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.

A Dose of Mobile Recruitment Reality

It was a great pleasure to attend and speak at The Mobile Recruiting Conference 2013 in Atlanta last week. This was the third year the event has run and Michael Marlatt did a great job of ensuring it was as valuable in terms of insight as the previous two. 

I'm now back in the UK and reflecting on some key issues and themes that will define how mobile recruiting will develop over the coming 12 months. It's likely that I'll do separate more in depth blog posts on all of these areas in the coming weeks but here is the top line view:

1) The audience is there and the UK leads the way

Stats on mobile audience growth are ubiquitous these days with the global numbers and growth impossible to ignore. During their conference presentation LinkedIn added some specific recruitment related numbers into the mix on the back of a recent survey of their members. Their stats showed that 23% of the users surveyed had applied for a job on a smart phone and 29% had applied for a job on a tablet. The metrics went into much more detail than this and there was an interesting split between the US and UK user base with the UK users further ahead with their use of the mobile web for recruitment. While this was massively encouraging to hear I couldn't help but be frustrated at the current speed of travel of UK employers in comparison. Many organisations are missing out on talent and potentially damaging their brands by not being mobile savvy

2) Social and Mobile are inseparable

This wasn't even up for debate, the speakers and audience recognised that, with such high levels of social consumption being mobile, when you talk about social recruiting you are by default talking about mobile recruiting at the same time. Outside the MRec bubble though I don't think this is still as widely understood and I see many organisations effectively wasting the time and effort they put into their social activity because they don't back it up with a strong mobile presence

3) Employers already doing mobile well are reaping huge rewards

It was great to see meaningful case studies coming through and the absolute star of the show here was UPS. Having created a simple yet robust mobile apply process they are reaping huge rewards. In 2012 UPS made 14k trackable hires using their social media channels, 10k of these people hired applied via the mobile apply process. This wasn't just hourly workers either and they have mobile apply working across all of their hiring activity. Overall 27% of their hourly hires and roughly 17% of their office based hires applied from a mobile device. Not only that, the quality of mobile applications was actually higher with a larger proportion making it through to interview. This should be a wake-up call to employers everywhere!

4) Mobile Apply is Easy Apply and the common objections to it aren't standing up to reality

Mobile apply and its related problems and debates seemed to dominate the conference. In the last few months I've heard the theoretical objection a lot that a mobile enabled apply process will open the floodgates and leave employers with loads of inappropriate applications. It was great to see the real life evidence not supporting this and we need to quickly move on from this misconception. Also, as Chris Hoyt said in what was my favourite tweet of the conference:

6) Context and Content are King and Queen

With all the debate about mobile apply the vital areas of context and content in mobile recruiting were slightly overshadowed but there was still some very useful discussion in this area. As this was the topic of my presentation I'll write more in a separate post but in the meantime it is worth reflecting that any mobile recruiting content and experience needs to reflect the context of where the users are at that given point in time and what their immediate needs are.

7) Responsive Design  and Adaptive Design are not very well understood

This was perhaps my biggest frustration, even among the mobile geek attendees of MRec there seemed to be much confusion about these two concepts. I'll be writing more to help explain the difference, it is something that is going to be incredibly important in the months and years to come!

Lots to ponder on here and as I said I'll be expanding these themes much further in future writing, speaking and of course my work with clients

Finally if you are looking for a great list of practical mobile recruiting tips Jason Buss has distilled the collective MRec wisdom into 45 bite size Tips and Trends which you can find here

Overall I was very encouraged by the discussions and debates at MRec and am already looking forward to next year's event!

Video interviewing – sustainable trend or passing fad?

This article originally appeared on Ri5.co.uk

The last few years have seen a strange mismatch taking place in our industry.  The pace of innovation in recruitment technology has never been quicker but, against a background of continuing economic uncertainty, the pace of adoption of new approaches and technologies from employers has arguably never been slower.  Unless an innovation can prove that it will provide quick and lasting value, its chances of mass adoption are limited.

With this in mind, my company Metashift recently embarked on a three-month research project into the emerging world of video interviewing technologies.  I was keen to find out whether this was an important trend or yet another faddish false start in the evolution of the recruitment process.

It became clear very early on in our research that different employers have different definitions of what ‘video interviewing’ is, and this is potentially causing a lot of confusion when its impact in the marketplace is being discussed.

For some employers, it means holding a standard face-to-face interview via a readily available video platform such as Skype.  For others, it actually means candidates coming into their offices to have an interview via video conference with another office location.  While these approaches are very much on the rise, the biggest noise in the industry is being made by providers of so-called ‘asynchronous’ video interviewing, and this what our research focused on.

