RPO & StaffingTalent Acquisition

Talent at the Speed of Now

The technology of recruiting for an evolving and diversifying workforce.

By Sue Marks

Now that we are finally hiring again, what does innovation mean to recruiting? Some of you have heard of a “hackathon” in the IT world—an event that involves unrestricted, collaborative computer programming. We need some of that unbridled, high-paced thinking in recruiting—or talent acquisition, as I like to call it, because that implies a broader value chain.


We all agree that technology-fueled change is accelerating faster than ever before, and this kind of high-speed creating and learning on-the-fly has become an important skill in today’s changing markets. But few acknowledge the importance of unlearning, which might be even more crucial. The future will be driven by those companies that are able to forget the outdated approaches of the past, and not just adapt to the future but transform themselves to create it. If we can’t “unlearn,” we’ll continue fighting the last “war for talent,” instead of the new one we’ve already entered. As the economy recovers, jobs are not coming back the way they were or where they were. Work is no longer simply a place we go. And the best talent has very different expectations in this new world. In just two short years, their expectations of “recruiting” behavior from organizations have changed the way HR must interact with the talent communities they are trying to reach.


Talent as Consumer
Don’t kid yourself. Candidates and applicants—the best ones, the ones you really want—are consumers. And consumers are in control in ways we never thought possible. Businesses now must meet the consumer where they are—anywhere, anyway, anytime. From buying an airline ticket to ordering take-out to scheduling a haircut, nearly every consumer transaction is conducted online. Almost every business has configured the process to give the individual control and the ability to shop or schedule at their convenience. The adoption of this new way of doing things is so pervasive that it has changed the way we expectto conduct all of our business interactions.


This shift in behavior is shaping the evolution of recruiting. Why would the same person who has become accustomed to making a purchase with one click on Amazon want to go back to the old way of doing things during their job search?


A number of technological and behavioral trends are shaping the future of recruiting.


Think about it. Aren’t you …

  • More connected to more devices that have become both more affordable and allow you to do and be more?

Aren’t your devices and apps …

  • Faster (near zero latency for boot up, search, connect, interact)?
  • Easier (UI revolution, location, awareness, smart)?
  • Fun (social, reward-driven)

And can’t you …

  • Access everything and anything—anytime, anywhere, anyway—because your “stuff” is in the cloud?
  • Enjoy a more mobile experience than you ever thought possible (battery life hardly being a limitation anymore)?


Recruitment Apps
To leverage these developments and the bottomless pools of prospective candidate data in this new and evolving environment, HR leadership needs to modernize their recruiting tools and approach so that they can more effectively communicate, automate, and elevate prospect interactions to drive talent fulfillment. In HR, success will be dependent on a flexible and evolving modular technology model within a structured framework for managing social talent communities. Imagine the concept of “Apps” applied to recruiting:


Self service is often better service—when it’s customized and localized. Staple yourself to a job requisition. Yes, you read that right. Staple yourself to a req. Follow your process and see what it feels like to be a candidate. If I’m a candidate, I want that uniquely personal experience—that required, infinitely configurable workflow, and referential integrity to keep it all straight… and compliant!


Algorithms at work—they help you work. You’d be surprised how much math and logic is behind what we call “search and matching.” From match.com to netflix, algorithms power recommendation engines, and we’re in the early stages of deploying them in our human capital systems today. Personal, local, customized, and time-sensitive, algorithms are the “smarts” behind the best customer experiences— whether they are in consumer or business applications.


Mobile: enter the age of the handheld Internet. The world is flat and increasingly in the palm of our hand. These devices have become an extension of ourselves, literally and figuratively. In fact, most of us keep them on our nightstand. Mobility and mobile apps are changing everything. Thanks in large part to the design genius of Apple and Droid, these devices are cool. According to Bing Gordon, a KPCB partner and Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences Hall-of-Famer, ‘‘Gamification of apps is the ultimate way to engage a new generationof audiences.” That means at play and at work.


The rise of video and the fall of everything else. Traditional media (radio, TV, print) will not disappear, and social will continue to evolve, but video’s rise is remarkable, and it’s here to stay. Video allows us to deliver richer messaging and better storytelling. Embedded into the talent attraction and selection process, video is proving to betransformational for the industry.


