Cracking The Candidate Experience Code

The candidate experience must be one of the most discussed topics in our space over the last few years. To everyone outside of recruitment the conversation must seem ridiculous, if we all agree that a good candidate experience is important then why not just do it? Recruiters everywhere know that this is much easier said than done, particularly in large complex organisations.

For Episode 3 of the Recruiting Future Podcast I was delighted to interview Bethan Davies from RMS. RMS are an organisation that have won international acclaim for their focus on a quality candidate experience and in the interview she shares some of the steps they have taken to execute on their vision in this area. We also talk about some of the great work they have being doing using video as a way of communicating their brand and how they leverage referral recruiting to identify hard to find talent.

You can play the podcast below. Alternatively you can listen on Soundcloud, subscribe on iTunes or find it by searching for Recruiting Future in any podcast playing mobile app.

Launching my Recruitment Innovation Podcast

I’m delighted to announce that the first two episodes of my new Recruiting Future podcast are now live. The over arching theme of the podcast is recruitment innovation and I’m planning on releasing several interviews every month with practitioners and other thought leaders who are doing interesting things in our space. With so many theories circulating on how to improve, optimize or revolutionize all aspects of recruitment it is important that the podcast cuts through the hype and deals with the real issues companies face in terms of talent attraction and recruiting. The choice of guests will reflect this and I’m committed to finding new stories and case studies that may not have been widely seen or heard before.

For the launch episode I went back into my archives and found two very interesting interviews that I recorded some time ago but had never previously published.
Firstly Peter Lovell from Jagex talks about the challenges of recruiting globally in a very difficult talent market and shares an old school approach, which Jagex has found works brilliantly for them. Following on from this Chris Hoyt from Pepsico talks predictive data analytics and mobile in a interview that was recorded at the iRecruit Expo in Amsterdam.

What I love most about podcasts is the flexibility they offer in terms of where and how you listen to them. With that in mind, I’ve made sure you can listen and subscribe to the Recruiting Future Podcast in a number of places:

Listen on the dedicated Recruiting Future Podcast site

Listen by searching for "Recruiting Future" on your podcast player app of choice. (If you aren't currently using one I would recommend "Downcast" on iOS or "Pocket Casts" on Android)

Listen on Soundcloud

Listen by subscribing on iTunes

The next episode will be out at some point next week and features a great discussion with Bethan Davies who is Senior Manager Talent Acquisition and Employee Engagement at RMS


Three things that will give you competitive recruitment advantage with mobile

Mobile recruitment is not a fad. Mobile recruitment is not a trend. Mobile is just what recruitment is now and there is no going back.

The evidence for this is now pretty much overwhelming; a whole series of studies and reports released during 2014 underlined the huge shift in candidate behavior that has taken place. Top job aggregator Indeed announced that it hit a tipping point in March with 54% of its UK job searches coming from mobile devices. The other job boards aren’t far behind and if you don’t believe me then run Google analytics on your careers site and see for yourself just how many of your potential hires are making contact with your recruitment brand via a mobile device.

Other sectors have jumped on this new reality and changed their way of doing business to accommodate the change in behavior of their audience. According to Mintel 41% of UK internet users are using their phones to shop and the major retailers are falling over each other to make sure this business comes to then.

For some reason though most employers are behind the curve when it comes to mobile recruitment, in fact of a lot of recruiters don’t even believe a change has taken place. I was talking to an in house recruiter the other day who told me that they didn’t believe any of the stats about mobile internet ubiquity while simultaneously and unironically tapping away at LinkedIn on their phone.

I’m not sure why so many in our industry choose to ignore the seemingly obvious but rather than turn this post into yet another rant about the lack of mobile recruitment adoption, lets turn things on their head and think differently.

A recent LinkedIn survey suggests that competition for quality hires is one of the biggest issues facing companies this year and it is still the case that the majority of employers aren’t taking mobile into account when they plan their talent attraction strategies. This is fantastic news for the few who get the importance of mobile as they can use it as leverage to create a strong competitive advantage to win the best talent.

