The current chaos in recruiting is not, unfortunately, from hiring many of the 15.1 million unemployed. It's from companies trying to deal with a constantly shifting technology landscape offering more ways to capture scarce candidates -- and setting up more opportunities for failure. SmashFly and jobs2web are two companies trying to weave all the pieces together for recruiting.
Loyal readers with long memories may remember two years ago, I asked the last CEO of BrassRing, Deb Besemer, why recruiting software continues to be the greatest source of innovation and of new companies in all of HR technology.
Was it because there were so many steps in the process or because they just hadn't gotten it right yet?
"Yes," she said, without hesitation, "we still haven't gotten it right."
Well, now the answer needs to be amended to: "Because there are so many new recruiting channels and methods to master."
Unless you've been on an uninhabited island for the last three years without your iPhone, you know the notion of "social recruiting" has been ricocheting madly inside recruiting circles. It's been the topic of more conferences, training programs, webinars and white papers than anything I can remember since Y2K.
Companies have been frantically trying to figure out how to integrate the public social networks, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter -- with their hundreds of millions of members -- into their recruiting efforts.
Those efforts are still in their infancy -- at least in terms of success -- so don't feel badly if your company isn't doing it yet. The best available statistics show that companies are getting fewer than 1 percent of their actual hires from the online networks!
Yet recruiters are investing enormous amounts of time working those networks. They may actually be building relationships with candidates that will pay off big time in the future. But apparently we're still in the present waiting for the future (when someone will have figured it all out) to arrive.
Here are just some of the other methods and channels recruiters are using:
* There's Search Engine Optimization, or trying to make your job come up first (or at least high on the list of results) when a candidate does a Google search, which is the first step for many. Plus the pay-per-click job ads that appear on the same page as the search results.
* There are many alternatives for the proper way to search the universe of employable people -- my prediction for the future of recruiting -- currently enabled most often by AIR's SourcePoint and Avature, which both still don't visit all the galaxies.
* Then there are the two big job aggregators -- SimplyHired and Indeed -- that collect every job they can scrape off every available source, private and public. Often with the cooperation of the sources that want the added reach for their listings.
* Of course, the big job boards are still the source of lots of hires and destinations for job advertising, with CareerBuilder and Monster currently leading the pack among hundreds of others.
* Also common is direct contact via e-mail to a company's previous applicants. There are also job blogs and employee referrals; resume databases to search; video/multimedia job ads; microsites; employment and even job branding; custom landing pages; mobile devices; and who knows what else?
* And the company's own career site, of course -- where half the candidates who start an application routinely abandon it before finishing.
What's a recruiting executive to do?
There are at least two companies and probably more (omniscience in talent acquisition technology is a delusion) that have been trying to put all the pieces together for the last six and four years, respectively, while the pieces have been multiplying.
CEO Ken Holec of jobs2web and CEO Mike Hennessy of SmashFly (the younger company) have both created competing "Recruiting Marketing Platforms," a new category of software that has already gained considerable traction. No breaking news here.
The RMP sits next to the company's applicant-tracking system, takes the requisitions from it, tags them, posts them in all the modern channels, updates them, facilitates management and then tracks the results. Coordinated campaign marketing decisions are made by humans, software or a combination.
In addition to attracting candidates, both companies are good at knowing exactly where the candidates come from. The proof is their similar statistics on social networks as sources of hire mentioned above.
And they are teaching clients how to fish, not just dumping a mackerel on a desk to flop around. SmashFly recently started offering consultants in two new categories: media management expert and recruitment marketing analyst.
"Most companies just don't have that expertise," says Hennessy.
Apparently creating great job sites is not a core corporate competency, either. Holec says jobs2web builds complete or partial career sites for its clients, which in the case of Microsoft, includes 400 web pages for different countries, product lines and divisions. It also completely hosts sites for 15 clients.
Clients seem slow to trust some of the automation offered. Holec notes that 99 percent of his clients manually pick the job plus the channels to use to market it. The posting and updating are automated.
Only 1 percent pick the job and trust the software to pick the channels, he says. No one is yet using the completely automated option where no human is involved.
Obviously, the lines start to blur between these offerings and Recruitment Process Outsourcing, once the machines take over. In fact, Hennessy is talking to an RPO vendor interested in using SmashFly's recruitment marketing product called WildFire, so its people can spend more time being strategic, rather than simply hunting.
And that's really the question, isn't it? Whenever companies start hiring again, they will, as always, need personable recruiters to talk with candidates and sell them on the company and the job. But with everyone eventually connected online in some way, will sourcing candidates eventually be done better by people or software?
And if you are an active candidate and have just applied online, would you rather be ignored by an over-worked human or acknowledged by a machine? Not having applied for a job in 21 years, you'll have to tell me what you think on LinkedIn.
HR Technology Columnist Bill Kutik is co-chairman of the 14th Annual HR Technology® Conference & Exposition, October 3-5, 2011 in Las Vegas.
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