Автор: Винсент Ван Гог

The St. Petersburg Times 30.10.2007 \"HR Experts Debate Networking Sites\".

Over the last few years, the popularity of social networking websites such as Facebook.com, LinkedIn.com and their Russian equivalents VKontakte.ru and MoiKrug.ru has soared, particularly among office workers. What could be more tempting when sitting in front of a computer all day than messaging your friends, looking at their holiday pictures, seeing who their friends are and cyber-stalking people you dated or went to school with long, long ago? In fact, the popularity of such websites has become such that a third of employers in the U.K have banned social networking sites in the workplace entirely, on the basis that e-networking reduces productivity. The online publication HR Zone recently reported that Facebook users who access the site during office hours are costing UK companies $264 million a day.

Yet in the field of HR and recruitment, such sites are not only not banned, but employees are often actually encouraged to make use of them — for professional purposes, naturally. Headhunting and recruitment firms use such sites to find possible candidates, to build impressions of them and keep in contact with them. Being a relatively new phenomenon, professionals are still divided over the value of e-networking and its various advantages and disadvantages. The St. Petersburg Times asked some local experts for their opinion on the contentious issue.

Sergei Streltsov, recruitment manager at ARCADIA:
«The most popular sites can be divided into two categories: sites aimed at personal contact, such as VKontakte and odnoklassniki.ru, and sites oriented toward professional contact, such as LinkedIn and its Russian analogue moikrug.ru. The former category is sometimes banned at the work place to stop employees wasting time on unproductive contact. The latter type is far more interesting from an HR point of view. Such sites are usually characterized by a more formal design, very helpful brief resumes on user profiles, the chance to search users’ profiles and put up vacancy advertisements. All these factors make such resources a powerful and convenient executive search tool.»

Tatjana Kuznetsova, PR manager of THI Selection:
«We’re currently witnessing a boom in on-line networking. This has opened new opportunities for employers facing a deficit of candidates. The site VKontakte.ru has existed for less than a year, but already has around 2 million users, being in the top three most visited Russian sites. Moikrug.ru has half as many users, but there are more than 20,000 job vacancies posted on the site, since one third of its users have a higher education.

Social networking sites can be an extremely effective business strategy for recruiters and HR managers — the line between job-searching sites and social networks is becoming increasingly blurred. Often, social networking sites can prove more effective than ordinary job sites. For one, once you have access to a candidate’s profile, recruiters and potential employers can not only see information about a candidate’s professional achievements, but also more personal data, as well as whom they know. The sites can therefore be used to check a candidate’s references at no cost, thus saving the company time and money.

In large Russian companies, access to such sites is banned, as employers fear that employees’ work will suffer as a result of time spent on them. Exceptions are made for employees who may need to use such sites for work purposes, such as PR and HR managers.

It would be foolish to ignore such sites. Any company wishing to keep up to date with current trends and work with the best candidates should know how to make use of the opportunities presented by the contemporary market.»

Natalia Pantukhova, consultant for IT/Telecom market, TRIZA EXCLUSIVE St. Petersburg:
«While searching for candidates in the IT/Telecom sphere I often use such social network websites as VKontakte or MoiKrug.ru. It helps when the search focus is quite specific and traditional job websites do not work. There are proven examples in my experience of finding candidates with the required professional experience by means of these websites. What’s interesting is that their CVs cannot be found on specialized job sites. If VKontakte.ru was originally designed for students to communicate, then MoiKrug.ru is a network oriented around professional contacts — its users indicate their place of work, position and sphere of professional interests. Therefore it can serve as a good alternative to standard searches for candidates. One disadvantage is that the information presented here is not complete compared to traditional job sites.

Olga Petrovskaya, Group Leader, IT/Telecom ANCOR:
In Russia, professional sites such as Webby.ru and MoiKrug are becoming more and more popular every year. Professional communication websites are an excellent opportunity for people to share their experience with their colleagues.

For recruiters, social and professional networking sites are a source of candidates and are also one of the most commonly used search methods, since the range of specialist sites and popular social sites attract a vast circle of specialists in various fields.

Many Russian companies block access to such sites for their employees to stop them simply wasting time on them without any professional purpose, but it’s well known that networking sites are a source of candidates for recruitment agencies and allow recruiters to approach candidates directly. On the other hand, such sites are to some extent actually a form of competition for recruitment companies, since now companies can find the required specialist themselves by using specialized forums and leaving announcements on the sites, without using the services of a recruitment agency.

Kseniya Zdor, business development manager at Avenir:
«The information on VKontakte, for example, can be useful in searching for candidates. Often we search for potential candidates according to the university or institute requested by the employer, and for this purpose VKontakte is useful. On the other hand, the information available is not always complete — for example people may not include their place of work, which makes it hard to assess a person’s career.»

Natalia Martikainen, business development manager at BusinessLink Personnel:
«The advantages of such sites are that you can see a person’s photos and interests, which allows you to get a general impression of a candidate. Networking sites also allow you to reach a wide circle of candidates, including candidates with whom contact for some reason may have been lost, and those who are actively looking for a new job. On the other hand, not everybody takes such sites seriously which can be a problem.»

Yury Mikhailov, managing partner, Consort St. Petersburg:
«Online communication creates a distraction from work duties and can be viewed by employers as a major time-waster and threat to productivity, causing a natural reaction to forbid access to such sites. Of course, some of the most developed, such as e-xecutive.ru or hh.ru could be used as a recruiting technique, but it is in no way a very efficient one.»

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