Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Twitter for HR Risky Business? Perhaps Not!

Over the last four years, human resource professionals have sought ways to stay with “the curve” for dealing with social media. Social media sites, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter have began to take center stage for firms of all sizes. As firms race to have a presence out there, they also must find ways to use social media as a tool to increase brand awareness, manage customer image, promote products and services, and to attract people to the firm. While those tasks are not new, what is new and changing is the means by which it is done. Whereas print, radio, television, and face-to-face networking may have been the means twenty years ago, today social media is beginning to take over. So how do human resource (HR) professionals utilize the tools of social media, specifically Twitter? One of the most significant ways is though recruitment.

Despite the risks perceived by utilizing social media, including Twitter, firms have determined that the risk is worth it to reach young recruits and new talent. Firms feel it is a more proactive approach in connecting to new and younger talent as most of that talent spends significant amounts of time online (Walker, 2010). Even in spite of changes in job search websites or job boards, firms are choosing to shift money for recruitment advertising toward less expensive social media, including Twitter (Needlehman, 2010). A 2011 Jobvite survey confirms this trend, showing that almost 55% of the respondents were investing more on social media for recruitment, with significant decreases in spending on job boards and third party recruiters or search firms (Jobvite, 2011).

The numbers tell the story about the change in use of social media. According to research conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) in April of 2011 (Soceity for Human Resource Manangement, 2011), from 2008 to 2011there was a 22% increase in respondents that utilized social media to recruit potential candidates. The same research lists the following top five reasons firms use social media: to recruit passive job candidates who might not otherwise apply or be contracted by the organization, less expensive than other methods of recruiting job candidates, to increase employer brand and recognition, to target a specific job level to recruit or contact, and can target job candidates with specific skill sets. The report also indicated that compared to 2008, staffing “other management” and “non-managerial salaried” utilizing social media increased over 23%. The clear indicator the report offers that times are changing is at least a 30% increase, compared to 2008, in the belief that social media is an efficient way to recruit candidates. Clearly, HR professionals “buy in” to the recruiting power of social media.

HR professions also offer their own testimony about using social media, specifically twitter, in their recruitment processes. Blogger and consultant, Jennifer McClure, shares of her Twitter experience in a recent blog post (McClure, 2011). Jennifer looked to Twitter to “brand herself and the company she worked for,” as well as to identify potential candidates. Jennifer found it important to learn how to connect, build relationships, and find business benefits as she began to utilize Twitter. One of the biggest benefits she found was “building an awareness of top talent in her local area… that she could consider for opportunities with her clients.” That statement represents the aspect that Twitter excels in, and that is referrals.

When respondents of the Jobvite Social Recruiting Survey 2011, were asked to “rate” the quality of candidates from a variety of ways, referrals (including from social networks) ranked tops, with candidates for social networks in general ranking “mid pack” (Jobvite, 2011). Jennifer McClure also mentions the significance of referrals in an earlier blog post. She states that “Because Twitter is a place where people network, ask questions or mention needs, I’ve spotted a number of opportunities in the last three years where I’ve been able to introduce one of my contacts – which resulted in new clients or new jobs for them. “Social networking” works the same way old-fashioned networking does. It’s about building relationships and connecting people!” (McClure, Celebrating Twitter as a Business Communication Tool, 2011). Her same blog post also stresses building relationships and friendships through Twitter; but also the need to manage time “tweeting” as well as utilizing the tools of Twitter to make it a more powerful tool.

Twitter also allows potential recruits to get a glimpse at the corporate culture. Tweets posted by other employees, HR professionals and even upper management allow for a chance to see what a firm is really like, before the potential recruit even schedules an interview (Walker, 2010).

While recruiting may take center stage for HR’s use of Twitter, is certainly is not the only use. That same younger or newer talent that was sought by recruiters though social media also seems to enjoy feedback that is more responsive once employed (Silverman, 2011). While a “tweet” is not used to offer a performance review, but rather the need for updates and feedback changes the timing and structure of the feedback. In addition, Twitter allows for other HR professionals to network with each other where they can stay attuned to industry changes and trends, which is especially beneficial to HR professionals in smaller firms that may lack access to resources of larger firms.

Twitter, in addition to other forms of social media play a significant role in the work of HR professionals. Twitter is a proven branding, recruitment, and culture tool. Based upon how rapidly Twitter has been adopted, deployed, and utilized it is clear that its place is cemented in the works of today’s HR professionals.

Works Cited

Jobvite. (2011). Social Recruiting Survey 2011. Burlingame: Jobvite.
McClure, J. (2011, August 17). 5 Mistakes Recruiters Make on Twitter. Retrieved September 24, 2011, from Unbrideled Talent: http://unbridledtalent.com/2011/08/17/5-mistakes-recruiters-make-on-twitter/

McClure, J. (2011, March 1). Celebrating Twitter as a Business Communication Tool. Retrieved September 24, 2011, from Unbridled Talent: http://unbridledtalent.com/2011/03/01/celebrating-twitter-as-a-business-communication-tool/

Needlehman, S. E. (2010, August 19). Dot-Jobs Draws Worry. Wall Street Journal , p. B.5.

Silverman, R. E. (2011, September 6). Managing & Careers: Yearly Reviews? Try Weekely. Wall Street Journal , p. B.6.

Soceity for Human Resource Manangement. (2011, April n/a). SHRM Research Spotlight: Social Networking Wesites and Staffing. Retrieved September 24, 2011, from Society for Human Resource Management: http://www.shrm.org/Research/SurveyFindings/Documents/Social%20Networking%20Flyer_Staffing%20Conference_FINAL1.pdf

Walker, J. (2010, June 8). Firms Invest Big in Career Sites. Wall Street Journal (Online) , p. n/a.

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