Opinions from a conference involving some of the country’s top recruitment authorities have backed up some of the circulating predictions for the recruitment industry, particularly that more emphasis is going to be needed on online professional networking and engagement.

The Guardian newspaper hosted the Readers Communities Candidates event in December, as a forum for employers and agencies to discuss the challenges currently facing recruitment agencies.

The importance of ‘professional networks’ was at the forefront of priorities. Danny Cannon from MKH said these networks – such as LinkedIn – have been coming to the fore over the last couple of years and will only gain more importance in the future.

“I think professional networks and communities are very much part of the social media mix that will be very important,” he said.

Recruiter, Julie Towers from Tribal, agreed with his opinion, pointing out that most areas of industry had harnessed them as key recruitment resources: “The public sector are buying in quickly to social media and seeing its value in terms of pre-engagement, talent management and working to build a pool of engaged communities as well.”

Colin Hughes, the head of business and professional at Guardian News and Media, said that to keep up with this trend they had launched the Guardian Professional networks, to offer “more to our professional users online: more engagement, more targeted information that’s useful to their career and more opportunity to engage with each other.”

Geoff Newman, the chief executive of online recruitment company Recruitment Genius, believes that “Professional networks are another great channel to finding and recruiting staff. However they should not be used in isolation from other recruitment methods, but rather complement. Indeed we are starting to see social media in recruitment become more mainstream.”

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