#RecruitFest 2010 Reflections and Insights

RecruitFest 2010 LocationIs it just me, or does it seem that there have been a record number of sourcing, recruiting, and HR conferences this year?

And we’re still in October!

I would have loved to attend RecruitFest in person but I was unable to. However, I did catch quite a bit of the event via the live streaming they offered. There were several sessions that inspired me share my observations and opinions with the recruiting universe.

Some bloggers would choose to string you along by splitting their content into four, 400 word posts.

You know I didn’t. :-)

In no particular order:

The Video Coverage Raised and Set the Bar!

Kudos to the crew responsible for the quality of the video footage! The videography was best in class. From the clarity to the multiple angles of the panelists and the audience (most conferences seem to only show the presenter, and from only 1 angle), I was impressed, and I do believe RecruitFest has raised the bar in what should be expected from other conferences offering live video streaming. The “feel” and atmosphere of the event was definitely palpable.

On that note, I think all sourcing, recruiting and HR conferences should offer video streaming for free. The sheer number of events held annually practically makes it impossible to attend them all, let alone even half of them (unless you’re a vendor)! As such, conference organizers should offer free streaming video coverage of the events so that more people can attend virtually and benefit.

If conference organizers are worried about not selling as many tickets to live attendees because people will just stay home and watch the feed, keep in mind that you could (and should!)  increase the cost of sponsorship due to the massively increased number of eyeballs viewing the event. I saw that (please correct me if I am wrong) RecruitFest was viewed by 3800 people online, including people from  all 50 of the United States and in 38 countries. Hello!

I understand and appreciate that conference organizers are looking to make money. That’s fine. However, let’s remember that conferences should be about sharing and exposing thought leadership to spark industry advancement and innovation, not nickel-and-diming attendees for maximum profit.

Technology and Recruiting are Not Oil and Water!

During The Genesis of RecruitFest! 2010 session, I was tuned into the #RecruitFest Twitter stream and saw a number of tweets commenting to the fact that recruiting is about people and that technology cannot build relationships. Here are 2 examples:

  • “Recruiting is losing the human element. An ATS will NEVER, EVER determine if a human is a cultural fit in an organization.”
  • “An ATS is a tool & will not build a relationship. Recruiting is about HUMANS.”

Those tweets enjoyed a retweet love fest. Not from me, however – I was fighting the tide alone.

Am I the only person on the planet who thinks comments such as those are silly? Recruiting is and always will be about people. Of course an ATS can’t determine if a person is a cultural fit for an organization. ATS’s don’t build relationships (unless you count automated responses as relationship material) – people do.

With that said, I continue to be confused by the sentiment that somehow technology cannot be leveraged to facilitate, enhance and improve the ability to find, engage and build relationships with more of the right people, faster than without technology.

Perhaps it’s because of the sad state of the technology solutions available today to support the recruiting function, leaving most people unable to see or imagine what is possible?

Or maybe it’s because people can’t let go of the “but recruiting is different!” mentality, preventing advancement and innovation in the recruiting function and industry.

Trust me folks, the future of recruiting will be massively shaped by advancements in technology and the creative use of it – I just wish it would come sooner than later. It will come nonetheless, regardless of what you believe today.

How Candidates Use Search Engines

I watched Tim Dineen’s session on How Candidates Use Search Engines, and I found it insightful. I find many people in the recruiting industry lacking in the ability to view the world as a job seeker does. Tim broke down how non-recruiters search for and view jobs online, which is very different from how recruiters do it.

However, I’m more passionate about hunting than gathering, and I must point out that only about 14% of a random sample of people are actively looking for a job (employed or not).  The vast majority people are either passively or not looking at all, and thus cannot be reached and recruited through online ads and job postings. As Marvin Smith has pointed out, SEO is not enough.

The Candidate Experience

During The Candidate bill of Rights session, I had 3 epiphanies. Or in more common terms, “a-ha” moments.

#1 Don’t Treat Job Seekers Like Car Buyers

At one point in the discussion, Gerry Crispin expressed his disdain for the practice of not publishing the compensation range for posted job openings. He pointed out that compensation is a critical factor for job seekers and that it’s actually strange and a huge disconnect to not publish it.

