Moving from Transactions to Engagement — 4 Recruiting Trends

Mar 27, 2014
This article is part of a series called News & Trends.

Recruiting is finally moving away from transactional thinking and beginning to understand how to better connect and engage with relevant candidates. We are not there yet, and I may be too optimistic, but many recruiters are making the transition to engage candidates and improve their experience and are therefore making more hires, increasing candidate satisfaction, and bringing in people who become productive faster and stay longer. An exemplar here is Google that has dropped many of its previous job requirements and adopted ones based on data and results.

We are moving slowly through the hype of technology into the deeper waters of understanding candidate psychology and motivation.  Over the next five years I expect to see much less focus on tools and technology, and much more use of them to really engage candidates and improve the experience they have in finding the right use of their skills.

Here are the four trends I see unfolding. They will not all be competed in 2014 but they will certainly be well underway in many organizations.  I’d love your comments and feedback.

Engagement/Experience 2.0

The holy grail is to get candidates engaged in conversations and activities that will get them involved with your firm, a recruiter, or other employees. This improves their experience and makes them want to come back. The better this is done, the “stickier” the candidate and the more likely h/she is to say yes to an interview or offer.

But engagement 1.0 was based on simplistic transactional things — very basic games, videos about your firm, and perhaps answering a few questions: Neither engaging or a very good experience. They also rarely connected with a potential candidate in any deep way.

Engagement 2.0 is about serving up content that interests the candidate and that gives something valuable to the candidate. This can be advice about using your product or services, or it could be some sort of training (see my recent article on using MOOCs). This level of engagement might use a service such as BraveNewTalent that offers learning and conversation that can be privately packaged for your firm.

We need to create online groups that provide substance and good content based on what our potential candidates are interested in. One firm calls these groups “Hives,” and I like that term a lot — both corporations and candidates are eager for honey, i.e. meaningful content, learning, deeper understanding, and connection with an actual recruiter or employee.

Well-designed games, simulations, and videos can all be part of the engagement platform as long as each of them is tested for effectiveness and continuously improved.  The nature of engagement and the quality of experience is dynamic and always changing, so everything that takes place needs to be current and relevant.

Social Media Goes Mobile & Video

Social media is about understanding people, how they react, and what they want. It is not about technology, as that is more and more invisible. The choice of platform and medium are becoming irrelevant. What is relevant is understanding what potential candidates want and need in order to give them a meaningful experience and to mutually explore each other for interest, fit, and skill.

Video and mobile apps will dominate the social media space. Job postings are being turned into videos or into graphics that incorporate video (See for examples).  The popularity of Instagram and other picture and video sharing services is growing and it is becoming much easier to reach and engage with a potential candidate using these than by email.

Recruiters should be making short videos about the jobs they are seeking candidates to fill. By getting hiring managers to make a 1-3 minute video describing a particular position, its requirements, and perhaps by interviewing someone who already does that function, a recruiter could have a powerful attraction tool. It is a medium especially suitable for mobile.

Employees can send short videos to friends as part of a referral program and, if the job descriptions are done well enough, there can be a viral effect as people watch the video and forward it on to friends.

I am not talking about the realistic job previews I see often on corporate career sites.  I am talking about the actual job description being a video with a verbal indication on how to apply.

Analytics — Key to Engagement and Experience

Analytics — the ability to get useful information from all the numbers, facts, and general data that you collect — is the key to creating a good experience and to building engagement. When you understand what motivates a potential candidate and what is meaningful to them, then you can include content that matches their desires and meets their needs.

Amazon and many other online retailers use your actions, e.g., what you actually buy or look at, to make conclusions about your interests. Then they offer you books, music, movies, or other products that are more likely to be of interest to you.

The value of analytics can be judged simply: do they tell you what engages best or what contributes to the best experience through the actions of the candidates more than by what they say?

Until recently it was impossible to cull through this data and draw useful conclusions, but it is now easier and possible using tools that are not expensive or arcane. You can test two types of content and see which draws more interest and comments.  You can show different versions of videos and see which ones are viewed more often to the end.

Org Structure = Networks & Collaboration

Models of organizing work are changing to fit the more complex and less structured nature of 21st-century work. Hierarchical models with highly specialized roles are giving way to models that are more flexible and that get the best results. These are flat, non-hierarchical, collaborative, and multi-skilled/multi-tasked. They involve people who may not formally be part of the recruiting function, including hiring managers, business folks, and often just ordinary employees. They look much more like networks than hierarchies and titles mostly disappear.

Thus within your function there should be very few specialists; mostly broadly skilled people who can source, sell, assess, and close as well as influence managers and use technology effectively. They need to have many contacts throughout the organization and outside so they can better find and connect with relevant candidates. This requires everyone to work as a team: teaching, learning, and sharing rewards. No more awarding the “super” recruiter with bonuses, but spreading his or her knowledge throughout your team to make the entire team “super.”

Welcome to the 21st century.

Some of the Related Conference Sessions at the ERE Recruiting Conference in San Diego:

  • Using Big Data to Drive Measurable Recruiting Results: Getting Past the Hype (Wed. April 23, 4:15 p.m.)
  • Think Like a Marketer and Ace Your Recruiting Results (Thursday, April 24, 3:15 p.m.)
  • Strengthening Your Recruiting Department’s Internal Reputation and Influence (Wednesday, April 23, 10:15 a.m.)
  • RPO Decisions: Whether to Use RPO, and If So, Which One (Thursday, April 24, 2 p.m., with Kevin Wheeler and recruiting leaders from Honeywell and Ingram Micro)
This article is part of a series called News & Trends.
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