“Just try stuff’ and other musings @ Recruittech Conference


Few observations from the recent Recruittech conference.

Doubt is good. Not surprisingly, there are many cynics as there are converts to the bold new world of online social engagement. In my book, doubters are in a good place – at least they are participating in the conversations and asking additional questions. Indeed, no one really have all the answers, what works for one organisation in one industry may not work for another. Advice from @RigesYounan – “Just try stuff” – best sums up the mindset of early adopters (the brave). The best time to start on social media was, perhaps, five years ago; the next best time is now.

Fundamentals never change. Despite the hullabaloo on new media and new ways of doing things, ‘relationship’ continues to be the mainstay of the recruitment profession. In fact, when everyone has so much information about everyone else, real relationships will be the deal breaker. Social media merely provide the tools to build new connections and enhance relationships. Once the dust settles, those left standing will be the ones who invested in ‘relationships’. ‘Let’s do coffee’ will never go stale.

Resourcing: Often relegated to the bottom of the hierarchy, Resourcers (aka Research Managers), will increasingly be the ‘go to’ people. Best equipped to find talent online because they themselves have rich digital footprints; we will be hearing more from them as the number of channels to monitor explodes. Follow the likes of @AndreaMitchell and @AylinAhmet, they are a new generation of savvy social resourcers with their hands firmly on job seekers’ pulse.

Career websites: The vast majority of career websites (say 95%) need fixing; no one in the industry really raised their hands until now. @Jobadder (Brett Iredale) seems unable to make mistakes. That his presentation is on career websites (not his job posting software or its foray into the ATS market) is yet another smart move. Without doubt, majority of the two million organisations in Australia do not have engaging career websites. Why job boards and ATS providers, who manages the supply pipeline of jobs, do not address this opportunity is a mystery. Ad agencies looking for new income streams need not look further. Be prepared to see a lot of attention on websites as organisations take up more responsibility for their candidate traffic.

Blogging is not dead. At its best it is an effective employment branding tool. At the very least it humanize an organisation, as @DavidTalamelli (Oracle) succinctly pointed out. If you are new to social media, blogging is imperative. If your target audience is more sophisticated, a real time interaction may be more useful. Still, if it is about drawing traffic to your career website, blogs need to be in your arsenal. It’s also the easiest to start, and with the right intentions the payoff is worth thousands in marketing dollars.

Outsiders. Sometimes, the best insights are offered by those outside of recruitment. We need objective feedback; the more critical the better. @SilkCharm (Laurel Papworth) and @trib (Stephen Collins) are outsiders who bring unique perspective to our industry. It would be interesting to have a panel made up of only outsiders (imagine getting a panel of artists to recommend how to attract talent). Banishing insularity can only be fruitful.

Job boards: @KellyMagowan highlighted the difference between niche and generalist. While some may argue that it amounts to ‘two bald men fighting over a comb”, the fact remains that job boards are the dominant channels to advertise and find jobs (More on generalist vs specialist in a later blog post. Meanwhile, have a look at the Long Tail concept, the controversies and the latest fascinating results from Nielsen).

Currently, job boards are doing well because unlike social media they do not discriminate users (on a job board a good or bad recruiter has almost equal chance). Social networks are unkind to those who just wanted to buy attention, and the vast majority of recruiters currently fall under this category. So will you attract talent if you advertise on job boards? Yes and no. Yes, if you are reaching out to the demographic (mostly active job searchers) job boards reaches. No, if you want to reach, well, those not reached by job boards. It is rather silly to blame job boards for not reaching talent that they are not meant to reach.

In the short-term, a clearer picture of what tool will be effective for a particular demographic group will emerge. If you are hiring part-time receptionists job boards are always more likely to provide a steady stream of applicants. If you are after a CIO, exploring the social web is likely to be a better option. You go to job boards to find talent they reach, just as you go to Twitter to engage Twitter users. The audience dictate the tools. The idea is to have both in your recruiting toolbox (and having more tools than your client is what sets the agency recruiter apart). It is never in the interest of an agency recruiter to ignore any possible source.

In the long run, job boards may need to address the fact their sites are places where people who don’t know one another go to. There is tremendous value in interaction. Job listings by themselves will cease to have little value. Context will be key; rich content will be a differentiator. Many will bite the dust, but brand matters. The popular boards will be around for as long as they can deliver resumes at a price point lower than the alternatives.

Training: To this point, recruitment firms succeeded in large part because of their ability to mass produce a winning formula. Train enough recruiters to meet KPIs and you have a successful business. How does one teach social media skills (Can it be)? What role will training play? Demand for up-skilling will increase but the learning curve will be steep. Influence in the new environment is gained by long periods of giving first. The gap between those who get it and those who don’t will be wide, mainly because the new recruitment realm is more about mindsets than it is about tools and processes. Follow @RossClennett, he’s constantly charting new paths (stirring the pot occasionally), blending new-world thinking with old-world sensibilities.

Changing behaviour: Recruitment tools got all the attention, but changing behaviour of job seekers is equally important. @CareerMums (Kate Sykes) monitors the ever evolving workplace with a particular focus on job flexibility. @mspecht (Michael Specht) lent a sharp eye to the problems faced by organisations populated by connected workers. I argued Job seekers will increasingly call the shot. Given the changing landscape, writing a job ad and not knowing where to promote it will be a recurring dilemma for most advertisers. Attention will be really hard to get. Shouting louder will not be useful. The real opportunity is building your own tribe/community and winning the permission to talk to them.

Web 2.0 : Without doubt, every recruiter’s vocabulary must include web 2.0 tools (rss, widgets etc). Many of the technologies are simple enough for a layman to understand and use (see McKinsey report on how companies are benefiting from web 2.0 ). Keep track of @Thomasshaw’s activities, he’s constantly investigating web 2.0’s relevance to recruitment.

Money money money: Breaking bread with fellow presenters confirm the life of an entrepreneur (a wannabe in my case) is seldom normal. It appears most of us make do with erratic income streams; encounter occasional ridicule and self-doubt, but plodded on regardless. It seems there is little outside money invested in our industry. Imagine what the likes of @RigesYounan and @bluetrain (Clayton Wehner) could achieve if they have capital to play with. Anyone got some spare bucks?

Recruitment firms: Lots of interesting discussions with recruitment firms. If you are a recruiter, relevance is a matter of staying one step ahead of clients. It’s a simple mantra – do something that your clients cannot do well themselves. The problem is employers are able to do a lot more on their own, which is why exploring new ways of doing things is important. Accepting the new status quo is a good start.

People: Not enough time, but met lots of good people. The @GradConnection boys are everywhere. If enthusiasm alone defines success, their day will arrive soon. I’d give Michael Burns a call, he knows a lot more than he is revealing about the nuts and bolts of how our industry works (and where its heading). Mark Tayar is not your typical ATS marketer, he’s into building a community.

Conferences: Recuittech seems destined to spread to more locations. Strange, in a way, that a conference predominantly about digital connections requires meeting up physically. Our yearning for face-to-face interaction (and beer 🙂 will spawn more gatherings, albeit smaller in sizes. HR Club is a sign of things to come. Count me in for the next one.

Pictures: Few pics from the conference. Presentations: Available on Slideshare (tag recruittech).

What’s next? Ok, lots to digest, but here’s a timely advise from Seth.

2 replies
  1. Andrea Mitchell
    Andrea Mitchell says:

    Great write up, and thanks for the mention :). I think this covers the themes of the conference really well. Technology is a great enabler and it was great to see different ways that it can be used in recruitment.


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