SA recruitment on Facebook

Janine Erasmus

To many, Facebook is nothing more than a frivolous way of wasting time. Others consider it a useful way of keeping in touch with friends and family, especially those far away. Now a South African recruitment company is using it innovatively – for skills recruitment.

Quest Flexible Staffing Solutions announced in April 2008 that it had launched a Facebook application designed to assess personality types and establish a line of contact between applicant and agency. The Work Personality Quiz is considered to be a first among recruitment companies in South Africa, says Quest managing executive Margot Errington. “Quest is a frontrunner in South Africa in developing and launching a Facebook application as a skills recruitment device.”

There is sound logic behind the decision to launch on Facebook. According to internet information company Alexa, Facebook is the second most-accessed site from South Africa, coming in ahead of the likes of YouTube, News24, and Cricinfo. Online reputation company Rapleaf has released data that places more than half of Facebook’s 70-million users into a single age category. The 18-25 year category encompasses a full 52% of users, while 21% fall into the 26-35 year group. These are prime ages for employability.

Quest is well aware of this, and aims to take full advantage of the potential for finding skilled professionals with this very unusual method. “The social networking environment of Facebook is an untapped community wherein skilled job seekers interact,” says Errington.

In designing the application Quest also intends to brand itself as an innovator in the staffing solutions sector and source credible, qualified leads for positions offered, as well as creating a pleasant work-seeking association in people’s minds.

Quest scooped the national award for the best human resources service provider in 2007. Awarded by the body known as Business Process enabling South Africa, the award recognises top achievers in the field of business process outsourcing.

Getting connected with Quest and Facebook

In order to connect with Quest, users must add the application to their Facebook profile. Once this is done the user can take the test, which consists of 15 situations that may happen in the real workplace, and a choice of responses for each one. The responses will reflect the user’s style of decision-making and, says Errington, will help them establish what role they would be likely to play in a team.

“Our Facebook application is essentially the first step in a recruitment process,” she says. When the test is completed a cartoon-like character corresponding to a certain personality type appears in the application box on the user’s profile page. The user can also choose to receive notifications of relevant job opportunities from Quest, based on their personality profile.

The five outcomes have been matched to the letters of the Quest name: Questioner, Understander, Energiser, Soldier, and Terrier. There are two hidden personality types which may or may not be discovered. A short description of the basic characteristics of each type is given, along with a few suggestions for suitable careers.

Dave Duarte, of learning strategy company Huddlemind Labs and one of the developers of the test, says: “We took a real psychometric test, the type which Quest might use to screen job applicants, and adapted the tone of the questions to suit Facebook’s fun social environment.” While Facebook is not a professional environment, it is used by many professional people and Duarte says that in developing the application it was important to balance this fact with the fun and social environment of the site.

The Facebook phenomenon

According to the most recent statistics released by the social networking utility, Facebook is used most by people in the US, followed by the UK and Canada. In order of active users, the remaining top ten countries are Turkey, Australia, France, Sweden, Norway, Colombia, and South Africa. Demographics show that South Africa has over 650 000 users, of which 37% are men and 63% are women.

Users have over 20 000 applications to choose from, ranging from fun and often downright silly, to functional and productive. Facebook says that 140 new applications are added every day. And with over 250 000 new users signing up every day, the site is home to people of all kinds.

While there are many quizzes available on Facebook, the majority of which are designed to reveal facts about users’ personalities, not all of them can be said to be particularly precise. Says Duarte, “The Quest quiz is fun but it is also scientific and accurate.” He adds that the accuracy of the test combined with the aspect of fun will encourage Facebook users to share the application with their friends and colleagues.

Other companies are jumping on the Facebook bandwagon. South African human resource website HR Future has started a Facebook group, where users who join can stay up-to-date with relevant industry issues regarding human capital. The group is aimed at professionals in the sector – HR managers and directors, HR and business consultants, and other executives.

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