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HomeBlog General Degrees of exposure: Recruitment in the second digital age

Degrees of exposure: Recruitment in the second digital age

10th December 2012

In the 25 years since I first looked for a job as fresh graduate, things have changed beyond measure in recruitment. Then, I turned to a national daily broadsheet – the Daily Telegraph – to look for a role in pharmaceutical sales. Incidentally, while my search through paper ended in a final interview at Beechams House, the stalwarts who interviewed me that day put paid to my pharma sales career aspirations. But I digress.

It is hard now to conceive that graduates from any discipline would scour print publications in search of their first, if not their ‘dream’ job. In part this is thanks to a shift from print to digital media in the late 1990s. The dotcom crash that followed potentially slowed the shift from one medium to the other, and for a time at least, both media continued to co-exist with candidates opting to use both in their quest for employment.

But this movement was more than simply an evolution in the way candidates looked for jobs; it fundamentally changed the way in which prospective employers (either through recruitment consultancies or directly) looked for employees. 

The first digital wave
During this first digital wave there was a massive rise in the number and use of generic CV and job boards, such as Reed and Monster – and latterly there has been a surge in more industry/discipline specific examples, which have relegated the traditional print job ads of old. 

For some candidates – those who never had to apply for a job but instead relied on being headhunted – this then ‘new age’ of recruitment did not affect them. That’s as may be but if they weren’t affected by the first wave of digital, they will certainly be affected by the second wave.

The second digital wave
The digital second wave is currently engulfing a new and expanding middle ground, which has been created by the advent of the personal digital profile. Enter the profiling era. Thanks to search engine technology, a researcher with limited knowledge can create a profile of you – and use it at will. 

Putting conspiracy theories and George Orwell’s ‘Big Brother’ aside, what are the consequences of this second digital wave? 

All change
For those who were traditionally professionally headhunted, the threshold for such a service is being pushed upwards into the c. £120k+ salary band. 

For head hunters using researchers – internal or contracted out – to gather names, telephone numbers, email addresses and validate data, no longer represents value. When once a candidate would receive a charming call from a professional head hunter who knew his life story inside out, now candidates are more likely to be part of a digitally researched and profiled pool of many.

For those who previously looked at job boards or typed ‘pharmaceutical brand manager jobs’ into Google, there is a decreasing chance of finding the role you are looking for advertised. There is less reason to post a vacancy because it is more cost effective for a digital researcher to contact suitable individuals directly and not waste time with wishful candidates who are not going to secure the role. 

Ultimately your digital profile will be found; as soon as you post something online it becomes freely available to the wider public. It will catalogue your career and reflect your interests, and function as something of a shop window for profilers. 

This trend is part of an evolving digital environment and it represents as many potential risks as it does benefits. Each day when you leave the house you take care to present a certain image to the outside world: your online profile is an extension of this, so make sure you are being perceived as you intended.

Mark Denton

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