Press release

Meeting beats tweeting when it comes to getting a job, new research finds

New research shows that employers looking for new staff shun social media for the human touch.


Technology may have invaded every aspect of our lives, but new research shows a personal touch is still the best when it comes to getting a job.

The 2014 Employer Perspectives Survey, released today by government skills experts the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES), shows that despite the meteoric rise of social media, just 7% of employers say they’ve used it to recruit new staff.

Based on interviews with more than 18,000 employers across the UK, the study reveals that recruitment methods involving the human touch, such as filling vacancies through word of mouth and personal recommendation are still widely used by employers.

Just over one in ten (11%) of employers said they used work experience as a recruitment tool, whilst the number offering a job as a result of a speculative enquiry has more than doubled.

Although the findings may be welcomed by parents who are unconvinced that their offspring’s broadband consumption actually equates to job hunting, the researchers say the findings point to a greater need to hone jobseekers’ social skills.

Grahame Smith, a Commissioner at UKCES and General Secretary of the Scottish TUC said

Digital skills are crucial in the modern workplace, and while many young people excel in this area, these findings show how important it is for jobseekers to also develop their personal presence. Getting out there and speaking with people is just as important as being online, but it’s more difficult for the digital generation.

That’s why it’s important to break down the barriers between education and employers. By offering simple things like business mentoring, careers talks, work experience and mock interviews, businesses can make a huge difference to the future of young people. Our research shows that whilst only a minority of employers currently work with schools and colleges in this way, the good news is that those that do say it’s easy and rewarding.

Michael Davis, chief executive of UKCES, said

For those looking for work, making use of social media when job hunting can bring a world of information at the click of a mouse, but when it comes to making that all important first impression it seems there’s no substitute for legwork.

This research shows that what really matters to employers is an opportunity to get face to face with candidates, and get a real understanding of how they tick and what they can offer.

For employers it’s important to not become over-dependent on one form of recruitment. Our research shows that word of mouth is still commonly used to hire staff – but this risks missing out on a huge talent pool just because people don’t happen to be plugged into the right professional networks.

By striking a balance, both sides can benefit. Creating strong links with local education providers is just one way of achieving this, allowing employers to see first-hand what young people can offer, while simultaneously giving young people opportunity to build crucial contacts.

The UKCES Employer Perspectives Survey 2014 is available at the UKCES website.

Featured photo credit: Richard Busch Photography. Used under Creative Commons 2.0 licence.

Published 13 November 2014
Last updated 13 November 2014 + show all updates
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