Video talent acquisition solutions deliver more information to the prospect from corporate recruiters and marketers, and on the prospect, allowing recruiters to meet candidates virtually. By getting to know each other earlier in the process, candidates and organizations both can make better decisions. Accessed conveniently through a handheld, video literally places an organization’s employment brand right into the palm of the candidate’s hand.


Brand competition in a hyper-connected world. For a while now, apps have enabled Facebook and Twitter interactions via our handheld devices. Likewise, social media platforms such as Foursquare were born out of the opportunity provided by mobility combined with an imbedded global positioning system (GPS).


Toward Workforce Branding
So now that recruiters have access to the trifecta—1) nearly the entire world voluntarily hands over their relevant information (and more) through a platform that recruiters can easily access, 2) it comes from a device where a recruiter can reach them 24/7 (see “nightstand” reference above), and 3) the population actually has fun doing it— how do we make the most of it?


Recruiters need to tailor their messages and communication styles for this new forum. We need to deliver information concisely, visually, personally, and provocatively. The message needs to center on the employment brand—not just the job description—and a platform must be created for managing the process.


So consider the case for the urgency of employment brand in a world cluttered with messages. How do we differentiate our employment brand?


First, what is a brand? For the most part, brands came of age when one company’s products were pretty similar to every other company’s products. The only way of getting around that problem was to create some kind of emotional attachment to one product over another. Enter Madison Avenue, which mixed advertising messages with psychology in the hope that a large group of people would feel emotionally connected to a product and buy it. Lots of it. Over and over. Strong brands always had an easier time attracting talent, because—well, because they were strong brands.


But today we live in an online, always-on, infinitely-searchable, viral, broadcast, and narrowcast world. In this age of consumer reviews, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and beyond, branding and brands are not just a two-way street, but a 16–lane, cloverleaf, up-and-under interchange on the LA freeway.


How can we break through some of the clutter? By humanizing our brand, especially for talent attraction purposes.


We want our brands to be more human because brands (and the companies they represent) are made of human beings. Even in industries that we love to hate (airlines, mobile phones, etc.), stories of human achievement abound. Brands that embrace the human beings that make them so interesting (whether they work for them or just like chatting about them) are much more successful than those thatlack a face. Take advantage of that.


Tomorrow Is Here
It’s a new world out there, with more tools than ever to make sense of our connections in a hyper-connected world. The future means integrating them all in a comprehensive, infinitely configurable solution that considers the confluence of traditional candidate sourcing techniques (e.g., job posting) with innovative recruitment techniques, sourcing, and candidate marketing automation. It’s not just about recruiting anymore. It’s about constantly evolving talent management practices.


Karie Willyerd’s book, The 2020 Workplace, told us that every HR interaction in our new world will weave together to provide an intensely personalized, increasingly social experience. So “go smart social” to attract, develop, and engage employees across all generations and all geographies—or not. Will you or won’t you have the courage to get this done? The winners will be the ones who have the knowledge and the tools to do this well, and the foresight to get out there and do it. So do it, and do it immediately. Because talent doesn’t wait. Talent moves at the speed of now.


Never before have there been so many “Never Befores”

  • Never before have four (five?) different generations been found in the workforce with such different backgrounds and expectations.
  • Never before has globalization rise so fast.
  • Never before have so many new technologies required our use and support.
  • Never before has the incoming worker been so far ahead of their employer intechnology adoption.

Detecting Disruptions that Matter

  • Curation allows us to filter and share relevant content with our communities.
  • Crowd-sourcing will disrupt existing talent acquisition models as it becomes a core part of our talent engagement strategy.
  • Instantaneity means real-time communications; you snooze, you lose.
  • “Appification” lets consumers, and candidates, bypass the web and traditional PC’s—our ATS had better be ready or we’ll lose those twentysomethings to our competitors.
  • Narrowcasting, not broadcasting, allows targeting. And targeting, personalized messages, is expected by the best talent.
  • Likeonomics is here—“social currency” gains value as believable brands inspire word of mouth.
  • Location-casting will be important for a variety of job groups and workassignments.
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