Recruiting Predictions for 2013 and Beyond
It’s already that time of year again to make some predictions about what’s in store for next year. With 2012 coming to a close, let’s look back at some of the things that changed the recruiting landscape. More social media sites have entered our recruiting peripheral vision, like Pinterest. We have started to take Facebook more seriously as a tool to tap into generation Y talent. We have also noticed a proliferation of next generation recruiting tools such as RemarkableHire, TalentBin, and The Resumator. Here are a hand full of my predictions for 2013:
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Why the professional job post is dead:
The $50k and up professional job postings are soon to be completely obsolete as job searching becomes a more social process. The only way for this to not become a reality is if Applicant Tracking Systems stop existing as the black hole of recruiting, and start becoming real people responding to candidates. The result comes from the fact that social media is not only changing it for the candidate, but for the recruiting function as well.
Historically, 2% of online applicants at any tier-one technology firm result in an actual hire. However, the highest ratio of candidate to hire is from employee referral. By making job searching social, the theory is that it will help filter down the number of applicants and lift up the number of referred applicants.
If this occurs, and I believe it will, the number of overall applicants will be manageable. Additionally, because they are going to be likely tied to an internal team member, managing that interaction from a human perspective will be organic.
So how does this tie into the Method Manifesto? It’s the acknowledgment that sourcing is no longer just about building a pipeline for the present. More and more companies want a pipeline of cultivated candidates from likely skill sets, so when the inevitable role opens, the staffing department is ready to go.
How do you do that? Sensing this has been coming, major job boards are already touting that you can use their platforms to build your candidate pool. I believe this is bogus, because a pool of candidates primarily with just active seekers seems highly ineffective. I am not saying active seekers cannot be good employees, of course they can, but by the vary nature of the action they are seeking when you are ready they will likely not be. The key is to develop these networks with potential candidates based strictly on profile with a mix of active and passive personalities.
So why are job boards dead? In the next couple years, a new post in pushed candidates will respond, likely because of retweets and network referrals, not because they saw the job on a job board. Under $50k job opportunities, excluding internships, will be business as usual...for now.
Some say ‘true candidate sourcing’ is the intersection of where the art and science of recruiting meet. Unfortunately, sourcing is too broad of a term for that description. In fact, even to this day I regularly spend time teaching a new client what ‘our’ definition of sourcing means.
The Method Sourcer utilizes different techniques to find and locate the best talent. Early in my career, after selling my previously built name generation company, I was fortunate enough to be hired by an emerging juggernaut in the hybrid RPO space. As a passionate name generator, I had grown jaded with the realization that the perception of my success or failure derived not by the quality of my research, but often by the quality of the sourcer or recruiter making the calls. I was eager to learn the rest of the cycle; an RPO environment would be a perfect ‘sand box’ to test what I felt in my gut.
After entertaining their training program and learning the traditional recruiting method I was left with just one repeating phrase “why in the hell are you doing it that way?” The traditional recruiting method is to scour job boards; reading endless resumes, finding what candidate the recruiter feels is on the money, calling them, leaving numerous voicemails, and maybe ending up with 2 or 3 candidates in a day. This process seemed very inefficient, and defeated the intent of what sourcing SHOULD be. Method Sourcing is very different. Here are the five core principles of a Method Sourcer:
Leverage the Candidate
I started to develop what it was to be “the Method.” The concept of this was to leverage the sourcers’ time by allowing the candidate to screen themselves. The theory was, if the sourcer could get within a few percentage points of accuracy based on the job requirements, and allow the candidates to review and self evaluate on the must haves, they would respond if it seemed appropriate. This way the sourcers are only spending time on the phone screening the candidates that are interested and relatively qualified, rather than very generalized screening.
Understanding the Language of Attraction Marketing
We are not talking about the same (and often lame) methods of writing job posts. The content of the message to the candidate must be compelling, authentic, and action oriented:
My client is seeking a world class _________ (this is a both a complement and a challenge to the candidate), for their global headquarters in ___________. (If the city is not ideal place a complementing adjective prior to mentioning)
I ran across your profile as someone whom could potentially contribute to _________’s EXPLODING growth. (positive growth is a big deal right now, during times of peak hiring substitute this line with ‘I ran across your profile as someone knowledgable in this space)
Then add in your closing action line. This type of marketing allows the company to expand with the greatest candidates possible, and allows the candidates to obtain a greater understanding of why they are needed at the company.
