Internet and Social Networking Dissertation - Social Networking Sites (SNS) Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter
Internet and Social Networking Dissertation - Social Networking Sites (SNS) Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter
The rise of new technology, and especially the rise of the Internet over recent years, has brought radical changes to the daily lives of users. Moving from web information to web interaction (Verhoeven et al.: 2009), the rise of the Web 2.0 has recently revealed new ways of communication, especially for Generation Y.
As part of this new trend, social media has become a popular phenomenon over the past two decades, shattering old habits, and traditional media and ways of communication in many sectors.
The recruitment sector has not been immune from this. New social media has taken by surprise a recruitment world until now driven by traditional media, such as newspaper and magazine advertising. It has opened up new opportunities for companies to recruit and reach more easily a larger pool of candidates.
Social media embraces various types of media; the research for this dissertation focuses particularly on the Social Networking Sites (SNS). Stylianos (2011:215) defines Social Networking Sites as “web based services that allow individuals to:
(1) construct a public or semi public profile within a bounded system;
(2) articulate a list of other users with whom they share connection; and
(3) view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system”.
This research for this dissertation focuses mainly on three famous Social Networking Sites which are: Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter. As a result, there are only a few references to other SNS.
While the labour market is getting harder to access for young graduates, originality and diversity have become key factors in any job hunting strategy.
Often the actors in those SNS, today’s graduates can find in this new way of communication and expression a new tool to job seeking. According to Golson (2009), “As social networking sites explode in popularity, they have become the prime avenue for many job hunters”.
Add to that, recruitment strategy traditional in the past see an evolution towards more traditional and technological way having as objectives to attract the perfect candidate.
Seeing in the SNS a new market which embraces both active and passive candidates as well as recruiters with job offers, graduates and human resources professionals alike have to adapt themselves to these new media in order to stay competitive.
With the intrusion of the SNS into the professional sphere, the border between personal and professional use is becoming blurred. As a result, there is more and more cross over between the two. Between the opportunities and the threat that the use of SNS represents, the debate is more than ever real for graduates engaged in their job hunting strategies.
The aim of this research is to explore the impact that the rise of Social Networking Sites has on recruitment, especially on graduates’ job hunting strategies. Indeed, at the current time, not much is known about the attitudes of Generation Y (representing today’s graduates) towards the use of Web 2.0 in their job hunting strategies.
The research objectives are to:
- investigate whether Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter have become a new way of job searching in the graduates group;
- to evaluate the level of migration of graduate job seekers to the use of Social Networking Sites and away from traditional methods; and
- to identify the risks and benefits associated using Social Networking Sites in job seeking.
In addition to a literature review, primary research has been undertaken for this dissertation. The method adopted was to use a questionnaire for graduates in order to get their point of view as well as some interviews from human resource professionals in order to get a professional point of view on this phenomenon.
This literature review will provide a snapshot of the existing research and publications that have been written in relation to Social Network Sites and recruitment.
To explore fully this topic, this literature review will firstly analyse the development of the Internet in the recruitment sector and as part of the job hunting process. It will then investigate the rise of the Web 2.0 which embraces various types of social media, including the Social Networking Sites (the primary focus of this research). It will finally come back to the heart of this research and explore the link between the transformation in job hunting and recruitment, and the rise in the use of Social Networking Sites (SNS) within the job hunting and recruitment process. It will look at recent articles and studies on the use of SNS, and also at the risks and opportunities linked to this revolution.
The use of social media, and particularly Social Networking Sites and their impact on job searching, is a recent phenomenon, and as such, the existing literature review is still very limited. Therefore most of the literature comes from newspaper, journal and internet articles.
Internet as a new El Dorado for graduates while job searching
Brown (2009:4) states that “every aspect of how we exchange information is dealing the impact of the Internet revolution”.
It is now undeniable that the development of technology and notably of the Internet itself has revolutionised the way of communication over the last two decades. From some authors’ point of view (Henderson & Bowley: 2010), the rise of this technology has changed the emphasis of internet services from being consumption based, towards being interactive and collaborative, creating new opportunities for interaction between organisations and the public. Creeber & Martin (2009:4) state that “we now have a new (some would say improved) relationship that increased participation, creativity and interactivity on the web as a whole”.
The rise of the Internet has had an impact on recruitment. Because it is changing constantly, the Internet revolution has had an impact not only on people’s daily habits such as their personal lifestyle, but also on professional sector activities, such as the way recruiting takes place and how job seekers go about job searching.
Before the Internet revolution, “the only options were printed classified ads [...] asking friends or relatives if they had any job leads or walking around neighbourhoods and visiting any businesses to see if they needed help” (Almurey G: ehow).
Acting in a ‘cyber world’, graduates see in the use of the Internet a major opportunity, notably thanks to its “speed, ease of use and widespread availability” (Gooss:2006:3). Even if the traditional ways of job hunting still persist, the rise of internet and, for example, the phenomenon of recruitment websites have taken by surprise those involved in the former recruitment methods.
When considering job seekers’ effectiveness in their use of job search tools, the ones utilising the Internet for social networking come close to first and leave traditional ways far behind (see Table XX below).
Source: BusinessWeek : 2009 http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/aug2009/tc20090818_861625...
As an article from HR magazine (March 2010) states “92% of graduates believe searching for jobs online is more effective than browsing through newspaper adverts” and this is reflected in job-hunting habits. Moreover, during their job hunt, the median proportion of graduate time spent online is 80%, as opposed to just 20% spent offline. According to the HR magazine (July 2001) in 2011 only 2% of jobseekers used newspaper advertising as a source of opportunities compared to 21% in 2008. More than a third (36%) continue to use recruitment agencies. Following on from that point, it seems that job seeking in the new generation is changing and has turned away from traditional ways to more technologically enabled ways.
According to Goss (2006:7), the vast number of qualified candidates for each and every job, and the possibility of being able to screen those candidates rapidly and then contact them immediately represent the main advantages for companies of using online recruitment. It also highlights the time and cost saving of hiring when using online recruitment.
From the perspective of the graduate looking for a job, existing literature (Goss:2006:7) highlights the key advantages of quick and easy access to a lot of up to date information about jobs and companies 24 hours a day and seven days a week, and the instantaneity in applying for a job.
However, as highlighted by Golson (2009), “The problem with the ease and accessibility of internet is that many job seekers make it their primary job tools”. For a generation where the Internet is the centre of everything and where it plays a large part in job searching compared to traditional ways, some authors still provide a warning. According to Goss (2006:3), “Evidence suggests that many companies face difficulty in using the Internet effectively, in particular when they are recruiting large volumes of job applicants such as graduates, as they are struggling to cope with the high amount of unsuitable applications”.
From a job seeker’s perspective, it is recognised (Feldman & Klaas: 2002:1) that online job seeking is more efficient than newspaper advertising but less effective than personal networking. Moreover, the slow feedback, the lack of specific and relevant job descriptions as well as the quasi non-human contact are all downsides.
The internet has found a place in everyday life for the major part of our society, so it is not surprising it is very broadly used in a job hunting strategies as well as in employer-led recruitment strategies as it is recognised as providing important time savings. However, the lack of personal interaction due to the broad market that the Internet works within means job hunters constantly look for a higher connection and more personal contact.
Networking: A cornerstone while job seeking for graduates
Van Hoye et al. (2009:4) define networking as “individual actions directed towards contacting friends, acquaintances, and other people to whom the job seeker has been referred for the main purpose of getting information, leads or advice on getting a job”. An article from HR Magazine (July 2011) states that “online networking cannot always be separated from traditional networking now as one will so often lead to the other.” Moreover, the basis of our social networking will then play an important role in the presence within the Social Networking Sites and our visibility on them.
Yeung R (2009) states that “Networking can give you access to a huge market of jobs”. Networking represents today a broad range of opportunity through the people that you may know but also the people that they might know. It shows the opportunity that social media can have in job seeking. Add to that an article from HR Magazine (July 2010) that explains that the “The ‘who you know’ theory is as important as ever in the job hunt and that younger people tend to have wider networks, which could be due to their greater use of new information and communication technologies”., Networking then potentially provides access to the vast majority of positions, described by some authors (Belaen: 2010) as the hidden job market, that are not advertised on job boards, newspapers or other forms of advertising.
Even more than the importance of networking in a relevant job hunting strategy, it appears that the nature and the structure of the job seekers’ social network will influence the intensity and the effectiveness of job seekers’ behaviours when job hunting.
The rise of the Social Networking Sites
Web 2.0 trend
When talking about Web 2.0 Rice Lincoln (2009) states that that Web 2.0 is an unclear term. The definition given will depend on each individual, and on the perception and experience that he or she will have. O’Reilly (from Verhoeven, 2009) observed that “there’s still a huge amount of disagreement about just what Web 2.0 means, with some decrying it as a meaningless marketing buzzword, and others accepting it as the new conventional wisdom”.
Arola (2010:8) describes the “Web as platform, Web as participation and Web as collaboration”. Anderson (2008) talks about Web 2.0 as just “cool technologies and services” while Henderson and Bowlay define Web 2.0 as “a collection of new internet applicants that emphasise participation, connectivity user generation, info sharing and collaboration ”.
As shown in Exhibit XX, Web 2.0 groups together an important number of concepts.
