Government research shows that employers looking for new staff prefer the human touch over social media.
While the internet is now integral to work and leisure, new research indicates that a personal presence still trumps social media when it comes to seeking employment.
According to the 2014 Employer Perspectives Survey, released by government skills experts from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES), despite the rapid rise of social media, only 7% of employers say that they have used it to recruit staff.
Interviews with more than 18,000 employers from across the country have shown that recruitment methods involving in-person interaction, such as filling vacancies through word-of-mouth and personal recommendations are still widely used by potential employers.
Slightly more than one in ten employers said that they used work experience as a recruitment tool, with the number of those offering a job as a result of a speculative enquiry more than doubling.
While the findings may be welcomed by parents unconvinced that their children’s time online actually equates to job hunting, researchers say that it the findings actually point to a greater need to hone jobseekers’ social skills.
Grahame Smith, a Commissioner at UKCES and General Secretary of the Scottish TUC said:
“Digital skills are crucial in the modern workplace, and while many young people excel in this area, these findings show how important it is for jobseekers to also develop their personal presence. Getting out there and speaking with people is just as important as being online, but it’s more difficult for the digital generation.
“That’s why it’s important to break down the barriers between education and employers. By offering simple things like business mentoring, careers talks, work experience and mock interviews, businesses can make a huge difference to the future of young people. Our research shows that whilst only a minority of employers currently work with schools and colleges in this way, the good news is that those that do say it’s easy and rewarding.”
Michael Davis, chief executive of UKCES, said:
“For those looking for work, making use of social media when job hunting can bring a world of information at the click of a mouse, but when it comes to making that all important first impression it seems there’s no substitute for legwork.
“This research shows that what really matters to employers is an opportunity to get face to face with candidates, and get a real understanding of how they tick and what they can offer.
“For employers it’s important to not become over-dependent on one form of recruitment. Our research shows that word of mouth is still commonly used to hire staff – but this risks missing out on a huge talent pool just because people don’t happen to be plugged into the right professional networks.
“By striking a balance, both sides can benefit. Creating strong links with local education providers is just one way of achieving this, allowing employers to see first-hand what young people can offer, while simultaneously giving young people opportunity to build crucial contacts.”
The UKCES Employer Perspectives Survey 2014 is available at the UKCES website: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/employer-perspectives-survey-2014
Words: Peter Cribley