Keeping search simple
When the sourcer is gathering the search requirements (preferably from the hiring manager directly) it is important to focus not only on the requirement itself, but the three to five ‘must haves’ that the hiring manager is looking for. This is common knowledge for a sourcer or a recruiter. What is not common knowledge, however, is to then begin to question the hiring manager why each of those ‘must haves’ are critical to the company. For example, a hiring manager that needs an engineer searches only for a candidate with a computer science degree from a top 20 school. One may think that hiring manager is perhaps being unreasonable. However, after questioning you realize that what the hiring manager is looking for is a solid CS fundamental track that is only emphasized at the the top 20 schools during the early parts of their educational track.
Understanding the ‘why’ is often more important then understanding the ‘what’. When searches get hard (and often they do) this is the information you will be able to circle back to for inspiration.
Next, you want to understand what alternative titles these candidate could be called. Working with the candidate as well as the company to find the best suited position title can be beneficial for both the company and the candidate. Finally, obtaining a verified list of competitors. Simply then construct your strings with the associated “must haves” from people with those titles from those companies. Voila.
Essential Tools for The Job:
A Mac, an iPhone, and an iPad. Why? Everything just works. In my experience, my computer never crashes, my emails and files are always synced, and it out performs when running multiple softwares at the same time, versus my PC running windows.
A linkedin PRO and Linkedin Recruiter Account. Why? Because building a long term network with your Linkedin Pro account while using the Linkedin Recruiter account to blast inMails is more effective than alternative methods.
A recruiting/enterprise branchout account beyond Facebook Why? Because while Facebook has everyone, it is an absolutely terrible mechanism when trying to search professionally. Additionally, every candidate has access to detailed information on Facebook, such as photos. Branchout makes it possible to keep your business and personal world separate while making searching through Facebook actually productive.
Access to one job board (which one does not matter). Why? Because there are good candidates on there too, and they can get the ball rolling while you are waiting on passive candidates to put their resumes together.
5) Kill the F&%*$&g reports please!
I get it, data is king. In order for sourcers to prove their worth, they have to have data. Why is this? Normally it’s because the recruiters are either terrible at what they do, or are too competitive and consequentially do not give the sourcers candidates good play. The sign of a method sourcer is that he or she will not want to do reports..why? Our DNA is not content, it’s CONTEXT. Every minute we spend in repetitive meetings or putting together multi-color reports to explain why it takes 150 candidates for the recruiter to be able to get the hiring manager to hire someone is the time that we could, would, and should be spending finding more candidates. Yes, I am ranting!
Prasanth is an out of work Product Manager. He has a Computer Science degree from a state school that is not a top 20. Even though he got a 4.0 GPA while working full time at a local tech company, he is still discounted among the elite companies in the space. He has tried his hand at startups and found that he is more of a big company guy. The only problem is big companies don’t want to hire him. It’s a combination of being out of work for such a long time, his degree not high leveled enough, and found to be a little bit OCD.
He finally scores an interview with a top 10 tech company. He arrives for his three part interview, only to be asked to leave after the first part. Feeling jaded, he stops by his local Starbucks and starts tweeting while sipping his coffee to hopefully cheer himself up. Who is he tweeting to? He is tweeting to his friends inside the company that just booted him out. He is tweeting to other colleagues holding an offer letter between that company and a hot new startup. He is tweeting to his professors, who take it personally that the company does not think his curriculum is up to speed, resulting in educating his students to not waste their time interning at this company. He is also tweeting to his blogger friends, involved in writing an interesting section on how companies treat employees, future candidates, and people in general.
It sounds like he tweeted hundreds, and in effect, tens of thousands of people. While this is true, the main concept to recognize is that it took only one single tweet to reach this audience. When we live in a society where the most obscure dude living in his mom’s basement can create a social media nightmare for a company, imagine what an educated and networked candidate can do!