So where should you put your focus if you want use mobile to get quality talent into your business? The three key areas to focus on are your Mobile Platform, Mobile Apply and the Content you are using to engage and persuade. I’m going to write about all three areas in detail over the coming weeks but here are the top line "need to knows” for each one:

Mobile Platform (Your Career Site)

First of all don’t let anyone persuade to build an app, it’s not 2010 and most
companies who adopted mobile early for recruitment have moved firmly away from app based recruitment solutions.

At very least you need a careers site that fully functions on mobile devices. Your Ad Agency may well try and sell you a responsive design solution and it is important to ask as many difficult questions as you can to understand what they mean by this. I’ve seen many employers choose an approach that they think is ticking the box in terms of mobile but is actually just delivering a terrible experience.

The best way to engage your audience with a careers site is to think mobile first and design principally for mobile devices with the desktop version being just an add on. This is a big shift in thinking but is well worth doing.

Mobile Apply

It’s 2015 and you can’t dodge this one any more or use your legacy ATS as an excuse. A recent Indeed survey found 78% of job seekers would apply via their mobile device if they were able to. Unfortunately having a non mobile and difficult apply process as a filter to reduce your overall number of poorly targeted applications is counter productive. You are actually more likely to put off the highly desirable applicants who have other choices than the untargeted spammers who are determined to jump through the hoops. So what can you do to improve things?

Review your ATS provision. Can you really afford to continue to tolerate a legacy system that is not fit for purpose for your recruiters and your potential candidates?

If you are stuck in a long term contract then put pressure on your provider and investigate the growing number of services that offer a technical work around for mobile apply

Mobile Content

This is the most neglected and least discussed area of all. Mobile devices are fundamentally changing the way we interface with the web. Attention spans are shorter, distractions are a huge issue, touch has replaced keyboards and even the biggest tablet screen is a lot smaller than the average PC. So how do you engage and persuade top talent in this much changed world?

Video and images are key. For years long form text has been the default method for recruitment marketing so this is a big change. However it is a good change, visual communication is a brilliant way of getting a huge amount of information across in a limited amount of time, embrace it and properly engage with your audience

Give people what they want quickly. Don’t make them search for the information that is relevant to them as they are likely to go somewhere else instead. If you can engage user attention quickly the evidence, from the clients that I have worked with, indicates that they will actually engage with more content on the mobile site than they ever would on desktop.

The best approach if you recruit across a number of different disciplines is to build several targeted microsites rather than one big site that is a constant compromise between the needs of different audiences.

I hope this gives you a good starting point for mobile recruiting in 2015; I’ll be revisiting all of these key areas in more detail in other posts over the coming weeks and months but if you have any questions in the meantime, please get in touch.


Can you replace a recruiter with an algorithm?

It was interesting to observe the debate that sprung up a few weeks ago when online dating giant eHarmony announced its entry into the recruitment market. A December launch has been mentioned and there is currently a holding page taking email sign ups.

The key to the debate is whether eHarmony’s legendary matching methodologies and algorithms can in some way effectively augment or even usurp the mind of an experienced recruiter. For the most part the sides of the debate fail along predictable lines with some keen technologists saying yes and a lot of experienced recruiters dismissing the whole notion as the kind of ridiculous theoretical hype they’ve been hearing for years.

My own view on this is that the debate isn’t quite as black and white as some pundits seem to think it is.  First of all I do think there is an inevitability that currents trends in big data and machine learning will have a much more dramatic effect on recruitment than a lot of people imagine and I would recommend Erik Brynjofsson and Andrew McAfee’s book “The Second Machine Age” to anyone interested in what the future of work might look like. I’ve also experienced first hand just how effective eHarmony is and recently got married to the beautiful girl it quite rightly predicted was my perfect match! However I remain to be convinced that any change in recruitment will happen quickly.

Online recruitment remains ridiculously unsophisticated in comparison to the rest of the digital world and that makes it a seemingly easy target for disruptive investment. However, over the last ten years, it has proved to be almost impossible to properly disrupt online recruitment and I would argue that only LinkedIn have made any genuinely industry shifting impact in that time.

