Free Guide to Mobile Recruiting

A few weeks back I posted about mobile being my new top priority. I'm therefore delighted to announce that MetaShift has collaborated with mobile recruiting legend Dave Martin (aka @mobile_dave) to produce a free white paper on the topic. You can download our free Guide to Mobile Recruiting now by following this link

The aim of the guide is to be as user friendly and practical as possible while hopefully informing the debate round what I feel will be one of the key topics for 2012.

Why Mobile Recruiting is now my top priority

I’ve just got back from the fantastic Mobile Recruiting Camp conference. Not only was this the first global event of its kind it was also excellent and the legend that is Michael Marlatt deserves huge plaudits for organizing it The event reminded me very much of the first Social Recruiting conference three years ago. There was a real sense that a major shift is happening and while recruitment case studies are still shockingly thin on the ground there was some great thinking as well as an insight into how mobile is dramatically changing business in other industries. Perhaps more importantly though these kind of events give you the opportunity to reflect and focus on a single topic for a dedicated period of time and that’s exactly what I was doing while I was there.

Back in January I wrote a post saying I didn’t think 2011 was going to be the year of mobile, mainly because of a lack of knowledge from employers, and I still stand by my thinking. However what the conference has done is instill in me a sense of priority and urgency that 2012 absolutely needs to be the year of mobile in our industry. If not employers run a massive risk of eroding the candidate experience even further and finding it even harder to attract the talent they need.

So why do I say this? Well there are several reasons but perhaps the most compelling is the fact that all employers actually have a mobile site already even if they don’t realize it. The stats round smart phone adoption and mobile Internet usage are mind blowing. There are 5.5 billion mobile phones in circulation globally and in the US, which has traditionally been behind the curve in mobile adoption, 50% of the population will have a smart phone by the end of the year. 90% of mobile users use search engines on their phone and if you also take into account that a large number of people are likely to be following links in “jobs by email” services directly on their mobile devices, most employers will already getting a significant amount of mobile phone traffic to their sites.

Unfortunately though hardly any of these sites are optimized for mobile meaning an even poorer and frustrating experience for candidates. Interesting Google is about to start giving mobile optimized sites higher preference in its search algorithm so this issue is only going to get bigger

It’s not just about making the sites easier to view on a small screen though it’s also about taking into account the differing behavior of users who are accessing the web while mobile. Mobile internet use is highly action orientated rather than a passive browsing experience which certainly makes the stat mentioned by Career Builder, that 1.2 million applications came from their mobile platform during August, make a lot of sense.

During the conference the big elephant in the room of mobile recruiting was pointed to several times. This is of course the inability / unwillingness of the major ATS providers to adapt their platforms to give a credible mobile experience for applicants. I find this frankly surreal and when several global heads of talent acquisition are calling you out on this at a conference you would have thought the major global ATS provider sitting behind me would have at least joined in the debate rather than sitting there in silence. This is going to be a massive issue moving forward. Taleo, Lumesse and Kenexa seem to get away with their silence based on a  “no one ever got fired for buying IBM” syndrome which their big corporate clients have had for the last five years or so. Based on what was being said by some of their major clients at the conference this is a syndrome I can’t see lasting much longer! If the ATS providers don’t listen to their clients and join the mobile debate soon, their current dominance will be very short lived indeed.

I’m going to be writing a lot more about mobile in the coming months as well as undertaking some research that I’ll publish more details on shortly. I’ll also be suggesting strongly to my clients that they make mobile their top recruitment marketing priority. If you an employer who is struggling to find the talent you need, then it absolutely should be your top priority as well.

Game Changers, Red Herrings and Relentless Hype

Now that was a long blog break! No particular reason for it either, I wasn’t kidnapped by Monster and forced to write a nice article about BeKnown as ransom (see my last post) nor unfortunately did I spend the summer sitting on a beach drinking ridiculously named but reassuringly expensive cocktails. I’m back blogging again now though and thought it might be worth giving my verdict on a few things that have been going on over the summer. Google +

Firstly I suppose I should say something about Google +. I like the interface but I absolutely hate the ridiculous bandwagon-jumping link baiting hype that has accompanied it. The Quora stuff at the beginning of the year was bad enough but some of the complete rubbish that has been written about Google + (some of it recruitment related) is really clouding the water when it comes to any actual usefulness the platform might have.  Yes Google+ does have some nice functionality but if that is your USP then it is easily copied. This is exactly what Facebook has done in the last week or so and in so doing has graphically illustrated that functionality alone will never make Google+ a Facebook killer.

