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John Sumser

John Sumser is the founder and editor of the recently launched HRExaminer. A well-known industry analyst, Sumser is also the CEO of Two Color Hat, a media and HR marketing consultancy.

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The 3 Fundamentals of Recruiting on Facebook

by Jul 30, 2012, 8:57 am ET

There’s little left in the discussion of whether Facebook is a good recruiting medium. The real issue is how long it will be until you get started. Nielsen reports that 23% of all online hours are spent on Facebook.

The goal of this article is to define the three basic elements of any social recruiting process.

Effective recruiting always begins with a single question: Who do you want to recruit? Without a clear answer, your results will be muddled. In order to use Facebook (or any social media) as a recruiting tool, you need to have a good idea about:

  • Who you’re recruiting and when you need them (workforce plan)
  • What kind of person who makes a good fit at your company (culture)
  • Who they know/how to find them (networks)
  • What you want the to know about your company (messaging)
  • How available they are as a class (scarcity)

The most important thing to understand about using social media for recruiting is that each channel is a closed ecosystem. Your work on LinkedIn garners no credit on Twitter and so on. Social media is the ultimate “what have you done for me lately?” communications channel. What matters is what you’ve done most recently in the channel that you’ve chosen.

In each case, effective outreach involves the balancing of three elements. The core page, dynamic content (including jobs), and the development of traffic are at the heart of any successful Facebook recruiting initiative. Successful execution of all three elements is required for sustained success. And, each of the three elements require continual and continuous improvement in order to keep the right traffic flowing.

Facebook Pages (the Company Page) keep reading…

Five Scenarios X: Presentation Recap

by Mar 25, 2010, 3:05 pm ET

Disruption is what happens when someone figures out a new way to arrive at the conclusion you get to the old way. In pure technical environments, disruption happens when a cheaper, divergent technology replaces a standard. Generally speaking, the new way replaces the old quickly. The dominant players of the old school are left on the sidelines, mouths gaping.

When compact flash memory replaced disk drives, none of the hard drive makers were able to make the transition. To the incumbents, the change feels dramatic and unstoppable. To the new moguls, growth feels like it always does. keep reading…

Five Scenarios IX: Opportunities

by Mar 11, 2010, 3:39 pm ET

Spring 2010 conference-logoI’m looking forward to the conversation in San Diego at ERE. (There’s still time to register if you hurry). With any luck, we’ll do something really interesting. I hope that the articles to date will provide a framework for discussion and brainstorming. The session is at 3:15 on Wednesday the 17th. I’m interested in seeing how long it can go.

My presentation will take about 6 or 7 minutes. The rest is conversation. I’m of the opinion that this sort of thing is better done by conversation than a presumptuous lecture.

We’ve covered a broad range of topics in the series to date: Geopolitics, Demographics, Automation, Health Systems, Infrastructure, and Performance Management as a Lifestyle. It’s been a whirlwind tour through a range of possibilities. The idea behind scenario planning is stretching your mind to the point that you can see opportunities and vulnerabilities that you can’t discover otherwise.

As if to underline the energy price scenario ($200 oil), crude prices have moved up about 15% in the past month. Soon the rest of the country will be enjoying $3 gasoline like we have in California. Even so, the point of scenarios is not a crisp set of forecasts. The idea is to get at the underlying structure of possibility.

Here’s the real headline. Disruption is coming to a recruiting operation near you. And, soon. keep reading…

Five Scenarios for the Future of Recruiting VIII: The Games

by Mar 4, 2010, 12:47 pm ET

Spring 2010 conference-logoUp at 6am. 15 points. Hit the snoozebar once. Minus 5 points. Brush your teeth for three full minutes. 50 points (with a bonus from the toothpaste maker). Right-sized healthy breakfast. 25 points.

Arrive at work on time. 25 points. Attend all meetings on time. 75 points. Make meeting contributions recognized by peers. 100 points. Return all emails and phone calls. 25 points. Healthy lunch. 30 points. Walk after lunch. 50 points. Make five calls (or widgets or requisitions or whatever) as described in objectives. 40 points. Stay 1/2 hour later than usual. 25 points.

Take public transit home. 70 points. Watch TV (an enormous point bonanza). Bush teeth for three full minutes. 50 points (with a bonus from the toothpaste maker). Get in bed early enough to earn the well-rested points bonus in the morning. – Adapted from Design Outside The Box

It’s the logical extension of performance management programs. By coupling frequent-flyer style points systems, game design, and performance management, the world has become points crazed. Work performance is ranked along with every other aspect of life.

