and who have been unable to get a position lined up earlier in the year, who are now really stepping up their efforts in finding a graduate role, but coming up with limited opportunities and massive competition. The stats aren’t great: with a fall of nearly 5% in the number of 18-24 year olds in employment.

The poll results probably also reflect the industry preferences of the WikiJob users (see Chart 2).

WikiJob Poll: What industry are you most interested in?

Chart 2 - WikiJob Poll: What industry are you most interested in?

With the users’ interest  heavily concentrated in the financial and professional services industries [Accounting, Consulting and Banking account for over 2/3 of respondents]. I see the banking and consulting sectors as being particularly hard hit (out of the options), slightly less so the large accounting firms. But still none of these compare to the pain being felt in the manufacturing sector in particular by the smaller specialist manufacturers which the UK seems to specialise in.

From what I have read many, better-informed people than me, believe that while the economy is showing signs of stabilising and some even believe there may be some positive signs. But current students and recent graduates don’t seem to be experiencing these, and are currently pretty pessimistic. An interesting employer perspective I received in talking with graduate recruiters druing my job search was that those companies who completely cut their graduate recruitment following the dot-com crash found that in the last couple of years there is a dearth of people coming up through the ranks to occupy the vital junior/middle management roles, which was why they hadn’t cut their graduate recruitment this time round.

I will close with a couple of quotes:

Alan Clarke, UK economist at BNP Paribas, said: “We are certainly moving in the right direction and this is one of a number of very encouraging signals that we have seen.”

and finally Stephen Boyle, Head of RBS Group Economics, said in his UK Monthly Economic Update “Signs of stabilisation are one thing, a sustained recovery is an entirely different matter as demand conditions remain weak. The sustained upward movement in long-term interest rates in recent months threatens to pour weed killer on any green shoots…”

Good luck in your job hunting, many jobs are still out there, at least you are giving yourself an advantage with the fantastic resources available on Wikijob and its forums.

WikiJob Stats Man (read more of my thoughts at richardthinks.wordpress.com)

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WikiJob: Knowledge Sharing in Action

February 12, 2009

WikiJob, as I discussed in my last post, is a British community-based website dedicated to helping students and graduates to secure places on graduate and internship schemes, through wiki-pages about many of the largest organisation’s graduate schemes and the varying recruitment processes they use, and the use of a forum where people can receive help on any questions they might have.

With the site’s core audience being students and recent graduates (roughly aged 19-24) it is perfectly suited. This audience, is popularly called the Net Generation or Generation Y, and have grown up with computers and the Internet, with their comfort with technology comes a willingness to share their experiences with others, whether through status updates on Facebook, tweets on Twitter, or posts and comments on blogs.

This sharing culture is enabling the users of WikiJob to perform better in recruitment processes through having more knowledge of what will happen at each stage and a more accurate view of what an organisation is truly like. On both of these fronts, in the past graduates and students would have been reliant on what the organisation says (if you believe what they say you’d conclude they are all super-green, give the best training, and are fun places to work… is this really the case?), or if they are lucky what an acquaintance who works there says about it. When trying to choose who to apply for it is very difficult to make informed decisions, which is what probably leads people to just apply to anyone and everyone in a scatter-gun approach, harming their performance in the process. WikiJob users have often been through the process, and some are now working as graduates in many of these organisations with the knowledge to help give other users the knowledge to make better choices.

Interesting Info about WikiJob

Of the users who signed up in WikiJob’s first three months, over 90% are still active on the site (info courtesy of Ed at WikiJob). Which is quite an incredible statistic from my perspective, I’m sure most forums and websites on any subject matter have relatively short active membership periods, where users sign up to get a question answered and then dissolve into the ether; indeed on the average graduate job board the user life span is typically less than 2-3 weeks (info courtesy of Ed at WikiJob).

This quote nicely sums up what the founders of WikiJob have created:

But then.. we’re not just a job board. We’re a community, and once you join in and starting communicating with people it’s a nice place to come back to again and again – we hope!

WikiJob – A Knowledge Market?

Knowledge buyers or seekers are usually trying to resolve an issue whose complexity and uncertainty precludes an easy answer… Knowledge seekers are looking for insights, judgements and understanding. (p.457, Cross and Prusak, 2003)

WikiJob has >175,000 visits each month, of this only a proportion will be registered members. Indeed just this minute on the forums guests out-numbered logged-in members 4:1. So just like most markets, there are many more buyers or seekers of knowledge than suppliers.

Knowledge sellers are people in an organization with an internal market reputation for having substantial knowledge about a process or subject… Although virtually everyone is a knowledge buyer at one time or another, not everyone is necessarily a seller. Some people are skilled but unable to articulate their tacit knowledge. Others have knowledge that is too specialized, personal, pr limited to be of much value on the knowledge market.(p.458, Cross and Prusak, 2003)

Cross and Prusak (2003) say that knowledge sellers (I will call them ‘knowledge suppliers’) assign a value to their knowledge, but as WikiJob is free to everyone, in its case knowledge suppliers are acting altruistically in providing information to others for free. Indeed by providing insights and knowledge to someone going for the same graduate scheme as you may increase the competition of competent candidates out of the seller’s favour.

What benefit is derived from providing information?

Knowledge suppliers placing knowledge that they have acquired onto wiki and forum pages for everyone else to read and learn from, must bring some benefits for it to be worth their while. I believe there are three main reasons for this knowledge sharing to take place:

  • Supply their knowledge for others to benefit in an act of altruism, “for the good of the rest of this community”;
  • Believe that by supplying knowledge to others they will increase the chance of getting a good answer to their questions when they seek knowledge;
  • For the rewarding feeling when you hear that the knowledge they supplied has helped another student of graduate get a job offer.

So, what does Richard think about this?

WikiJob is a fantastic example of knowledge sharing revolving around a community of like-minded people and also of a knowledge market in action. Its success is based around the willingness of members to contribute knowledge to the community, for whatever reasons they may have. It is like having the world’s largest network of friends ready to answer your questions around applying for graduate jobs or internships, something which would have been nearly impossible without the Internet, and quite possibly this is the first generation of people who would have the willing to share their experiences on such a large scale. Long may it continue!

Reference:

Cross, R., & Prusak, L. (2003). The Political Economy of Knowledge Markets in Organizations. In M. Easterby-Smith, & M. A. Lyles (Eds.), The Blackwell Handbook of Organizational Learning and Knowledge Management (pp. 454-472). Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.)

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