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The Staffing Function in Asia in the Age of Social Media

Hosted by: Microsoft

The Chapman Consulting Group co-hosted a lively roundtable discussion with Microsoft for 20 select Talent Acquisition heads. Regional staffing leaders from high-profile multinationals in the Financial Services, Technology, Hospitality, Retail and Industrial sectors met at the Singapore offices of Microsoft to discuss Harnessing IT and Social Media to Improve the Quality of Talent Acquisition Practices. The discussion was led by Matthew Chapman, CEO of The Chapman Consulting Group.

A key take-away from the session was that social media and technology is something everyone is using, but the structure and results can take time to get right. Talent Acquisition Leaders are being stretched beyond operational recruitment and being drawn in to brand and employer value proposition discussions with ‘shop windows’ like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. How the information on these live tools is gathered and interpreted is blending the boundaries between a work persona and a personal life, and for the candidate of the future an awareness of their online image will be important. For employers it will be about balancing short term reactive recruitment activities, which are predictable, with long term investment needed in social media when it is not easy to predict results. New specialisations within the recruitment team such as online sourcing and online platform maintenance also suggest that this space will continue to evolve as greater productivity is pushed.

How is Social Media and IT Being Used Now?

Asia is not just about high volume recruitment; delivering technical and hard-to-find skills is top of the agenda. It’s a tough market, and being proactive through communities on Facebook and Linkedin, as well as other industry or skillset-specific websites, is helping to broaden the net.

Competition within sectors is fierce for talent and differentiating the brand using social media is a great method however hard to track impact. Is it possible to decouple employer brand from consumer brand? Not in many cases, but where brand awareness is low there seems to be a positive impact, especially when more is shared online about the business culture and success to engage potential candidates.

When building capability outside the usual hubs of Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Tokyo, tapping country-specific job boards or having a presence on the most appropriate online tool is needed. New technology platforms for recruitment teams that combine external search functions simultaneous on a variety of online platforms (job boards, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google, etc) and give the recruiter the chance to track the source site/portal are going to be very powerful. New versions of Avature and Kenexa seem to have managed better functionality on this.

What are the Challenges Involved?

Being able to justify cost to the business for future benefits to the recruitment process is not easy, and social media falls into this category as investment is needed to reap the benefits. Talent Acquisition Leaders who are able to show analytics clearly on cost, KPIs, source of candidates and timeframes will be in a better position to look at non-standard tools to boost performance. This is especially the case with activities that will reduce hiring costs in the future rather than immediately.

When contacting a passive candidate pool through community building online there is a risk that the process for a candidate is not managed closely. Since they are not actively in a process, risk to a company’s employer brand can occur if contact is not properly maintained and tracked. For many online search tools, there is an intrinsic lack of focus and control.

For the time being, the group concluded that compared to personal referrals, the hit rate and ability to track success for social media is still a long way off in Asia. But it is getting closer, and the ‘clever’ companies are the ones that are already putting systems into place that will help the staffing function best utilise these online tools in the future.

Sourcing Approaches

Traditional recruitment teams are being split into data driven sourcing functions and client focused relationship managers in response to the power this information can have to the recruitment process. For those in the data area, sourcing and using online databases and networking sites is their primary focus and recognises the volume of information out there to help recruit. Recruitment consultants who are able to ‘sell’ the brand and opportunity are never going to go away. But the ability for the sourcing process to be detached will make these individuals more able to focus on what they do best. Managers will need to be able to smooth the initial stage of resistance from the recruiter having to share their relationship with the client, which they will have been used to. Sourcing talent will alsoneed its own career path, otherwise specialisation will not be achieved.

The emergence of 3rd party sourcing companies gathering names through social media and databases rather than full service RPO has offered companies a half-way point, rather than necessitate the building of their own sourcing team, which is not always possible due to scale and cost. The value proposition discussion remains in house and the model offers quicker progress and less of the transactional process sitting with the client facing recruiter.

LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook

Some say that LinkedIn is the ‘business version’ of Facebook, however company policy prohibiting access to LinkedIn along with limited usage in some countries doesn’t make it perfect. Being a live feed of information does make it unique. Following companies and individuals as career moves occur is an excellent competitive intelligence tool and talent tracker. The challenge for hiring teams is the difficulty in assessing interest in a move from the profile alone, so it can mean a lot of fruitless approaches.

Twitter is often used to keep the passive and active candidate population updated. As this is one way traffic, its success is tough to track. New platforms that enable the origin of a click may help boost its usage once the impact is clearer.

Facebook is still considered a personal and event-focused platform. Its application beyond announcing an event for a company is limited, and the demographic is considered by most to be 18-25. The boundary is, however, becoming blurred, as Facebook profiles include current workplace and career histories. But how to harness this platform beyond graduate activities is not yet obvious to most companies.


Recruiters are utilising both technological and human capital to drive hiring. Larger, more focused teams which combine specialists in data mining and specialists in client/process management are here. The next step will be more linkage between internal platforms and external social media/online resources. Once this is then played in to better practice (already in place within some businesses) to look at internal talent pools at the same time as external, there will be a major shift in productivity. In the meantime the biggest risk to social media use is in not managing the response. Great for exposure and driving activity but could be a disaster for a brand if candidates do not feel they have had a good experience.


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Key Contributors:

Matthew Chapman
Matthew Chapman


Global Management
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Matthew Chapman
Global Management

Matthew Chapman


Matthew (Matt) Chapman is the Founder of ChapmanCG.

He has also created the Thrive HR Exchange, a global community platform for people leaders and HR professionals to find and exchange inspiration, ideas and insights. Discover some of his interviews with HR leaders here.

Matt has a Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting and Business Law from the University of New South Wales, Australia. He is a Singapore Citizen and divides his time between Asia Pacific, the Americas and EMEA.

Matt is a wellness, self-improvement and fitness addict. He has completed six desert, 250km ultra-marathons in Chile, China, Egypt, Antarctica, Namibia and Madagascar.

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