The analogy that sprang to my mind was of buying a car. The car buyer asks, “How much is this car?,” and the salesperson responds with, “How much are you looking to spend?”

Or worse, what if car dealerships never published the prices of their vehicles, and you had to drive to the dealership just to find out the price of a vehicle you were interested in purchasing?

Yeah – that’s what it feels like for job seekers.

#2 Treat Job Seekers like Netflix Subscribers

Yes, we all know it is a tall order to respond to each and every applicant, but that’s excuse, not an acceptable reason not to. At the very least, use your ATS/CRM to auto-respond to applicants. However, I think companies can do better than that.

Imagine if job seekers received status updates starting with their application in consideration for a job posted online and continued with each and every step in the process, just like Netflix subscribers to, or when you order something from Dell or Amazon, or track a shipment with UPS or FedEx?

This is possible today.

Instead of being left to wonder what the heck is (or is not) happening after submitting a resume/application to a company, candidates should be automatically notified via email or text when their resume is received, when their resume is being reviewed by a recruiter (and even let them know who by using the recruiter’s name!), when the resume is or is not forwarded to the hiring manager (and why),  etc.

How cool (and appreciated) would that be?

So which company will be the first to make this a reality?

#3 Serious About Candidate Experience?

If your company is serious about improving the candidate experience, why not put your money and effort where your mouth is – handle the candidate experience with a dedicated role!

Instead of expecting recruiters to be able to carry an insane requisition load, respond to every applicant, source and recruit passive candidates lower cost of hire, lower time to hire, increase quality of hire (catching my drift?) AND ensure a fantastic candidate experience for all applicants, why not  provide excellent applicant (customer) service by serving them with people who are only responsible for ensuring that each and every applicant has a positive experience, whether they are hired or not selected for an interview?

And I’m not talking about recruiting coordinators – they are tasked with responsibilities other than solely providing world-class applicant service.

Is this too obvious a solution?

You just might increase the productivity and effectiveness of your recruiters at the same time.

Just-In-Time Recruiting

During the beginning of the Shaping the Future of Talent Acquisition session, Susan Burns made reference to using a Just-In-Time approach to recruiting as more akin to a “Just Behind” approach.

As a Lean and Just-In-Time fan, I was irked.

First, because it was a totally inaccurate reference (sorry Susan!). Second, to achieve Just-In-Time delivery, a company typically forecasts demand, so if anything, JIT is a forward-looking approach.  The goal is to anticipate the need and prepare for it so that you can deliver on that need with the least amount of waste possible.  In Lean recruiting, this is not accomplished through traditional candidate pipelining, which is actually quite wasteful and ineffective.

If you want to learn more about how you can apply Lean and Just-In-Time best practices in the talent acquisition process, I strongly suggest you read the 4 part series I wrote on the subject. I also seriously recommend you sharing it with management in your organization – the concepts and practices will play a huge role in the future of talent acquisition, once people and organizations are ready to think outside of the box and realize you can apply sound supply chain principles to the human capital supply and demand challenge.

In Summary

  • RecruitFest raised the bar for recruiting conference videography. Who’s next?
  • Technology can be used to improve every step of the recruiting process. It’s not about replacing people or dehumanizing recruiting, it’s about augmenting recruiting.
  • Yes, you should post jobs. However, you should also heavily invest in actively hunting talent and not just wait for and process what wanders into your trap.
  • Respect job seekers – disclose your pay rates.
  • Treat applicants more like Netflix subscribers – update them via the medium of their choice  at each and every step of the process.
  • If you want to deliver the ultimate candidate experience, a huge gain can be made by handling the applicant experience with a dedicated role.
  • Just-In-Time and Lean concepts and best practices can be adapted to improve recruiting – it’s already been done.

  • Glenn – Definitely agree with many of your points.

    In particular, everyone’s seeming disdain for technology. I agree that technology in an of itself will not recruit and identify the right people for your organization. But there are alot of technologies out there that can greatly enhance your ability to do so. If you are listening to vendors and looking for a product that will put your recruiting on auto-pilot, you will be sorely disappointed. But if you are looking for a solution that can fit into the activities that you already do and help you do them more efficiently or a solution that can help you start doing activities that you’ve been unable to do in the past but want to start doing, then technology can make your recruiting organization that much stronger.

