Jobseekers are forsaking classified ads in favour of the social media route to landing a dream job.
|Illustration: Tanmaya Tyagi|
THE YEAR was 1996, and the only internet access that was available was a dial-up connection through VSNL. (Anybody remember VSNL now??) Indians, or rather, the young Indian software engineers who were looking to go to the US during the 90s, had discovered a web-based mail service email, the Hotmail! They figured out that having a Hotmail account enabled them to post their resume online, and get connected with employers directly. And all they needed for that was an internet access from a cyber café.
The rest, as they say is history.
Sabeer Bhatia, the founder of Hotmail, sat up in Sunnyvale when he saw the crazy numbers for the newly-launched service coming in from India! An India that was not necessarily known for catching on to new technology trends, but then, when it comes to landing jobs, we have always been quick learners. We can access the right medium that will take us where we want to go. It is as innate in us, as it is to jostle our way ahead in a crowd.
Therefore, it’s not at all surprising that social networks such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn have become extremely popular with both passive and active job seekers today. LinkedIn, is by far the most popular, as most of us perceive it as a ‘professional network.’ A LinkedIn public profile is fast replacing the resume itself.
One can see the activity level pick up over weekends, when executives take time to spruce up their profile, connect to recruiters (yes, even when they are not looking out), and learn a thing or two about who is recruiting actively in their space. If we were to follow the US trend, which usually repeats in India albeit with a lag, then the picture gets even more interesting.
A recent survey by Jobvite has thrown up some interesting statistics:
- One in six workers use social media to get hired
- Almost 90 per cent of job seekers have a profile on a social media site
- 54 per cent of all job hunters use Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn to land their dream jobs
- 50 per cent of job seekers used Facebook, 25 per cent used Twitter, and 36 per cent used LinkedIn to look for a job in the last 12 months
- 18.4 million Americans say Facebook got them their current jobs. The numbers for Twitter and LinkedIn are 10.2 million and 8 million respectively
So, how long will it take before we, in India, embrace the global trend, forsaking the traditional classified ad route to finding a job? We don’t have to look far for an answer. As on date, LinkedIn, Facebook and Glassdoor, among them, have the second largest subscriber base in India, after the US.
LinkedIn has 10 million+, and we can safely assume that a bulk of these would be job seekers, or employers, given the nature of the site. It rules the mid-to-high end hiring in India. Glassdoor, which is a niche jobsite, has an app called ‘Inside Connections’ that lets you uncover who, from your Facebook network, works for the company you are targeting. The fact that Glassdoor gets 17.5 per cent of its users from India says a lot about the popularity of this network among Indian job seekers. I hardly encounter anyone going for an interview today, who has not checked out what Glassdoor has to say about the company, and specifically about the company’s team in India.
Have you seen Miller’s recent ‘coolest job’ campaign? Miller was looking to recruit freshers with a certain attitude, typifying their byline ‘Work hard, party hard’, to promote their Miller High Life beer. They decided to take the Facebook route, given the age group they were targeting. The campaign was so well received that it not just delivered them the candidates, but also made them very popular with the pub-hopping youth segment. Over 91,500 people claim to have liked the page so far, with over 30,000 people having applied for the position. This is not surprising, given the ability of social media to reach across a huge swath of like-minded people, virally.
In fact, social media can be god send in hiring situations where candidates are hard to get and even harder to evaluate with paper resumes. One of the most difficult and often critical roles, that technology companies struggle to hire is the ‘product architect’s’ role, where they need techies who live, eat and breathe software design and code. In the earlier days, it would be impossible to figure out where or how to get this elusive candidate, given that being uber social is not in a geek’s DNA.
Today, you look for evidence on the net — if he was really passionate about technology, would he not write a blog? Is he on Github (the exclusive network for coders), and what’s his portfolio there? What do his connections on LinkedIn tell us about him? What does his book-list look like? Social networks give the future employer a 360-degree view of the candidate, and that is also the catch. Employers have the choice of not wading through oceans of resume on jobsites, but just hand-pick a few profiles based on the intangibles that the job demands.
Recently, I worked on a search for a CEO for a ‘not for profit’ foundation. The client wanted someone from the corporate world, who had the right leadership skills but with a twist. They wanted the candidate to be passionate about making a social impact. They wanted that he/she should be looking to step off the corporate ladder and be willing to give up all the attendant perks. How do you find out what lies inside the mind of a potential candidate, which is what this search required? Social media can help you do this beautifully now.
My shortlist of candidates tracked people who were actively participating in the relevant groups and investing time to get to know what was happening in the social sector. And it worked. We found a highly-qualified female candidate, recommended by her ex-colleague as a phenomenal manager. She had consulted with cry for a short while, and therefore, knew what to expect in a ‘not-for-profit’ company set-up. She was more than willing to take the financial hit as the role and the opportunity to make an impact mattered most to her. And I would have never known of her existence if not for a chance LinkedIn connect to her ex-colleague and friend.
In the high technology startup world that I do a lot of work in, social networks drive hiring processes from Day 1. Start-up entrepreneurs ‘start’ their ventures with a blog, a Facebook page or a Twitter handle. They realise that this is how they can share their vision and get like-minded folks to join them for the right reasons. What better way to form a team with the right chemistry? This happens to be one of the biggest elements of start-up hiring — finding people who have the right attitude. Social media can facilitate this like no other medium can.
The hiring itself becomes simplified as the potential employer has ‘watched’ you over a period of time, and has a feel for how you think. Your online persona has already done the job of ‘selling’ the employer on your skills, without you having to do a monologue on who you are and why you would be a great fit. Phew, what a relief!
Hiring is a two-way process akin to dating, where both employers and employees assess each other, impress each other, and play the tango before making the final call. What better way to do that than through social networks which allow you to present yourself, make the right connections, reference and learn the inside track, all using just one smart phone or a tablet?
Have you got your Twesume ready yet?