Which private companies recruit students through Gate

Study: How digitally do students want to be recruited?

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Digital tools can prepare human contact, but not replace it. Find out more from a study by “Persoblogger” Stefan Scheller.

When it becomes important, human contact counts more than any digital tool, even for “digital natives”. In recruiting, for example. That is one of the results of the study "Digital Candidate Journey 2019/2020". The publisher is “Persoblogger” Stefan Scheller, one of the best-known German HR bloggers, in cooperation with the Chair of Marketing & Consumer Behavior at the University of Bayreuth and the strategy consultancy The Ringsight.

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1. Students also separate professional and private matters online

The “digital natives” are among the most sought-after target groups in recruiting. The need for young academics is particularly high. Especially in times of digital transformation, students should make their supposedly natural access to new technologies usable for companies.

There are many ways to address this target group. At first glance, the route via digital channels is obvious. However, according to the study participants, there are serious differences: Students also separate professional and private matters online.

If students are active on the business platforms XING or LinkedIn, 92 percent of LinkedIn and 84 percent of XING users among the companies surveyed want to be approached about jobs there. Only just under 30 percent of students who are active on Facebook are in favor of being addressed there; on Instagram it is a little over 24 percent. On the other hand, not even 2 percent prefer an approach by HR managers via SnapChat.

2. Chatbots, virtual job fairs and video interviews are only moderately popular

The media often give the impression that digital natives only want to be addressed using modern means of communication. Consultants are also happy to recommend charging your own employer brand with the use of digital communication media such as chatbots or apps for video interviews with innovative attributes.

The results of the study, however, show great skepticism on the part of the students. The use of a chatbot in recruiting communication, for example, is far behind on a scale from 1 (= I don't like it at all) to 7 (= I like it particularly) with 2.43. If there is also a human component in communication, such as when chatting with HR staff (3.73) or during a live video interview via Skype, the values ​​on the same scale increase significantly to 4.30.

3. Trust and sympathy are essential for the publication of contact details

In an increasingly digital world with often only virtual encounters at the beginning of the candidate journey, trust plays a key role. On the one hand, this applies with a view to data protection, which concerns the publication of contact data via digital forms. But even the motivation to pass on data to potential employers at all can be influenced primarily by the human sympathy factor. One third of those surveyed named sympathy for the company representatives with whom they are in contact as the top reason for providing data. On the mentioned scale from 1 to 7, this corresponds to an approval rating of 5.13.

The use of promotional gifts, on the other hand, for example at student career fairs, only achieved a value of 2.54 on the seven-level popularity scale. The organization of competitions comes to a value of 2.93, but is still far behind the factor of human sympathy.

4. Opinions of friends and on employer rating platforms relevant to employer selection

The influence of human interaction is also evident at another point in the candidate journey. When it comes to selecting specific employers, 58.55 percent of the students value the company's reputation among friends. Around two thirds even actively seek the opinion of their friends when making a decision.

In addition, 44 percent of students look for a job on employer rating platforms such as kununu and glassdoor. Companies would do well to actively use these platforms to communicate with potential applicants. In particular, very personal and specific statements on in-depth assessments offer great opportunities to be perceived as an open employer who is also capable of criticism.

5. Digital communication is only the initiation of communication from person to person

Perhaps the most important finding of the Digital Candidate Journey Study at the meta level concerns the fundamental importance of people in recruiting. Even or especially in times of increasing virtualization, human contact between company representatives and interested parties as well as prospective applicants remains immensely important for successful personnel recruitment.

Ultimately, the modern possibilities of digital communication only serve to initiate classic communication from person to person. With a view to the key question of the study, how digital students actually want to be addressed by companies, the answer is: digitally yes, but carefully and as individually as possible with many human components.

Or, as Prof. C. C. Germelmann, patron of the study, puts it: “Successful employers understand that students are open to digital tools in recruiting - but only if they make real personal contacts faster and more targeted. These contacts then contribute to the employer brand if the mindset of all employees involved in recruiting is clearly brand and customer-oriented. Investments are worthwhile here! "

About the study

The first stage of the study started in autumn 2018 with an HR expert survey. Written interviews with HR managers from companies and recruiting experts from the scene laid the foundation for the design of the final study. In the period from December 2018 to March 2019, the online survey was carried out as the second stage. In the online survey, a representative picture of the target group “student talents” was obtained through careful distribution of the questionnaires and the systematic weighting of the results. The complete 55-page preparation of the study results is available here for free download.