Source: Lincoln, Susan Rice: 2009: 9
Embracing social software, tagging to podcasting, blogs through to the obvious social networking and Facebook, the Web 2.0 represents a generation of internet users looking for connection, self expression and self presentation.
As underlined by Phillips and Young (2009:104) Web 2.0 “brought the conversation into the Web and spawned high-profile mass interaction and has facilitated communication phenomena”.
Anderson (2008) point out six characteristics which explain the rise of the Web 2.0. These are: “generated content, harnessing the power of the crowd, data on an epic scale, the architecture of participation, network effects, openness”. Driven, amongst other things, by the reputation and exposure culture in which it is acting, Web 2.0 targets the ‘digital natives’ population, that is, Generation Y, for whom “getting noticed is everything” and for whom there is a tendency to spend more time “creating and networking on the web than watching TV or reading newspapers” (Anderson, 2008).
As underlined in a report on Social Networking from the Office of Communication (2008) “SNS are part of the wider Web 2.0 context” and which acts in a mass participation phenomena sustained by the Net generation that is empowered because it became the main player of the cyber world (Arola, 2010).
Rise and motivation using Social Networks Sites
Stylianos (2011:215) defined Social Network Sites as “web based services that allow individuals to:
(1) construct a public or semi public profile within a bounded system;
(2) articulate a list of other users with whom they share connection; and
(3) view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system”.
Having become a worldwide societal phenomenon integrated in users’ daily lives, numerous Social Networking Sites are now widely accessible but often target specific demographic segments, and diverse interest groups and communities. Verhoeven (2009) distinguishes between the private online network (Facebook) and the business online network (LinkedIn).
Add to that distinction Tuten (2008:24), who points out the different types of SNS and differentiated the egocentric and object-centric social Network, respectively defined by a social network which place the individual at the core of the network experience while the object-centric network places a non-ego element at the centre of the network”.
This distinction also reflects the difference in the motives that drive users using SNS. Bringing together millions of users since their introduction, the motives that drive this constant rise of the SNS’ use are various. The existing literature review on the rise of the SNS sites proposes a variety of explanations.
According to the Office of Communication Report on Social Networking (2008) several factors can explain the recent growth of today’s SNS such as “the Home Internet penetration, increase in ICT confidence, and communication based around the social relationship”.
Social Network research (2005) states that the motives that stimulate social interaction come from “the common current life transition, the shared experience, the shared education”.
On a different note, Skin (2010) proposes the TAM theory (Technology Acceptance Model) as an explanation for the rise of, and the motivation behind the use of, social networking. The TAM theory suggests that “user’s behavioural intention to use a technology is affected by its perceived usefulness and the perceived ease of use of the technology”. Accessible to anyone, SNS are acting within an e-generation where new technologies are perceived as useful and trendy, notably in a cultural and societal context which imposes the “trend effect”.
Therefore, the main motive behind the use of SNS referred to by the existing literature seems to be the needs-oriented behaviour of its users.
Papacharissi and Mendelson (2011) when talking about the use of mass media and especially Facebook, have developed the Use and Gratifications (U&G) theory which examines how individuals use mass media and which takes as a principle that “individuals select media and content to fulfil felt needs or wants”.
Deragon (2007), following a similar model as the Maslow pyramid of human needs, suggests that the motivation of anyone to use SNS follows six needs (called ‘factors’ in the literature):
“The learning factor; the affinity factor; the connection factor; the creative factor; the expectation factor and the business factor”.
When looking precisely at these different needs, the first three are purely the social needs (as defined by Maslow) of being associated with others, with groups, and causes.
Therefore, taking of the remaining three in turn:
- the creative factor (Deragon, 2009) is “the creative way to use technology behind social computing to extend its value to both personal and professional value”;
- the expectation factor refers to “the need of a socio economic creation of value”; and
- the business factor that he defines as “the predominant business segment using SN today is employment recruiters. As the medium and adult participation gas grown there is an exponential growth of business opportunities”.
Deragon points out a new source of motivation to use the SNS which recognises the potential link between the SNS use and the possibility of creating opportunity, not only in a social sphere but also in a business and recruitment sphere.
Finally, an article from Le Monde (2010) points out the concept of the ‘e-reputation’ which refers to one’s online reputation. He refers to the importance of having an e-reputation to be in step with the trend, but also highlights the need to manage this e-reputation in order to get a positive virtual image, especially in a job hunting strategy.
Social Networking Sites: The new opportunity for graduates looking for job.
The rise of SNS as recruitment strategy and job hunting strategy
As shown in Exhibit XX0 Pin et al. (2001) show three main ways of accessing the recruitment market.
Source: Pin et al. (2001), Internet recruiting Power, Opportunity and effectiveness
As dream jobs become harder to land for graduates, job candidates have to become more creative and have to try to use as many tools as possible in order to access as many opportunities as possible.
This review of recent literature highlights the trend towards the importance of social media and SNS when job seeking. According to Carrington J (HR Magazine, July 2011), “as the job search moves increasingly online, new technology and social networking is playing a growing role in the job hunt”. Add to that, Eccles (2009) who recognised that the way employers are recruiting has changed and SNS like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter have begun to play a larger role. An article from Rappeport (2011) states that “83% of US companies will recruit via social networking websites this year and 46% will invest in more social recruitment.” Can the US trend be generalised to the entire business world? Maybe. Maybe, not.
However, Henderson and Bowley (2010) argue that “the use of social media for recruitment purposes is becoming increasingly popular because social networking sites enable recruiters to maintain constant connectivity and communication”. Add to this the huge market of passive and active candidates, companies see in this new way of recruitment huge time savings and potential cost cutting. According to an article from HR Magazine (2011) social media allows a reduction in the number of person hours needed to identify suitable candidates down to four hours per candidate.
However, even if growing in use, SNS do not replace all traditional aspects of recruiting, as employers still like the format of a cover letter (O’Brien, 2010). Moreover, as an article from the BBC (2011) states when comparing websites such as Monster, “there is no threat from Social Networking Sites” while recognising that not knowing how to use such sites and embrace them could present a threat.
While a few companies fully exploit SNS, such as the IT giant Oracle which did 99.8% its recruitment strategy through social media last year (linkedIn, 2011), most companies using social media and SNS in their recruitment campaigns, use it as a complementary tool to add to more traditional methods including the use of dedicated recruitment websites, job vacancies posted on the company’s website as well as responding to direct approaches from candidates.
SNS and Job hunting: Opportunity or threat?
In an article about recruitment and Social Networking Sites Moch (2011) highlights that internet users stay suspicious and are still wondering about the pro and cons of these recruitment methods.
Talbot (2010:1) states that “the key to finding the right job today is knowing how to bring employers to the job seekers rather than the job hunter going to the employer. Allowing the user to have a detailed profile like an online CV, SNS such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter represent undeniably an opportunity to increase jobseekers visibility as well as the number of potential contacts. Looking at this from the Company’s side, Fruness (2008, from Verhoelen, 2009) suggest that it offers a far more innovative, targeted and creative way of reaching active and passive job seekers”. Gallagher and O’Leary (2007:75) highlight that Web 2.0 has opened up recruitment by providing opportunities for two-way engagement, personal responses to individual needs, and by providing opportunities to develop relationships between employer and candidates. While certain analysts (Arthur, 2009) state that SNS is one of the three most important social communication skills for job candidates to have, the daily press and magazines keep telling us stories about how candidates did not get a job or got fired after an investigation on their personal online profile.
Moreover, as underlined by Kushan (2010) “While social media can help you find a job, it could also play a part in you not getting a job”. In a January 2010 commission published by Microsoft, 79% of those employment managers who had been surveyed used social media and online searches to validate their engagement decisions, of those, 70% had essentially elected to cull candidates due to the information that they had discovered online. Perceptive use of these websites professionally without retrieving material that may lead to potential discrimination claims is paramount during the hiring process (Dickinson Employment 2010). Kushan (2010) also states that when not having any personal strategy; networking can be ineffective and harmful. Graduates, and notably the ones who have based their job seeking strategy on the Internet, need to have clear targets and well defined objectives in order to use social networking efficiently and to their advantage. Moreover, it requires a high degree of management to communicate a good image, that is, manage one’s e-reputation.
The acknowledgement, then, needs to be made that the border between private and professional life is often blurred regarding the use of the Social Networking Sites in any job hunting and recruitment strategy.
The Internet, and especially the rise of Web 2.0, has brought fundamental changes in the recruitment process into experience-based collaboration, networking and online engagement, according to Gallagher (cited in O’Leary, 2007). Therefore, the use of SNS within the recruitment process has divided opinion, and its use by graduates in their recruitment strategies does not appear to have threatened more traditional methods, including use of Web 1.0 (via an organisation’s website).
This chapter will look at a variety of research methods which can be undertaken, and at the choice made for this research as well as a critical evaluation of the methods used. The aim of this research is to explore how the rise of the Social Networking Sites (SNS) has had impact on recruitment and the way graduates look for jobs.
The methodology and philosophy used for this research are highly influenced by the newness of the topic. As social media and SNS are a relatively recent area of activity far from being fully understood and as existing research and therefore literature is limited, the research philosophy and methodology used needs to take a approach that allows the aim of this research to be fulfilled.
Saunders et al. (2007) illustrate with their research ‘onion’ model the different stages and the different approaches that need to be considered when undertaking research.
