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With everything going digital, it was only a matter of time before one of the most critical aspects of HR found an online home. Sabrina Zolkifi reports on the latest digital recruitment trends.

The growth of digital recruitment has increased recently, thanks to advancements in technology and the influx of social media into all aspects of the workplace.

As more companies attempt to create a larger global footprint, digital recruitment efforts have helped them reach out to a larger talent pool in a shorter period of time.

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“How candidates were sourced in the past will forever change – we now know too much about one another and that allows us to connect on a different level with potential candidates than ever before,” says Lori Russo, head of global talent acquisition at TripAdvisor.

“Digital tools create a great opportunity to connect and build a strong relationship; recruitment is becoming relationship-selling.”

The increase in digital recruitment uptake lends its success to that relationship-building, which helps companies better identify talent who will be a cultural fit with the current team.

While it can be argued that moving part or all of the recruitment function online adds noise to the hiring process, Nathalie Szwagrzyk, talent manager for employee engagement and employer branding at MSLGROUP, disagrees.

“What you want to aim at is not more profiles, but more of the right type of profiles,” she says.

“Social media enables you to bring your employer branding story to life and engage in a two-way conversation with potential candidates. If you do this right, you will start getting more qualitative applications and talent who really fit into the organisation.”

Sabrina Jaksa, head of HR at Hootsuite APAC, says it always asks one question as part of the application process: “What makes you unique?”

Candidates have to respond in a Twitter-style 140 characters, which Jaksa says helps the company get to know the potential talent better.

“Hands down, it is my favourite part of the application process as people can get really creative,” she says.

Jaksa says the experience has largely been positive since launching the company’s @HootHR Twitter profile, and while candidates may occasionally “go on a social media blitz to get our attention”, she says the company has always been able to stay on top of the communication.

“What we didn’t expect was how viral the creative resumes have gotten,” she says.

People have sent us custom resumes in the form of cakes, tea sets, beer, pillows, pizza, and even a Christmas tree.

“Our walls are lined with the amazing creative resumes we’ve received over the years.”

Building relationships in recruitment

Rajesh Rai, chief people officer at Eicher Motors (the manufacturers of Royal Enfield motorbikes), agrees it boils down to leveraging these online platforms to build relationships, rather than merely advertising available roles.

“We don’t sell our jobs, but we want these (future) employees to know about our cult product, our business and all the activities and developments that surround it,” he says. “We want them to know how passionate we are about biking, and how we are about the ‘pure joy of motor biking’. We certainly want them to know that we are always looking for people who love what we do and love our product.

“So we don’t target it towards a demography or skill set – we target it to whoever wants to join us for being Royal Enfield.”

With digital recruitment widening the talent pool, HR has to be more selective, with Rai adding this is when “intelligent sourcing comes to the fore”.

“All the profiles that are a fit now or will be a fit later are identified and worked upon either by taking the candidatures forward or by ensuring we have put them in our database.”

Russo shares one of the biggest focal points of the HR team at TripAdvisor is to communicate naturally with the brand’s followers, fans and potential candidates. However, she admits remaining fresh and “keeping the conversations going with all that want to have conversations” still remains a challenge.

“We have not perfected it yet, but we are working on it.”

And it’s not the only thing the company is working on. Late last year, TripAdvisor updated its careers page to provide potential candidates with more information on the company, as well as making sure the site was optimised for mobile.

Creating a digital window

“Candidates can see what it’s like working in our offices across the world, from our US headquarters to London, Singapore and Beijing by watching our ‘Day in the Life’ video tours,” Russo says.

“Sharing a passion for what we do and embracing our culture is very important in our interviews and selection process.”

In the spirit of having employees work as brand ambassadors online, Jaksa says Hootsuite created a “#hootsuitelife” tag on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest for staff to “share what life is like in the nest”.

“Potential employees most likely would be in the space already, or if they are curious about social, would look us up and may engage via social media,” she says.

Rai adds recruiters can also use social media to pick up hiring cues, such as buzzwords on a profile that may set a candidate apart.

They are after the untapped talent, and not for talent that is available on every other job board.

“All this contributes to the ease of the process. However, if the space becomes way too crowded, that’s when old-school recruiting techniques start to pay off,” Rai adds.

At Eicher, Rai admits they “are yet to fully use digital tools apart from the usual online job boards and career sites”.

“However, our use of LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter is widespread, but in a way that engages our prospective employees to our products and our business. Our process hinges on this strong engagement through social media to attract talent.”

This is something Szwagrzyk echoes: “With social media, it has become easier than ever to find passive candidates, approach them and nurture a long-term relationship until a right opportunity will come along.”

For Jaksa, it comes down to thinking about and planning the company’s social profiles and online representation, and adopting to changing behaviours, including younger demographics who are accessing career sites on mobile devices.

“Find HR professionals or companies who are doing digital recruitment well and follow them on social media. You can re-tweet or repost some content until you find your way.”

Russo adds digital tools will continue to change the way companies communicate and attract potential candidates.

“Keep learning and testing new solutions; what will work for one company does not mean it will work for yours. Find what works best for your company,” she says.

Szwagrzyk recommends partnering with a marketing or communications peer as they may be able to shed light and provide guidance when it comes to utilising social media.

She adds HR should also start approaching potential candidates as target audiences whose “online habits and preferences you need to research in order to successfully engage with them on the right social platforms”.

“In the end, what I keep saying to my HR colleagues is to not be afraid to experiment, try new things, assess results and go back if needed. This is all part of our journey to becoming more innovative HR.”

Image: Shutterstock

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