This is pretty disappointing because if there is one thing our industry is crying out for it is disruptive innovation, particularly round the area of candidate matching. Fifteen or so years ago the online recruitment revolution created a problem with application volumes for many companies that it has never properly solved. It is an issue that is so entrenched that it has actually normalized and having to sort through a large number of inappropriate applications (very often manually) is seen as part of the standard workflow of recruitment. Many established software providers claim to solve the problem but the evidence on the ground does not back this up! Despite being cited as a current big trend, improvements to the candidate experience seem to be mostly failing to take root as many recruiters fear they will be totally swamped if they “make it easier” for people to apply for jobs. The fact that we consider all of this to just be “business as usual” is insane in a world where the continuing advance of digital is changing everything around us.

So where is the innovation coming from? There are obviously a large number of start-ups out there who claim they can solve all of recruitment’s problems but what are the chances of any of them making it out of the often self-congratulatory recruitment tech echo chamber and into the mainstream? History would seem to suggest not very many will. The big players don’t seem to do much better either with somewhat half hearted recruitment initiatives from both Google and Facebook failing to make an impact in recent years.

Ultimately I think the key to change lies within the industry itself. Despite the rapid rise of LinkedIn, for the most part recruitment is still anchored round mechanics that are driven by the CV and haven’t changed in decades. The death of the CV debate is even more polarized than the algorithm debate and unfortunately I think it is holding back some of the evolution that could help make automated matching work much more effectively. No I’m not saying you should scrap formal documents and just use social data but I am saying that in a world of mobile devices the status quo will increasingly not be an option.

Above all I think I’m calling for some sensible discussion here. The “oh no it won’t” versus the “oh yes it will” debate round algorithmic advancement and the future of the CV might be fine for the pantomime season but we are desperately in need of more sophisticated deliberation if the industry is going to move forward.


The Inside Story on Maersk Drilling, Facebook and Recruitment

Last week I posted a short video which gave some insight into Maersk Drilling's excellent Social Recruiting Strategy and in particular their award winning Facebook Community. Lots of people were keen to know more so I'm delighted to be able to post this interview I recorded today with their Head of Communication, Marketing and Branding Fredrik Tukk 


It really is a must listen for any employer who wants to get the most out of social recruiting.

If you don't have time to listen in one go, here are some highlights to skip to:

Start:    Introduction from Fredrik detailing the background to the project and the challenges overcome

3mins: The three key factors Maersk Drilling focused on to build a relevant audience and engagement and why they never post jobs on their Facebook page

6mins: How they got the initial momentum to kick start their Facebook plan

9mins: Results, statistics and how they measure success

12mins: What's next for Maersk Drilling? Mobile and Big Data

This interview is the first part in a regular series where I'll talk to employers who are doing great things with their recruitment strategy. If you would like to take part please contact me

Mobile and Social Tonic


A couple of weeks back I did a video interview with my very good friends at Tonic. We covered a lot of topics and the final video is quite lengthy so if you don't have time to view the whole thing, here are some highlights and the time at which they appear in video:

3 mins: The current state of Mobile Recruiting

7 mins: A brief history of Online Recruitment

10 mins: Global recruitment innovation, interesting tools and techniques

15 mins: The transformation of Social Recruiting into marketing

17 mins: "News Feed Optimization"

20 mins: Making the internal case for Social Recruiting, stakeholder buy in and ROI

24 mins: Why Facebook recruiting is tough but not impossible

27 mins: What is going to happen in recruiting in the next five years. How will tech innovation impact our space

33 mins: Some companies that are doing Social Recruiting really well

35 mins: Continuous Recruitment Marketing and persuasion 

38 mins: Why you should always be curious




Recruitment's Problem with Persuasion

It was my great pleasure to speak at the excellent RecFest in London the other week. My presentation on “The Art of Persuasion” was inspired by some recent conversations with a number of employers who have found themselves struggling to recruit the talent they need in 2014.

Many employers are currently facing a big uplift in recruitment and some are going into a blind panic throwing money at projects that have been on ice since 2009 (new EVP, new recruitment website etc) to try and fix their problems.

