Social networks: The future of games recruitment?

Social networks: The future of games recruitment?
Will Freeman

By Will Freeman

February 21st 2011 at 8:01AM

Develop looks at the potential of this new trend, and the dangers within

The formidable rise of Facebook and Twitter has had ramifications on every facet of the games industry. They are no longer only a space where industry insiders gossip. Now social networks are marketing tools, gaming platforms, and potentially a whole new hub for recuitment.

It’s undoubtedly an interesting notion, and the idea of sourcing talent or finding a new job through familiar tools like LinkedIn and Facebook will certainly appeal to many people, especially cash-strapped studios. But are they really a reasonable model to apply to the long-established recruitment process?

“Personal networking has always been one of the most effective channels for both job seekers and recruiters,” says Amiqus’ Peter Leonard, pointing to the new model of recruitment through social networks as a simple and inevitable evolution of approaches already in existence.

“In one way social media is just turbo-charged personal networking,” he adds. “For us at Amiqus it’s only natural that social technologies have become an extension of our wider, integrated approach.”

“Social networks play a very important role as part of games recruitment ,” agrees Avatar Games Recruitment’s managing director Eamonn Mgherbi. “They are a great way of keeping in touch with people on an informal basis, and it has become even more important than jobsites.”

THE MISSING LINKEDIN?
With 80 million professionals registered on LinkedIn, and some half-a-billion people on Facebook, it’s easy to see why recuiters see potential in these networks. Freelancers and microstudios certainly call on these huge pools of connected individuals to find or source employment, and bigger studios looking for people to take on work for hire positions are having the same idea.

Last year recruiter Specialmove carried out a survey of its candidate base in an attempt to get a sense of the value of social media in job hunting, and found that almost all of its candidates use Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to look for work. Undoubtedly then, at the user end of the recruitment process, those seeking employment are now looking to social networks to find work within the games industry.

However, senior executives of games industry recruitment firms almost naturally point out that social networking does not offer a complete recruitment solution.

“Social media does help, and in a technically savvy market like games these channels are useful ways to communicate with your network,” says Ian Goodall, director of Aardvark Swift. “But they aren’t a stand alone solution. In my opinion a good recruiter should take the time to speak to candidates, explain the role fully and then to react accordingly.”

So Twitter, Facebook and their contemporaries largely serve only to attract initial interest in vacancies. Part of the reason for that, say some observers, is that as a set of recruiting tools social media has its faults.

“LinkedIn is being used extensively by agencies and companies who have the time and expertise to utilise it effectively,” says Kim Adcock, managing director of OPM Recruitment, adding: “However, it is enormous and finding the right candidates takes time and investment. Facebook is fun, but it’s not really the way to go about approaching people professionally.”

Adcock’s point is a succinct one. Social media is not a specialised recruiting service, and the volume of people and information it collates makes it almost too big to manage. That is especially true for a studio with an internal hiring team with limited resources.

“Social media is one tool, not an exclusive model,” states Julien Hofer, founder of recruiter Datascope. “They provide one means of accessing information, but the real challenge is to interpret, filter and add value to that information.”

A CHANGE FOR THE SAME
What games industry recruiters – be they either internal studio HR teams or external agencies – must be able to do is be dynamic, and to deftly juggle the traditional recruitment methods with the new tools available to them like social networks.

“Recruitment is recruitment, it doesn’t ever change,” suggests Specialmove founder and CEO Andy Campbell. “What does change are the tools we use to search for, to identify and to attract the right candidate to the right role. In the end it all comes down to a good recruiter knowing the client and the role, selling those things effectively to the candidate, assessing the suitability of the candidates and progressing and managing the whole recruitment process efficiently.”

“The process of recruitment is all about people,” adds Adcock. “How we find them or they find us may continue to change, but the process is as simple as you want to make it. We still hire only career recruiters because they have the experience, maturity, and have learned the life lessons that are invaluable in recruitment of any kind.”

Clearly many believe that the games industry recruitment process need not be changed by social media. Put another way, the established recruitment model has always been the same one that has embraced the new techniques and methods available to it; change being the only constant theme.

There are, though, those people who believe that recruitment is changing right now, and in part because of the rise of social media use.

“Traditional recruitment is changing,” suggests Mgherbi.

“We believe it is changing very quickly. At Avatar we use different methods of recruiting, we go to more events, we create bespoke packages to most studios and we fit in where we are needed. The days of CV searching are less popular to the alternative methods of social networking, competitions, word of mouth and actual colleague recommendation.”

In general, most seem in agreement that a balanced approach to adapting hiring techniques is best; a viewpoint expressed by many including Amiqus’ Leonard: “Traditional efforts related to advertising and job posting do remain relevant as candidates can still be sourced this way, and we believe they will last indefinitely.

“However, as mentioned previously, so many of us are now staying connected through different means and to be able to reach as many relevant candidates as possible every time, we need to continue to formulate new and innovative strategies on how to communicate new live vacancies and information to potential candidates that studios are hiring.”

And, says Aardvarks Swift’s Ian Goodall, the future is a place where recruitment companies specialising in the games industry and related industry’s will always have a place:

“Agencies are just as relevant because many companies simply don’t have the internal resource to spend time on recruitment. And even those that do recognise that they can only reach a certain percentage of the market. If they want the best then they need to have a mixed recruitment strategy.”

Social media, most agree, adds a string to the bow of both recruiters and job seekers, but it is not an entire solution. Those looking to cast the widest net possible cannot afford to ignore the rise of social media, but to invest all your energy in trawling Facebook and LinkedIn may be a recipe for disaster.