Google’s actual USPs are its reach into the Gmail user base and an implied role in SEO. This it what has driven its growth and is also why there is very little content and engagement on there.  At the end of the day while people may join multiple networks they will only invest their time in places where their friends / target audience hang out. Google+ might get some traction in certain niches in the short term but will take a very long time to go mainstream, if indeed it ever does

My Verdict – Relentlessly overhyped, will have relevance moving forward but it is too early to say what that will be

Be Known

I know that I promised an in-depth review in my last post and I’m sorry if I’m disappointing anyone by not doing one. While I still think this is an incredibly significant move by Monster there really isn’t very much to review at the moment. In some ways I think the situation is similar to Google+, lots of people are joining, with Monster leveraging its enormous existing audience to drive this, but there is very little actually going on.

The “commercial talent community” space is an interesting and evolving one but platforms like BeKnown and Branchout have yet to prove that users join for any other reason than to look at job postings.  As it stands BeKnown is just another platform for job distribution and little else. That said though its mention (albeit just on a slide) in the recent F8 conference and partnership with Facebook to be one of the first new social apps could be very interesting indeed!

My Verdict – A Red Herring for now but watch this space!

The LinkedIn Apply Button

I’ve blogged about this before but it seems that lots of people got distracted by a summer long argument about the “death of the CV” that was quite frankly pointless. I really wish a lot of this black or white 140 characters powered thinking would just go away. Ninety percent of the time in has no foundation in the current realities employers are facing.

In an attempt to get closer to the reality of the situation I spoke to LinkedIn’s EMEA Marketing Director, Laurence Bret-Stern, earlier in September. When I asked her about the CV vs Profile debate she pointed out that thousands of companies have already voted with their feet and have installed the LinkedIn apply button! She also intriguingly hinted that there was much more to come as LinkedIn becomes an ever more open platform to “connect professionals with opportunities more efficiently and effectively”

I really feel this is the most under commented on story from the whole summer. Not only has LinkedIn launched an apply button but a significant number employers are now actively using it which, despite their user growth, is not an achievement Google+ or BeKnown can currently match.

My Verdict – The game changer of the summer and I’m amazed no one seems to have noticed!

The Future of Graduate Recruitment

Graduate recruitment has always been of great professional interest to me, in fact my first ever digital recruitment project was creating the strategy and project managing the build for Siemens first ever graduate recruitment site in 1999.  What has always frustrated me though is the lack of progressive thinking from many employers in their approach to recruiting graduates. Uptake of new technologies has, with a few notable exceptions, always been incredibly slow and in my opinion much of the overall thinking that goes into corporate graduate recruiting strategies is outdated and in danger of fast becoming irrelevant. A bold sweeping statement I know but let me explain what I mean. A few months ago I was at a conference and asked two graduate recruitment managers from two very well known blue chips why they only focused their recruitment efforts on a small number of specific universities and how they choose these institutions in the first place. The first graduate recruiter told me that they only wanted the best graduates so focused only on the best universities. So far perhaps so logical, however when I pressed the point and asked what criteria they used for selecting which universities were the best, I was told that they didn’t have any criteria they just targeted the same universities every year because they were ones they always target.  The second graduate recruiter gave pretty much the same answer but at least added some slightly more enlightened insight by saying they would like to broaden their number of target institutions but were worried about diluting their brand by not being able to maintain the same level of high quality, high touch campus presence.

I can understand why the target institution thinking was important even in the recent past. With so many universities and students out there and graduate recruiters relying on traditional communication strategies, it was important for them to build these kinds of filters into the process to maximize their resources in order to get the best results. However things change and behaviors should evolve.

In Clay Shirky’s excellent book Cognitive Surplus he describes how human beings are often forced to take on board behaviors that can become the established way of doing things but are actually unnatural to the brain and quickly change when technology develops to replace them. His example is remembering phone numbers and although all of us over a certain age developed strategies for remembering lots of these long numbers, we quickly abandoned them when mobile phone address books became ubiquitous.  I feel very strongly that this kind of shift needs to happen in the minds of graduate recruiters.  The old filters, strategies and ways of doing things need to change quickly as there are two major forces that are dictating the need for huge change in the future.

The first of these is the market itself. With the onset of £9000 tuition fees and the current high levels of graduate unemployment, it is inevitable that companies should be thinking about their future talent strategies in a different way.  If employers still want to attract the best young talent in the years to come targeting the same old universities with the same old methods isn’t the way forward. The people who can afford to go on to further study in the future are likely to prioritise proximity, affordability and flexibility as key criteria in their choice of institution rather than previous reputation. That is if they decide to go to University at all! There will be a massive fragmentation in the market and I don’t believe using the strategic shortcut of targeting specific institutions is going to deliver the required results.

