Talent Circles

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Career sites will be windows of the marketing and sales soul

And there were those who said the internet would kill business (then with a capital “I”). Crazy, don’t you think? We certainly know better now.

I worked in Silicon Valley in the late 1990s where companies scrambled over another like ants to sugar to get a website up, any website up, in order to have a website up. Fast forward to today and we’ve learned a lot about search engine optimization (SEO), lead capture, call-to-action and the fact that according a recent The Economist article there are 4.6 billion mobile-phone subscriptions worldwide (though many people have more than one, so the world’s 6.8 billion people are not quite as well supplied as these figures suggest), and 1 billion-2 billion people use the internet.

One to two billion people use the internet. Research survey after research survey validates that the first place more and more of the growing internet user world goes in online, so it makes sense that the primary business website (and mobile-friendly website) are the eyes to the window of the marketing and sales soul.

Consumer product companies get that and B2B companies are getting it. But what is still lagging is the parallel (and the parable) of the company career sites, portals, pages, whatever you want to call them.

We treat (we can only hope) our prospects and customers like kings and queens because they’re the livelihood of our businesses. However, so are our employees and managers, because they’re the ones who make and deliver the things that are the livelihood of our businesses.

Just as we profile our customers we profile our candidates (or should be), but unlike our core buyers, we should give our future employees the opportunity to profile themselves, to create a “universal profile” that’s portable and includes a 360-view of all interests and skills and experience, housed anywhere they want – LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, other networks – to then be able to move among the online crowd whether they apply for a job or not. Yet.

Granted, talent acquisition technologies including applicant tracking systems (ATS) have been slow to adapt to the online profile – there’s still the “click here” to upload your resume. That’s changing for the better as the candidate experience improves allowing for easy integration of the online profile to the employer of choice, not to mention the benefits of a search optimized professional profile. Kind of like the way we’ve moved into the product and service marketing realm.

And that means that the company career portals will continue to evolve as the final destination – all employment brand fodder and job opportunities will lead to them like sugar trails of Web lore.

Career sites will become windows of the marketing and sales soul. Amen.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Through the recruiting lens

It’s not like the polar ice caps of data have been sliding into the warming world around us of late; we’ve been accumulating this stuff for a long, long time.

In recruiting, companies have been accumulating tons of applicant data, mostly in the form of the infamous resume, although more often these days it’s in the form of online profiles (thankfully). Thousands and thousands of people apply for jobs every day at companies around the world, and all that information goes into some kind of data storage – spreadsheets, applicant tracking systems, talent networks and communities, talent management systems and human resource management systems once they’re hired…

Add to that the other sourcing activities of recruiting lore like name generation via stealth cold calls; internet searching and advanced Boolean search; and more recently LinkedIn sourcing; social recruiting sourcing across Facebook, Twitter and other networks; and let’s not forget the old-school way of sourcing at live networking events. There’s more data being stored about applicants (and potential applicants when they’re just shopping employment brands) than ever before – an almost 360-view of professional and personal.

Lots of valuable data that’s then stuffed into electronic boxes and stored somewhat disheveled in the back room. The irony of course being that once they’re stored away, ain’t nobody digging through the boxes at a later time.

"Put a lens on it for me."

I sat across from him at the table, his team and mine along the periphery, waiting for him to expound on the statement.

He kept flipping back and forth in the proposal pages as if magical insight would jump forth and say, here I am -- buy me!

"Yes, that's what I need to see -- put a lens on this for me so I understand what to expect."

That was only a few weeks ago and has stuck with me ever sense. That's what any of us need in business, right? Give me a lens on "information" I'm interested in so I can make fact-based correlations, recommendations, decisions and predictions.

The ol' what's in it for me shtick. Really this time, in real-time. Because Googling, managing spreadsheets and guessing is so 2007.

Managing data is mind-bending. Even though the human brain can store vast amounts of information, our working memory can only recall up to 7 things at one time.

Easy peasy. But recalling vast amounts of data to make fact-based decisions?

Not gonna happen humanly (yet). Imagine the sheer volume along and you'll pass out. A petabyte of information is equal to one quadrillion bytes, or 1000 terabytes. My goodness that's a lot of information. Our minds have a hard enough fathoming a gig much less a handful of megabytes.

