Vijay Sankaran, creative director and digital strategy director of Urja Communication, a digital and marketing agency, sat comfortably in his Mumbai office as he read a retweet by a Bengaluru-based friend. The tweet was originally posted by Ben Roome, the London-based head of Media Relations at Nokia Siemens Networks and it mentioned that the company was looking for a social media head.
Illustration/ Satish Acharya
Sankaran, who had been working in agencies for about 20 years, wasn't looking for a job. However, the tweet got him curious and he started to follow Roome. "He (Roome) followed me too. I sent him a direct message asking if we could discuss the job opportunity and what it entailed but he said it would be better to do that formally. I created a CV, uploaded it on their website and he initiated the hiring process," says Sankaran who now works as social media head at Nokia Siemens Networks.
The case was no different with 38 year-old Gautam Ghosh, who has worked as a Human Resources Manager at Deloitte & Touche and in the HR, Learning & Development department in multinational companies like Dell and Hewlett Packard. Four and a half years ago, while he was working as a freelancer and had just moved to Delhi, he saw a tweet from Gaurav Mishra (@Gauravonomics on Twitter), co-founder of 2020 Social, a social media research and strategy company, looking for marketing professionals.
Ghosh knew Mishra via the microblogging site and immediately reached out to him. "I asked him on Twitter if he was only looking for marketing professionals. He sent me a direct message and asked if we could meet. He had decided to hire me even before we met," says Ghosh, who is now the India Marketing head with BraveNewTalent, a global social recruitment network.
That's the beauty of Twitter, says Sankaran. "Roome had a perception of who I was and what I was capable of even before meeting me. His opinion was shaped by my online presence and by looking at content that I posted. He sits in London and if he had to take the traditional route of recruitment, he would have to hire a consultancy firm. This just made his job simpler," explains Sankaran.
Companies benefit too
It's not just individuals who are benefitting from job tweets. More and more companies, MNCs and startups have started to leverage Twitter to expand their reach to niche prospective employees and technology leaders. Krithika Nelson, the co-founder of eight month-old website Shopo.in, an online market site for Indian designers, artistes and products, hired her social media marketing manager and website design engineer via Twitter. Even companies like Accenture have a handle on the microblogging site (@AccentureIndia), followed by over 12,000 people, which specifically tweets about job opportunities across consulting, technology and outsourcing.
According to Delhi-based HR professional and freelance social media recruiter Samantha Singhi, using Twitter for hiring purposes gives the company a good idea about the personality of the prospective employee and allows them to do easy background research. "Companies don't have to rely on a person's r �sum � to hire them. Now, they have the option of looking at a person's Twitter profile to get a fair idea about his opinions, networking, communication and language skills," Singhi says.
A friend of Ghosh, who works for a multinational bank in Singapore, shared an incident with him that reinforces Singhi's claims. "MNCs, especially banks, are very strict about their employee verification process. In the case of one such applicant, the individual involved with background verification could not get a confirmation about a specific information provided by the applicant. Usually, the bank would have refused to hire the applicant. But in this case, the company went to his social media account, crosschecked the information and hired him," says Ghosh.
For Nelson, Twitter is one of the most preferred platforms for hiring people because of the new types of job profiles created in her company. "I needed curators for my company, who would be to able to look out for independent artistes, designers, etc and scan their products. I approached a consultancy firm and told them about my requirement, but they just freaked out. They didn't know such profiles existed. As India opens up to new technologies, newer job opportunities will be created and a place like Twitter is perfect to hire people for such roles," she says.
According to Ghosh, the HR/jobs market follows the path of the marketing market. Marketing has moved from a transaction mode to building relations and it is a similar case with the HR/jobs market. "Companies are realising the declining value of job portals. All a person on such sites needs to do is to tick a profile and send it to thousands of companies. Some of the CVs, which do turn out to be suitable, are kept in the database of the company but when firms try to get in touch with the applicants, their contact details are no longer current," Ghosh explains. Social media, he says, is much more alive, updated and immediate.
The key driving force towards leveraging Twitter for recruitment purposes is the platform's wide reach among a company's target audience. It helps firms to reach out to passive job seekers with desired niche skills and lateral skills. "Twitter is an important platform because of its high usage rate and immediate response time. There is also tremendous value in leveraging this medium because of its inherent potential to multiply connections, create viral networks and reach talent faster," explains Manoj Biswas, Head, HR, Accenture India.
"While professional networks like LinkedIn are aimed at professionals to congregate, share information and network virtually, social networking websites like Facebook are more personal and allow users to connect at an individual level. Twitter offers a mix of both, thus building a better bridge between organisations and
individuals," Biswas adds.
According to Sairee Chahal, co-founder of Fleximoms, Workflex Solutions Pvt Ltd (a flexible employment model), some skill sets like photography, social media, content, etc, are easier to find on Twitter than on other mediums. "Most job-related tweets get retweeted by relevant followers, thereby increasing the chances of getting the right person on board. Many interesting positions go viral and get a large number of applications. Sometimes companies get to know about Fleximoms from Twitter and they begin to engage with us," she says.
Is this the future?
Most people believe that the trend of companies hiring via Twitter is only set to grow. "Hiring through social media sites like Twitter is slated to become the norm in the near future. Surveys have revealed that in India, social recruitment constitutes about two per cent of all hiring. This trend is estimated to grow to over 20 per cent in the future. The growth is evident with traditional job portals and HR consulting firms jumping onto the 'social' bandwagon by launching their social recruiting apps and tools," says Biswas.
But does this signal the death of job portals and classifieds? May be not. According to Chahal, India is a heterogeneous society, where multiple tools and formats will always find space. "The Internet did not drive away newspaper ads for jobs. The two work closely now. Twitter has already reshaped the way professionals approach job searches. However, Twitter is like a pipeline to a pool -- it won't be able to replace a portal, since the transaction between a job seeker and an employer closes at the site," she says.