Chapter 5: Social Media and HR

In a typical corporate scenario, IT and marketing are — two departments that quickly adapts to change. On the one hand, IT adapts to the change because the objective of IT is to protect the department from data theft and protect its knowledge base; however, on the other hand, marketing strives to adapt a novel idea to market its product in an innovative and cost-effective way. HR department in an organization was usually the last to adapt the change mostly because HRs were the keepers of policy, procedure, order, and employee until social media changed the game.

From networking with established or new contacts, hiring employees or communicating with both present and prospective employees, social media usage can improve your world in ways that HRs never thought about, a few years ago. There are various ways that HRs in India are using social media; some of which have been discussed in this chapter.

Employer Branding via Social Media

A few years back, posting online about official parties and fun outings with the team was a tough job and required a lot of technical help. The websites designed in the past were primarily focused on some business-related content, search engine optimization, and banner advertisements. Other than hosting a careers’ page on the website it did little to promote the company brand to potential candidates. Companies in the past preferred to post the job description and requirement on their websites and advertise it on job portals such as naukri. com and timesjob.com.

However, today, the process has become much easier with the advent of social media. People do not require a technical person to post things up and at the same time the information gets quickly disseminated via social networking sites unlike posting on some site and waiting for the people to access the updates on the humane side of an organization. Social media has made it easy for small and large organizations to harness the power of internet to connect with prospective employees and use innovative ways to attract talent.

Remember that if the HRs in an organization don’t use social media, their employees would anyways do (Refer figure 5.1)! The internet world is now allowing HRs to peep into the personal life or after-office-hour life of an employee; do not really let the opportunity go.

The most distinguishing feature of social media is its ability to make your brand stand out; nowadays, most of the service-based companies in India, which are available on social media, highlight their work culture via social media. Generally, employers’ presence on social media helps them communicate with their employees and at the same time helps the employees and prospects know about the work culture of the organization via social networking channels.

Ramco Systems, a Chennai-based global cloud computing and ERP services provider, on its official Facebook page, posted how its employees celebrated green day by wearing costumes made of greens along with pictures, which not only engaged its employees but also attracted prospective employees, well-wishers, customers, and a lot more people.

Though Ramco System’s Facebook page is positioned as a cloud computing community, its employees tag the brand page whenever they feel good about that they are working with Ramco.

Similarly, on Echovme’s official Facebook page, Facebook.com/echovme, we have been posting updates on parties, book-reading habits, night outs, photos of lunch, and the photos of various fun events that we host on Facebook, which helps a prospective employee to understand the kind of work culture we share and at the same time attracts the customers on the happy atmosphere we have. After all in a services organization what matters more is the happy employees that ultimately result with happy customers.

A Delhi-based social media agency called ‘Iffort’ has positioned its Facebook presence as work, which shows the creative side of an employee, the hidden side at work, the pictures of parties, and lot other fun elements at work that help position the agency that stands for its creative beliefs and distinct values. Refer Facebook.com/iffort.

Many employers in India are really concerned about their brands’ reputation online maintained by their employees and now have a social media policy in place for their employees, which showcases do’s and don’ts of social media considering company’s sentiments and information security and that is why many employees in the IT companies crib about blocking access to Facebook and Twitter in their organizations.

Believe it or not, HR managers are no different than marketers, as they really need to find potential ways to attract and recruit talent on a timely basis and position their brand in a way that showcases it as a ‘people’s preferred brand.’ Though almost all the top Indian IT companies such as Cognizant, Infosys, Wipro, HCL, and TCS have a visible presence on social media, as the corporate companies, they also have a separate presence on these social networking sites for their career section and as the actual team members behind the corporate page are marketers, the members behind the career pages are people from the HR wing of the organization. These are some of the HR-related Twitter handlers of top Indian IT companies: @JoinCognizant, @HCLCareers, @HCLTechJobs, @InfosysCareers, and @WiproCareers. Of all these brands, @Cognizant has a very visible and conversable presence on Twitter and HCL (www.facebook.com/HCLTech.Careers), Wipro (www.facebook.com/WiproBPOCareers, and www.facebook.com/WiproBPOCareers ) have been engaging with the audience and answering queries of prospective recruits on Facebook too.