The second force driving the future is the ways in which the social web and social technologies are enhancing the way people communicate. I recently did some work for one of the more forward thinking graduate employers and what became really clear quickly is that today's students are keen to enter into a relationship with potential employers early if there some kind of payoff for them (this doesn’t have to necessarily be an eventual job offer either). They also have a genuine desire to self organise and support each other in their job hunt. Add in the fact that they are most connected generation on the planet and it is fairly clear that the traditional graduate brochures, posters and flat websites aren’t going to provide the collaborative brand experience they are looking for.

I think this all points to a clear view of the future and if employers think about this strategically they can actually offset these forces against each other. Fragmentation in the geographic distribution of talent isn’t as much of a problem if companies have a properly thought out social engagement strategy. I believe that finally we have the basis for employers to provide the same high quality person-to-person experience online as they have done on campus in the past. The social web offers the chance of one-to-many and peer-to-peer dialogues in a way that the “virtual careers fairs” of the past never could.

It’s great to see some brands already experimenting with this and I’ve previously blogged about some great work from Unilever here and Deloitte here. However more employers need to be looking at this area closely. There is a learning curve to go through and I wholeheartedly believe that the first movers now will be securing the best talent for years to come. Whatever happens though it surely must be time to finally kill off the graduate brochure once and for all!

"By Grads for Grads" - Social Recruiting from Unilever

I’ve been slightly disappointed lately with the quality of Social Recruiting case studies coming through and this is why I haven’t featured any on the blog for a while. Although some great work is being done, many organizations are just focusing on “social job distribution” and in so doing are missing many of the key advantages that social is bringing to recruitment. With this in mind I was delighted, while doing some work for them just before Christmas, to get an insight into how Unilever are setting about making their UK graduate recruitment properly social. Before going into the detail of the tactics and channels Unilever are using, it is important to reflect on the strategic thinking and resource planning round their social tag line “By Grads for Grads”.  Unilever has recognized that to be effective in the social space they have to have a genuinely authentic conversation with their graduate audience rather than talking at them as the majority of graduate recruiters still seem to do. Instead of using an advertising agency to “manage” their activity Unilever have put together a digital team of previous graduate recruits to run the social channels and be responsible for answering questions while keeping the conversation flowing.

Having current grads help recruit the next year’s intake is nothing new but Unilever are one of the few companies I’ve come across using social technologies to extend the reach of such an initiative. By putting such a resource in place I feel Unilever are in a fantastic position to be transparent about any gap between their employer brand perception and their employer brand reality.

The execution of the strategy runs mainly across Facebook and Twitter. There has also been the recent addition of a growing YouTube channel of video content. It’s great to see an employer really thinking about the importance of conversations and while the content does play an important role, Unilever aren’t blindly taking assets from their website and dumping it onto Facebook in the same way some of their competitors do!

As this is a fairly new initiative it is slightly early to be able to analyze the results. This is also an evolving strategy rather than a one off campaign and more sophisticated measurement techniques are currently being put in place to assess the true long term value of the approach.

Stella Maerker who helps run the digital graduate team has this to say about the success of the campaign:

“We can see a steady increase of followers and fans. Click through rates from the social media pages to the careers website and vice versa prove growing traffic. Applicants will be asked about our social media pages during application process. The real success will be number of successful graduates that got attracted to Unilever by interacting with current grads online!”

While I’m sure some purists (if you can have such a thing in a brand new field!) might criticize the comparatively low number of followers I think this is actually irrelevant at this stage of an ongoing initiative. Unilever have gone for a quality rather than quantity approach and the time spend considering their long term strategy and allocating dedicated internal resources are bound to pay dividends in the long term as social becomes their most important channel for graduate recruitment.

There are of course huge challenges in applying this kind of approach to a broader selection of Unilever’s recruitment activity but Unilever are committed to doing soon. As their Global Resourcing Director Paul Maxin says:

"Digital and social media is a key enabler to the way Unilever builds an engagement based approach to our employment brand equity. We'll continue to integrate it, providing candidate-centric platforms that build advocacy of our employment brand and scale the approach both regionally and globally."

Boiling Frogs - My Predictions for Recruitment in 2011

So here we are then the first week of the business year, the traditional time for predictions about what this coming year might bring for the recruitment industry. As this is a blog about futurology I obviously have to contribute something but this time I'm going to take a slightly different approach. Before I do anything though it is of course compulsory to have a quick review of the predictions I made last year. You can find them here

Feel free to judge for yourselves but I’d say that I got the recruitment market and social recruiting ones about right. The jury is very much still out on the newspaper one, we’d never heard of the iPad when I made these predictions and it might just change the dynamic but only time and successful mass adoption will tell.  The Job Board one looks likes it was way off unfortunately and to the detriment of the industry in my opinion. That said I do have a fairly well informed feeling that there were some back room conversations in 2010 that might see some innovative products being launched this year

So what of 2011? Well rather than putting down any specific predictions I wanted to share some overarching thoughts about change and how it will effect everyone.

