It's a funny old world, recruitment. On the one hand, you have some recruiters talking about social media like it's the second coming. On the other, you have others saying its simply the recruitment equivalent of 'big hair' - a fashion fly by night that has a shorter life than your average cheap firework.

Rarely though, do you find a recruiter that champions social media in one breath, then goes on to snuff out its potential in another. So midly surprised was I, when I picked up the latest copy of the UK's leading recruitent rag, Recruiter and came across two differing viewpoints on social media from the same person, within 7 pages of the magazine.

On page 14 of the latest edition lies a feature entitled 'Recruit socially but responsibily' featuring the opinons of, amongs others, Geoff Newman, MD of both a mass job posting business and a traditional rcruitment agency. In the feature he is qoted as saying that far from representing a threat to agencies, networking sites were an opportunity for them "to make an absolute fortune". An interesing feature that goes on to talk about the fact that agencies that dont get 'social media' will be at a significant disadvantage to those that are using it to 'add value' to clients.

Imagine my surprise then, that not 7 pages later, Geoff is featured in the 'soapbox' page - a place where recruiters can have their say - entitled "Don't believe the social media hype". The article leads with 'Forget Twitter and facebook..." and Geoff goes on to make quotes such as:

"can you make placements from social media"


"one internal researcher i spoke to within a top 5 accountancy firm said he "didnt have the time to use social media. We used it last year but we are now too busy"

and the classic

"All clients really want is a fast response with the right applicant. Job boards already achieve this, so why change what works?"

Oh dear.

Geoff's comments sum up everything that is wrong in terms of attitude of recruiters in terms of social media. Many recruiters will never see the benefits of embracing social media, simply because there is no space for social media engagement in the typical recruitment environment - or should I say regime - of KPI's such as cold calls, CV's sent out, 'deals closed' and hard targets met.

Ok, I confess, even I, known widely amongst my friends as an early adopter of all things remotely new, had trouble getting my head around twitter. I registered, tweeted, and waited. And waited some more. It wasnt until I had worked out the concept of following and 'retweeting' that it became an invaluable tool, giving me access to information that would otherwise have passed me by and also to people that I would never have crossed paths with without it.

My consultants are now using twitter and other tools in their daily conversations. Have we made placements from it? LinkedIn yes, Twitter no. But slowly, candidates and clients are coming to twitter. And more importantly, new people that we would not normally have met are now included in our networks.

The more you use it, the more potential you can see in it and value you can get out of it. Social media now forms a key part of our marketing strategy and for us, twitter value entered a whole new dimension when we used it as a central theme to bring people in our network together. I wont go into the full story on here, but you can read the outcome and some of the feedback about our #ConnectingHR event here.

Longer term I have no idea how all this stuff will pan out or whether tools like twitter will have any long term sustainability. I guess there will always be the 'next big thing'. But for as long as recruiters adopt the 'it aint broke so why fix it?' they will never see the potential benefits.

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Comment by Bryan Wempen on April 2, 2010 at 1:19pm
Excellent post! Call me an idealist but I'm hopeful that recruiters, all of HR and company leaders will read your perspective. It will resonate in a way so they're organizations' are not left behind by a global economy that is going to act very different in the future. Option: if anyone is a fan of repeating history let's look back to all those fly-by-night concepts: "horseless carriage", "talking box", "rock-n-roll", "computers", "mobile phones", "i-n-t-e-r-n-e-t" and the list goes on and on.
Comment by Randy Levinson on April 2, 2010 at 2:51pm
Great post Gareth. And Bryan, I had practically drafted an identical comment in my head after reading Gareth's first paragraph. The key, in all new things, is balance. we can't waste too much time fretting about the ROI and we can't just ignore the newness of something because we think it is merely "faddish" but as recruiters (people with perhaps the most adaptability in any job this side of Bear Grylls) we do need to at least dabble, from time to time embrace, and maybe eventually define our jobs by it. It happens and we respond. If we didn't ever do this then thing of how small our industry would be (with only 5 computers in the world) or the fact that we would not even be having this discussion. Cheers.


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