Source: Saunders & al (2007)
As shown within the first layer of the onion, the research philosophy in which the authors choose to look at their research is the starting point. From this way of looking at the world and the research, the research approach will emerge followed by the research strategies that may be used. The fourth layer looks at the choices of data collection methods. Finally, the time horizon represents the fifth layer of the onion looking at the subject at a given point (cross sectional) or over a long period (longitudinal).
The onion research shows the diverse range of approaches that can be undertaken while doing research. However, the strategies, methods, data collection are not mutually exclusive and can be used in combination with each others. Therefore, some methods will be more appropriate when undertaking an inductive method, while others are more suited to deductive methods.
When conducting research, various philosophies can be adopted depending on the writer’s approach and their point of view. Saunders (2011:108) states that the philosophies adopted reflect the way the writer sees the world and this will impact on the strategy and the methods used in one’s research.
There are two main philosophies that form the basis of a piece of research and these are: Positivism and Interpretivism. This study will follow as its main philosophy, interpretivism.
Bryman & Bell (2007:16) define positivism as “an epistemological position that advocates the application of the methods of the natural sciences to the study of social reality and beyond”. Positivism will then indicate the structured approach accounting for phenomena or results in accordance with ‘what can I describe and see’.
According to Biedenbach & Muller (2010:4) “Interpretivism stresses the necessity that the researcher understands the difference between humans in their role as social actors. Interpretivism addresses the complexity of social actions. It is suitable to understand the perceptions and meanings individuals attach to phenomena. It will be more unstructured than positivism because it takes more in account individual human perception and way of interpretation, following a ‘What can I understand, and what can I suggest from what I see’.
Anderson (2004:142) states that when following an interpretivist philosophy, the “researchers cannot be wholly dispassionate. They are involved and will influence situations to various degrees (often unintentionally)”. As part of the graduates’ group, and as a personal user of SNS, the researcher in this case is highly involved and might influence the way the research will be done. Indeed, the objectives of this research are to get opinion and feelings on issues related to the Social Networking Sites during the recruitment process. It takes into account graduates and human resource professionals’ points of view allowing the author to interpret and give a sense to what can be seen from them and the results they will give.
Anderson also states that one of the interpretivist principles is to analyse phenomena in terms of issues. Looking at how the rise of SNS impacts on any job hunting strategy, this particular study analyses which issues may arise from this use, but also what impact SNS could have on more traditional ways of job hunting, as well as on the way graduates use it.
Qualitative data is going to be used via structured interviews in order to get a deeper point of view from human resource professionals.
Anderson (2004 p.142) states that in a positivist philosophy, “A highly structured research process should be used: Quantitative date is preferred and the validity and reliability of data are important”. Using these survey methods, this research will be structured and will aim to get valid data which can be applied generally. It will then also follow, to a small extent, positivism principles, especially in the data collection phase. However, the survey undertaken is not going to be used as an end itself, that is, with just observation of the results, but it is going to be used with the intention of giving a sense of, and an interpretation of, the results found.
The nature of the research
Saunders (2007) argues that there are three different types of studies: Explanatory, Descriptive and Exploratory.
The exploratory research will aim to establish a ‘cause and effect’ relationship between variables. The descriptive study will have as its objective to get a clear picture of a phenomenon within a context. Saunders (2007) states that “it should be thought of as a means to an end, rather than an end on itself”. Then, it can be used as an extension of others types of studies.
The exploratory research will aim to define questions and hypotheses (Yin: 2003).
It will be useful to find out what is happening, to assess phenomena in a new light. In the case of my research, this exploratory study has been chosen as a main approach to describing and understanding the actual situation regarding the rise of SNS, its use in recruitment and in transforming job seeking. Moreover, given that there is limited literature review in the field, the aim of this study is not to prove or disprove existing research but to form a basis for further research on this area in future.
The research approach
It is widely recognised that the two main approaches to research are inductive or deductive. It is, however, entirely possible to adopt a combined approach, using both approaches. The choice of using this approach is influenced by the exploratory nature of this study. This research will mainly follow deductive approaches, since this research will initially produce quantitative data and will then deduct hypotheses and further data from that data. This research will also partly adopt an inductive approach, removing the need, in some instances, of collecting data, and analysing and reflecting upon what the data is suggesting.
Saunders (2007) defines the deductive approach as a scientific approach where a theory, hypothesis will be developed in order to design a research strategy to test the hypothesis. Elsewhere, he defines the inductive approach as ‘building a theory’ where there will be initially the need to collect data, and then the development of a theory will be the result of the analysis of that data. The structured way of undertaking this research will be to follow a deductive approach, notably from the targeted sample chosen with the aim of generalising from the date collected.
Saunders (2007) states that the inductive approach will be more relevant where existing theory is either absent or patchy. The literature review, as well as the existing research on the link between the rise of the SNS, recruitment and the way graduates go about job seeking, is limited. In addition, this area of the subject is currently highly topical. It therefore needs further investigation. The aim of this research is also to gain an understanding of the meaning that people, and particularly graduates, attach to the phenomenon that is the rise of SNS in recruitment. In this situation, Saunders & al (2007:120) suggest an inductive approach works best.
Time horizon: Longitudinal versus Cross sectional
The time horizon of any research will affect the methods use as well as the results found. It can be either longitudinal, that is, be conducted over a long period or be cross sectional and aim at getting a snapshot of a situation or a phenomenon at a certain point in time.
Given the time constraints this piece of research has had to work within, the time horizon of this research is cross sectional and allows a snapshot of the trend regarding the use of the Social Networking Sites in job hunting strategies for graduates and recruitment. Given the pace of change in this area, further study adopting a longitudinal time horizon would be interesting.
Research Strategies and choices
When undertaking a piece of research two main approaches to enquiry can be used: Qualitative and Quantitative strategies.
Kumar (2011:394) describe qualitative research as “an unstructured, flexible and open approach to enquiry, that aims to describe more than measure, that believes in in-depth understanding and small samples, and that explores perceptions and feelings more than fact and figures”. On the other hand, he defines a quantitative strategy as “a structured, rigid, predetermined methodology, that believes in having a narrow focus, that emphasises a greater sample size, that aims to quantify the variation in a phenomenon and that tries to make generalisations to the total population. However, Saunders (2007) suggests individual quantitative data and qualitative techniques and procedures do not exist in isolation.
According to Harrison and Reilly (2011, from Johnson et al., 2007, p. 123), “Mixed methods research is the type of research in which a researcher or team of researchers combine elements of qualitative and quantitative research approaches (e.g. use of qualitative and quantitative viewpoints, data collection, analysis, inference techniques) for the broad purpose of breadth and depth of understanding and corroboration”.
In the case of this piece of research, the focus is on graduates’ point of view. Graduates represent a sizeable proportion of the population. Also, in order to get the best picture given the short time scale available for the research, survey methods which create quantitative data have been chosen. In this case, this quantitative approach means ’scientific’ or numeric data are obtained, and this enables a better and quicker understanding of the issues. On the other hand, since this study follows an exploratory strategy, qualitative data via interviews also appears to be relevant in order to get a deeper understanding, and to get the full range of points of view on the subject.
Moreover, this use of both methods can help one method to develop or reinforce the other methods, according to Creswell (2003). To conclude then, using qualitative data collection to support quantitative data (that is, the main strategy in this research) will help in reinforcing and completing the results achieved through the quantitative strategy.
When undertaking this piece of research, there are two major types of data that can be collected: Primary and secondary data. As shown Exhibit XX in each category data can take various forms.
Source: Kumar, 2011 p.139
Secondary data is in essence data that is re-used for a different purpose to the one it was originally collected for. Kumar (2001) states that the main issue with secondary data is its availability. As already stated here in the literature review, due to the newness of the SNS phenomena, existing research is limited on the way graduates look for jobs and how this is linked with the rise of SNS. In the case of this research, secondary data available in the field is very limited, so there is a need to focus on primary data. This is the reason why primary date has been chosen as the main source of data collection.
Primary data is data that is specifically collected for the purpose of the research in question. Primary data can take various forms, from the simple observation of a phenomena, to the interview, through to the questionnaire. As Kumar (2001:140) highlights, “the choice of the method depends upon the purpose of the study, the resources available and the skills of the researcher”.
The aim of this research is to determine the impact of the rise of SNS on recruitment, and especially on the way graduates look for jobs. In order to get graduates’ point of view, quantitative data has been used in order to be able to show the tendency to use or to not use SNS when job seeking. Kumar (2001) recognises that in the different methods of primary data, certain are more appropriate to a certain type of population and a certain kind of research. Graduates, often part of Generation Y do use new technology heavily and with ease. Moreover they do represent a big population. The researcher judged that a survey would be the best way of accessing the study population, and would therefore be more likely to obtain the best response rate, which would in turn shed light on trends within the phenomena over a short period of time. Moreover, it may also reveal a link between some of the variables. For example, it might reveal something of the relationship between age and the use of SNS when job seeking.
The survey comprised 23 questions. It ran for a period of three and a half weeks, and was launched on http www.kwiksurveys.com.
Interviews can be conducted face to face, but an electronic dialogue via email can also be effective (Anderson, 2004). A face-to-face interview can take the form of an in-depth interview (with no, or few, questions prepared) or a semi-structured interview where themes or questions are known in advance but the interview may flow freely.
