Part II: The Simple But Overlooked Steps Every Candidate Must Take In The Networked Economy

By Tony Restell

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Tony Restell, Founder of

Many aspects of the recruiting process have evolved with the introduction of social media – and so therefore must your whole approach to jobhunting…

In Getting Hired: The Simple But Overlooked Steps Every Candidate Must Take In The Networked Economy I outlined what you need to be doing differently to succeed in today’s job market. In particular I walked you through how the advent of social media has empowered employers to build their own in-house recruitment practices to a degree that has never previously been possible. This in turn meant I demonstrated your routes into an employer have evolved quite dramatically too.

In Part II I promised that I would also write about the other major changes we have witnessed, namely:

Change #2: Social Media has made it possible for recruiters to engage with candidates in powerful new ways

Change #3: Social Media has opened up the possibility of hiring far more staff through referral channels

Change #4: Social Media gives recruiters a whole new insight into your strengths and weaknesses as a candidate

I’ll keep this snappier though so that you can get straight to thinking about how your own job hunt strategy may need to evolve…

Change #2: Social Media has made it possible for recruiters to engage with candidates in powerful new ways

In my earlier article we talked about the fact that a staggering 84% of employers are using social media to reach candidates who might otherwise not apply for their jobs – and that it’s more common for them to try to source candidates (ie. approach them directly) via social media than to post jobs on social media sites. This is one reason it’s critical for candidates to have a strong social media presence.

But another thing you may have read about is recruiters building up talent pools. Essentially talent pools are a following of candidates who are of the calibre and profile that the business could potentially want to hire at some point in the future. For the recruiter there are pros and cons to this approach, but the essential point is that many feel it’s a great asset for a company to have lots of quality candidates already primed and eager to join a business.

Hence a lot of the recruitment activity you see on the likes of Twitter and Facebook involves recruiters striking up a relationship with candidates; building the profile of the employer brand; raising awareness of typical career paths within the business; providing the opportunity to engage in discussions with employees doing the jobs you aspire to doing.

Some employers do this very much via broadcasting – that’s to say a one-way flow of messages from the employer to the potential hires, rather than a genuine attempt to engage in conversations. But many are far more engaged than this – and will proactively respond to enquiries, encourage conversations to flourish and provide a genuine route for conversation with the prospective employer to take place.

The thing for candidates to be aware of is that this activity may well pay off in the longer term rather than in the immediate future. Having built up rapport with recruiters in advance of applying to a job clearly puts one at an advantage. But having these relationships can only benefit your application at the point at which the business is actually looking to employ someone with your specific skillset. That may or may not coincide with the time window in which you’re actually looking to move (which incidentally is one of the points the detractors of talent pools as a recruiting strategy would raise)

For those planning ahead their career advancement strategy, following recruiters / employer brands and engaging in dialogue with them is certainly an activity that will provide helpful insights into the businesses – and open doors for career discussions to take place. If done in advance of needing to find a new job, it also gives you an immediate route to market at the point in your career where you do want or need to move. The cautionary note would be for those finding they need to secure a new job quickly but who have yet to engage in such activity. In that scenario you’re limited to trying to engage with recruiters who you can see are actively recruiting in your space (or potentially losing a lot of time engaging with those you’re interested in but who have nothing to offer you by way of suitable vacancies).

Change #3: Social Media has opened up the possibility of hiring far more staff through referral channels

For the decade and a half that I’ve had exposure to the recruitment market, referral hires have always been employers’ hands-down preferred source of new hires. Referral hires can often be recruited faster than via other routes; there’s less likely to be the problem that the new hire proves not to be a good cultural fit for the business when they join; and historically such hires have tended to have longer tenure with the company than hires from other sources.

The issue has always been one of reach.

Before social media came to the fore, employers were lacking the tools to really make referral hiring a significant contributor to fulfilling their hiring needs. The emergence of LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and others has catapulted referral hiring onto a new plain. Whilst it will still not fulfil more than a fraction of hiring requirements, it’s now in a much stronger place to deliver than it has been in the past. If you're in any doubt about this - or just want to understand the trend some more - take a look at Jobvite Data Confirms What We All Suspected: Referrals Are The Leading Source Of Candidate Hires for a full appreciation of what this means to recruiters.

The key message I would impart to candidates is that – wherever possible – you should be looking for opportunities to be introduced to an employer via a referral channel. If recruiters are far more inclined to hire via this route than any other, then that’s the route by which you want to approach an employer if at all possible.

Specifically you should be active on social media and building up your networks to include as many (genuine) contacts as possible. I would also suggest keeping your more trusted contacts aware of any intentions you have to explore new career options, so that any referral schemes they are party to they in turn will be inclined to channel towards you.

I can’t stress enough that since the last time you tried to change jobs, this hiring channel has really gained in strength and you ignore this change at your peril.

Change #4: Social Media gives recruiters a whole new insight into your strengths and weaknesses as a candidate

Through your LinkedIn profile you give recruiters a second take on your resume – and through your profile picture an impression of your attention to detail and the professional image you like to portray. Through your recommendations (or lack of them) you provide insights into your professional standing. Through the care (or lack of) lavished on perfecting and tweaking your profile you give off impressions, favourable or otherwise. Through your interactions on Twitter, in LinkedIn Groups and the like you provide glimpses of what your personality and professionalism are like when your guard is down.

At every turn, social media is providing recruiters with insights about you that they simply wouldn’t have had even a few short years ago. And since the statistics show that recruiters mostly look at these other reference points at the time they receive your resume (not when they’re thinking of making a job offer), a failure to spruce up your social media profiles prior to submitting your applications could stop you from ever even getting the call to interview.


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