Recruiting departments are the un-checked customer service juggernaut. Too often they are guilty of dismissing candidates with poorly written and non-human form letters during the interview process, or even 10 minutes after the first initiated call. Staffing firms are not resourced enough to handle that kind of scale; in 2012 and beyond they will have to be for greater success.
Let’s make a test case for one single search. Your company hiring manager needs a new Software Engineer. So you post online, internally, and have your internal recruiting team start working on it. After a few weeks, the hiring manager is still not finding that perfect candidate. So the recruiting team sends it out to a couple of search firms. Within a couple days, solid candidates are put into process, and the interview process begins. About a dozen candidates are phone screened, and as the process shrinks to the field, to three candidates that are brought onsite. One candidate is made an offer while the other two are kept in the dark until the recruiter knows the choice candidate accepts for sure, then the other 2 are released by getting sent a form letter.
To hire one new candidate, your company had to tell approximately 100 candidates ‘No’. Considering we are living in the first wave of gold spray painted plastic trophy toasting, super hero, rock star generation, my educated guess is you now have 100 customers that will likely not shop with you again.
Luckily, most people will not accept this denial and keep trying two or three other attempts, in vain, to get hired at your company.
I am not suggesting you hire them all. I am suggesting you treat them throughout the process like a real human that you will have to speak to the next day ,or better yet, want to sell something too the next day. Treat them as if it was your mother being referred to the company. Coddle? Yes man, I am saying to coddle!
Disruption seems to be the name of the game in both social media and the collective business world. From Apple completely changing the game for record companies to smaller disruptions like how we invoice, get merchant accounts, or pretty soon even how we bank.
Social Media disruption has also spread into other areas like customer service. Forcing companies to suddenly be more accountable. Why should we expect anything less to happen in staffing.
I have been beating this drum for the better part of a year that the coming storm for recruiting is almost here. Staffing serves as the trojan horse for marketing. Why? No other department, including customer service, touches more influential people every day then your front line recruiters. Its not the candidates that you hire that is the concern, its the average of 100+ per requirement that you do not hire. How was that candidate treated, where they followed up with, where they dismissed with a simple form letter ,etc. Based on my experience with a large pool of Fortune 1000s plus many startups, yes..in many cases this is exactly what happens every day.
So we are living in the age when the most obscure introvert living in his Mom’s basement in Nebraska can create a social media nightmare for a fast food chain...doesn’t this mean the candidate that was just dismissed whom for all intents and purposes is vastly more connected, credible, and articulate couldn’t light your brand up online?
The answer I hear most (from the largest of companies) is we do not have the resource to scale like that. When companies are spending hundreds of dollars per post on paid job postings that for the sweeping majority do not produce candidates they are likely to hire anyway, why not convert some of that money into real jobs for people to be able to scale that. Think of every dismissed candidate as an opportunity, because remember in today’s marketing Candidates are also Customers!
Why there is such a disconnect in understanding that the consumers ARE the candidates. If you want to know the best way to reach candidates, look at what the best consumer companies are doing.
Take for instance, Apple. They are among the top brands in cult-like following and Apple is the king of subtle disruptions. This past March (2011), I was at South By Southwest (SXSW) when Apple was launching the iPad2. SXSW brings together some of the most forward thinking social media and tech companies. They discuss cutting edge and even sometimes barely existing technologies. Apple did not have a booth or a logo at SXSW. What they DID have is a pop up store in downtown Austin ,about 4 blocks away from SXSW. So, the day the iPad2 launched, guess where a ton of people were? You got it! They were not in breakout sessions that they or their companies paid hundreds, if not thousands of dollars for them to be at. Rather, they were standing in line, a hundred people deep, tweeting away about the iPad2. Apple won SXSW without even being there.
