Ever wondered how employers in Europe use social media for recruitment? Our friends at Stepstone recently released a study called “Recruitment via social media: fact or hype?” which is based on research carried out in seven European countries: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden. So for once we have interesting social recruiting data which isn’t biased towards the US or the UK.

Here are the highlights of the study:

Social media usage:

Figures from Internet World Stats tell us there were roughly 520 million internet users in Europe in 2012.  This represents 63.5% of the European population. Out of these internet users in Western Europe, 62% are also social network users. These stats tend to tick up on a weekly basis but the message here is that most internet users are also social media users.

Jobseekers and social media:

If European internet users use social networking in general, jobseekers use it even more: 81% of jobseekers have at least one social media profile according to Stepstone. 70% of jobseekers log in every day to Facebook, 40% log in to LinkedIn and 33% to Twitter.

Jobseekers use social networks for a wide range of reasons, the main ones being sharing information, looking at job opportunities and of course responding to friends.

Social media in the corporate world:

So what are European companies up to on social? Most organisations have realised they need to have a social media strategy and this year almost 70% of companies have a social media presence, up from less than 50% in 2010.

There are of course plenty of reasons for companies to use social media, here are the main ones:

  • HR management and recruitment
  • increasing brand awareness
  • spreading news on products and services
  • attracting new customers
  • interacting with existing customers

HR departments were the pioneers in using social media at corporations, they have since been overtaken by marketing for obvious reasons. It’s interesting to note that both customer services and sales are really lagging in social media adoption, two areas where most customers would expect to interact with a company.

Social recruiting:

Social media is used in the full recruitment process in many ways, including:

  • attracting jobseekers by creating and voicing the employer brand
  • finding potential employees via direct search
  • searching for information about prospective employees
  • posting jobs in social network communities

Most used social networks:

The leading network in Europe for recruitment is LinkedIn, with 64% of companies using it. Facebook is second with 41% and Twitter is used by 29% of companies to find talent. (See also What’s the Best Facebook Career Page in Europe?)

Xing leads in Germany:

There is however a couple of exceptions to this, in the DACH region of Europe we find that Xing is the leading social network used for recruitment. In Germany it is used by no less than 78% of companies and LinkedIn only comes in third place. It is worth noting that LinkedIn is growing faster than Xing, so it could catch up over time.

Viadeo and LinkedIn neck and neck in France:

The other exception is France, where the native professional network Viadeo is still in the lead. It appears LinkedIn will overtake Viadeo soon as the former has increased its market share by 20% in the last three years and the latter has declined by 4%.

Posting jobs on social media:

Organisations are reaching out to social jobseekers and adopting a multi-channel approach, where social is one part of a bigger strategy. Stepstone quote a study by TNS which indicates that the candidate volume generated by social media is lower than other channels, so don’t expect floods of applications to come in from Facebook. Only 24% of companies are happy with the social media candidate volume according to Stepstone.

Social media is certainly not enough to meet organisations’ full recruiting needs just yet, only 2% of European job listings are filled via social media. Internal sources such as internal applicants, career pages, referral programs and own networking account for 24% of total hires. Other major sources include job boards which help to fill 21% of jobs and even print media fill 10%.

Jobseekers don’t fare much bettter than organisations: Stepstone say only 10% of candidates who apply via social media are hired. In summary, this research indicates that social media is relatively ineffective as a job postings channel.

Direct search of future employees:

Social media can be a great place to find passive candidates but this research shows that only 26% of companies receive a response to the majority of their contact requests (InMails etc). The candidates that are most often found via social media are for white collar functions, especially sales and marketing people.

Researching prospective employees:

During the recruitment process, nearly three-quarters of European employers use social media to find additional information about potential candidates during the recruitment process. Checking social media profiles had a positive influence on the hiring decision in nearly half of cases, but led to rejection of the candidate in a quarter of cases.

Employer branding via social media:

Organisations throughout Europe have been quick to adopt social media as a communication channel for employer branding. Since 2010, the usage of social media for employer branding has grown threefold.

Companies are using social media foremost to explain the employer brand to potential candidates. Most companies are linking their social media to their dedicated careers site in order to drive traffic and applications. About half of job seekers try to find information about future employers through social media, this suggests companies should monitor their employer brand closely there.

Resources for recruiting via social media:

Just like any other channel, social media requires resources to function well. This study found that roughly 50% of companies have no specific budget at all for social recruiting. Only 6% of companies have a social media budget corresponding to more than 10% of the overall HR budget. 29% of companies have at least one employee who is responsible for recruitment via social media.

Implications for employers:

Some of the key takeaways for me:

  • Compared to the recent US social recruiting study by Jobvite, it’s clear that European companies are lagging American companies in terms of social recruiting adoption.
  • It’s also obvious that  social media isn’t a stand-alone recruitment channel just yet but it slots well into a multi-channel approach by companies.
  • Social media is a fantastic vehicle for employer branding and I expect to see more activity here by European companies in future.
  • A company can get by doing social recruiting without any extra manpower, but the best in class organisations will have a dedicated team.
  • Candidates are using social media and they expect to find out more information about an employer and even to apply there in some cases.
  • Candidates should also expect their social profiles to be scrutinised during a hiring process.

Many thanks to Stepstone for providing this data.

How does your company use social recruiting? Please let us know in the comments or tweet us at @LinkHumans!

RELATED: Get the FREE Social Recruiting eBook feat. Deloitte, Sodexo, UPS and more.

About Jörgen Sundberg

Founder of Undercover Recruiter & CEO at Link Humans, a social and digital marketing agency.

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