    I always liken this argument to social recruiting. Just because your recruiters get a Twitter profile and post jobs on it, doesn’t mean you are doing social recruiting. Social Recruiting is not about using social media technology to post jobs but about the interaction and engagement you have with candidates through these technologies. It’s the actual effort behind using the technologies that makes it successful, but these interactions could not happen as quickly without the social media technologies.

    As far as candidate engagement, I think sometimes these conversations make it sound like it’s the holy grail of recruiting and that it is harder than it actually is. Very simple things like turning on your auto-reply email feature can make a big difference. All in all I think the first thing that most organizations should focus on to improve candidate engagement is to look at the expectations that they set. If you know it usually take 2 weeks to read a resume that is submitted in your system, let candidates know that in your auto-reply. If it will take you 1 week to get back to someone after a 1st round interview, send them a quick email noting that. When you set reasonable expectations for candidates (and stick by them) they feel more in tune with the process because the worst thing you can do is leave candidates in the dark.

    Great thoughts!

  • It certainly is a benefit to receive an evaluation from the trained eyes/ears of a professional recruitment expert.

    Your analysis was organized, pinpointed and short & sweet. You also made a good point that live stream from conferences should be freely accessible to all as it would generate more viewership, which I also agree.

    While this particular conference was a success and as you indicated, raise the bar. There have been other live streams that quite frankly have “put me to sleep”. Some of the expert speakers were very unorganized in the delivery of their presentations and clearly lack credibility and confidence in their subject matter.

    An effective presentation especially on a global stage should be one focused primarily on the needs and interest of the audience instead of on the speaker describing what they have done and what we are doing.

    Without entertaining speakers articulating real life problems and presenting practical solutions, the need for attending conferences and viewership of live stream will diminish.

  • Tom Bolt

    My mind is still swimming from attending both SourceCon and Recruitfest so close together and I’m still digesting all the take-aways from both. Thanks for your analysis and I wish you had been there too…it is not a minor point that you disagreed with Susan because we all learn from hearing different points of view. I had a lightbulb moment with her on another topic off stage. The room was just full of damn smart people!

    Part of the value of this almost-un-conference was the panel discussion format with audience participation. There were other controversial conversations both on and off camera during the event and this highlights the value of attending live rather than virtually if at all possible. I noticed at one point there was an on-stage debate on Corporate vs. Personal branding while the Twitter stream seemed to be focused on whether or not we should stop using the term “rockstar recruiters.” I guess that’s part of the fun that can be associated with learning from key opinion leaders as long as the main point is not overlooked.

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  • Great recap Glen. It would have been great to have you attend live, perhaps next year. And, yes, there seems to be an endless number of conferences. My guess – we’ll begin to see consolidation but it is cool to see the energy behind people creating something new.

    Let me address your comments around JIT. First, I agree with you and your definition. However, I’ve heard companies refer to their processes that function as “in the moment” demand recruiting as JIT and I use it as a pun. I can see how it could be misperceived without complete context. But, yes, I agree with your definition and anticipating talent needs based on the strategic business directives and supporting workforce plan is my philosophy as well. I do, however, disagree with you on the value of talent communities. There is tremendous value when done well and dynamically engages prospects in the brand, which is becoming increasingly important for many reasons. If talent communities / pipelines are simply a process of collecting names and searching the community when new roles open, then no – there is not much value and its not really a community. I’d enjoy discussing the concept with you one day and hope we have an opportunity to do it soon.

  • Netflix subscription process?! Love it, Glenn! Thanks for sharing your insights – plenty to digest even w/not having been there! :-) Enough said, back to work!

  • Glen – Thanks for the recap. I too am often puzzled by the backlash towards technology that seems to be present in alot of recruiting discussions. I also agree that technology will shape the way the business progresses. Of course technology wont replace the basics of relationship building, etc. but it is an integral arrow in the quiver so to speak.
    Thanks again
    John Monaco

  • jer

    gewd post!