I wanted to look at the root cause of the issues and think about how to actually solve them. This then lead to the realization that the biggest problem we have in 2014 is actually a persuasion problem.

I’ve produced a 20 minute webcast of my presentation which is embedded below where you can see and hear my thoughts on the problem and the potential solutions in more detail.

Here is a top line summary:

The Persuasion problem is being caused by:

  • The lack of any need for proactive recruiting through the recession
  • Technological and demographic changes which mean the old ways of doing things aren’t as successful as they used to be
  • The move from the "Desk Top Age" to the “Age of Mobile Devices”
  • The sheer amount of recruitment noise the best talent is exposed to
  • Generic approaches which result in a huge amount of “inappropriate” applications

The three elements of the DNA of digital persuasion are:

  1. Be Magnetic - Attracting the right audience to your content is vital
  2. Be Convincing - You can’t rely on the right people just wanting to work for you, you need to convince them
  3. Convert - Even the most convincing messages often have no call to action or are attached to a broken process. Getting people into and through your recruitment funnel effectively is absolutely vital.

More details on all of this in the video. I also give an example of great persuasion at work and a simple framework to help you make your recruitment communication work harder.


Free Video Interviewing Guide

Video Interviewing Guide

I'm delighted to announce that the Metashift Video Interviewing Guide is now free to download. The guide was put together last year and is the result of 100 hours of research into the emerging Video Interviewing trend.

The report gives you the information you need to decide whether video interviewing is right for your organisation. It will allow you to plan an implementation of the technology that will achieve the full benefits of video interviewing.

The report is 100% independent and is highly employer centric being based around a major survey of in house recruiter attitudes to video interviewing, a number of face to face interviews with major organisations using the technology as well as numerous other case studies.

As well as gathering this extensive employer feedback the authors walked through detailed demos of video interviewing software from a number of key providers.


I hope you find the report valuable and that it will also act as a introduction to Metashift's work. To find out more about how we can help your organisation please contact Matt Alder

Recruiting Innovation and Kurt Cobain

A few weeks back I was asked to record a promo video for the forthcoming Rec Fest event. One of the questions I had to answer was what was the best festival I’d ever attended. The answer was an easy one it was Reading 91, I was 19, it was a fantastic line up of music and it was back in the days when you could bring your own cheap beer into festivals.

The highlight of the weekend was undoubtedly Nirvana playing near the bottom of the bill as a more or less unknown band, just a few short weeks before the release of their game changing NeverMind album. Here’s the video, me and my friend Simon are somewhere in the front row, pretty much opposite Kurt Cobain:


The really interesting thing I noticed when I watched this video back recently was the strangely muted audience reaction to Smells Like Teen Spirit (it's about 10 minutes into the video). Three months later every student union in the land would be blasting it out every five minutes but on this particular day in late August 1991, 99% of us in the audience were hearing it for the first time. The restrained reaction shows that no matter how things were post rationalized afterwards when we were in the moment we were blissfully unaware of the revolutionary nature of what we were listening to.

So why is this relevant to recruitment? While over the last 15 years we’ve been working through a time of monumental change. The Internet was the original game changer in the early 2000s, Social Media has rocked the boat in recent years and now the exponential growth of the mobile internet is pressing the reset button on everything. Employers and Recruitment Agencies are often criticised for being slow to change and certainly, for the last few years at least, they have been playing a constant game of catch up with their target audiences. It’s clear that no one sets out to be behind the curve but sometimes it is very difficult to spot what is front of you particularly when you’re as busy as recruiters are at the moment. As my Nirvana experience shows though, it is important to take a step back sometimes to question the status quo and take in some alternative viewpoints on what is going on. There could be something revolutionary right in front of you which, if you take the time to evaluate it, will give your company a competitive advantage for years to come.

So what about my own performance as a teenage future predicting music guru? Well on extracting our sweaty selves from the densely packed crowd me and friend had a post mortem on what we had just seen. “I think they are going to be the biggest band in the world, what do you think?” said Simon. "I think they were great but I doubt we’ll ever hear of them again” I replied

One of us of course was right and the other one had obviously overindulged in the cheap beer!