10 Reasons Why Recruitment Marketing Platforms Are Dead

Back in 2006, I joined a startup called Hotgigs. It had an experimental product called Jobs2Web. Hotgigs had two clients using the Jobs2Web product. I was tasked with developing its channel sales strategy. Over the next few years, it created a new product segment in recruiting called a Recruitment Marketing Platform. With hundreds of clients and millions in revenue, in December 2011 it was acquired by SuccessFactors/SAP. I left in 2013 and since have been at MyAlerts, a consumer individualization marketing platform for large retailers. Over the last year, I’ve been looking at the recruitment industry … and YAWN.

It feels to me like nothing has changed. What I’m hearing and seeing is exactly what was spouted in 2012. Only now, it’s everyone who is saying the same thing versus a smaller segment of the industry. You may agree or disagree with me. In my opinion, Recruitment Marketing Platforms are dead, and here are my 10 reasons why.

No innovation since 2012: Yup that’s right. You may think there have been advancements, but there has not. In the past five years, RMPs have maybe improved by 1x. Real innovation happens when technology improves by 10x. Let’s take a look at what these platforms had back in 2012 …

  • Dashboard/analytics
  • Talent community/network/job alerts
  • SEO
  • Landing pages for various categories of jobs
  • Job distribution
  • OFCCP compliance
  • Mobile optimization
  • Text messaging
  • Employee referral marketing
  • Social network marketing

Sitting here in 2017, and this is pretty much what you are buying today (circa 2012 developed technology).

Candidates don’t want to search and apply for jobs: If you look at a typical RMP, the main call to action is to search and apply for a job. The best talent won’t do this. Today’s RMP is focused on Job First Recruiting. This is built on the premise of “put a job out there and the candidates will come.” How’s that working out for you? The best candidates don’t want to come in through the front door of your career site. The best candidates completely skip this process. And since you have an RMP, you are not getting access to them. To capture the best candidates, you must build a back door (more on this later).

Also, what does “Join Our Talent Community” mean to your candidates? This language has been highly debated, but think about this from the candidate perspective. It’s not really a community. It doesn’t help me network into your company or connect me to you. Apart from throwing my business card into a database of people that nobody searches anyhow, what’s the value to the talent side of the equation?

Your career site looks the same as your competitors: If you have an RMP, look at the career sites of your peers using the same RMP. You will notice your career site looks the same as your peers. To be efficient and cost effective, the RMP vendors need to build a set of templates. These templates become your standard web page design. Sure, you can move things around in the design, but the elements of the pages are pretty much the same. Just add in your graphics and content, and voila your site is deployed. Exactly like everyone else out there. Did anyone say #cookiecutter?!

RMPs will not solve for the future: We have entered the next phase of recruiting. Some of you may have noticed it. In a recent report by CEB, 90 percent of the S&P 100 are recruiting for the same 21 roles. I had an RMP customer say to me: “we are happy just to get two candidates to apply (whether they are qualified or not).”

Job demand is outpacing talent. And it’s only getting worse. Welcome to the hyper-competition for talent. Your best candidates are not coming to your career site. In fact, they are skipping it altogether. They are going through the back door to your organization. And you don’t even know about it. If everyone is going to LinkedIn first, why not make this an integrated part of your career site experience?

RMPs are built to engage the candidate behavior of five years ago: Expanding on what I talked about above … The best candidates typically skip going to your career site. They are going through the back door to your organization. They do this by going to LinkedIn to see which of their friends works there. They may even connect to a hiring manager directly. They will research your organization via third-party websites. When they make it to your career site, they don’t want to search & apply for a job. Or join a talent community/network, which means nothing to them. This pretty much eliminates your chance to connect with them. We have to create a LinkedIn type of experience on our career site.

Most RMPs were built by non-tech vendors: It will help to understand the evolution of what happened in the industry. The year was 2007 and companies were spending a lot of money on job boards and, yes, some still spent in print ads. Next, the Great Recession of 2008-9 happened and the money dried up. Many ad agencies and job boards suffered. Some even went out of business. Employers sought a way to meet their hiring goals while cutting their costs.

