Recruitment social media trends explained

From ghosting and quiet quitting to the 4-day week and more, we have seen plenty of new terms and tactics coming through the recruitment space in the last 12 months. With recruiters and jobseekers increasingly turning to social media to recruit and find a job they’ll love, we explore some of the recruitment social media trends that took off in 2022 and what they mean for you as an employer.

TikTok has entered the recruitment cycle

With so many changes and ‘new normals’ to get used to over the last three years, it’s no surprise that employee and jobseeker motivations are changing. But, 2022 saw a new wave of content on social media, as employees took to networks, including TikTok, to vent about their employers and share tips and tricks. The TikTok recruitment guru slash coach became a thing, and many people started to share their largely negative experiences online.

Once upon a time, it would have been a hard pass for serious recruiters to go anywhere other than Linkedin for quality talent. But over the years, with Facebook, Instagram, and friends becoming a mainstay in the recruitment cycle, recruitment consultants and even HR teams have been using social media to gain followers and fans to help promote open roles. A tool in the kit with no desire or understanding to trend or go viral.

However, with more people than ever working flexibly, from home, online, and in new markets over the last couple of years, the difference now is not whether to use social media but which channel and how to keep up – how to be seen by the increasingly nuanced audiences and talent pools in TikTok, Twitch and more.

1. Quiet quitting

Society loves a label to latch on to, and ‘quiet quitting’ took its moment and ran with it. With a mixed bag of origin stories, the term is largely attributed to a former corporate recruiter and career coach Bryan Creely, who used the phrase in his TikTok videos giving tips and advice to job seekers. And it took off hugely, with endless content and everyone from both sides of the employment coin having their say on the matter. But what does it mean?

Put simply, quiet quitting is doing the bare minimum within your job that keeps you employed. No going the extra mile, no unpaid overtime to help out, no extracurricular activities, clock in and clock out on the dot – essentially, doing the job and supplying the essential deliverables only, at no additional personal or emotional cost.

Labelling it with a catchy moniker certainly helps to fuel a phenomenon, but not necessarily a new one. In 2008, it was called ‘quitting in place’ in a book by Kelly Love Johnson, and in the 1990s, depicted in films like Clerks and The Big Lebowski – more a trope erring on the side of laziness than an employment trend.

In 2022, however, quiet quitting was made a word of the year in the Collins Dictionary. And this kind of popularity and reach makes it critical for employers to sit up, look, and listen. For quiet quitting isn’t the desire to be lazy. Instead, it is the response to pandemic-induced burnout that saw millions of workers go way beyond the perimeters of their job and nearly always to the detriment of their personal, emotional, and often physical health and well-being.

The phrase is almost counter-productive, as it implies quitting on the part of the employee. But employers must ask themselves what they expect from their staff and whether they are being fairly compensated, numerically and otherwise, for their efforts. In reality, quiet quitting is also a direct response to poor management, unbalanced work and personal life, low salaries, lacklustre benefits, and high workload expectations – none of which encourage a productive and interested workforce. With research showing one in three UK workers labelling themselves as ‘quiet quitters’, the term is certainly more than a viral trend.

If businesses are expecting their employees to want to contribute to their growth, they must look inwards to see if they are holding up their side of the bargain and what they can do to prevent quiet quitting in their business and retain top productive talent.

2. Quiet firing

As practices go, this one is particularly unsavoury. We have talked about quiet quitting, where, while not ideal, the work gets done, despite the deeper issues at play. Quiet firing, on the other hand, feels more sinister. The term literally means to treat an employee so badly within the perimeters of acceptability (or avoiding a tribunal) that said employee quits – be that through demeaning tasks, no learning and development, plateaued earnings, internal ghosting from management, and so on. Some of the treatment can be akin to gaslighting and diversion, with projects given to others for no reason and any kind of conversation about it or anything else null and void.

