As the monumental shift towards all things online and digital continues in people's daily lives, recruitment processes have become more social media-focused. The Drum spoke to three recruitment experts to find out what advertising, design, digital media and marketing job-hunters should be thinking about in their online search for work.
Q. How much of the recruitment process is now done entirely online?
Gareth Wright, director of The Little Black Book Agency: This wholly depends on the nature of the vacancy. It is quite possible, if the vacancy is a last minute freelance requirement, for the whole process to be done and dusted online. Job applications are now always online and have been for some time. Initial assessments on critiquing creative portfolios or setting technical or psychometric tests are easily and often done online, where these are used by a company.
Farooq Mohammed, co-owner of Digital Gurus: Almost every CV is now sent via email – however, almost all interviews still take place face to face. There is an element of Skype sometimes but even then clients usually arrange for a person to come in face to face. Ultimately, people want to deal with people directly, especially if they hire them. The process for application has changed, but the final stage is still very much the same.
Lucy Simpson, managing director at October: It’s fair to say that candidate attraction is now done entirely online, but not the whole way. The need to meet candidates face to face is still very much the preferred choice when selecting the right person to hire.
There's increasing chatter about video-interviewing - is this a rising trend jobseekers need to be on top of?
Simpson: We do often screen candidates through video and some of our clients will use video for a first stage interview, but usually the process will continue with a face to face interview. With the advent of new innovative video technologies such as Vine and the increased usage of YouTube as a creative way to present yourself as a jobseeker, we believe video will become more important in the recruitment and job interview process.
Mohammed: I have become more aware of first interviews being done over Skype if a person cannot attend for a face to face. Final decisions are still rarely made after a phone interview.
Wright: The video interviews that I have arranged have all been due to location or travel difficulties – most often when a candidate is relocating to the UK from abroad. Video/Skype/WebEx interviews, in my experience, are only ever considered for initial interviews and, if the company is keen to progress with that candidate, a face to face interview will always be the next step. Video communications technology has proved useful in the recruitment process but it will never replace the traditional interview – cultural fit and presence are factors too important when hiring staff and it’s difficult, almost impossible, to gauge this any other way than meeting somebody face to face.
How essential has social media become in the recruitment process?
Mohammed: LinkedIn is changing the way recruitment is done – it is highly valuable as a resource for both recruiters and clients, linked in is a much better way for a candidate to now find a job, rather than posting a CV onto a job board. We use Twitter as a definite means of finding new candidates but it is much better for contract recruitment rather then permanent hires. Twitter is a new channel for application and publication rather then actually finding a job.
Wright: Social media tools are incredibly common and have been for some time now. LinkedIn is, for obvious reasons, the most important of these tools. I have been using it since 2004 but it is since 2008/2009, when it became much more popular with professionals outside of London, that it has become an integral part of everything we do.
We, as a company, now use LinkedIn numerous times every day – it is a readily available database which is self-populating and is the easiest way to keep up-to-date with the industry’s movers and shakers. Twitter is a great resource for both candidates and employers – we find it especially useful for freelance/last-minute vacancies and it is invaluable for ‘spreading the word’ and receiving referrals.
Simpson: An interesting topic that’s come up with the rise of social media for recruitment is, of course, the importance of your digital footprint. This is a hot topic and really relevant for absolutely everyone who has any form of online presence. Unless you want to be completely under the radar - and let’s face it, who does? - social media channels are a fantastic way to shout about your presence, showcase your talents, show the world what you look like and share your thought leadership.
If you’ve created a great profile and used the right SEO keywords it’s a really good way to come up on general Internet searches too. It’s not very common to see recruiters making good use of Twitter and Facebook for candidate attraction, and far rarer to see them using less common channels, such as Pinterest. However, Pinterest is a channel we’re leading the way with and have had remarkable success with; we even advertise some of our jobs on Pinterest.
Is sending out a traditional CV worth bothering about anymore?
Wright: I can’t say I have seen this type of process for over seven years. Having always worked in the creative sector, clients and candidates have been quick on the uptake of digital. Back when I used to work in London, we had traditional creative portfolios couriered to clients for them to take a look at, but nowadays all creatives have a website or, at least, a PDF of samples that can be viewed electronically.
Simpson: We expect our candidates and jobseekers to be on the ball with new social media channels or at least send us their CV by email. We do sometimes forego candidates who aren’t found on LinkedIn, and we know that hiring managers are as picky about candidates as we are. As we found in our 2013 salary survey, 97 per cent of hiring managers will look at your LinkedIn profile so it’s important to have a pristine profile if you want to be considered for a role. It’s great to be able to see a candidate’s profile picture and all the extra information that won’t fit in your CV but most importantly, LinkedIn is a wonderful place to see what connections a candidate has and the recommendations they have on their profile. LinkedIn should be seen by jobseekers as an extension of their CV because this is what employers are using it for.
How can jobseekers make the most of the online tools available to them in their job search?
Mohammed: Recruitment, like many industries, has changed with the advancement of technology. Having your LinkedIn up to date is a key way of making sure your best foot is put forward. Social media has changed the landscape of looking for a job – it is now no longer looking for a job, social media allows the job to look for you.
Simpson: Look good; upload a great, professional profile picture, make sure your channels and descriptions are well thought out, especially on LinkedIn. Be visible and make sure you keep your social channels updated consistently. Be proactive and constantly make connections; people are more open to connecting as there’s less at stake and its considered 'OK' to link in with a recruiter nowadays without your boss assuming you're looking to move.
Upload key industry articles, i.e. align yourself with thought-leading pieces and comment on other people's. Try to be a content creator not just a content curator. If you’re not going to commit to sending semi-regular tweets, it's probably best not to even have a Twitter account. Don't forget Facebook as a business tool; it’s not just for talking about the football! Find and 'like' your target companies; you'll be able to see first-hand what it's really like to work there - company nights out, office pranks etc.
Wright: The key here is to make the most of the variety of tools that are available to jobseekers online. No one individual site is going to fulfil all of your needs. Ensure you are registered with as many job boards as possible – and that includes specialist and generalist job boards. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date and informative; recruiters, both agency and client, will inevitably search for this, so it should be as pristine as your CV. If your Twitter profile is easily found, ensure that you are happy for your tweets to be seen by a potential employer - we have had candidates rejected because of what has been found on their Twitter page.
Follow companies that you are interested in working for and follow recruitment agencies who specialise in your sector. Register on the sites of those specialist recruiters and, along with the job boards, keep checking what is coming up and available. The digital age has made so many parts of our lives easier and searching for a new job is included, but there is no substitute for hard work and commitment - you still have to go out and find a job; it’s not going to come to you.