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30 June 2009 6:49am

Social networking is an important part of a recruitment strategy but won’t take the place of “old fashioned” personal connections with talent and clients, according to Aquent CEO Greg Savage.

Savage says that when the internet and email first came along, it was widely believed they would “wipe traditional recruiters from the landscape”.

“And none of it came true. None of it,” he says. “The internet and email and job boards didn’t kill off recruiters. New technologies helped them to new heights and new riches.”

While he has embraced social networking, Savage says he does not believe it will inspire a new world of recruiting.

“The truth is that the recruiters who are doing the best now are those who are able to integrate the traditionally required skills with new technologies, and make one plus one equal three.”

Social networking is just a tool
In a recent blog, Savage says social networking is a communications channel recruiters must embrace, but stresses that it’s “not the Holy Grail”.

“It’s just a tool. An enabler, and it needs to be harnessed like all the other mechanisms we use to manage our relationships with clients and candidates,” he says.

He predicts a downturn in the use of social networking sites by recruiters, as the full reality of how hard it is to get a return on investment in that arena becomes clear.

Recruiting by Twitter is not targeted
Savage says that until a more structured and fruitful way to mine networking sites is developed, posting a job vacancy via Twitter is “even less targeted than the least targeted job board”.

“Of course, candidates and even clients, will originate from your social networking site on occasion,” he says.

“But I also pick up candidates and clients from amongst the parents on the sidelines of my son’s rugby matches! No one is really suggesting that as a targeted, sustainable way to re-invent recruiting are they?”

Nothing wrong with being “old-fashioned”
Savage says that just before the recruitment market crashed about 18 months ago, an exiting employee of his company commented, “Aquent is a great place and Greg a good enough guy, just too old-fashioned”.

“The departing employee who made that remark was going to a new staffing world of in-house café lattes, flexible work hours, torn-jeans dress code – and a talent management strategy based entirely on scanning Facebook all day,” he says.

“Sadly that business is gone, along with many of its ilk.”

Savage says it is the “old fashioned” recruiters who actually look to connect, personally, with talent and clients that will survive the current downturn and thrive in the inevitable upswing.

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