It is a nasty practice that can have detrimental effects on mental health. And with research finding 80% of workers see or feel the wrath of quiet firing, it’s clearly rife. For employers, the advice here is quite simply don’t do it. With a vigorous attraction and interview process, solid, well-researched, and tested career development plans, and clear tasks, goals, and objectives for your employees, no business will need to stoop to quiet firing in 2023.

3. Candidate ghosting

Ghosting is disappearing unexpectedly when waiting to give/receive an answer. As the lines blur between professional practice and conversational speech, these kinds of terms gather pace and become core subjects on TikTok and the like. But what employers should look at, especially if they are experiencing this often, is why.

If there is something inherently wrong internally, be that the culture, interview process, or employer brand, then, you’ll have signs pointing to ghosting. A positive candidate experience is essential, especially in competitive markets and companies with money to burn to snag the best talent. In what has long been a candidates’ market, the tide turned a long time ago when even some of the best in the business had time for negotiations. As the market gets ever busier and pressure builds on both sides, candidates can feel that anything remotely like support and empathy are non-existent anyway.

Employers must look at their offer from multiple angles, from the job itself through the overall company culture and outlook, to find any holes or issues to fix to avoid candidate ghosting and instead develop talent pools for the future.

4. Employer ghosting

Ghosting doesn’t just fall on the candidate – it’s a two-way street. Being ghosted by an employer is nothing new either. But, again, thanks to the unending connectivity and communication that social media and particularly video platforms provide, we now hear about and discuss it more quickly and with more vigour than ever.

Research carried out by Glassdoor in October 2022 found that interview reviews on the site mentioning the term “ghosting” (or similar phrases) are up 98% since January 1st, 2019. And it isn’t just ghosting at the first hurdle, with research alarmingly showing post-offer ghosting too.

Frustrating and disheartening, ghosting can have profound psychological effects on jobseekers and discourage them from going for jobs or seeking employment altogether. It can also leave a nasty online stain on a company’s employer branding specifically, with online reviews and social media giving a voice to those suffering from a disappearing act.

For employers, the answer is simple – they do not need to ghost their candidates. Implementing a solid recruitment process before any application or interviewing takes place ensures seamless communication and a positive candidate experience. No ghosting is necessary, and potential future talent is pooled and intact should the direction change.

5. Job hopping

What was once a major red flag on a CV is now an acceptable part of a candidate’s career journey. Before, knowledge about a company was either the message they communicated or from personal experience alone; businesses could get away with more and do less.

With information scant and an achingly long tenure the mark of a good candidate, ‘job hoppers’ were seemingly those to steer clear of. Now, with data, opinions, experiences, and social media channels to immerse in it all, truths have come out of the corporate woodwork. But it shouldn’t all be seen as a negative, far from it, rather opportunities for employers and employees alike. Career change is more accessible, with much of the unknown removed and replaced with online research and shared experiences. Candidates can build skills in different businesses and experience SMEs and large corporations, amalgamating into a fabulous all-rounder for a lucky recruiter.

And then there is the freedom of choice – employees working where they want, when they want, free of the anvil of validation that seemed only attainable by long tenure. The latter might sound daunting for employers, but this is another opportunity to look at the current offer, retention efforts, and the quality of their talent. If there appears to be a revolving door at the business – why? But also, look at ways a job hopper can benefit the business – what skills can be brought in? What experience do they have? And who knows, with the right company, they might just stay.

It pays to be seen…

The scope of social media is massive and unending, so while this list explains some of the most dominant trends and tactics on the channels, there is undoubtedly more to come. With the social commentary and transparency that the platforms provide, brands and employers are now, more than ever, at the mercy of accountability – as they should be. And this shouldn’t be viewed negatively, for if everyone were doing it right, there would be nothing to hide. So instead, look at the opportunities word of mouth and transparency can create.

Said employers and brands must embrace all kinds of social media platforms – providing they work for their audiences – to make an impact in markets and communities not thought possible before to reap the rewards that due diligence and progress can bring.