What’s it like to live in the Netpotism era?

May 17, 2021

 Industry experts share their experiences on Handshake’s Live Podcast

By now it’s likely you’ve heard of ‘Netpotism’. Handshake’s research, which revealed that virtual recruitment is an increasingly closed shop - and that employers are relying on personal contacts to find staff - has hit the headlines and has resonated with employers and universities alike.

We’ve already talked a lot about how universities and employers can come together to make recruitment more accessible, and how a diverse talent pool is good for society and good for business. And earlier this month, on Handshake’s Early Talent Podcast, Hung Lee, curator at Recruiting Brainfood and Rebecca Fielding, founder and MD of Gradconsult, joined the debate.

In a special live edition of the podcast, host Dimitar Stanimiroff, General Manager EMEA at Handshake, led a lively discussion.

For Hung Lee, Netpotism is nothing short of a crisis. “The pandemic has disproportionately affected early talent anyway, “ he says.  “It’s increasingly hard for graduates to forge connections both in the application process and even when employment has been found, as remote working becomes the norm and teams are dispersed. People who have been in an office environment, and who have had that important opportunity to interact with colleagues, naturally have a leg up and a better network to lean on.”

When it comes to the process of finding graduates, Rebecca Fielding talked about a ‘fundamental mismatch’. “Employers are using LinkedIn to recruit, but we know that today’s students simply don’t see the platform somewhere they can engage,” she says. “It’s vital that businesses move away from LinkedIn, and instead consider broader and more diverse ways to engage with talent.” Otherwise, she says, it’s likely that we’ll see the issue of Netpotism continue.

Hung Lee agrees. “Even if people do use LinkedIn, it’s episodic,” he says. “People only log in when they’re looking for jobs - it’s not somewhere where early talent is habitually networking and connecting.”

So if the answer to better connections isn’t LinkedIn, then what is? “Students want to hear directly from employers”, confirmed Dimi “and it's vital that they’re proactive in the way they engage with both educators and prospective recruits.”

The group focused on a mobile first approach to better connections. “There’s a real digital divide” says Rebecca. “This research shows that not everyone has access to digital tools like laptops or desktops, and that’s a huge issue. But we know that the vast majority of young people do own mobile devices - and so that’s where we need to focus efforts.

"Platforms like Handshake are already closing this gap providing a mobile-first approach to connecting employers with job seekers.”

For Rebecca, it’s crucial we tackle the issue swifty. “While virtual recruitment was a response of the pandemic, it’s not going anywhere,” she says. “Employers tell us that they are likely to continue using online tools to recruit, long after offices are reopened. So now is the time for us to act - before netpotism gets irrevocably ingrained.”

So plenty to think about. You can learn more about Netpotism and the solutions to the issue by downloading our report.