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How has social networking affected recruitment in the cleaning sector?

Lorraine_ThomasLorraine Thomas, managing director of specialist search and selection consultancy Metzger, considers the impact of social networking on recruitment. What are the benefits for cleaning sector employers using social media as part of a hiring strategy – and what are the potential pitfalls? 

There’s little doubt that the explosion in social media in recent years has had a big impact on the UK job market and the world of work in general. Typically, in the past, to recruit employees, companies would advertise opportunities in the local press, use their own network of contacts or post jobs online via the company website or on popular job boards.

But most employers nowadays realise that to attract the best talent for their business, a passive approach to hiring simply isn’t adequate. Today, both HR managers and recruiters are finding that they need to be much more proactive in their approach if they want to catch the attention of quality candidates – across all levels and sectors – and this means engaging with talent across a wide range of social networking platforms. In short, companies and recruiters need to be where their candidates are in order to engage them in the recruitment process – and increasingly, this means using networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Here at Metzger, as a specialist search and selection consultancy with more than 20 years of experience across the cleaning and FM sectors, our view is that social media ultimately supports our service. It has significantly expanded the visible talent pool with which we can engage and recruit from and we use certain channels and platforms ourselves when carrying out our rigorous research processes and drawing up targeted shortlists.

However, before social networking walks away with all the prizes here, it’s important to highlight a few points. First, our belief is that engaging and securing quality talent for any business is largely about relationships. Finding candidates with the right qualifications and experience is important, but so too is the right chemistry and cultural ‘fit’ between the two parties, the client and candidate. Hiring via social media alone simply doesn’t offer that depth in the way that an experienced recruiter, with years of knowledge in an industry sector and an enviable contact list, can. It also falls short when it comes to the robust selection and assessment of individuals, which, if overlooked, can undermine the whole process. After all, there can be issues around how reliable candidate details are online. People often only display what they want you to see!

It’s worth considering too, that not every suitable candidate is actively looking for a job. They might consider a move if there is an attractive offer and a compelling package on the table, but they’re not looking at job adverts. In this scenario, employers aren’t going to find these candidates on social media.

In our view, social media can certainly offer some quick gains for employers – especially when attracting job seekers who are actively looking for a new role. But the chances of a long-term successful hire are likely to be boosted when it is supported by more traditional recruitment methods.

Through valuable feedback from our cleaning and FM clients, many of whom we’ve known for many years, rather than recognising social media as a recruitment solution (where the recruiter becomes obsolete) employers are instead realising that they need to work more closely with the experts in order to get their hiring right first time. Unfortunately, recruitment mistakes are costly – and can be painful for all parties involved.

When it comes to engaging and attracting senior level talent, opinion is still divided as to whether reliance on social media channels is sufficient to reach the top level. Success often relies upon having an enviable network of contacts and, depending upon the level and sensitivity of the role, having an experienced consultant who can steer both the employer and candidate through delicate or difficult package negotiations, or an exit from a current role. Equally, an experienced search and selection consultancy should be able to think ‘outside the box’, bringing a diverse range of candidates from other markets or industries who can bring a fresh approach to the hiring company. Relying on existing contacts within an online networking sphere may not be adequate for filling a multi-faceted role.

There is no doubt that social media has improved the recruitment process by increasing the visible talent pool and by making things more transparent. But gaining a meaningful understanding of somebody’s capabilities or knowing the best person for a role can only be gained through personal knowledge of an individual and of a particular industry sector. It is unlikely therefore, that social media will replace traditional recruitment methods in the near future.

About Sarah OBeirne


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