How social media and diversity are changing the European recruitment landscape

The European recruitment landscape is facing significant change in the near future, with a wider proliferation of social media usage, as well as a focus on boardroom diversity and the gender pay gap gaining even more momentum. As the only truly pan-European interim management provider and an executive recruitment business with operations in multiple countries, we have a unique vantage point on these trends. Here’s what we’re seeing:

Social Media

Social media usage continues to grow across Europe and reached over 175 million people in 2013. Around a third of European enterprises now use social media as a business tool, with many businesses utilising various social platforms to support aspects of the recruitment process.

Although “social business” is a growing trend across Europe, its limitations as an effective recruitment tool are recognised and hirers who see it as an easy fix for recruitment challenges quickly learn its shortcomings. 

Social media may be used with some success for recruitment of junior staff – potential candidates may be identified from hirers’ own networks and some background information on career history can be found.  However, for the recruitment process to be truly successful, and for executive roles in particular, the candidate net must be cast wider than this.  Applicants must then be carefully assessed and their skills and capabilities, track record and personal attributes verified.  These things cannot be measured via social media.

According to our research, published in The Social Executive EU, the most successful country in terms of social media based recruitment is Germany, with over 30 percent of companies recruiting using social networks. (This research report offers numerous further insights into the dynamics and preferences of social media recruitment, incorporating the views of more than 1,200 senior executives across Europe.)

At the specialist and senior executive end of the industry, social media is seen by hirers as a useful information source, rather than a hiring tool or potential replacement for a specialist recruitment agency partner. This is unsurprising when research shows that 90 percent of terminations and resignations are due to personality and attitude issues, indicating a poor personality fit at the time of hiring.

The ability of experienced recruiters to provide clients with international access to candidates through their owned and well-known networks; to assess candidates on their softer-skills and competencies; and to scrutinise past experience and track records, are all valuable services which social outlets cannot provide.  Nonetheless, recruitment agencies need to be aware that hirers who are part of the social business movement may begin to look for added value services from their recruitment agencies.

Gender Diversity

Statistics show that women account for around 14 percent of board positions in the largest public listed companies in EU Member States.  However, the  number of women in senior positions in these companies varies significantly from country to county, with a quarter of board seats presently occupied by women in Finland, Latvia and Sweden, compared with a fifth in France; 16 percent in the UK and Germany; a tenth in Ireland, Greece, Italy and Hungary; and just one in 20 in Cyprus.

Overall gender diversity in the boardroom is slowly improving across Europe.  European Commission data shows that women account for 16.6 percent of seats on boards, compared with 15.8 percent at the end of 2012.  (Executives Online's research into boardroom diversity points to apathy as the main cause for the percentages being so much lower than the working population, or even that of women in business and management: A significant minority of senior executives don't believe gender diversity is a good thing, which of course leads them to not focus on it when recruiting.) There is still a significant disparity in position allocation and pay between the genders. Representation of women on the boards of major companies across Europe is still pitifully low.  There is a significant volume of research which now confirms that companies which achieve gender diversity on their boards deliver better overall results, so the corporate imperative for closing the gender gap will continue to gain momentum in the coming year.

Global and national initiatives such as Equal Pay Day and Germany’s decision to enforce minimum quotas for female board members continue to draw attention to the gender and pay issues.

In Germany, the decision to enforce the minimum quota for female board members stems from a lack of progress achieved after the country introduced voluntary targets in 2001, and then again in 2011 for blue chip companies. The new minimum quota applies to all listed companies and those who fail to meet the 30 percent target will be obligated to keep positions vacant.

From a recruitment agency perspective, we need to be aware of the need for increased boardroom diversity and associated candidate care priorities. At Executives Online, candidates are always shortlisted based upon skill, experience and expertise, as well as track record, personal attributes and character, so our clients receive the best choice of high fliers, female and male, to fill their board positions.

The content of this blog post was published first in The Global Recruiter and OnRec.

Speak to an Executives Online recruiter today to learn how our blend of online methods and personal, proficient service delivers targeted and cost-effective executive recruitment, for interim management and permanent roles, to help identify the right manager or executive for your organisation.


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