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Social network effect lost on job market
Rick Gangwani
update on Saturday, April 9, 2011
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While the number of Hong Kong Facebook users might have surpassed the three million mark, social networks have yet to play a significant role in the city's job market, a leading recruitment specialist says.

"Most recruiters here don't use [social platforms] as a primary source of information," says Emma Charnock, Hays' regional director for Hong Kong and China. "They tend to use them more as a backup tool for extending the vetting process or for following up after interviews."

One area where the medium does appear to be more useful is for assessing candidate feedback, she says, which can help improve an employer's ability to gauge market perceptions of them. "Candidates are often very free with sharing their experience while interviewing with a company. When an employer fails to make a good impression or fails to get back to them, they often share that experience."

When advising employers, Charnock advocates adopting a better sense of awareness, since events that take place during the recruitment process can have a lasting effect on a company's employment brand.

In terms of social platforms, Charnock favours LinkedIn over Facebook and Twitter, which she feels do not project the same degree of professionalism.

"If I were to approach a client about a candidate I found on Facebook, I somehow doubt it would hold much credibility," she says.

As for how employers should interact on social platforms, Charnock suggests having a firm set of internal policies and guidelines in place, a notion that's starting to set in here.

"I've seen a big trend, especially over the past 12 months, of a more managed approach [to social networks]. In comparison, if you were to look at the situation 18 months ago, it was still very much a greenfield subject, with a lot of random information being put up there."

Candidates should take an equally vigilant approach, Charnock warns. "They've got to be wary of their digital footprint at all times, whether or not they're actively searching for a job."

Having said that, she does go on to add that social networks can serve as a useful tool for job-seekers and employees to market themselves by blogging or sharing stories about the latest developments in their industry.

Charnock notes that while she expects social media to play a more prominent role in the job market, drastic changes over the next three to five years are unlikely. "I think more HR managers will start [to] leverage social media for their candidate search," she says. "But I don't think it will replace traditional methods - I think it will enhance them."

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