After two year years of redundancies and low recruitment, banks in Hong Kong are now slowly picking up hiring in revenue-generating departments like M&A and equities trading.
But to what extent will they turn to social media for these new recruitment needs? Probably not as much as you might think. A report from the Hong Kong Institute of Human Resource Management found that less than a quarter of HR directors in Hong Kong think that social media is effective as a hiring tool.
Of course, with more than 1 billion Facebook users and 200 million people on LinkedIn, social media obviously offers abundant potential candidates. However, in a study by search firm, Bó Lè Associates, carried out last year, social media was only the fourth-best recruitment method in terms of the quality of candidates it produced – it ranked behind referrals, internal transfers and direct sourcing.
We should remember that those who rely on social media for recruitment all share the same big candidate database, so qualified candidates who do not have a large social media presence may fall through the cracks.
LinkedIn recently celebrated its 10th anniversary with the tagline “image what we can do”. The “we” emphasises the importance of familiarity in today’s business; familiarity that extends beyond family members and into social circles.
In recruitment, we seem to attribute more credibility to candidates who have more connections on social media because we wrongfully assume that their network proves their trustworthiness. After all, the “who-you-know” factor has become a popular topic in banking circles in Hong Kong.
But we need to remember that while some of these social-network connections are characterised by mutuality and reciprocity, many are not. Many do not even guarantee that the two people have even met each other face to face. People hastily make connections, and nothing can be guaranteed or verified online.
Despite the fact that these “social” networks are now increasingly considered as professional networks, candidates can easily tailor their profiles so that their weaknesses are hidden from others, while their responsibilities, achievements and experiences are blatantly displayed.
A heavy reliance on social media may also led us to shun some highly qualified but “passive” candidates. These individuals are already happily employed, are not looking into making a move any time soon, and may also have a low presence on social media.
For them, the impact of posting job openings on social media might be negligible. While social media’s inherently interactive nature can help attract “active” talent, recruiting passive candidates often requires the help of executive search consultants.
Despite the limitations of social media, it still stands as a highly suitable tool for supporting recruitment. If utilised properly, social media can help build an employer’s brand, promoting the firm as a great place to work, which will in turn attract candidates.
This means that financial services firms must ensure that their recruiting efforts are an extension of their brand and portray an accurate image of their business, so that candidates who apply for jobs will know whether they are the right fit.
A relatively inexpensive and interactive way to approach this is by firms letting their employees create short videos and write blog posts about why they like working at the company. Let them be the true social-media ambassadors.
Connie Hui is a managing director at Bó Lè Associates.