As one purpose of the interviews for this research was to get a professional point of view on this area of research, the author already had a reasonably precise idea of what she wanted to know. For the professional interview, a semi-structured interview was chosen on a face-to face basis for three participants, with an electronic interview via email for the last one.
The interviews contained round ten questions but the length and nature of the questions varied depending on the respondents’ answers.
Population and Sample
Sample of the Survey
As the use of the Social Networking Sites embraces a large section of the population, a sample has been made focusing on graduates. As shown Exhibit XX, a sample by definition is a part of the entire population.
In this piece of research, graduates are characterised as people who have just finished their study and who are currently or have been recently looking for a job.
This sample has been chosen because graduates are considered to be major part of Generation Y, to be at ease in their use of new technologies and too often be heavy users. Moreover, they are at the stage of their life where they have a need for a high level of socialisation, which may be facilitated through their use of social media such as SNS. Furthermore, graduates are also at a stage of their life where they are looking for jobs, or are not stable in their current professional situation and are seeking fulfilment through a change in direction.
Any group of graduates may span a broad age range. However, it was expected that the majority of the respondents would be in their 20’s and especially in the range of 21-25 years old.
Since the author was part of the Master’s Degree intake during the year 2010/2011 and part of a Bachelor’s Degree intake during the year 2009/2010, a large number of graduates were already part of the author’s personal network. To increase its profile, the survey was launched via the social network site, Facebook, with links posted on the Lincoln University 2010/2011 - MBA, MBA Finance, MSc Marketing group and the Lincoln Business Society group.
Sample for the interviews
One interview has been conducted with two human resources employees of a higher education institute. A second interview has been conducted with a human resources consultant working in London and the last face-to-face interview has been conducted with a Recruitment Branch Manager working in Lincolnshire. Regarding the email interview, it has been conducted with a senior recruitment director working in the Arab Emirates.
These respondents have been chosen due to their proximity to and accessibility for the researchers. Furthermore, they represent different positions within the human resource sector and their different levels of experience enabled the researcher to get a range of points of view. The email respondent was ‘self selecting’ in that they contacted the author after having heard about the research topic.
The sample focuses on graduates’ use of SNS. Therefore, as the focus of this research is on them, the reliability of their answers is thought to be quite high, particularly regarding the survey. Of course, even with a clear sample, the survey outcome always depends on the subjectivity of the respondents. Add to this, most of the respondents come from the graduate cohort of the University of Lincoln. The way they, as a group, understand the survey questions may well be characteristic of the way they studied at the University and their environment in Lincoln. Furthermore, as stated when defining the sample, this survey appealed to a broader age range, even if the expectation was that at the major proportion of respondents would be in their early to mid 20’s. Therefore, the researcher speculates that the survey outcome might have been different if the focus had been on mid-career or senior personnel.2.8) Validity
The survey received 364 responses. Looking at the short period the survey had to run, the relatively high number of responses gives the survey a certain face validity.
Therefore, the researcher believes that the results of her findings, and her subsequent analysis, allows her to draw relevant conclusions. Indeed there was sufficient quantity and quality to the data to help provide an in-depth insight into the phenomena of SNS and recruitment.
With the graduate survey receiving 358 responses, the data collected can provide trend information and a snapshot based on the reasonable number of answers given over the short timeframe. It is easy to suggest that this area of research is always moving and constantly changing and so the results of this research cannot be stated as definitive. However it is important to notice that the aim of this research was not to produce a theory which could be generalised to the whole population but to explore what is happening looking at the rise of the Social Networking Sites in the recruitment and the job hunting strategy.
Furthermore, this research focuses on a particular segment of the population, that is, recent graduates. This focus sheds light on their use of the Social Networking Sites while job hunting. Therefore, given the time constraints and the short period available to do the survey, a generalisation of these results to all the graduates seems hardly feasible and is impossible to do with all the users of the Social Networking Sites
What is more, most of the responses come from the researcher’s own personal networking amongst the graduates of the University of Lincoln (2008 to 2011). This sample is very specific, and it might not be entirely representative of the whole graduate population of the University or the country as a whole, even if useful to provide a trend.
The aim of this research was to give an overview at a particular point in time of the situation regarding the use of the SNS in recruitment. In order to establish whether the results of this research are generalisable, other studies in the same field should be done within the same population.
As the primary data in the field of this research is very limited, the need of primary data involving a high number on participants has been chosen. Some consideration has been given to ethical matters. It is important to notice that the topic regarding the use of SNS and the job hunting strategy cannot be considered a highly sensitive topic as it does not involve a high level of personal data which could lead to embarrassment. However, throughout the running of the survey, the confidentiality of every participant has been maintained. For example, no names were asked and the survey respondents were asked to participate on a voluntary basis. Only questions related to their age, their study and their country could be considered as personal data, but it was voluntary to respond to these, and indeed any, questions. As far as the interviews were concerned, the face-to-face interview was recorded for the purpose of the study and for ease of analysis. In the case of all the interviews, the anonymity of the respondents has been guaranteed while writing the dissertation and the agreement to record an interviewee during the interview was made as well as a guarantee to delete the recording after analysis has been completed.
The previous section looked at the choice of research that the author made for this study. This section will now present and discuss the data gathered during the primary research. The main method chosen to explore the heart of this topic has been a survey of graduates, an example, of which is shown in Appendix X. As this research focuses on three SNS, namely Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter, the survey also focused on these three. In order to analyse the survey responses, a computer software package, Statistical Package for the Social Science (SPSS), has been used.
The first part of the survey was created using questions regarding the survey population, such as age and gender in order to identify attributes of respondent group. Those questions were also asked in order to check for potential patterns and correlations in the responses, such as to see if there was any difference in SNS usage according to age and gender. These sample group characteristics are also used again in the analysis made later in this section of the dissertation.
The survey got 364 answers but only 363 were analysed, since one was judged to present highly irrelevant answers compared to all other respondents.
Exhibit XX shows that, of a total of 363 answers, 228 (63%) were female and 135 (37%) were male. This means the majority of respondents were female.
As can be seen from the Exhibit above, the majority of the respondents (39.7%) were between the ages of 21 and 25. A slightly smaller percentage of respondents defined themselves as being 20 or under (29.3%). The third largest group are the respondents aged between 26 and 30 which represent 11.8%, followed by those that are 40 or over (9.3%). The two smallest groups in the survey were the 31 to 35 age range, which represents only 6%, and the 36 to 40 group which represents the lowest percentage at 3.3%.
The distribution of the respondents regarding their age seems to be relevant. Indeed, as the survey was targeting graduates, it was expected that the majority of the respondents would be in their 20’s and particularly between the ages of 21 and 25 which represents the age where most of them are finishing their study. Moreover, the ages of 31 to 35 and 36 to 40 and 40 plus are often characterised by stability of employment.
As can be seen from Exhibit XX, the majority of the respondents are studying business (26%) which might be a reflection on the author’s personal network. The second and third categories are very similar, with Health, Life and Social Sciences at 22% and Media, Humanities and Technology at 21%. The fourth largest group are the “others study” (19%). For this group, when asked to specify their study, a big proportion answered architecture, tourism, art and drama, engineering-mechanic and human resources management. The last two groups represent only 8% and 4% respectively of the survey response group are the agriculture, Food and Animal Sciences and the Law.
The fourth question in the survey asked about the kind of job the respondent was looking for. Given the diversity in the answers, an analysis of this question is hardly feasible as it would give too many different groups which would not give any relevant information.
The results of the question five have been split into three categories “United Kingdom”, “Other European country” and “International”(outside Europe). See Exhibit XX.
As shown in Exhibit XX, the majority of the respondents (71%) come from the United Kingdom which is a reflection of the student body at the University of Lincoln. Other European countries (predominantly French, German and Scandinavian) represent 20% of the total while the International (India, USA, and China mainly) represent 6%. As this question was not compulsory to answer, 7 (3%) respondents decided not to answer.
As nearly half of the respondents (46%) use their Social Networking Sites between 1 and 3 hours a day, the population can be characterised as average users of SNS. Therefore, there is an important group of about a third of the total (33%) that we could classify of ‘beginners’ (less than 1 hour). Finally the sample does have a small group of heavy users (3 - 6 hours) that is 16%, and a very small group of what we could call ‘experts’ (more than 6 hours) at 5%.
Use of the Social Networking Sites
Exhibit X: Which Social Networking Sites do you use?
As shown Exhibit XX, it is clear that there is very high use of Facebook with 91% using this SNS compared to LinkedIn (22% of use) and Twitter (28%). This could reveal the difference in use of this social networking site, and particularly the need of these users for social interaction rather than professional interaction. Moreover, it also reveals the difference in popularity between these different SNS. This difference in the use of Social Networking Sites is also revealed within the answer to question seven which asks how does the respondent use their Social Networking Sites.
As shown in the Appendix 3 (see 6) 80% of the Facebook’s users do use it for personal use. Only one respondent answered that they use Facebook for professional purposes while 12% said they use Facebook for both purposes. As far as LinkedIn is concerned 75% do not use it at all. From the ones who are using it, 19% state that they use LinkedIn for professional purposes; nearly 2% for personal purposes and 3.6% use it for both purposes. From that answer, it is clear that graduate users of these three Social Networking Sites do not have the same intentions in mind in their use of these sites. This difference sheds some light on the nature of social interactivity via SNS that graduates are looking for. Moreover, it may also have an impact on the way graduates use each of them while job hunting.
