Almost one-in-four South Africans use social media as a tool to look for work, but are concerned about the potential career fallout from personal content on social networking sites, new data out on Tuesday from JSE-listed training and employment specialist Kelly Group (KEL) has revealed.
The Kelly Global Workforce Index, which is an annual survey, revealed that 29% of respondents secured their most recent position through word-of-mouth referrals, the leading source of jobs, ahead of recruitment/staffing firms, used by 26%, direct approaches from employers (20%), print advertisements (10%), online job postings (8%), other methods (5%) and social media sites (1%).
The survey contained the views of about 97,000 people in 30 countries, including the opinions of more than 1,000 South Africans.
Even though a small percentage of people actually secured their most recent job through social networking, 24% of respondents said they had looked at social media sites, such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, seeking job openings or promotions.
The survey, conducted from October 2010 until January 2011, showed that while social media was active as an employment tool, so too was apprehension about the damage it could have on careers. More than a quarter of respondents admitted to deliberately editing content on their social networking pages to avoid career problems.
“The use of social media in finding work is becoming more common because it allows people to target exactly the job they want, and even the organisation where they want to work,” said Tracey Czakan, Kelly Group sales and marketing director. “Candidates and employers are becoming more adept in using this medium, which will see it grow and evolve as a means to find work and advance careers.”
Kelly Group noted that Facebook was the most popular social media site for Gen Y (aged 18-29) and Gen X (aged 30-47) respondents to look for work, but blogs and other specialist sites were preferred by baby boomers (aged 48-65).
A quarter of respondents said they were worried that material from their social networking sites could adversely affect their careers.
Half of Gen Y respondents said it was essential to be active on social media in order to advance their careers, but only 39% of Gen X and 19% of baby boomers felt the same way.
Half of respondents said their employers had social networking policies that regulated use at work.
Industries where employees were most active in online conversations included oil/gas, education, transport/distribution and utilities.
Those most active in searching for jobs online were in Kwazulu-Natal, where 29% used social networking to seek work, followed by Western Cape (26%), Eastern Cape and Gauteng (both 23%).
And despite the rise in popularity of social networking, the vast majority of respondents (68%) spent an hour or less per day on social media sites, while 24% spent no time at all. Only 8% spent an hour or more each day, the survey revealed.
“It's clear that social networking is changing the way that people seek out work and engage in conversations about work opportunities. Like any new technology, people are learning that there are positives and negatives, and they need to be careful that they are tapping into the best elements of the internet when their careers are involved,” said Czakan. - I-Net Bridge