#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.