In a general way, what do you use Social Networking Sites for?
Question XX of the survey consider graduates’ personal motivation behind the use of SNS. The responses highlight their use of SNS which is mostly to keep in contact (94.5%). This same point was made by a Human Resource Manager interviewed when she defined SNS as a communication media, and stated that “it is all about keeping in touch with people, sharing information”. The results of this question also confirm the assumption that use of Social Networking Sites fulfils the need for social interaction with others. This social need was also highlighted by the Senior Human Resource Manager who, when interviewed, talked about the driver of SNS’s use within the recruitment. He went on to explain:
“A basic social human fundamental of living is the need to be networked, appreciated, wanted and resourced – social network sites allow recruitment strategists to exploit this human characteristic and draw upon those basic needs. Basically, humans possess a flaw, the need to be ‘loved’; recruiters use social media to distort the relationship between professional relationship and friend”.
Job hunting strategy
Where are you looking for job offer?
When looking for a job, which methods are you mostly going to use to apply?
The graduate’s job hunting strategy seems to follow the human resource professional’s strategy. Indeed, as pointed out by the Human Resource Manager when interviewed:
“the usual means of recruitment are not leading to the relevant and talented candidates anymore and it can also be expensive (...) the rise of internet use has become more important and thanks to it , it is now possible to reach a greater pool of candidates and at much lower cost”.
This tendency towards the e-recruitment is confirmed by the graduates’ responses as 80% use the Internet, and 62% use recruitment websites while looking for a job. Only 52% use newspapers. However, despite the rise of SNS, 80% of graduates do not use it while job hunting.
On the contrary, when applying for jobs, traditional media and methods remain popular, as 81% of respondents use the direct approach. This popularity of a traditional technique, despite the huge use of new technologies in other aspects of their lives, could be due to their perception of what is both professional and credible. It could equally be due to the newness of the SNS phenomena and the high risks still associated with it in its use in a job hunting strategy. The Senior Human Resource Manager interviewed highlights the rise of SNS within the recruitment when he said that:
“These websites have evolved from their original purpose as a social connector with friends, to an appreciated tool in a company’s recruitment process, which now reflects naturally within the full cycle recruitment route”.
Adding to that, the Human Resource Manager explained that the development toward a ‘fully automatically e-recruitment’ might be a key factor driving the use of SNS in recruitment. If the growth of SNS in recruitment continues and ‘if you don’t want to get left behind’ recruitment tools have to follow this trend. Talking about their personal recruitment strategy, human resources professionals explained that nowadays it is not the organisation which decides the recruitment strategy but the market which dictates where you are going.
It is clear then that SNS in recruitment is in a stage of growth as professionals are aware of the impact that it could have on their strategies but graduates do not yet appear to have fully integrated these methods into their job hunting strategies.
Job hunting strategy, graduates and Social Networking Sites
a) Use and perception
The incidence of SNS in job hunting is still very low (28%). However, 43% would intend to use it at some point (See Appendix 3 12-13). This point highlights the newness of the phenomena but its rapid development, and echoes a point made by the Human Resource Manager who said that:
“We’ve gone from traditional open the newspaper on where there is jobs title and everything is in the newspaper towards online (…) that now is moving from the online to the social Networking”.
Moreover, even if not actually used by graduates, they do recognise the benefits of integrating SNS into their job hunting strategy, since 63% do recognise that having SNS skills can represent a competitive advantage in the job hunting market, and 52% think that using SNS can increase your chance of getting a job (See Appendix 3 15-16).
Exhibit X: What do you feel is the main advantage of using SNS while job hunting
As shown in Exhibit XX, the number of new contacts that SNS can bring a job hunter is seen as the main advantage (31.85%) of using SNS. This shows the awareness of graduates of the importance of a wide personal social network as it can be source of potential opportunity.
Exhibit X : Effectiveness of SNS compare to others SNS
Of 213 respondents, 122 perceive LinkedIn as more effective while job hunting compared to Facebook or Twitter. As all the respondents highlighted, from its professional association LinkedIn is a great opportunity. As the Human Resource Manager highlighted in his interview “it is where there is the larger number of organisations advertising and searching”. On the other hand, human resource professionals don’t recommend using Facebook for job searching, except for becoming a fan of the organisation’s homepage as Facebook carries too much personal information. The senior Human Resource Manager even recommended ‘closing your personal SNS until you find the perfect job’.
Exhibit X : Effectiveness of the SNS compare with the traditional ways
Even if already heavy users of this new technology, the power of other recruitment methods is still very attractive for graduates. Indeed, the largest majority (always more than 74%) do not perceive SNS as more effective than any other recruitment tool. The recruitment Branch Manager interviewed recognised the power of the SNS in recruitment and especially the use of the video as new way of recruiting via Viadeo and YouTube, particularly over the past two and half past years. However, she made the point that traditional ways of recruiting, and especially use of the CV, are still highly powerful.
This last point is further supported when one considers that 97% of all the respondents stated they would use SNS as a complementary tool, in addition to other recruitment methods (see Appendix 1 -19).
This echoes the point made by the senior Human Resource Manager who highlighted that “SNS is very valuable (…) when integrated with other screening tools”. The same Human Resource Manager also stated that “It means you become part of a company’s recruitment strategy” as your competitive advantage. Finally, she added that using SNS as a complementary tool would enable greater diversity in the workforce to be created as it provides the possibility of recruiting not the same type of people all the time. She insisted on the necessity of using different recruitment tools.
Exhibit X: Do you perceive any risks in the use of SNS while job hunting?
Finally, one of the main explanations for this currently weak use of SNS by graduates is the high level of risk still associated to it, since 76% of the graduates surveyed think that it represents a risk. Therefore, even if one is aware of the risks, professionals do lend only qualified support to SNS since they recognise in it many advantages as well as drawbacks.
As many companies do use it to check the background of potential candidates, most respondents highlight the danger and the ethical issues that SNS can bring.
The Human Resource Manager stated that:
“A straightforward Google search of a candidate’s name or a visit to their Facebook and LinkedIn page can reveal a lot about the person, providing an inside look into their life that you normally wouldn’t see within traditional job applications”.
When looking at the impact that SNS can have on recruitment, he highlighted that the rise of SNS will impact on the way that the “individual” is perceived during the recruitment as these SNS allow the recruiters to:
“gain a valuable personal insight into the individual that you are considering investment (…) establish whether the potential candidate is a cultural fit for the company identifying whether or not they possess the core competencies that would only be ascertained during interviewing or alternatively testing”.
Then looking at the downside to the use of SNS by the job hunter, it represents a real danger if potential candidates do have controversial information that comes to light via their SNS habits.
The Human Resource Manager believed that for SNS to become an opportunity, candidates needed to be clear on what they post on their SNS and what sort of job opportunities they might be looking for in future.
On the other hand, the recruitment consultant interviewed sees the SNS as an opportunity to “build a network much quicker than before” which a represents a significant advantage while job hunting.
Moreover, as stated before, the new competitive advantage that SNS can bring in any recruitment strategy does put pressure on a company to use it, not least because of its low cost in comparison to traditional ways. The recruitment consultant interviewed also highlighted the opportunity it provides to reach active and passive candidates that she defined as “currently satisfied in their current job but happy to hear about new opportunities” via more direct contact. She also recognised the positive impact on companies recruitment campaigns as SNS can allow companies to build a powerful brand image to attract new talent. Then, as Human Resource Manager states:
“Those recruiters who are able to keep up with consistently changing social networking trends and have a strong knowledge of how to navigate these sites, position themselves above others; finding the best candidates possible and establishing themselves as ‘friends’ within the target candidates’ networked world”.
Therefore the Human Resource Manager recognised that the biggest danger is not going to be for the job hunters themselves, but for the companies which would have to face legal issues, not least relating to accessing and using personal information within their hiring decision making.
Even if not heavily used by the graduates today, SNS seems to have a bright future in the recruitment sector based on all the advantages perceived by human resource professionals and Generation Y entering the labour market. As stated in the social media in recruitment report (2010) “Social media in recruitment is not just a passing fad. It is very much here to stay and will continue to play a major role in recruitment now and in the future”.
In contradiction, the Senior Human Resource Manager cast some doubt, describing this new trend as a fad, and that it would be ‘in vogue this year but not the other’. Talking about its ‘shelf life’, he did give the example of the number of websites that are created one year, but which disappear the next because of the trend effect and the constant desire to create better websites. In a general way he did suggest that effective use of SNS could replace some parts of any business. Looking in particular at Facebook he stated that “having a Facebook strategy can drive tremendous business benefit”. Therefore, looking at the future of recruitment, it does seem that there is plenty of uncertainty to SNS compared to other traditional forms of recruitment. Recognising the power of particular SNS, he therefore conceded that if there emerges another way perceived as better, or a better website “you will find another site happily, ready to step in and to replace”.
Correlation between the answers and the respondent’s types
The first part of the survey aimed to determine the characteristics of the respondents (age, sex, nationality, area of study). It also aimed to try to determine some correlation between the answers and the respondents, and to determine if the use of the SNS depends on the age, studies, gender. Here are the most relevant results. The complete table of results can be seen in the Appendix 4 to 8.
