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AMS gets connected

Social media plays a huge part in talent acquisition and service delivery at management company Alexander Mann Solutions (AMS). The firm provides organisations such as Nike, Credit Suisse, Covidien, Novartis and Deutsche Bank with tailored social media, digital and mobile strategies for the acquisition and engagement of talent.

One way the firm actively accesses candidates is by direct sourcing, mainly through LinkedIn.

“There are some other social media you can use for that, but LinkedIn is a key focus, although its presence across [Asia-Pacific] is still not yet at the level of the US and Europe,” says Martin Cerullo, Asia-Pacific managing director for development at AMS.

“Our recruiters, on behalf of our clients, build search strings in the database, identify relevant talent and then connect with them or send them an e-mail. Often, it will be followed up with telephone conversations, networking meetings and other in-person activities.”

The screening of applicants begins with simply comparing a candidate’s online profile with the job description and seeing if there is a match. The process is slightly different when AMS runs advertising campaigns or builds brand presence, where candidates go through an applicant tracking system such as Taleo.

“There’s quite a lot of screening that happens in a broad sense. For example, in some roles where there’s potential risk to the organisation, you’ll be doing additional screening as part of the reference-checking process,” Cerullo says.

Cerullo says it is crucial to review candidates’ profiles in an ethical way. “We always work with high ethics in the way that we conduct screening – and no one gets hired merely because of their profiles,” he says. “Anyone found on social media is still put through structured screening, interview and assessment.”

Depending on the job, candidates may be asked to undergo technical, personality or other tests online.

“We use best-practice recruitment methodologies to assess people as they go through that process. I think the point for candidates is that what they have online is a starting point to see whether or not they have got the skills that match our clients’ jobs,” Cerullo says.

As a leading provider of recruitment process outsourcing, another way AMS exploits social media is by building an employer’s brand, such as by creating a company’s careers page on Facebook. At times, it also runs competitions for clients.

For one client, it ran targeted advertising campaigns on social media to urge Hong Kong students and professionals in the US to come back and work in Hong Kong.

Mitigating negativity is another critical social media activity. AMS staff who are using social media are trained not only on how to use it, but also how to react to certain comments.

Clients’ Facebook pages show rules of engagement upfront, so that people understand what does and doesn’t belong in those pages.

“You still always get people who could potentially comment negatively,” Cerullo says. “Then it’s really about how you react to that in a correct and positive manner. Our view is that it is essential for organisations to engage in social media, but you cannot control the outcome – you can only influence it.”

AMS offers training for HR teams on making optimal use of social media for recruitment. The firm has trained over 150 professionals in Asia in the past 12 months on techniques such as on-boarding through the creation of social media groups. Fresh graduates and new recruits can meet through the groups before they start work and even connect with current staff.

Cerullo says that whether blogging or posting on various platforms, AMS actively uses social media to build its own brand presence. One of the things the firm is very conscious of, however, is creating conversations rather than just campaigns.