Or up to 7 items at once.

But today we can put a lenses on the vast amounts of data we deal with in business and again make fact-based correlations, recommendations, decisions and predictions. We have the storage space and the magic algorithms that make it all happen.

That means that the art of sourcing is becoming more science than art (don’t tell my recruiting friends that). The term is “Big Data” and it truly is big. According to a recent New York Times article titled The Age of Big Data:

Data-guided management is spreading across corporate America and starting to pay off. They studied 179 large companies and found that those adopting “data-driven decision making” achieved productivity gains that were 5 percent to 6 percent higher than other factors could explain.

And more closer to recruiting home:

Today, social-network research involves mining huge digital data sets of collective behavior online. Among the findings: people whom you know but don’t communicate with often — “weak ties,” in sociology — are the best sources of tips about job openings. They travel in slightly different social worlds than close friends, so they see opportunities you and your best friends do not.

We’re going to need more data-literate recruiting analytics experts to better monitor and manage applicant data – from outside the orgs as well as in – and that’s what will give companies competitive advantage in the years to come. Not that sourcing pros and recruiters can’t do some of this today, but as the warm data waters rise, we’re going to have to be able to dive deeper than ever before to monitor, analyze and comprehend an increasingly complex world of work and vast amounts of information while delivering more effective sourcing, recruiting and quality of hire.

"Put a lens on the recruiting world for me, would you?"

Absolutely. We can do that now. As Dominique Hermsdorff, VP of Engineering at TalentCircles puts it, "Today, we have too much data and not enough of the right information. Moving from resumes to profiles and profile analysis will transform your data into actionable information."

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Talent network evangelists unite!

With all the talk of the online job boards dying and the resume dying, you’d think they were dying.

They’re not. In fact, according to an article on ERE.net:

For being so out of fashion, so yesterday, job boards manage to come out on top or top-adjacent on nearly every source of hire study. In a Bersin & Associates survey this fall job boards tied for first with internal transfers as the leading source of all hires. CareerXroads says job boards produced 24.9 percent of all external hires in 2010, second only to employee referrals (27.5 percent).

Resumes are uploaded to job boards continuously every day. So, the reality is that the models are evolving – meaning, resumes are becoming online profiles and job boards are becoming talent networks.

Well, the former more than the latter (fact is, talent networks are evolving into interactive job boards and then some). Remember when you used to painstakingly format your resume, or pay someone to do so, in one of multiple standard formats, and then mail it to employers you wanted to work for?

Some of you older kids do, like me. And even when we evolved and moved to electronic formats in our resumes, they were in multiple formats that didn’t include what we now include when it comes to our growing online footprint.

Think about these stats:
  • Facebook is nearing one billion users globally – and growing.
  • LinkedIn is over 135 million professionals around the world – and growing.

LinkedIn is a no-brainer. It’s become the new standard by which the online resume, or better known as the online profile, is managed by the above millions and millions of professionals around the world. And it’s become the first choice of recruiters and hiring managers worldwide to source and recruit candidates.

Facebook is right about the corner. Still primarily known for a media-rich playground where friends and family play, it’s becoming fast a new playground for recruiters and hiring managers seeking candidates in Facebook users who are updating their profiles to include their careers, skills and experience.

Consider this: Facebook, the U.S. Department of Labor, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), DirectEmployers Association (DE), and the National Association of State Workforce Agencies (NASWA) created the Social Jobs Partnership. The partnership’s goal will be to facilitate employment for America’s jobless through the use of social networks, including job postings delivered through Facebook at no charge. That is very cool.

I’ve written about this before, but for those of you already have an online career profile you manage, as well as you employers that source and recruit online and value the online profile over the resume, please evangelize to accelerate the rest of the world, because this is where it’s going.

In fact, the career management industry can help too by sharing some of the same best practices applied to the resume that can and should be applied to the online profile:
  • A consistent standard layout for portability
  • A concise professional summary
  • Accomplishment highlights that are relevant to the bottom line
  • A clear timeline of professional activities that account for any gaps
  • Search-optimized profile with the keywords you want to be found for
  • Request multiple online recommendations as well as giving them
  • Update regularly whether you’re looking for a job or not

Let’s get everyone to know the power of the online profile! Talent network evangelists unite!

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.