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  • Justin Giovinco

    Thnx for the recap, Glen… I wish I could have made it.

    I couldn’t agree more regarding technologies’ place in Recruiting. Anyone with an above average understanding of Sourcing will easily understand that technology will NEVER replace the Recruiting/Sourcing function. I typically hear these types of comments coming from folks that rely heavily on an ATS to fill their positions for them. It’s also very naive to think technology doesn’t have a place in recruiting. Technology HAS ALREADY and WILL CONTINUE TO drive the way we go about recruiting and sourcing. Think about what LinkedIn alone has done to Recruiting. A complete game-changer.

    The other topic that caught my attention was regarding the candidate experience. I love the idea of a dedicated resource devoted to the candidate experience, but is it realistic. I’m very curious to know and learn if this has been done already at larger companies. This seems like a much easier solution for a smaller company, rather then a company that has several hundred openings at any given time. With a team of 10 Recruiters, and each having an avg REQ load of 30, it seems like a daunting task for just 1 person.

    Thnx again for the recap!

    Justin Giovinco
    Nestle USA

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  • Re: #1 Don’t Treat Job Seekers Like Car Buyers

    “…Crispin expressed his disdain for the practice of not publishing the compensation range for posted job openings. He pointed out that compensation is a critical factor for job seekers and that it’s actually strange and a huge disconnect to not publish it.”

    As a 3rd party recruiter I couldn’t DISAGREE more with Crispin’s POV. Speaking on behalf of 3rd party recruiter (not that I have been given such authority, mind you) any recruiter who works this way sets themselves up for a difficult close.

    The obvious counterpoints
    Issue #1. Salary ranges are A-R-B-I-T-R-A-R-Y !!!!
    Let’s say that one more time: Salary ranges are A-R-B-I-T-R-A-R-Y !!!! A hiring manager ( or HR) will say “up to $85K”. and I know many times they pull this figure out of the air! (well, not exactly but they “guesstimate”.) Sometimes I know privately that “Mr Rock Star” candidate *will* get $100k for the 85K role. Sometimes I know that that a certain client will SAY $85K but has NEVER offered or paid more than $80K. So why shoot myself in the foot by posting a range that could come back and haunt me?

    Here’s another way to look at it from the CANDIDATE’S point of view: If I gave you a range of $75-85K, what number do you want? The top number of course!!! Always!!! Why would you WANT less? Now what if you’re “the candidate of choice” but our offer is NOT the top number? How do you feel? Even though you got an offer (yay !!!) there is a let-down, a disappointment because you didn’t get the “top” number (boo !!!) , which was A-R-B-I-T-R-A-R-Y to begin with. We’ve set an expectation in the candidate’s mind and nothing good will come of it unless our offer tops out or EXCEEDS the range disclosed.

    Issue #2: Not all employees are paid the same $ for the same role. Shocking, huh? Hiring managers will pay more or less for the same role depending on economic conditions, candidate skill set and scarcity. Does the hiring manager want his current staff knowing that the new guy earns $20K more than everyone else for the same role? Probably not.

    Issue #3. Candidates who chase $$$$ are NOT good candidates. Every time I post a role with money ( $150-$175K) , I make more work for myself because it attracts BOATLOADS of UNQUALIFIED candidates who are hoping to hit the LOTTO. Then there are the qualified candidates who chase any role that pays them more than what they earn now. These folks NEVER NEVER stay cause they are always on the look out for the next extra $1. So what value am I providing my clients with that type of candidate?

    Although salary IS an important variable when considering a new opportunity, it alone does not qualify the opportunity. Nor is every candidate motivated by money.

    A good recruiter will discuss (screen/qualify) salary requirements with qualified candidate upfront and relay this information to the hiring manager.

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  • Extreme post! Its looks awesome! It will be recommendable not to rely just on one job respectively a single source of income. In other way, Technology right now is the need of the day. The technological advancements have made society take a leap towards success. Every technological reform is a small step towards advancement. Every new invention in technology is a step towards progress of mankind.

    We see that technology not only benefits the school students but also eases the office work. It makes possible, a more effective way of storage and distribution of information. The realization of the importance of technology in schools and its successful implementation is a necessity.