Mobile Recruiting, it's time to think differently

Take a look at this chart:

Mobile Growth

I spotted it the other week in an excellent blog post from Mobile business guru Benedict Evans . More than anything else that I’ve seen it underlines that the mobile internet isn’t just another channel it is a real quantum shift to a different way of doing things.

Unfortunately that message doesn’t seem to be getting through when it comes to recruitment and I think that many employers and recruiters are still thinking about mobile in the wrong way. The one thing I hate about our industry is that for many the default position seems to be an insistence that the old ways of doing things are best and any shift in technology needs to be adapted to fit tried and tested methods rather than looking at the potential to evolve the industry itself and makes things work better.

I've been around long enough to know that change is inevitable, I remember presenting to groups of people 15 years ago (ironically when I was selling an early version of an ATS) to be told that no one would ever apply for a job using a computer. With this in mind I find it very frustrating that some very experienced people are closing their minds to the amazing possibilities of “Mobile First” recruitment.

Mobile innovation is currently being held back (like most innovation before it in the last ten years) by the fear that it doesn't fit with the ATS and mobile recruiting providers are forced to jump through hoops to provide mobile apply solutions that have to replicate the traditional way of doing things rather than using mobile as a catalyst to improve them.

Despite perceptions to the contrary, the technical barriers to mobile apply can be overcome and with some effort it is possible to present most recruitment processes in a format that works functionally on a mobile. However something being functional doesn’t make it user friendly and quality candidates are even less likely to tolerate a long winded recruitment process on a mobile than they currently do on a desktop, however technically clever it is.

What is clear from the mobile revolution happening all around us is that mobile has a genuine power to improve what has gone before. Mobile first companies like Uber, Tinder and Instagram are causing huge disruption in their markets and many existing industries are rushing to embrace mobile, creating such useful things as mobile banking, mobile payments and mobile airline check ins to name but a few.

So why aren’t we looking at things differently in the recruitment space? Integrating video screening and touch screen psychometric testing to create a “mobile first apply” is just one of thousands of possibilities that mobile technology give us and that’s before we consider the future recruitment selection possibilities of permission based access to some of the personal data footprint created and stored within our devices. Hanging onto ATS systems that refuse to adapt and closing your mind to anything that doesn’t look like recruitment from 50 years ago isn’t going to solve your resourcing problems in 2014. Isn’t it time to think differently and embrace the promise and possibilities of our mobile first world?

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!

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!

Pondering Posterous

Ever since I became aware of Posterous I've been wondering if there was any way its rather clever functionality could be relevant to me. For those of you who might not have heard of it, it's a very simply blog site which allows you to post several different types of content quickly and easily via a number of sources including email and SMS. Having played around with the site the other evening I think I've identified a useful role for it within my portfolio of social media tools and platforms.

I've always been frustrated that I only average two or three blog posts a month. I love blogging and the debate that goes along with it but it is very difficult to find the time to do more of it. Twitter offers an excellent way of maintaining this debate on a daily basis but its instant nature makes it very short term and not effective when you want to post more permanent content.

This is the gap I think Posterous might be able to fill.

I've set up a Lifestream on there and will be posting any interesting links and content that I come across. Basically things which I feel deserve a more permanent home for debate than just within a passing tweet.  I'll also be putting some of my thoughts on various issues on there, particularly when I don't  have time to work them up into full blown blog posts.  Finally for a bit of variety I'm not going to stick solely to recruitment and will be posting about anything that interests me.

It will be interesting to see whether it works the way I'm hoping it will!

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?

Let's take the Social Media discussion to the next level

I was looking back through the Digital Recruiting archives the other day and realised that I first wrote about social media and recruitment in this post from 2006. It's great to finally see the recruitment industry getting it's head properly round social media even if it has taken a while! It's also good to see the the concept of personal branding becoming mainstream and I think today's post on Mashable is perhaps one the most practical things I've ever seen written on the subject. So now I think the time is right to step the debate up a bit and take things to the next level. Over the next few weeks I'm going to try to introduce some new ideas into the debate as well as expanding on some thoughts I've had in the past.

I'll be kicking off straight after Easter with some thoughts on Social Graphs and their potential to change the recruitment landscape even further. In lots of ways they already have......

Have a great Easter break!

Linktastic Friday

One of the reasons I started Recruiting Futurology (it's still a catchy title!) was because of the sheer amount of really interesting articles I've been bookmarking over the last couple of months. I'm going to write more about my thoughts on some on them in due course but thought it might be a good idea to start sharing a few every week or so. Not all of them will be recruitment or career related but if I've bookmarked them it means that there is some angle on the future of recruitment in there somewhere!

This week's Links -

How Twitter Can Help at Work - Shifting Careers - Small Business - New York Times Blog

Analysts predict 'horror show' year for media firms - Media

Can LinkedIn win from losers? -

Professional social networking Facebook for suits - The Economist

Recruiting Futurology

Welcome my new blog! It's fair to say that the recruitment industry as a whole is on the cusp of dramatic change. Developments in technology, irrevocable shifts in media consumption and global economic instability are all converging to make the next 18 months look like very interesting times indeed.

I read a lot of blogs in our space and while there is a lot of content on this topic I've never found one exclusively looking at emerging trends and predicting where they might take us. So I thought I'd start one...........

I'm not intending this blog to replace the contribution I make to the Digital Recruiting blog. instead I want to use Recruiting Futurology (catchy title isn't it!) as a place to link to relevant articles about the future of recruitment and debate specific trends in more detail.

I'm hoping it will become a useful resource that people will subscribe to, link to and most of contribute to.