Words, words, words: Why the age of text is ending

This blog first appeared on the REC's Rectechub

Towards the end of 2013, I took part in a panel at a conference that was discussing the future of recruitment. Key topics included growing skills’ shortages and the quality of the candidate experience. There were a number of job board owners and recruiters on the panel and they were very much of the view that many candidates had very skewed expectations of the recruitment process. The biggest gripe of all was the large amount of “uninformed” people applying for jobs they were not qualified for and the continuing difficulties of getting quality applications in many areas.

It seems crazy to me that many in our industry place the blame for this problem entirely on the candidates and not on the quality of marketing and advertising in the marketplace. Online recruitment has effectively been built on text-based job postings which, more often than not, are so badly written that no one has a chance of being able to understand what skills and experience are required for the job. Rather than turn this into a rant about copy-writing skills, though, I want to flag up a bigger and potentially even more damaging issue for those who have a 100% reliance on text-based job postings.

As new internet channels and approaches have been developed, the recruitment industry has tended to see them as just another channel in which to spam badly-written job postings. The social web is full of Facebook pages and Twitter accounts spewing badly thought-out social posts that attempt to drive potential candidates to yet more poorly-written, text-based, job descriptions.

We need to recognise that the world has changed. The majority of social media content is consumed on mobile devices and any content posted is competing for attention as people flick through their news feeds and twitter streams on small mobile screens. Text will always lose out to picture and video here. Facebook also recently announced that they will penalise text-only posts and it is highly unlikely that they will be displayed to users even if those users like the particular page they are posted to.

The message here is clear; as the web becomes more and more mobile, content is shifting away from text towards images and video. Personally I think this is a good thing as multimedia content offers a huge opportunity to engage and persuade key target audiences to apply, which is obviously vital in the growing number of markets with candidate shortages.

What we need is a fundamental re-think about how online recruitment works and what its place is in the new world. This doesn’t mean I’m declaring the death of job boards in any way; I’m just highlighting a need for evolution. One of my favourite emerging job boards is Ongig, which offers the opportunity to present images and videos with job listings, and gives potential candidates opportunities to engage and ask questions before they apply. Ongig’s impressive conversion stats and quality of application results would seem to indicate that their approach points a clear path to the future.