According to Bullhorn Australia-Pacific sales director, Ben Fuller, some Asia-Pacific recruiters are still unsure of the value of social media. “Thirty-eight per cent rate its effectiveness in sourcing candidates as ‘neutral’ and 33 per cent say its most challenging aspect is that it cannot be measured,” he says.
Bullhorn - which surveyed over 548 recruitment firms worldwide, including 85 Asia-Pacific recruitment agencies - found that 77 per cent of Asia-Pacific firms had successfully placed candidates sourced via LinkedIn, 15 per cent via Facebook and nine per cent via Twitter, compared to their North American counterparts, where 87 per cent placed candidates sourced via LinkedIn, 17 per cent via Facebook and 11 per cent via Twitter.
“The point of social media is that it is a two-way conversation. Clever recruiters are using social media platforms strategically, engaging with candidates and developing relationships,” Fuller says.
According to Fuller, Asia-Pacific recruiters remain optimistic about growth in 2012 despite uncertain global economic conditions and the threat of European crisis,” says sales director for Bullhorn Australia-Pacific, Ben Fuller.
“Some firms are particularly aggressive in their expectations for 2012, with 36 per cent anticipating revenue increases of 25 per cent or more, and more than four in five planning to add more staff to their business this year.
“This optimism follows a year of success for most recruiters in the region, with 71 per cent meeting or exceeding their revenue goals in 2011.”
In Australia, Fuller says that while Asia-Pacific recruiters are conscious of the potential threat of another GFC, “the truth is that Australian recruiters have been dealing with a ‘two-speed economy’ for some time.”
Fuller says that Australian recruiters have seen fluctuations in growth and demand across different industries for years, but that recruitment firms that have continued to grow in this period have been “adaptive to trends, invested in their resources and focused on business development and specialisation.”
According to the Bullhorn report, specialist recruitment firms are well-placed to capitalise on skills shortages and industry-specific growth, and Fuller says that in booming sectors, such as mining and IT, a niche understanding of the market is driving success for recruiters. “This demand is also providing an opportunity for a new generation of recruiters; with professionals from industries such as mining, IT and law crossing over into recruitment.”
“Sector professionals already know the industry, speak the language and are specialists in their field; a significant advantage when seeking candidates in a competitive, talent-short market,” he says.
According to Bullhorn, Asia-Pacific firms claim a key ingredient to business success in 2011 was investment in business fundamentals, including streamlining operations and better training for employees.
And, he says, “eighty-nine per cent of firms in the Asia-Pacific region say the use of recruitment technology is important to that “business success.” Bullhorn offers a free social media management tool, Bullhorn Reach, to clients who use its cloud-based applicant tracking (ATS) and customer relational management (CRM) software, and Fuller says that the application allows both in-house and agency recruiters to interact with job seekers in real time across multiple social media channels - LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter - to build their candidate pipeline.
Bullhorn reports that some agencies are concerned about being “pushed out as in-house recruiters use social media to find their own talent.” However, Fuller points out that the same fear entered the industry when online job boards popped up 10 years ago.
“Social media brings a new level of transparency into the relationship between recruiters and their clients, making it harder for generalist and unfocused firms to compete. It is specialist firms that are proving their worth by putting forward higher quality candidates and demonstrating a better understanding of client needs.”
And, according to Fuller, with the Bullhorn report indicating recruiters anticipate job openings and placements to trend upward, “better times are ahead for recruiters in the Asia-Pacific region.”
“Firms that survived the leaner 2008-2010 period have emerged with a solid foundation for growth. Stronger networks, better technological infrastructure and the agility to respond to industry demand and trends will set specialist agencies apart from their competitors in the year ahead,” Fuller concludes.