Gender. (Complete results in Appendix 4)
a) Use of SNS
While females (93%) use Facebook a little bit more frequently than males (88.1%), males use LinkedIn and Twitter more than females.
In general, males use more SNS in a professional way than females, who use it more personally. While 29% of males use LinkedIn, 19% of females use it. Moreover, while 32.6% of males use it for professional reasons, only 18% of females do so. Furthermore, while the personal use of Facebook is quite similar, 25% of males use LinkedIn professionally against 15% of females, and 6% of males use Twitter professionally against 1% of females (See Appendix 4.2).
b) Job hunting strategy
Following the trend above, males (26.7%) use SNS more frequently than women (14.9%) when looking for a job. In addition, females (65.8%) use recruitment websites more frequently than males (54.8%) (See appendix 4.5). This trend is confirmed in that 36.3% of males use SNS while job hunting against 21.9% of females, and more than half of males would think about using it at some point while only 38.5% of female consider this (See following graphs).
Exhibit X : Do you use SNS while Job hunting (Gender )
Do you use SNS while job hunting If No, would you use it
Following on from the above point, a greater percentage of males perceive an advantage in using SNS in job hunting compared to the rate for females (71.1% and 58.8% respectively). Similarly 60% of males think the use of SNS can increase your chance of getting a job while only 46.5% of females believe this is the case (See Appendix 4.11-4.12).
The overall perception of the effectiveness of SNS is much higher for males than females. Indeed their perception of the advantage of having SNS skills and the increase in the chance of getting a job while job hunting is much higher than for females (See Appendix 4.11-4.12).
Moreover, except for the number of contacts, males do perceive greater advantage in the use of SNS (e.g. visibility, time savings), and that SNS is more effective than traditional ways. Males also more readily point out the effectiveness of LinkedIn compared to others SNS.
The trend towards a greater use of SNS by males rather than females is confirmed in the fact that 5.2% of male respondents would use it as a main tool in their job hunting strategy while only 1.3% of females would. Moreover, the risk perceived by females is higher (77.2%) than for males (73.3%) (Appendix 4.16-4.17)
Age (Complete results Appendix 5)
As highlighted by the Human Resource Manager when talking about the rise of SNS:
“In a general way, I think it is a technology driven era. I think it is also the new generation, Generation Y which is driving that and I think that in order to keep up and be competitive, they have to be on board with it”.
She also stated that the characteristic of Generation Y has pushed the recruitment sector to adapt itself to the new market in order to attract the younger generation:
“That Generation Y likes to communicate in a particular way (...) and if you want to attract younger generation and technology in your organisation, you will use tools and techniques they are familiar with”.
As we have seen, Verhoeven et al. (2009) also recognise Generation Y as being the early adopters of the SNS and the Web 2.0 technology, but they also state that Generation Y’s use is heavy only for non-study related activity. In other words, it is not used for research related processes.
From these statements, it can be seen that the use of new technology and SNS is particular to a certain age group. The results of this survey highlight in a general way the social use of SNS by Generation Y, the professional use by 40 plus group and the non-use by the 36 to 40 group.
a) Use of SNS
For each group, the use of Facebook is greater than for LinkedIn and Twitter. Therefore while over 90% of the under 20’s use Facebook, only 52.9% of the ‘40 pluses’ do so. The flip side to this is that while around 35% of the older generation (26 to 30, up to the 40 plus group) use LinkedIn, only 6.5% of the under 20’s use that particular SNS. Moreover while 81% of the 20 to 30 group use Facebook for personal purpose, only 41.2% of the ‘40 plus’ group do. In contrast, the older generation (36 to 40) use LinkedIn professionally to a greater level than the younger generation (Appendix 5.2).
The results of the use of the SNS regarding age seem to appear relevant in the way that it shows that the younger generation are looking for connection in the heart of their social life. Indeed, for the use of Facebook and Twitter, the under 20’s and the 21 to 25 group are the two highest user groups compared to the 40 plus group which have the lowest incidence of use of Facebook and the next to lowest for the use of Twitter. Due to its professional side, the reverse effect of Facebook can be observed for LinkedIn, with the youngest generation being limited users while the older generation are more likely to use it.
Exhibit XX: What do you use SNS for?
20- 21-25 26-30 31-35 36-40 40+
Keep contact (%) 95.5% 100% 97.7% 90.9% 91.7% 67.6%
Looking at personal information 57% 69% 48.8% 33.3% 45.5% 26.5%
Event 62.6% 57.9% 37.2% 54.5% 25% 11.8%
Professional Motive 16.8% 27.6% 23.3% 27.3% 16.7% 26.5%
When looking at the motivation behind the use of SNS, a tendency can be seen. Indeed, looking at the social sides of its use (e.g. keeping in contact, personal information, updates on events), the younger generation (under 20’s, 21 to 25, 26 to 30) are the greatest users with a percentage of SNS use for keeping in contact at 100% for the 21 to 25 group. The reverse of this is the 40 plus group which has the lowest percentage for the above three motives for SNS use. In contrast to this, looking at professional motives, the under 20’s and the 26 to 30’s have the lowest SNS use while the 40 plus group has the third highest. This can be explained once again by the social effect of these SNS and the different stages of life where there is different motivation behind the use of the new technologies. Moreover the level of ease and confidence with these technologies can also be a potential explanation with Generation Y more used to these new technologies.
b) Job hunting strategy (See Appendix 4.5 to 4.9)
The younger generation (21 to 25) seems to be the highest users of the Internet (90.3%) and recruitment websites (72.4%). This shows the ease and confidence of the younger generation (especially the 20 to 30’s) with the use of the Internet for various reasons beyond any social aspects. In contrast, the use of newspapers is still high for the under 20’s (60%).
As a generalisation, it is important to note that the 40 plus category does not heavily use all these methods. This might be a reflection of their life experience, and their strong personal social network which represents their first source of job search.
Even when comfortable with new technology, the younger generation looks to be the group most likely to use the direct approach, with up to 93.5% for the under 20’s, 82.8% for the 21 to 25’s and 76.7% for the 26 to 30’s. This might be explained by the newness of their job hunting strategy and the fact that in looking for their first job, a direct approach might be perceived as more powerful. In contrast, a direct approach may be perceived as being less appropriate by the older generation when they are looking for evolution in their careers. They may choose instead a more creative approach such as the use of SNS. This last point can be reinforced by the use of SNS when applying with the older 35 to 40’s, and the 40 plus groups, where it is used by a quarter of these groups, compared to the youngest two groups where SNS is used by less than 10% of the 21 to 25’s and the under 20’s groups for job hunting. When looking at the preceding question and the motives for the use of SNS, the ‘40 plus’ group was the third largest for professional motives. We can surmise that since older groups are more likely to use LinkedIn, and their motives are likely to be professional, this might explain why they are the heaviest users of SNS when job hunting.
This last point is confirmed by the answer to the question ‘Do you use SNS while job seeking?’ with the 40 plus group being second highest with a percentage of 32.4% behind the 21 to 25 with 33.1%.
The use of SNS by the older generation (40 plus) might be more limited than the young generation but it appears to be more targeted. The youngest generation are the heaviest users but they use SNS for multiples purposes, while seeming to be still attached to traditional way recruitment methods. Moreover, even if driven by their current social needs, this group seems to be ready to take on SNS for professional purposes, as shown by their answers when asked if they would use it at some point in the future. The three younger generations (under 20’s, 21 to 25’s, 26 to 30’s) around half in each case answered yes while only 40% of the older group (40 plus) answered yes.
While most (up to 70%) of the younger generation (20 to 30’s) in the survey perceive a great advantage in having SNS skills while job hunting, the majority (63.6%) of the 31 to 35’s group feel SNS will increase their chances in getting a job (Appendix 5.10-5.11).
Compared to the older generation who highlight the time saving and visibility, the important number of new contacts that SNS can bring seems to be the main advantage for the younger generation, which once again reflects their need on social interaction.
When asked if one SNS was more effective than any other in a job hunting strategy, 63.6% of the 21 to 25 age group recognised this to be the case. More people in this age group make this distinction than any other group.
From a general point of view, LinkedIn is perceived by all categories (except the under 20’s) as the most effective, peaking with the 31 to 35 group where 91.7% of them think that LinkedIn is most effective. The popularity of Facebook amongst the youngest generation can be seen in their perceived effectiveness with 65.1% of them thinking that Facebook is most effective. The perceived effectiveness of Twitter is very low (under 30%).
Looking at the three methods of recruitment (SNS, recruitment website, direct approach), no more than a quarter for each of the survey groups answered that SNS is the most powerful of the three. Members of the 36 to 40 age group are more likely (25%) to think that SNS can be more effective than a direct approach. For comparison with recruitment websites, the rate is higher for each group. The 26 to 30 age group is the one for whom SNS is felt to be more powerful than a recruitment website. The two ends of the age range (i.e. the youngest and oldest groups) are least likely to rate SNS as more powerful in comparison to recruitment websites.
Looking at where they could put SNS in their job hunting strategies, all the age groups follow the same trend, seeing SNS as a complementary tool in nearly all cases. The 40 plus and the 21 to 25 age ranges do have the highest rate with around 5% of them seeing SNS as the main tool potentially in any job hunting strategy. This is probably due to its professional use in the case of the 40 plus group, and their ease and confidence with the technology in the case of the 21 to 25 age group.
