Talent Circles

Thursday, February 2, 2012

You can stuff a Potato Head, but you can’t fake community

It’s been on the market for decades and it’s barely evolved from its original state. Sure it’s added a myriad of enhanced accessories over the years, some more fun and attractive while others are more utility than anything, but fierce competition from more technologically advanced products threaten to extinguish its presence once and for all.

Mr. and Mrs. Potato head, time to ride off into the sunset.

Or is it? As parent of two little girls in a family of “Toy Story” fanatics – that’s not gonna happen anytime soon. In fact, these toys have lived revival after revival over the years.

Like the applicant tracking system (at least in their own unique short history). Wait, I know you’re thinking, “C’mon, Kevin. Really?”

Yes, really. Maybe you remember EZaccess, the software created for staffing firms way back in the mid-1990s. Or, maybe you remember when it became Personic and then Unicru and then to the many flavors of talent acquisition software on the market today.

Applicant tracking systems for the most part store candidates and candidate stuff; you can also store stuff in your Potato Heads. But the trend of late is to add features and enhancements to make the systems more seemingly social, to go beyond talent storage to talent networks via social recruiting activities – posting jobs on social networks and sourcing candidates from them. And there are a lot of quality talent acquisition systems out there scrambling to add social.

But that alone doesn’t make for talent networks and quality connections and engagement – facilitating communication and activities between candidates as well as employers and candidates, 3-way conversations do.

The key here being the interactive activities and the orchestration within. And it’s the people that make that happen, whether one-on-one or in groups. It’s the HR pros, the recruiters, the hiring managers, the candidates and those who are interested in the employment brand but haven’t actually applied for anything yet (and may never apply). The talent network then orchestrates how systems are used and in turn creates “community” of sorts.

It’s really dark inside the Potato Heads especially when all the appendages are attached, all the holes plugged. That’s what it’s like with the basic social functions of ATS’s today. Applicants are sourced, filtered and stored, but there’s no interaction inside, and only limited outside. Just cold and dark and lonely and the qualified applicants inside aren’t going to wait, just stagnate and move on to other talent networks.

The quality interaction that which engages is what happens outside of the cold, dark stasis. Potato Heads on their own aren’t connector networks, but where they’re played with, when the kids (the applicants) and the parents (the employers) conduct the orchestration between Potato Heads and one another, then the reason-to-stay fun begins.

It’s got to be a 3-way Potato play:

  • Playing solo with all the interactive accessories (career management exercises, assessments, etc).
  • Playing live in similar groups (“kids” with other “kids” – white boarding, mentoring, video chats)
  • Playing live in mixed groups (“kids” with the “employer” – webinars, training, video chats)

You can stuff a Potato Head, but you can’t fake community. And basic ATS social just isn’t enough to drive the interactive engagement you need to stay competitive with the right talent.


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