Social media becomes strong HR tool for SA recruiters

Sibahle Malinga
By Sibahle Malinga, ITWeb senior news journalist.
Johannesburg, 15 Apr 2024
Using social media channels favoured by the youth enables companies to meet job-seekers where they already spend a lot of time.
Using social media channels favoured by the youth enables companies to meet job-seekers where they already spend a lot of time.

Social recruiting is gaining ground in South Africa, as social media increasingly becomes a powerful recruitment channel for human resources (HR) departments and recruitment agencies.

This is one of the key findings of the “The state we’re in 2024 Q1: Rethinking resilience” report compiled by research consultancy Flux Trends.

The report summarises the most pertinent business and consumer trends of the first quarter of 2024 in SA and across the globe, gleaned from the Flux team of trend experts.

It states that businesses are increasingly investing in social media recruitment tools, particularly for entry-level roles – as more Gen-Zers (Generation Z or Zoomers) enter the workforce.

A non-traditional method of recruitment, social recruiting (or social hiring) refers to the process of recruiting candidates through social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, Facebook and X (formerly Twitter), and other virtual recruitment methods, including blogs, job boards and internet ad campaigns.

While organisations have for years used social recruiting as a way to augment more traditional recruiting methods – for instance identifying suitable candidates and analysing a candidate’s profile – in the new era, social media is being used by job-seekers as a platform to submit job applications and send short videos, it says.

For HR professionals, social recruiting offers a time-saving, convenient and cost-effective alternative to conventional online recruiting platforms, when done adeptly. It also allows recruiters to reach passive candidates, gather more referrals, target desired candidates and showcase their organisational culture, it notes.

“An increasing number of South African companies are using social media to market and advertise their businesses, and to screen prospective employees,” says Faeeza Khan, head of research at Flux Trends.

“Social media is increasingly becoming a powerful tool for HR departments and recruitment agents as social networks race to add job search functionality to their platforms. LinkedIn has lost favour among job-seeking Gen-Zers, who are looking at alternative social media platforms, such as TikTok and Instagram, to help them find employment and for career coaching. Late last year, X unveiled X Hiring, a job-searching feature to rival LinkedIn.”

In 2021, TikTok launched TikTok Resumes, where job-seekers are able to post short video CVs, and companies can create videos that highlight their culture and directly recruit young talent.

Other growing digital trends in recruitment include the increasing use of artificial intelligence, the submission of a one-way video as part of the interview process, and utilising executive search software, according to iSmartRecruit.

Faeeza Khan, head of research at Flux Trends.
Faeeza Khan, head of research at Flux Trends.

With LinkedIn Recruiter, recruiters can search for candidates based on their job title, industry and location, and send personalised messages to candidates and track their responses.

YouTube can also be a tool for self-promotion for job-seekers, allowing them to create a professional YouTube channel for their job search, while companies can use the platform to showcase their company values.

According to Khan, the average job-seeker entering the job market belongs to the millennial and GenZ age groups, who are highly-active users of social media.

“SA’s increasing internet penetration − which currently sits at 72.3% of the total population − and the growing smartphone adoption are among factors contributing to the growth in social recruiting.”

Other factors include SA’s high unemployment rate – which is now above 60% for those aged 15 to 24 years and over 40% for those aged 25 to 34 – as well as global modern recruitment trends, states Khan.

“A 2023 study published in the SA Journal of Human Resource Management, where South African HR specialists were interviewed, found that a need exists for unemployed graduates to use social media as a marketing utility for their skills and abilities.”

For entry-level positions, using social media channels favoured by the youth means companies meet job-seekers where they are already, notes the report. More than half of Gen-Zers spend four or more hours on social media every day, according to a Morning Consult survey.

It is important for those involved in hiring young people to embrace social recruiting as an additional channel, as failing to do so may cost companies worthy candidates, asserts Flux Trends.

“As Gen-Zers have grown up to become the entry-level workforce, organisations are looking for the best ways to reach and recruit young talent,” notes Flux Trends.

“In addition to job postings, job-seekers are able to view, through the company’s social media activity, what their values are and the organisation’s culture. Similarly, companies that are hiring are able to gain insight into the temperament and soft skills of the applicant.”