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Companies are increasingly using new platforms to identify potential employees, as Zhou Wenting reports from Shanghai.
Bao Guoying, a human resources officer at ENN Group, a company in Langfang, Hebei province, that specializes in the exploitation of clean energy, was looking for technical talent in nuclear fusion, new energy storage technology and the use of a form of carbon called graphene.
She realized that North America boasts a high number of such talents, so instead of organizing campus recruitment drives or approaching an influential figure in the industry to set up a team - as she had done many times since 2007 - she turned to a professional networking website as a new talent-spotting channel.
"Almost all the technical talents in North America have accounts on LinkedIn, and we believe the platform can help us reach a wider range of candidates in a more efficient way," she said.
The company and the platform began to collaborate and through the data provided by the website"s users they were able to precisely locate particular people and communicate with them online. Late last month, ENN held two seminars in the United States to meet the candidates in person, and the efforts, both on and offline, eventually unearthed 10 potential candidates, according to Bao.
As social media develops, human resources executives are increasingly turning to online platforms during the different stages of recruitment: looking for candidates from both home and abroad; setting up accounts on social media to target likely job candidates; and using the platforms to conduct background checks on potential employees.
"The workplace is a network of connections, like those between an employer and an employee, a boss and their subordinates, and between a team of colleagues. A person"s connections on social media platforms are a reflection of those in their real lives," said Zhou Xiaolin, head of recruitment at Home Credit Group, a global provider of consumer finance based in the northern port city of Tianjin.
"These networking media enable us to easily reach people worldwide, and see clearly who they interact with, which topics they pay attention to, their interests and hobbies. which help recruiters to make wiser, informed decisions."
Bao said this new way of searching for talent is radically different from the methods employed in the past.
Traditional recruitment channels do not allow companies to reach people who are looking for jobs, but now human resources workers can distribute information to all users of specific social media platforms, including those who want to build a career profile but rarely take the initiative to look for a new job.
"These people are precious to "talent sourcers" because they are usually influential figures in the industry or they play a big role in their current positions," she said.
Recruitment experts believe that hiring via social media will become an important trend because it combines people"s everyday need for communication and their expectations for career development.
Wang Huan, head of customer success at LinkedIn China, said the platform can provide companies with some of the information they require, such as identifying the cities in which experts in a particular field gather - especially Chinese people who are usually favored by Chinese companies because of their linguistic and cultural backgrounds - and make them aware of rivals who are also competing to hire those talent.
ENN and LinkedIn jointly designed job descriptions for desired talent and selected 320 of the platform"s users via big-data technology and recruiters. The people were then contacted and invited to attend seminars in Boston and San Francisco.
Similarly, Taikang Insurance Group, which plans to build an information technology team of more than 10,000 people within three years for technology-driven upgrades, signed job contracts with 16 people in Seattle after cooperating with LinkedIn to conduct online big-data screening along with offline seminars.
"We expected to find highly qualified job candidates through the recruitment channel so we came up with senior-level positions in Beijing, Shanghai, Wuhan, Hubei province, and Hong Kong," said Miao Li, Taikang"s chief human resources officer.
Some companies also use WeChat and Weibo, the Chinese equivalents of Twitter, to look for new employees.
Wu Xiaobing, a sourcing specialist at the Shanghai office of Bayer, the German pharmaceutical and life sciences company, said it is common for professionals in different industries and cities to have a chat group on WeChat, so many talent sourcers send recruitment information to the groups.
"Recruiters usually receive resumes from people who are interested in the positions very quickly, and they are often a good match with companies" requirements," she said, adding that Bayer started posting job openings on its WeChat subscription service a year ago.
Social media has also become a common way for employers to conduct background checks on potential employees, according to recruiters.
"It helps the employer to understand a candidate from several sides, some of which may be different from their resumes or their performance at an interview, which may only tell one side of the story," said Wang Yu, president of Shanghai Yuking Water Soluble Material Tech, which sells its products to pharmaceutical manufacturers in more than 100 countries.
Wang said when they are considering hiring someone for the company"s leadership team, he and the recruiters check the candidate"s information on search engines such as Baidu and also browse their Weibo posts to gain an insight into their personalities and hobbies.
"It provides an adequate reference to see whether the candidate and our core team will click or not," he said.
Guo Shuang, head of global human resources at Mobike, one of China"s largest bike-sharing companies, said her recruiters often add job candidates, especially those for senior positions, to their contacts on WeChat in an attempt to gain a more-rounded understanding of them.
"We will check their posts on the WeChat Moments feed to see their opinions on social affairs and their insights into technical issues in their professional fields," she said, adding that as a company that prefers employees with open minds, Mobike would be cautious about candidates who blocked recruiters from viewing their WeChat Moments.
Guo has encountered a number of these cases, and in some instances the potential employees turned out to be unwilling to engage in interpersonal networking, which could signal that would find it difficult to work for a company that encourages openness, teamwork and brainstorming.
"As a result, if we meet similar people, we try to learn more about them via a range of approaches to see if he or she lacks a sense of security in the workplace," she said.
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