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Social media for recruitment faces a human glitch

Using LinkedIn social media connections to fill jobs may be harder than expected. A study that examined employee referral software found trouble with participation rates.

Employee referral software can use social media for recruitment to find connections between existing employees and the people they know, but there's a human glitch: The employees don't always want to do it.

Employees are less likely to refer a job candidate in a similar field if the candidates are seen as potential competitors, according to a new study by three University of Washington researchers.

"I can totally understand the dynamic," said Elina Hwang, an assistant professor of information systems at the Michael G. Foster School of Business, and one of the study's authors. An employee may feel threatened if the referral is from someone doing similar work, she said.

The researchers worked with a software vendor that makes employee referral software and a Fortune 500 consulting firm that uses it. The firms weren't identified. But out of a potential pool of more than 8,000 potential referral candidates over more than a year, only about 5% were actually referred.

"It was a very rare event," Hwang said.

Social media for recruitment needs incentives

The employee referral software does its job and finds the connections on LinkedIn, Hwang said. The paper describes the process: "When a job position is open, the company screens the LinkedIn profiles of people who are connected with their employees through LinkedIn and identifies a handful of highly qualified people for the open position. Once this identification is done, the company asks its employees to refer the candidates."

It was a very rare event.
Elina Hwangassistant professor of information systems, Michael G. Foster School of Business, University of Washington, on employee referrals

An issue with social media for recruitment may be referral incentives. The consulting firm didn't offer incentives to employees to make referrals. The researchers intend to follow up with another study to find out what incentives are strong enough to "dilute this potential competition," Hwang said.

Other researchers who co-authored the paper, "Social Hiring: The Right LinkedIn Connection that Helps You Land a Job," were Kyungsun (Melissa) Rhee and Yong Tan.

Demand for talent management tools rising

Nonetheless, the outlook for recruiting and talent management software is good, according Randstad Sourceright's just released annual Talent Trends Report.

Demand for new tools is going to increase this year, due in part to the increasing faith in the effectiveness of these tools, according to Talent Trends Report survey of 800 human capital and C-suite executives in 17 countries.

The survey reports that "92% believe technology enhances the attraction, engagement and retention of talent, compared to 70% in 2016."

But these HR leaders also feel as if they are falling behind in keeping up with new tech.

The survey discovered "growing apprehension" about the pace of technology. About 60% said they are having trouble keeping pace with market changes, which is up from 40% in 2016.

Interest in robots is increasing; 83% of Randstad's respondents believe robotics "will have as much if not more influence on their business over the next year," and 87% held a similar view about the prospect for HR automation.

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What incentives are effective in encouraging employees to make job referrals?
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Nothing says "Thank you" quite like those 5 special words "Pay to the order of..."
That noted, I find that the new referral incentive my company launched for 2019 is pretty exciting. Everyone who refers a successful candidate receives 1-3 entries into a monthly drawing (depending on the candidate's level) and the prize is a cash amount larger than the common $500-$1,000 referral bonuses you often see. In addition, the same amount is donated to the employee's charity of choice. And then there is a grand prize of a family vacation to Maui. As our HQ is in one of the snowiest cities in the Northeastern US this is no small incentive!
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