Social Media Is a Cost-Effective Recruiting Tool

Look at the following ‘screenshot’ (Figure 5.2) of the e-mail that I received from the HR Lead of Infosys a few days back on LinkedIn.

Figure 5.2: LinkedIn Social Media

Well, this came as a surprise to me as I had not applied for a social media position in Infosys; I did not communicate on any of the social media platforms that I am looking for a job; however, a senior associate lead talent acquisition from leading IT company had contacted me by searching my profile on LinkedIn using terms such as social media India and social media Chennai.

The LinkedIn search feature is well designed in such a way that an HR can easily access a candidate’s profile even before he or she applies for the job or even if he or she is not interested; at the same time, it helps the individuals keep their profile active and credible enough to attract HRs. LinkedIn has a smart tool of people search that helps.

Currently, LinkedIn is being used extensively in India by more than 20 million professionals; it has now started competing with all the leading job portals such as naukri.com and timesdeal.com. Though the competitiveness has just begun, LinkedIn as a professional social networking site can give them a tough fight. Job portals meet just one objective while searching a job (for the employees) and look for candidates (for the employers) on social media; these are two opportunities that are developed as the brand’s visibility starts increasing.

On LinkedIn, it becomes easier for a recruiter to search for a candidate (Figure 5.3), as the portal is being extensively used for professional networking and at the same time a candidate’s profile is updated with their latest information and recommendations. On LinkedIn, candidates cannot take the risk to misrepresent their employment history on their profile as LinkedIn allows companies and legitimate employees to flag their profiles or take them out of the system for good.

Figure 5.3: LinkedIn Recruiting Solutions.

Through LinkedIn, a company can hunt for candidates, targeting different geographies at the minimal cost, share their jobs in the recommended professional network, host a career page showcasing jobs, employees, and culture, and advertise on the prospects profile using ‘work with us’ feature. This is just the value of one social networking site.

However, on Twitter, syndicating a tweet to the mass becomes easier if your brand or the one who tweets about it is influential. For example, I was just recently looking for a social media enthusiast individual from Chennai to work with a leading Chennai-based NGO (Figure 5.4).

Figure 5.4: Tweet by Sorav for recruitment

When I tweeted my requirement, within a few minutes 28 people retweeted it making it reach thousands of people in fractions of seconds. Luckily, I had also sourced a few fantastic resumes via this incident. In a similar situation, when I was looking for a content writer executive, I received several resumes via Twitter and they also gave me a sample articles on the topics of my choice to further evaluate them and we closed two such resumes as our full-time employees working distantly. In a similar fashion, these requirements are posted on Facebook through the career pages of brands, which reach in a visually appealing way to the mass.

On LinkedIn, there are various groups that can also help in recruitment process or sourcing for candidates; eight writers associated with Echovme today are sourced from a job requirement posted on the “Content Writer—Technical Writer” (refer to Figure 5.5) group on LinkedIn. Similarly, a recruiter can find many other groups relevant to jobs, HR and industries.

Figure 5.5: LinkedIn groups

The best part of sourcing candidates via tweet or posting a requirement on relevant LinkedIn groups is that they are completely cost-effective solutions; however they require influential social media presence to derive fruitful results.

Social Media Helps in Background Check of a Candidate

A Mumbai-based HR consulting and recruiting firm called ‘Sutralite’ regularly uses social media to do a credibility check of a candidate before sending the profiles to the client and sometimes client demands social media credibility especially when it is for communications specialist position. A social media background screening is a popular trend these days among HRs.

Many people who are available on social networking and casually comment or share contents may not even realize that the updates and comments made by them are public (at times) and can be found by search and that is why it is recommended to avoid posting abusive comments or sexually explicit pictures on web.

