Does technology make it easier or harder to find a job?

June 2014

Technology has enabled recruiters and recruitment companies to source candidates from a wider talent pool than ever before and has dramatically increased the amount of information available on prospective candidates. Whilst this might be considered good for the recruiters, it potentially makes it extremely difficult for prospective candidates to know where to look for their next job. There is estimated to be over 10,000 recruitment companies in the UK, about 4,000 job sites worldwide not to mention all the various social media sites. So is technology actually helping or hindering job seekers?

We recently conducted a survey which posed this very question and the results were very interesting. An overwhelming 71% of respondents felt that technology had actually made it easier for them to find a job, with 65% feeling that it had improved the overall process of applying for a job. So how is this shaping the future of recruitment? Here are some key findings from our survey.

Job search goes social

When we talk about technology in recruitment, we don’t just mean the devices used, it’s about the sites and platforms used to reach out to potential candidates. 53% of respondents said they utilised social media to look for vacancies, with LinkedIn being the most popular social media site used. 84% of respondents said that they had been directly approached by a recruitment company that they hadn’t registered with about a vacancy. This suggests that the growth of visible information available via social media profiles is increasing the likelihood of candidates being targeted for jobs without having to actively search themselves, thus making it easier for them to find out about career opportunities which may suit them.

Disrupting the status quo

This survey has highlighted that technology could in fact be actively serving to disrupt the status quo within organisations. The result is candidates who were quite happy in their roles are being encouraged to consider other employment offers that they may not have thought about previously. 62% of respondents admitted that they had looked for a job in the past 12 months and over 70% considered themselves to be actively or passively looking for alternative work at this present moment in time. Is technology therefore, placing even greater pressure on companies to retain their talent as the options available to employees continues to grow?

Direct recruitment

Interestingly, the survey highlighted that technology was enabling both candidates and employers to make direct connections with each other. Whilst this direct recruitment might work for generalist roles, internal recruitment teams do not often have the knowledge and time to support specialist areas such as accountancy. As a result, this approach could be causing a barrier rather than actively supporting the recruitment process. In our experience, line managers and prospective candidates have found working through internal recruitment teams to be a less enjoyable experience with 68% stating that they were not able to effectively promote themselves through more direct online methods.

Job search on the move

In a world dominated by portable technology, it is no surprise that 73% of respondents used tablet devices and mobile phones for conducting job searches. Clearly, candidates are taking greater responsibility for their own career advancement and are able to embark on more active and regular job searches during lunch breaks and on the way to and from work. It also means that they are more easily contactable and can respond to enquiries and interest immediately, anytime, anywhere.

Video applications

Video applications are a relatively new phenomenon, but are becoming increasingly talked about by many as a way of providing differentiation in a crowded marketplace. More and more interviews and interactions between employer and potential candidate are now being conducted via Skype as this becomes increasingly popular in the global market. New ideas are often met with some scepticism to begin with, however, we were surprised to see that half of respondents had either already made, or would consider making a brief introductory video to support their application for a job. Is this fuelled by a genuine interest in new ways to communicate or through a fear of being left behind by other, more technology-minded candidates?
Recruitment agencies are still King

Despite the clear advances that technology is bringing to recruiters, employers and candidates, the survey concludes that the traditional recruitment consultancy approach remains King. Recruitment consultancies are by nature a ‘people’ business and ultimately, selecting an employee is not that much different to selecting a partner. Whilst you can find general matches that fit your wish list, you would not allow a robot to select your partner! Recruitment consultancies are still considered the most effective source for finding a job. That said, the increasing role that social media is playing in the recruitment process cannot be ignored and is certainly contributing to a more fluid and transparent marketplace, where candidates and employers compete on an equal grounding. There is no doubt that technology is changing the way we look for a job, but ultimately the use of recruitment consultancies continues to grow as companies recognise the importance and benefits of getting their recruitment right – or more to the point - the cost of getting it wrong.