Regarding the risks associated with the use of SNS in any job hunting strategy, the 36 to 40 age group have the highest perception of risk with 91.70% of them thinking that the use of SNS in a job hunting strategy represents a risk. This last point perhaps explains the low level of SNS use by this age group since it has a weak perception of its advantages and effectiveness (See Appendix 5.16-5.17).
Subject Studied (Complete results Appendix 6)
The subjects studied were classified into the following categories: Business, Law, Media, Humanities & Technology, Health, Life and Social Sciences, Agriculture, Food and Animal Sciences and Others. The ‘others’ category represents essentially Architecture, Tourism, Art and Drama, Engineering and Human Resources Management students.
When talking about the possible future of the SNS, the Human Resource Manager explained at interview that even if Generation Y do change the recruitment sector in general, this evolution will depend on the sector one is recruiting within: It might not evolve in the same way across all sectors. As an example, she explained that at the moment, SNS are not the right vehicle for the medical sector. From this we can draw the conclusion that, depending on their level of contact with new technologies, some sectors might be more concerned with the rise of SNS than others.
In general, this survey indicates greater use of SNS by Business (notably in their professional use) graduates and Law.
a) Use of SNS
The general use of Facebook is quite high for graduates across all areas of study, with a rate in each case always above 85% (in the case of ‘others’), going up to 100% in the case of Agriculture graduates. Comparing this to the use of Facebook, LinkedIn is much more used by the Business graduates (38%), followed by the Others (25%) and Media (20%). Looking at Twitter, the Media section have a higher rate of use than the ‘others’ area of study, with nearly 50% using it. This might be due to the familiarity of Media graduates with new technology.
Furthermore, looking at the professional motives behind the use of SNS, Business graduates reach 33%, the highest rate of any, followed by ‘others’ (19%) and Media (17%) (See Appendix 6.2-6.3).
b) Job hunting strategy (See Appendix 6.5 to 6.9)
Business graduates seem to be the heaviest users of new technologies when looking for jobs as they score the highest in their use of the Internet (83%) and use of the recruitment websites (79.8%).
Business, Media and the ‘others’ category graduates are the ones using SNS the most when job hunting. This can be linked to the preceding point about the use of SNS where these three groups of graduates were the ones using SNS the most for professional reasons.
This same trend can be seen in the degree of ease and confidence that graduates have in applying for jobs using SNS according to their different subject areas: Business (12.8%), Media (16%) and Others (13.2%). Therefore, the use of direct approach is very high for each section (over 72%) as well as the use of the online application (over 68.8% apart for the Agriculture section).
Finally, after Others (37%), the graduates from the areas of Business and Law are second most likely at 31% to use SNS while job hunting.
c) Perception (Appendix 6.10 to 6.15)
Having considered graduates’ use of SNS while job hunting, we now turn to graduates’ perception of SNS effectiveness. The highest effectiveness is perceived by the Business, Law and Others groups of graduates, with over 67% perceiving some SNS as more effective than others. The Business graduates rate most highly LinkedIn of the three SNS (75%). For Health graduates, Facebook appears to be the most effective with 55% thinking that Facebook is more effective than the other SNS. As far as direct approaches, recruitment websites or online applications are concerned, no single SNS is perceived as any less effective than other SNS.
However, in any job hunting strategy, Law graduates rate at the highest level (often followed by Business graduates) the following factors: the use of SNS while job hunting (31%), the advantage that SNS skills can bring (63%) and the increase in chances of getting a job that SNS can bring (63%).
The converse of this is that Agriculture graduates are the lowest user of SNS professionally, and while their social use is the highest of the groups, their perception rates are the lowest (e.g. in terms of overall advantage, and effectiveness).
Finally, this trend towards a more professional use of SNS for Business and Law graduates is confirmed by the fact than 7% of them (the highest rate of all) would still use it as their main job search tool. Add to this that the lowest rating of the perceived risk of using SNS also comes from Law graduates (69% compared to over 73% for the ‘others’ group) (See Appendix 6.16-6.17).
Hours Spent on the Social Networking Sites (Complete results Appendix 7)
In order to be clearer, a descriptive label has been given to each of the different user categories for SNS:
- Less than 1 hour a day are ‘beginners’
- 1 to 3 hours a day are ‘average users’
- 3 to 6 hours a day are ‘heavy users’
- more than 6 hours a day are ‘expert’
a) Use of SNS (Appendix 6.2 to 6.3)
In terms of whether different user categories favour distinct SNS, we can see that Facebook has a level of use of over 94% for each user category except the ‘beginners’ (80%). Although there are lower levels of use overall, LinkedIn is used more by ‘average users’ (27.7%) than other user categories. The use of Twitter is higher for the ‘heavy users’ (52.3%). Contradictory to what one might intuitively believe, ‘expert users’ are the weakest users of LinkedIn and Twitter.
‘Average users’ seem to be the ones using SNS the most for social motives as they gave the highest ratings for keeping in contact (99.3%), looking at personal information (65.7%) and event (85.1%). Looking at the professional motives behind the use of SNS, ‘heavy users’ seem to be the major group using it (33.9%) followed by ‘average users’ (27.1%).
This above point is confirmed when we see that these two categories are the ones using LinkedIn the most for professional reasons (22.3% ‘average’; 18.6% ‘heavy’). They are also the ones using Facebook for personal and professional purposes at the highest level (17% ‘average’; 18.6% ‘heavy users’).
b) Job hunting strategy (Appendix 6.5 to 6.8)
The above use of SNS by ‘heavy’ and ‘average users’ is further confirmed when we see that a quarter of them use SNS when looking for a job (10% ‘expert’; 8% ‘beginners’) and 12% of the ‘average users’ and 22% of the ‘heavy users’ use SNS when applying for jobs. Therefore, the popularity of direct application is very high for both categories with 82.5% for the ‘average users’ and 91.5% for the ‘heavy users’ compared to ‘beginners’ who prefer to do online applications (77.5%).
d) While ‘average users’ are the ones mostly using SNS when job hunting (40%), the ‘heavy users’ (weak users today 15%) with for the majority (52%) using SNS at some point. Perception (Appendix 7.10 to 7.15)
Exhibit X: Perception of the effectiveness of one SNS compare to the others
Around 64% of the ‘average’ and ‘heavy users’ think that one SNS is more effective than any other, while 55.6% of the ‘experts’ and 45% of the ‘beginners’ think so too.
In general, LinkedIn is perceived as more effective than the others SNS by all user categories, but the perception of the effectiveness of LinkedIn compared to other SNS is much higher for the ‘average users’ (66.7%). The ‘experts’ perceive Facebook and LinkedIn as more effective than other SNS (56%). SNS are not perceived as more effective than any other way of recruitment. A quarter of the ‘heavy users’ think that SNS are more effective than recruitment websites.
Exhibit X: What do you consider as the main advantage of using SNS while Job hunting?
Main advantage Beginners (less than 1) Average users (1-3) Heavy users (3-6) Expert (more than 6)
Time Saving (%) 25 23.7 39.2 27.8
A lot of contact (%) 45 62 72.9 66.7
High visibility (%) 29.2 45.2 52.5 44.4
Others reason(%) 28.3 12 11.9 27.8
The ‘heavy users’ are the ones seeing the greatest advantage in using SNS while job hunting as they rated all the advantages (except for the ‘Other’ reasons) higher than the ‘beginners’, ‘average’ and ‘experts’ user groups (See red line table above).
While ‘heavy users’ and the ‘experts’ might use SNS as the main tool in any job hunting strategy (respectively 6.8% and 5.6%), the beginners and average users would hardly ever use it (1.7%). Looking at the risks associated with SNS, the ‘experts’ and ‘heavy users’ associated a higher level of risk (83%) with it than the ‘beginners’ and ‘average users’ (77.5% and 71.1% respectively) (See Appendix 7.16-7.17).
Correlation regarding the country of origin. (Complete results Appendix 8)
a) Use of SNS
Exhibit X: Use of SNS
The use for Facebook is high for each user group category reaching up to 97.2% of users from the other European countries. However, the level of use for LinkedIn is higher for the International (50%) graduates, and the level of use for Twitter is the highest for UK respondents.In the case of European and International graduates all state (100%) the use of SNS is to keep in contact, while it is 92.2% for the UK respondents. These results might be influenced by the survey sample since most graduates responding to the survey are from the University of Lincoln. In this case, since International students are living far from home, they might be much more likely to use SNS to keep in contact with family and friends. This might explain the difference between the UK and other categories outcome.
At 73%, the ‘others’ European countries category seems to have a heavy social use of SNS for looking at personal information, with the use of SNS for events at 61%, also higher than others. Finally, we can see that International graduates use SNS for professional reasons (35%) more than European graduates (around 20%). This last point is strengthened when we see that 43% of International graduates use LinkedIn professionally compared to 29% of European respondents and 12% of UK graduate respondents (See Appendix 7.2-7.3).
b) Job hunting strategy
Where are you looking for jobs? UK Other European Country International
Newspapers (%) 59.5 36.6 32.1
Internet (%) 78.2 90.1 82.1
Recruitment Website(%) 56 80.3 64.3
SNS(%) 18.3 29.9 17.9
When job hunting, UK graduate respondents seem to adopt more traditional ways such as using newspapers (60%) when looking for a job while 81% of them use direct applications when applying. On the other hand other, European respondents seem to adopt more technological ways of job hunting as they are heaviest users of the Internet (90%), recruitment websites (80.3%) and SNS (30%) while looking for jobs, and also the heaviest users of the Internet (76.1%) and SNS (19%) when applying. It appears European graduates stay slightly more attached to traditional ways as 76.1% of them use direct application when applying. Finally, International respondents strike a balance between traditional and technology enabled methods, as they mostly (82%) use the Internet when looking for a job but also use direct application while applying (85%) (See Appendix 8.6).