Asynchronous video interviewing (or ‘on demand’ video interviewing as it’s also known) allows the candidate to video himself or herself answering a list of recruiter-provided questions at a time that suits them.  From a recruiter’s point of view, they can watch, review and assess the videos whenever and however many times they want and share them internally.  This typically occurs early on in the hiring cycle, and recorded video interviews are often used as an alternative to telephone screening or first-round interviews.

As part of the research, as well as performing an in-depth audit of the technology and providers available, we spoke to a large number of employers to see who was using this type of technology and how it was working for them.  We were also keen to know what was stopping employers who weren’t yet using it from taking the plunge.

The results were very interesting.  Of those companies not using this technology, 80% said they were considering it and a significant proportion were looking at doing a pilot project during 2013.  That said, there was still a lack of comfort round the technology, with key objections including internal buy-in, potential discrimination issues, problems with connectivity and a potential negative impact on employment brand due to perceived automation from a candidate perspective.

Interestingly though, without exception, the employers we spoke to who were already using the technology only had positive things to say about their experience.  While things didn’t always go completely smoothly, the feeling was that most of the problems they had prepared themselves to face when implementing the technology simply hadn’t happened.

The reaction from candidates was also generally very positive, and a number of employers felt using video in this way enhanced their brands as thought leading companies.  In fact there was a feeling that, in certain markets, candidates would expect companies to be recruiting in this way, and there might be a negative brand impact if they weren’t.

I have to say that I was quite surprised by just how positive the feedback was.  When we started the research we were very keen to get as balanced a view as possible, and were actively looking for examples of implementations that hadn’t lived up to the hype.  These were very difficult to find and in many cases, rather than causing problems, video interviewing had actually brought additional advantages the employer wasn’t expecting.

Based on the research we did it is pretty clear that ‘on demand’ video interviewing is absolutely here to stay, and it is almost inevitable that it will become a mainstream activity in many market sectors.  The speed of adoption, though, is very much up for debate.

While there are some employers who are enthusiastic evangelists, the technology is still very much at the early-adopter stage.  Large-scale corporate implementations aren’t easy, and the importance of stakeholder management and careful process integration were themes that came up time and time again in our discussions with employers already using the systems.

The provider market in this area is booming at the moment with an ever-growing number of companies offering these kinds of services (we found twenty and there are probably many more!).  The future is undoubtedly bright, but I wonder just how many providers the market will be able to sustain in the long term!

●  Metashift’s Video Interviewing Guide is available now, featuring a detailed review of employer attitudes, analysis of key benefits and potential drawbacks, a buyers’ guide including profiles of seven key suppliers, and a huge amount of advice on how to implement video interviewing successfully.  Click here to find out more.


The most powerful social recruiting technique of all

  • So it's been a while……I didn't intend to take such a long break from blogging it just sort of happened. I'm back now though and just because I haven't been writing doesn't mean I haven't been paying attention to what has been going on and frankly I'm a little bit worried.

In the plethora of blog posts, white papers, conferences, webinars and hang outs about social recruiting, the focus and topics are always very similar. New tools, new ways of sourcing and vague unquantified references to engagement and "being social". Lots of focus on platforms and tools and very little in the way of explaining how employers can harness social media to brand themselves and actually persuade the talent their find using these "cool tools" to join their organisation.

Meanwhile outside the recruitment bubble the world has changed dramatically we are relying on feedback from our networks to make decisions on everything from the films we see, to the holidays we go on, to what we put shelves up with (scroll down that page for the user reviews!) We truly live in a feedback society where anything can be and is researched using the power of networks, the wisdom of crowds and very often the views of strangers. There is a phrase for this, it's called social proof. Savvy brands and companies have realised this in the consumer world and, rather than fighting it, are encouraging users and customers by making it easy for them to share their thoughts good or bad

Unfortunately despite the social recruiting revolution this mainstream everyday phenomena of social proof doesn't seem to be being embraced in the world of employer branding and talent attraction. Corporate careers sites still seem to favour the staged managed people profiles that have been with us pretty much since online recruitment started. Even those employers who have employee blogs on their site seem to heavily control or at least strongly influence the content. Of course there are exceptions but unfortunately at the moment they are just that, exceptions in a world that is otherwise made up of corporate communications spin.

In the last few months I've lost count of the number of companies who I've introduced to employment feedback site Glassdoor who have then found reviews about themselves already on there. It is actually free for companies to claim their profile on the site now and hopefully this will help in some way to raise awareness of social proof in the recruiting world. This is very important stuff as I passionately believe that if an employer can find a way to incorporate authentic social proof into their talent attraction activity their quality of hire will increase.