I’ve been lucky enough to speak to a huge number of employers in the last few weeks, either via my work with MetaShift or through some of the great events I’ve attended or spoken at. Through some continuing work in the outplacement sector I’ve also been able to speak to and get the opinions of many job seekers across different sectors and at differing levels first hand.

The main thing that comes through in all of these conversations is a very noticeable groundswell of change. Whether it is the growth of direct resourcing, dissatisfaction with the current state of the online recruitment market or a huge shift in how and where people look for jobs there are changes taking place that really do put this industry at a crossroads.

My biggest continuing frustration is that large sectors of the recruitment industry are completely failing to notice and address these fundamental issues. The good news though is I think that finally, with the help of an often used business metaphor, I’ve worked out why.

You see most of the time, in our industry anyway, revolutions are imperceptible unless you are looking straight at them, particularly when some of their effects can be explained away by tough economic times. It’s just like boiling a frog, if you drop it into hot water the frog will jump out, if you put it in cold water and slowly heat it up the frog won’t notice the temperature increase and will boil to death.

If 2010 was the year when the water got a bit tepid, my prediction is that it’ll get a lot more than just lukewarm in 2011.

So whether you are:

- An employer needing to take a careful look at how your online recruitment offering is actually working and/or needing to investigate social media.

- A Job board thinking carefully about how your business needs to evolve in these “tough” times

- An ATS supplier trying to meet the demands of clients widening your portfolio when they also seem to be putting the needs of the candidate further and further down their list of priorities

- A recruitment agency thinking that direct resourcing and social media are fads that won’t effect you

- A recruitment advertising agency betting the farm on “strategic media partnerships” and/or claiming you get social when you’re not even doing social

I’d keep an eye on the temperature of the water this year because you are going to need to start planning change very soon. You should also get in touch with me, I’ve got some ideas that will help...

Happy New Year Everyone!



Six key elements of Social Recruiting

Well deserved congratulations to Mike Taylor for organising such a well attended and well received conference last week.  It was great to have such an event in the UK and really interesting to see the momentum building behind Social Recruiting, something which will be  force for  seismic change in our industry During my presentation at the conference I defined what I believe to be the key elements of "Social Recruiting". I wanted to blog them as my "beta" attempt to draw a line in the sand and get some discussions going. I've no doubt people will have some very valid alternative views and I'd be really interested to hear what they are

In my opinion the key elements that make up Social Recruiting are:-

Social Advertising

Often dismissed as not being "proper" social media marketing, there is no doubt that advertising in social channels is an important and effective tool. Highly targeted and available across most social platforms (including LinkedIn), social advertising is already delivering bottom line results in the recruitment industry

Portable Content

Increasingly, more companies aren't just putting their content on their corporate recruitment sites they are letting the content go to their candidates and travel around unhindered in the social space. Platforms such as YouTube and Facebook are already being utilised to take key content (with video being one example) beyond the traditional company web site

Referral Networks

Expect to see much talk of "Social Graphs" , "Nodes" and "Ties"  in our space in coming years. Referrals and word of mouth have always been key in recruitment and technology is going to turbo charge this as we move forward

Authentic Conversations

Profiles of current employees have been a big part of recruitment websites in the last ten years. Things are now moving towards more authentic real time communication. Conversations between current / past employees and future hires whether officially sanctioned or not are already becoming an important part of the recruitment process

Reputation Management

A highly complex area in which no two situations or responses will be the same. The key thing here though is for companies is know what is being said about them and where it's being said

Social Sourcing

I really liked the phrase "chatter mining" which Bill from TwitterJobSearch used at the conference.  In areas where the best talent still remains difficult to recruit, social media is offering more and more ways for skilled recruiters to identify and engage with top quality prospects

So, what does everything else think?

Monster making some bold claims

A colleague just got out of a meeting where a  Monster Rep was building anticipation for their forthcoming relaunch. Apparently their integration with Trovix will revolutionise  online recruitment forever and provide an offering that is more sophisticated than Google. I look forward to hearing more about how they are going to deliver on this and take us to a brave new world in process!

UPDATE 14/11/08 - Just spotted this interview on the Cheezhead blog that gives a bit more info. It would seem that the Trovix integration isn't what they are launching in Jan