Compared to the tendency for its use today, the effectiveness of SNS perceived as higher by International respondents with 82.1% of them thinking that it is an advantage while job seeking, and 68% of them thinking SNS increases your chances of getting a job. However, the perception of its use is the lowest for UK respondents with 60% seeing SNS skills as an advantage and 48% thinking SNS increases one’s chances of getting a job (Appendix 8.10-8.11).
Exhibit X: Advantage perceived
Main advantage UK Other European Country Outside Europe
Time Saving (%) 31.1 32.4 32.1
A lot of contact (%) 51.8 67.9 74.6
High visibility (%) 38.1 43.7 50
Others advantages (%) 22.5 8.5 1.5
The previous point can be further confirmed by looking at perceived advantages. UK respondents always rate all the advantages set out in Exhibit XX at a lower rate than the graduates from other countries, with the exception of ‘other’ advantages). The number of contacts is seen by each group of graduates as the main advantage of using SNS while job hunting, with this being rated up to 75% by International respondents.
Looking at the effectiveness of one SNS compared to the others, the same trend can be seen. UK and ‘Other’ European country graduates have generally given a higher rating than graduates from International countries, especially for LinkedIn and Twitter. The reverse effect can be seen when comparing the use of SNS to the traditional ways of job hunting. Indeed, International respondents do rate more highly than other groups of respondents that SNS can be more effective than direct approaches (35.7%), more effective than recruitment websites (39.3%), and more effective than online applications for 39.3% (Appendix 8.14-8.15).
These results confirm the tendency of UK graduates to be attached to traditional ways compared to the European and International graduates.
Finally, while 8.5% of European country graduates, and 7.1% of International respondents answer that they will use SNS as the main tool in their job hunting strategy, only 0.4% of UK graduates would use SNS in this way. The preceding point can also be linked with rating of the risk associated with SNS, which is higher for UK respondents (76.3%) than for ‘other’ European (76.1%) and International (64.3%) graduates (Appendix 8.16-8.17).
The aim of this research was to explore the impact that SNS have on the graduates’ job hunting strategies. It more precisely looked at:
- Whether Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter have become a new way of job searching in the graduate cohort;
- The level of migration of graduate job seekers to the use of Social Networking Sites away from traditional methods; and
- The risks and benefits associated using Social Networking Sites in job seeking.
Primary data has been generated mainly via a survey graduates, followed by interviews with people in the human resource profession to reinforce and discuss the survey’s findings. The researcher believes that the results of her findings and her analysis enable relevant and reliable conclusions to be drawn. Indeed the data gathered was of sufficient quality and quantity to help gain an in-depth appreciation of the phenomena of SNS and recruitment.
Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter in the graduates’ job hunting strategy
From the research findings, especially the rates of use of the SNS, it is apparent that graduates principally use SNS in a general way for social purposes. We can conclude that the increasing trend in the use of SNS has not yet had a major impact on graduates’ job hunting strategies. Indeed, their use of SNS while looking for a job, and when it comes to actually applying for jobs is still very limited. However, as shown by this research, graduates recognise that having SNS skills while job hunting represents a significant advantage in job searching, as well as improving one’s prospects of landing a good job. This perceived advantage comes mainly from the fact that graduates feel using SNS in job hunting will help them access a wider range of contacts, and therefore, potentially more job opportunities.
We can draw from the survey results a clear picture of SNS user behaviour while job hunting. Typically, a graduate SNS user is more likely to be male and in the 21 to 25 age range, from Europe (outside UK) studying Business and using SNS for an average (1 to 3 hours) or higher than average (3 to 6 hours) amount of time per day.
Overall, there is still limited SNS use by graduates in job searching. This weak use at the moment can be explained by the newness of the phenomena. Indeed, while the platform for this new technology has been around for the past 20 years, the popularity of SNS has only grown in the past three years. The use of SNS appears to be still driven by the social needs of its users, particularly for developing and maintaining networks of contacts, and for developing one’s visibility.
While there is currently weak use of SNS in graduates’ job hunting strategies, the new ‘Generation Y’ is getting more and more confident and at ease with this new technology, and future graduates may well quickly change this situation of currently weak use.
Graduate job seekers’ migration away from traditional methods to the use of Social Networking Sites
This research shows that the use of SNS is far from replacing the traditional ways of recruitment at the moment (e.g. newspapers, recruitment websites, internet companies’ websites). As the interviews with human resource professionals highlighted, it seems that the rise of SNS will be very quick, since the highly IT literate Generation Y is coming onto the labour market, and they are heavy users of SNS, albeit for social purposes at the moment. It is highly likely that this driver will see the rapid growth of SNS for recruitment purposes. In order to attract graduates, the recruitment world will have to encourage and support this use of SNS even further at the probable expense of traditional ways of recruitment, especially newspapers which are highly expensive compared to the essentially ‘free’ use of SNS. Companies that see in the use of SNS a way of attracting talented people, will better target their recruitment campaigns by building SNS into their recruitment strategies.
Therefore, even if the use of SNS in graduate job hunting is still limited, e-recruitment via the Internet and recruitment websites are definitely moving us away from the old fashioned way of looking for jobs such as in newspapers. Paradoxically, when it comes to lodging applications for jobs, the traditional way of applying is still strongly favoured, with a preference from graduates and human resource professionals alike for the CV and cover letter.
Right now, it appears that only the medium of the newspaper in recruitment campaigns is threatened by the rise of SNS. However, in general it must be the case that any technology-based methods in recruitment and job hunting will have a bright future.
Risks and benefits associated using Social Networking Sites in job seeking
In any job hunting strategy, and especially for graduates often without experience, personal networking is highly important. The custom of tapping into, or creating, networks via friends, and friends of friends, which is now enabled by SNS, can potentially develop huge personal social networks with the purpose of sourcing job opportunities which would otherwise be inaccessible. Moreover, once one is on the Internet, one’s visibility increases exponentially. This high visibility that can be offered by SNS, can give access to a wide range of companies, which more traditional ways of job searching could not possibly give one access to. Moreover, with the SNS that are more professionally targeted, such as LinkedIn, the opportunity to extend one’s network, as well as one’s visibility, is high allowing graduates to perceive it as a real opportunity in any job hunting strategy. These two advantages are at the moment perceived as the main advantages and the main driver towards the professional use of SNS.
In contrast to this, this research highlights the high rate of perceived risk regarding the use of SNS in a job hunting strategy. This high level of risk is in all probability curbing the use of SNS in graduates’ job hunting strategies. As is shown by the account of the employee not getting a job because of their personal SNS, the border between one’s personal and professional domain is more than ever becoming blurred. The corollary of this is that while SNS allows greater visibility for job seekers, SNS also allows recruiters to check on potential candidates’ backgrounds. While graduates may often have a vibrant social life, which is both enabled and exposed by SNS, they are not accustomed to actively managing their SNS profile for professional use, as is illustrated by their limited attention to the impression that the pictures and language they use on their SNS creates.
In conclusion, the newness as well as the uncertainty surrounding the introduction of social networking sites into graduates’ job seeking strategies suggests graduates are not quite ready to fully use it yet. The integration of SNS into graduates’ job hunting strategies is in a ‘growth’ stage. However, with the rapid growth of the use of SNS across society, with the recruitment business looking for effective ways adopting using new technologies, and with Generation Y coming onto the labour market, the integration of SNS within the graduates’ job hunting strategies has enormous potential for rapid growth over the coming years.
The findings and conclusion of this research are strongly influenced by the newness of the SNS phenomena. The Internet, and especially the use of Social Networking Sites, and the recruitment sector are constantly changing and have to adapt themselves to the new requirement of society. The researcher adopted a cross sectional time horizon in order to get a snapshot of the situation at a given moment. Moreover, this exploratory study was chosen in order to determine some ‘How’ and ‘Why’ issues linked to this topic.
From those two points, further study could be done.
The study of the same subject but over a longer period of time could be done. It would enable the researcher to see an evolution over time. Moreover, as stated previously, the link between SNS and recruitment is still in a period growth and this is more likely to change in the following years.
SNS and recruitment strategy
This study, while using professional points of view to get a deeper understanding, focused on the graduates’ job hunting strategies. An analysis of the impact that the rise of SNS is having on recruitment strategies would allow the researcher to get a human resource professional’s point of view on this phenomenon.
SNS and the use of companies
As revealed in this study, the non-use of SNS while job hunting is mostly due to the perceived risks associated with it. This raises the potential for an interesting and worthwhile area of study. It would then be useful to evaluate the use of SNS by companies, in order to determine the extent to which SNS is used as a recruitment tool in lieu of traditional recruitment processes, versus its use for researching potential candidates’ backgrounds.
Linked to this last point, a study on the ethical issues that SNS in the recruitment raises could be done.