So if you are an employer what should you do? For most larger organisations embracing this kind of approach will be an internal stakeholder filled political nightmare but just because it is difficult it doesn't mean it isn't important. Starting off by taking a few simple steps might well provide some internal case study material, so why not:

Claim your Glassdoor profile
Encourage your employees to write reviews
Link to these reviews from your corporate site

Even something this simple might be a step too far for some and many organisations fear bad reviews if they have been downsizing etc. If you're in this camp then perhaps you should read this string, the Pandora's box of social proof is open and people are going to write about their work experience whether you like it or not. You're not going to beat them so I would suggest that you don't just join them you actually encourage them, that might be just the kind of openness your next potential great hire is looking for in their job hunt

Recruiting Innovation Revisited Day 9 - SmartRecruiters attempt to simplify recruiting

Here it is, the 9th and final day of the Recruiting Innovation Revisited series. Thanks very much for reading and sharing the posts and a big thank you also to everyone who has read the blog and supported me and my business during 2012. I'll be back to talk about some interesting plans for 2013 in January and in the meantime want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Wonderful New Year. Day 9's interview is with Smart Recruiters who are proving to be one of the most interesting start ups currently in the recruitment space. Their CEO Jerome Ternynck talks about his plans to disrupt recruiting globally and how SmartRecruiters free platform is already taking away complexity in the SME market, an area that represents 70% of the total employment marketplace. Jerome believes that, in a world where 1 billion people are connected via Facebook, zero unemployment is a realistic and achievable goal and also talks about his Zero Unemployment Movement



Recruiting Innovation Revisited Day 8 - Richard Long talks Social Recruiting and Mobile

So we've reached the penultimate day of the Recruiting Innovation Revisited series. Back at the beginning of 2010 Richard Long wrote a guest blog post about his subsequently award winning social recruiting strategy at Deloitte New Zealand. It was great to be able to catch up to face to face with Richard in San Diego in March this year on the second last day of my month long trip. In the interview Richard talks about his experiences of using Social Recruiting during his time as Head of Talent Acquisiton for Deloitte New Zealand and how they embraced Facebook to drive considerable improvement in their campus recruiting via live video engagement.We also discuss the vital importance of mobile in any social media recruitment activity


Recruiting Innovation Revisited Day 7 - Kevin Wheeler on the Mobile Revolution

It's Day 7 of Recruiting Innovation Revisited and time for my interview with Kevin Wheeler. Kevin is another person I seem to have met more times in London this year than the US but it was very good to see him in San Diego in March. We had a great chat over breakfast before the first morning of ERE Expo and filmed the interview directly afterwards on what was quite a cold morning (and to think they told me it was always sunny in San Diego!). In the interview Kevin identifies areas such as game mechanics, video interviewing and virtual assessment as key recruiting innovations. He also talks about how the skill shortages in Silicon Valley are changing the way companies work, the huge importance of social tools and makes a very interesting prediction about just how quickly recruiting will be 100% mobile


Recruiting Innovation Revisited Day 6 - Work4Labs and the Facebook Conundrum

So we've reached Day 6 of the Recruiting Innovation Revisited series (see Day 1 for a full explanation). There is always much talk and speculation round Facebook as a recruitment platform. It is difficult to ignore a platform with a billion active members but at the same time there is huge disagreement about what kind of approach to take. It is also fair to say that many advocates of Facebook recruiting are talking theoretically rather than from any degree of practical experience! Work4Labs are currently the stand out platform in the Facebook debate. With a large active client base they seem to be cracking the Facebook conundrum and have been successful in an area where other more high profile players (Branchout for example) have failed

In our interview their COO Stephane Kasriel talks about the relevance of Facebook as a recruiting tool drawing on the experience of the 15,000 companies using Work4Labs as their Facebook recruiting platform. He talks about using Facebook in the right channel specific way and highlights in detail three distinct techniques for attracting top talent using the world's biggest social network


Recruiting Innovation Revisited Day 5 - Master Burnett on the future of employer brand

So here is Day 5 of my Recruiting Innovation Revisted series (see Day One for the full explanation). On the way to my record Day 4's interview with Ooyalah I had a great lunch with Master Burnett. Master is currently Director of Strategy at Brave New Talent and has some fantastic insights into Silicon Valley recruiting. He also introduced me to the joy of  Californian style pizza! In the interview Master talks about how the future of recruiting is thinking beyond the transactional and building job family specific employment brands which provide a look inside the employer. As well as declaring the death of the employer brand as we've known it Master also describes how a lot of corporate social media policies as "archaic" and "delusional"