Today, a social media search is not just used to find candidates but also to allow the employer to look underneath and find out who the person really is. For instance, if a person’s social media activities on any of the social networking sites show threats of violence or inappropriate sexual activity, a recruiter may avoid hiring the candidate especially when the position is aiming to interact with children or the aged. Similarly, any HR man¬ager would be keen on knowing if a candidate has been cribbing a lot about his or her present employer and has made unprofessional comments about the coworkers or past employers.

Through social media, an employer generally checks the followings.

  • Candidate’s style of communication on social networking platforms; it is judged based on tweets, status updates, blog posts, videos, and presentations. Sometimes interesting content may fetch the candidate a job, especially, when the candidate is positioning himself or herself as a thought leader in the Industry.
  • Candidate’s updates about his or her present employer or past employers, coworkers and involvements.
  • If a candidate shares a lot of personal information or too much of professional information during working hours, it shows how the candidate is dedicated toward his or her job.
  • Candidate’s photographs and videos, how he or she portrays himself or herself to the world, and what kind of personal and professional lives he or she has. This generally helps them decide on the personality.
  • Candidate’s credibility is checked via the recommendations made on LinkedIn and the number of people following him or her on Twitter, kinds of comments posted on the blog, and the number of reader base/ viewer base to his or her online channels.
  • Accuracy of the information posted about job, qualification, and experience. Mostly, candidates are found faulty here.

Candidates with ‘I-do-not-care’ attitude mostly consider social networking sites with limitations on subjects and discussion points so as to avoid the ‘firstlevel’ block on social media while they apply for the job; at the same time, employers should not avoid doing a social media screening to understand the candidate completely. However, the conclusions made by the recruiter may not be true sometimes!

Social Media Favors Innovation in Recruiting

This is applicable to both candidates and employers, as both can use this platform to showcase innovation in the process. Today, social media is not only used externally to attract or evaluate talent, but also used internally to engage audience and recognize talent. Deciding to adopt social media for recruitment itself is the first step towards innovation, as this is something that brands would not have experienced before.

Case Study 5.1: How “Miller—High Life” used Facebook for Recruiting Talent: In most of the cases related to social media and HR, you might have noticed that brands use their company’s identity prominently and runs a standard recruitment process even on social media channels, i.e., by posting a requirement, evaluating a candidate, etc. “Miller—High Life” was in search of candidates who live by the motto “work hard party harder” and it chose Facebook as its tool to do a nationwide search through gamification.

Case Study 5.2: What it did?

“Miller—High Life” created a Facebook and Twitter page “The Coolest Job” (Figure 5.6) and a Facebook application to attract and interact with the audience without revealing its identity.

It used this campaign integrated both offline and online simultaneously by launching it on media by running a banner across websites; the identity of the employer was not issued.

The brand also invested in traditional newsprint and radio ads to increase the visibility of the campaign (Figure 5.7).

On Facebook, the brand built a cool application that allowed people to post their pictures, which showed their ‘work hard party harder’ attitude.

The application was inbuilt with a video that was uploaded on YouTube (Figure 5.8), which allowed people to learn more about the campaign in a visually appealing way. A voting system was also integrated with the application, which allowed candidates to promote themselves by unlocking missions of reaching more people, getting recommendations, and uploading party pictures. More actions leading to more scores helping brand scrutinizing profiles.

Response of the Campaign

The campaign received tremendous response from the audience across the country. In 60 days, the employer had received 36,098 applications and about 1,10,000 ‘work hard party harder’ people on their ‘The Coolest Job’ Facebook community.

64 candidates were shortlisted, of which four became, work hard party harder, ambassadors.

The community is still active on Facebook with about 2,45,000 people and they are now running the show from different angles of marketing and branding.

(Source: http://www.geekcreativeagency.com/tcj2/)

Tips for Employers Considering Social Media

There are different social networking tools and each of these tools works as messengers for the HR department in different ways (Table 5.1).

Table 5.1: Communication Tools and Objectives from HR Viewpoints

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