In comes the RMP vendors who were developing cutting-edge technology, built for the candidate habits of the day and had incredible ROI. These early leaders were technology companies. When employers saw the ROI of an RMP, massive amounts of money was funneled away from the ad agencies and job boards. They had to jump into the game. It was a matter of survival. Unfortunately, their focus was still to make money on what they were doing in 2007. Not on deploying great technology. I had a colleague who interviewed the former CTO of one of the ad agencies. He basically said their technology was held together by coat hangers and Band-Aids.

They are not built for mobile recruiting: Yes, I’ve heard you all say your career site is mobile optimized. But after your 35-step application process on my mobile device, I have to disagree. Maybe the front of your career site is mobile optimized, but not certainly the application. And even if you did have a one-page apply process, do you think a quality candidate would fill out a resume form on their mobile device? Candidates can’t differentiate between your career site and ATS.

Having worked in retail, specifically e-commerce for the past three years, I’ve seen the effect mobile has on a company. Some retailers have as high as 90 percent of site browsers via mobile. But in some cases, only 10 percent of purchases happen on mobile. Amazon has done it the best with its one-click purchase. Until we get more streamlined for mobile apply, your site is not mobile optimized.

Having an RMP adds unnecessary complexity to your “recruiting stack”: Software vendors often speak about a “software stack.” This is defined as a group of programs that work in tandem to produce a result or achieve a common goal. To define this in terms of your recruiting technology, look at the systems that may touch recruiting. Career site. CRM. ATS. Job distribution platform. Analytics platform. A good RMP works to combine some of these systems.

The problem comes in a couple areas. Either it repurposes third-party software as part of its platform, which means it has no control over the innovation or enhancements, and marks it up to you in order to make money. Or it tries to develop it all in-house, which means there’s too much technology to be great at. So it’s good at it, but not great, which means the quality of your solution suffers.

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The RMP market is in the Laggard phase of adoption: If you look at the Innovation Adoption Lifecycle, it starts out with Innovators (2.5 percent) who are the first to adopt a new technology. Next are the Early Adopters (13.5 percent), followed by the Early Majority (34 percent). Next comes Late Majority (34 percent) and lastly the Laggards (16 percent). We are in the Laggards stage of adoption. I’ve looked at thousands of career sites over the past year, and over 90 percent use an RMP.

Your RMP’s ROI is waning: The technology hasn’t improved in the past five years. Your career site looks like all of your competitors. Candidates are skipping your career site and are not applying to your jobs. I’m sure the bill from you RMP vendor is rising each year. It’s time for a new solution. It’s time to innovate.

I should probably mention the CRM aspects of the RMPs. While they capture business cards (sometimes millions of them), they do nothing to help maintain any sort of conversation with the talent. Is the talent currently looking for new opportunities? Have they changed jobs? What skills or interests have they added since joining our “talent community”? Can people even log in and offer to update this in your “talent community” (like they can on LinkedIn)? If your RMP is like most, you’ve just captured a bunch of stale business cards. Therefore, your busy recruiters would have to recontact everyone to find out what’s new with them or if they’re possibly interested in any positions. Doesn’t sound like innovation to me.

Where do we go from here? I remember when we went from print ads to job boards. After a few years, the job boards got stagnant and in came in the Recruitment Marketing Platforms. Both were exciting times, and a big game-changer for recruiting. Now we are stagnant again.

 

image from Bigstock

Tom Steele

Tom Steele has more than 20 years of helping companies deploy cutting-edge technologies that radically transform their strategies. Over half that time has been spent in talent acquisition, where he helped create a new industry segment called the "recruitment marketing platform." 

Most recently, he has been at MyAlerts, helping build both its e-Retail solution and most recently its Talent solution. Prior to that, he was at Jobs2Web from 2006-2013, where he worked with hundreds of companies to deploy their recruitment marketing platforms.