The points system allows companies to identify and harvest their true fans. They compete in every aspect of life for the opportunity to build an “authentic” relationship calibrated by measurement. Payment for the consumption of advertising, which in 2010 is already somewhat expected, has exploded into a global preoccupation. keep reading…

Five Scenarios for the Future of Recruiting VII: The Pandemic

by Feb 25, 2010, 12:19 pm ET

Spring 2010 conference-logoFor a nice overview of the scenario planning process and this project, take a listen to this podcast. Then, brace yourself. This scenario is somewhat disturbing.


The Pandemic

In the beginning, they thought it was the flu. As the school year started, complaints of fever and respiratory problems stretched the capacity of the health care system. Fall is a busy time in countries with relatively modern health care. This time was different.

As September dragged on, fatalities multiplied. By the middle of October, three million people, virtually all of them children, had died from the Pandemic. The desperate programs to create a working vaccine produced failure after failure.

In November, the American death toll was nine million. The rate was doubling each month. Other countries in the Northern hemisphere were experiencing similar levels of decimation of their children. The damage was smaller in the southern hemisphere because the health care and education infrastructure is less developed.

By Christmas, half of the school-age population, 18 million children, had succumbed to the mysterious disease. Fifteen million mourning families. Infrastructure overloaded beyond imagining. keep reading…

Five Scenarios for the Future of Recruiting 6: Invasion of the Shallybots

by Feb 18, 2010, 10:43 am ET

Spring 2010 conference-logoI spent an hour on the phone yesterday with yet another entrepreneur who imagined that the future revolved around the “eHarmony for Jobs.”(The idea was tired a couple of years ago.) I regaled him with stories of Intellimatch, itzBig, JobFox, and 40 other matching services. They all planned to use structured profiles and assessment tests to ensure a fit. The primary problem with these schemes is that they always require too much investment of time (from candidates and employers alike) to actually work. The secondary problem is that the investment required to make the technology make sense is measured in billion$, not million$.

Lots of forecasts for the future of recruiting and HR focus on phenomenal breakthroughs in technology’s ability to personalize and match environments. That’s probably not really going to happen in the foreseeable future. The triple disciplines of sourcing, attraction, and selection will continue to require human intervention at the decision making point.

Some commentators are beginning to notice that the world is already heavily served by a bot-mediated culture.

Forget about HAL-like robots enslaving humankind a few decades from now; the takeover is already underway. The agents of this unwelcome revolution aren’t strong AIs, but “bots” — autonomous programs that have insinuated themselves into the Internet and thus into every corner of our lives. Apply for a mortgage lately? A bot determined your FICA score and thus whether you got the loan. Call 411? A bot gave you the number and connected the call.

Highway-bots collect your tolls, read your license plate, and report you if you have an outstanding violation. Bots are proliferating because they are so very useful. Businesses rely on them to automate essential processes, and of course bots running on zombie computers are responsible for the tsunami of spam and malware plaguing Internet users worldwide. At current growth rates, bots will be the majority users of the Net by 2010.

We are visible to bots even when we are not at our computers. Next time you are on a downtown street, contemplate the bot-controlled video cameras watching you, or the bots tracking your cellphone and sniffing at your Bluetooth-enabled gizmos. We walk through a gauntlet of bot-controlled sensors every time we step into a public space and the sensors are proliferating. – Paul Saffo (See here (long video), here (book) and here for a crisper understanding of the bot-mediated future.)

In other words, rather than a huge, monolithic big brother, it’s more reasonable to expect something like a swarm of little tools: Shallybots. keep reading…

Five Recruiting Scenarios 5: Guild Cities

by Feb 10, 2010, 2:20 pm ET

Spring 2010 conference-logoAcross the globe, people are moving to the city. 2009 marked the first time in human history that more people lived in the city than on the farm. We inhabit an increasingly urban planet.

One of the most interesting features of those cities is that they are increasingly organized by profession. Silicon Valley for software and consumer electronics, Seattle for software and large-scale engineering, Los Angeles for entertainment, Houston for energy, Austin for software, New York for finance and publishing (what’s left of it), Northern New Jersey for pharmaceuticals, and Boston for education. keep reading…

Five Recruiting Scenarios 4: The Future Matters

by Feb 4, 2010, 5:31 am ET

Spring 2010 conference-logoRecruiting and HR will not evolve independently of global events and pressures. Geopolitical issues, energy, global warming, rapid industrialization, demographics, immigration, and the constant invention of new jobs and disciplines will always drive the day-to-day realities of recruiting and HR.