Alright, so what is the connection to this anecdote and the consumer and candidate? Priority. Keep in mind, the people waiting in line at the pop up mac store were not just run of the mill consumers. These were the normally passive candidates within the social media space that recruiters fight over on Linkedin and other online platforms. So why were they in line? Because they wanted an iPad2. Apple knew there ultra-targeted customers would likely be at SXSW so they made it easy for them to get there hands on one. Consumers crave authenticity, relevance, solid actual results, and low barrier’s of entry. That same consumer is also your next great hire.
How do you create a recruiting context that matches this culture?
- Be Authentic: Kill the corporate vomit that is on the job requirements. Write what you would want to read. Why your company is cool, why you have good people, what you are really looking for, and why YOU think they should be interested. Couple that with a quick YouTube interview with the hiring manager talking about the requirement... unedited.
- Is it a Good Job: If you are trying to pitch a mediocre job then go back and make it not mediocre. You do not have to pay top of market to win the day but if you want the guy at your competitors, you need to ask yourself why would someone leave to come to you. If your answer is, because my company is better, then you have lost. It HAS to be because my job is better, and if it's not, you need to make it better.
- Lower the Barriers of Entry: Does your Applicant Tracking System suck? The answer is most likely yes. I understand that due to compliance laws, we have to have some forms of applications. However, you should make the application process, at least on the front end, something they can do with a simple email or maybe logging in to use their Linkedin resume-like profile. Oh and while I am at it, please start taking LI profiles as resumes, its good enough!
Sourcing and recruiting for businesses are critical, hard to find skill sets that takes time. It also takes a lot of domain knowledge. It can be hard for businesses to find the necessary time or internal resources to learn and/or implement winning passive sourcing efforts and authentic social media messaging (to name a couple) for themselves. In these cases, businesses can reach out to a third-party agency to manage their candidate development efforts. Consider these 5 must-have characteristics when evaluating an agency partnership.
1. The Right Services
Saying "agency" is really a disservice to the Talent Acquisition industry. The question is what is your need? Do you need to hire lots and lots of standard qualification employees? Then a U.S. based RPO might be right for you. Do you have one critical hire you need to make but have a super strict budget? Then a contingency agency could be the right call. Maybe you have a fairly consistent need for a tier 1 candidate pipeline for a specific business group that complains a lot? That could be when you tap the services of a tactical sourcing team like PeopleOps.
2. A Clear Process
Project results on whitepapers and company case studies are great, but the real value of an agency's involvement will be in how they put, not only how they fill the business critical roles, but the additional added value of how they work with the hiring authorities. Recruiting or Sourcing agencies should be able to clearly lay out and explain the candidate development methodology for prospective clients. Being able to clearly show you the order in which things need to happen and the amount of time and resources required at each step. This will indicate that the agency has delivered ROI to clients before. Thus, you will also be able to infer that it has the game plan to do it again for your company.
3. An Emphasis on Measurement
Words like "metrics", "benchmarks" and "analytics" should be peppered throughout your prospective agency's pitch. Progress made toward your goals should to be measured at every step of the way, and a recruiting agency worth its weight will be able to track all campaigns, direct sourcing efforts, candidate flow and report on performance regularly. You have goals. You are trying to meet those goals by hiring the agency. Therefore, it should be as focused as you are, charting success in an undeniable, data-driven way.
4. Strong Project Management Skills
Recruiting is fueled by the creation of remarkable content aimed at your ideal candidates, compelling direct sourcing initiatives, and authentic messaging. In order to be successful, good recruiting/sourcing agencies will need to get inside your hiring managers head to build that content and learn about that dream candidate. Do the agencies you're considering have the process and communication skills to make you think they will make reasonable and realistic requests of your hiring authorities? Also, have they set clear expectations around what each step in the candidate development and attraction process will require in terms of time and resources? Do you get the impression that they can manage campaigns with lots of moving parts? A good agency will make your life easier; not the opposite.
5. An Online Presence Optimized for Top Talent
Does the agency you're considering blog regularly? What is its own internal recruiting initiatiives like? Are there optimized landing pages and premium content offers throughout its site? An effective recruiting or sourcing agency should be its own best case study. Think twice about engaging with a recruiting firm that doesn't make the services it sells a priority for its own business.