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Headhunting via social networks

The boom in online social networks has provided headhunters with a range of new tools, which they can use to search for candidates, keep in touch with potential applicants and even verify information about them. However, jobseekers too can make use of similar tools to find jobs, by creating and regularly updating an information-rich profile detailing their experience, or by joining various online forums and discussions. HR professionals typically use LinkedIn or Xing as their main social networks, and tend not to consider Facebook to be a principal source of information, although they urge users to be cautious about sharing personal data via the site.

Headhunters use LinkedIn or Xing, among others. (Source: Sme - Vladimír Šimíček )

The boom in online social networks has provided headhunters with a range of new tools, which they can use to search for candidates, keep in touch with potential applicants and even verify information about them. However, jobseekers too can make use of similar tools to find jobs, by creating and regularly updating an information-rich profile detailing their experience, or by joining various online forums and discussions. HR professionals typically use LinkedIn or Xing as their main social networks, and tend not to consider Facebook to be a principal source of information, although they urge users to be cautious about sharing personal data via the site.

Even though the Slovak market is conservative, an increase in the use of social networks is inevitable: in other developed countries it already plays a significant role in the search for new employees, Patrik Petráš, president of the Association of Personnel Agencies of Slovakia (APAS), told The Slovak Spectator.

However, Petráš explained that Slovak human resources agencies currently use job web-sites, advertisements in the print media or their own databases of applicants rather than social networks to find candidates.

Headhunters suggest that some social networking sites are more suited as job search tools than others, while the choice of website can differ depending on the region in question.

Headhunters use LinkedIn as a significant source of information when searching for candidates in central and eastern Europe, while Xing is a more common source when candidates from Austria or Germany are needed, Mariana Turanová, managing partner at Target Executive Search Slovakia, told The Slovak Spectator.

On the other hand, Target’s headhunters do not use Facebook, since they consider it to be mainly a private website, said Turanová. She noted that, in any case, most people do not share their personal information with everyone on Facebook.

Synergie, another employment agency, does not use networks intended for personal communication, such as Facebook or Twitter, to search for employees. However, it does use them when it runs advertising campaigns featuring job vacancies, or when it wants to inform users about its projects, said Barbara Kotlárová, a consultant and marketing specialist for Synergie.

International companies like IBM are always trying to use the latest technologies, so IBM itself of course uses social networks for headhunting, Jana Jeneiová, a recruitment manager for the firm, told The Slovak Spectator.

“It is necessary to rely on more than just traditional methods [of searching for applicants] and especially in the case of specialised positions we tend to search directly, even via social networks,” Jeneiová said.

Searching for a job online

The best way to use social networks to find a job is to create a professional profile with two or three good references, and headhunters will find it, Turanová said, adding that candidates can also contact recruiters directly.

A profile should contain the most important information about a person’s professional career, Jeneiová said. However, it should include more than just the name of the company and the position in which they worked – for example, one should add a brief description of assignments, projects and other career achievements, along with experience acquired and any skills that could be applicable in other positions, she said.

In order for a candidate to be noticed, Kotlárová recommends joining professional groups.

“Do not try to be a member of tens of groups; instead, choose those that are related to your specialisation,” Kotlárová suggests, adding that to get noticed one has to share information which is interesting.

Trust, but verify

Synergie also uses LinkedIn to check candidates and verify information on the site’s profiles with the CVs it receives. If it finds discrepancies, one of its HR professionals may require an explanation during any subsequent interview, Kotlárová said.

Professional networks such as LinkedIn are very effective for verifying clients, while also using their contacts, according to Petráš.

“It is de facto impossible to search who knows that employee in real life, but on a social network you get a picture of an employee’s operational network in a few minutes,” Petráš said.

IBM sometimes uses social networks to verify job applicants, but only in some cases, when the employee will be in contact with external clients, Jeneiová said. The verification may help to decide which applicant is the most suitable, in cases where the company needs a candidate with professional communications skills, she commented.

Turanová warns that even a photo published on a profile may change a headhunter’s mind about hiring, hinting that profile pictures of women featuring plunging necklines, heavy makeup and ostentatious jewellery might be more appropriate for personal websites than for professional networks like LinkedIn.

“I do not want to lecture anyone, since everyone arranges their profile based on their own opinions, but the chance of receiving an interesting job offer in those cases [i.e. candidates with inappropriate pictures] are rather weak,” Turanová said.

For more information about the Slovak labour market, HR sector and career issues in Slovakia please see our Career & Employment Guide.

Topic: Career and HR


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