A key driver of the evolution of recruiting and HR is the amount of growth in the economy and in a specific business. Recruiting for new roles is significantly different than recruiting to replace. The more clearly a role is understood and documented, the more the market behaves in competitive fashion. Once the new role is completely commoditized, it’s easy to talk about job descriptions, resume analysis, and community development. As long as the role represents growth and innovation, it is hard to characterize, and recruiting involves more intuition.

Status also makes a difference. Methods and processes used for recruiting and HR vary on two dimensions: level of compensation and the degree to which the job involves intellect. When compensation is low and involves brute force, the issues revolve around safety and reliability. When the questions involve enormous fees and lots of conceptualization (and notably, few real safety issues) the game is very, very different.

The following brief scenarios will give you some idea of the way that talent acquisition and management could evolve given a shifting landscape: keep reading…

Five Scenarios 3: The Marketplace

by Jan 27, 2010, 5:39 pm ET

Spring 2010 conference-logo When change comes to recruiting, it comes in a variety of forms. In the search for the candidate who will deliver the best value for the money, companies are continuously innovating and seeking competitive advantage in the employment marketplace. Trends, fads, and idiosyncratic procedures are commonplace.

Again, change comes in a variety of forms:

  • New technologies (like job boards or applicant tracking systems) can shift the relationship balance between employer and employee
  • New techniques (like behavioral interviewing and Internet sourcing) can change the selection process
  • New ways of doing business (like outsourcing) can change the volume and complexity of recruiting relationships
  • Shifting economics can change the demand equations, making some skills more valuable than others
  • Demographics can alter communications goals and processes
  • New information management Ideas (like open source, wikis, or public resume databases) change the competitive intelligence aspects of the game
  • Technology disruption can eradicate an industry, creating a surplus of potential employees who don’t quite fit
  • Fads and voodoo (handwriting analysis is a popular assessment tool in some places) shape some companies perspective

There is a Darwinian process for figuring out which technologies work and which fail. The team that fields the best technology, marketing, and sales combination gets to fight the next battle. Market dominance is rarely evidence of product quality alone. It’s usually a blend of of a pretty good product, super marketing, and relentless sales that distinguishes the winners. keep reading…

Five Scenarios 2: Trends

by Jan 19, 2010, 2:41 pm ET

Spring 2010 conference-logoPrecise forecasts are always wrong.

The old line, often attributed to Eisenhower, is “The plan is nothing, the plan is everything.” That means that the plan will always fail in the field. But, the planning process is the only way to come close to guaranteeing preparedness. Planning is essential. Believing the plan is folly.

That’s where scenario planning takes its cues. A scenario is never designed as a way to get to a precise prediction. Rather, it’s the only successful method for making the planning process account for the stuff outside the envelope.

The way to use a scenario (or, a set of five) is to suspend belief and assume that what you are reading is an accurate description of the future. From there, you consider your current view and examine it to see if the scenario sheds any new light. This is how Shell Oil, alone amongst its competitors, was able to profitably navigate the oil crisis of the 70s. Since then, the technique is widely used in situations where making future plans is important.

Scenarios are supposed to help you think outside of the box.

Scenarios emerge from a ground of current trends. While the economic situation dominates the public consciousness, a large number of things are undergoing structural change. These trends will drive the evolution of recruiting into the future.

Here are the major trend areas and their key sub components: keep reading…

Five Scenarios for the Future of Recruiting

by Jan 12, 2010, 2:37 pm ET

Spring 2010 conference-logoIt’s an interesting time to ponder the future of recruiting. You can imagine Chicken Little running around crying “The sky is falling. The sky is falling.”

  • The profession is 30% to 50% smaller than it was 18 months ago.
  • Many more HR generalists are filling the recruiting role.
  • Technology is changing rapidly.
  • A new generation is coming to work.
  • Sourcing is simultaneously separating from the selection process and transforming itself.
  • Meanwhile, good-enough sourcing is on everyone’s desktop. It just keeps getting better.
  • Social recruiting is grabbing a foothold.
  • Salary transparency makes candidates smarter about the deal.
  • Workplace reviews create brand management problems.
  • The effective unemployment rate of 18% creates a candidate deluge.
  • Budgets are trimmed to the bone.
  • The publishing industry, which once provided the infrastructure for employment advertising, is dead.
  • Other industries are in peril creating a sea of displaced, disrupted workers.
  • Old ideas of privacy are under assault.
  • Economic forecasts are impossible to believe (your company’s or the government’s).
  • Employment branding is gaining traction in healthcare markets.

At the same time, transformative things are afoot in some recruiting departments. There are stories of large companies who let their internal recruiters raid departments just like external recruiters do. RPOs leverage needs across clients to build serious market clout in specific niches.

So, how do you plan for a future in an environment like this? keep reading…