Tater Tots, Innovation, and the Hard Sell

Apr 4, 2012
This article is part of a series called Opinion.

Spring ERE Expo in San Diego wrapped up last week, and I have to say that, like many of my colleagues, I had a blast. This year, I didn’t have booth duty, so I could participate fully in the sessions, catch up with my pals, and meet new folks.

Sadly, I missed the charity poker tournament (I was having too good a time in the Gaslamp district). The event raised $7,500 for autism. Congratulations to Jason Martorana, the winner. I’m coming for that bracelet next year!

I did manage to enjoy a great dinner at a fun place run by Top Chef season 5 contestant Rich Sweeny (“Spanky”), who served up gourmet tater tots (seriously, the best you’ll ever eat) and the dish on Fabio, reality TV, and Top Chef drama. Nothing like great food and geeky discussions about talent, recruiting, and creepy social recruiting tools.

One of the best experiences at ERE this year was visiting the vendor booths to get a look at some of innovative technologies. Some of the highlights:

Cornerstone launched its Recruiting Cloud at ERE. Part of a talent management suite of products, Recruiting Cloud, at the core, is an ATS. I was impressed — really impressed — by its ability to create instant HTML-enabled microsites. The system allows recruiters to create socially enabled web pages, as easily and as quickly as creating a new req. The product is new, so there are some missing features (such as built-in SEO), but the potential is there. And it is highly customizable, so a recruiter with basic HTML skills could really make this sing. This product, I think, represents a big shift in how we envision career websites.

TalentCircles is an ambitious product that bills itself as “the ultimate talent engagement platform.” The product centralizes recruiter outreach and network development by combining social media, web meetings, chat, video, job postings, mobile, and even CRM functionality. For companies serious about candidate engagement, TalentCircles makes it easy for recruiters to interact with talent networks, as well as attract and build truly social talent communities.

TargetRecruit is another SaaS product, an ATS/CRM solution built on the platform by ex-recruiters. Gotta love that! If you have used, it will feel very familiar. In fact, the workflow mimics Salesforce, treating jobseekers like prospects or contacts. The system is customizable, includes a job-matching feature, keyword tagging for custom search, and integrates social media. Again, this product reimagines the ATS as a CRM.

I didn’t get a chance to spend more than a few minutes with each of these vendors, so I have some questions, and look forward to future demos so that I can see each product in action. I’m curious about the ability of each of these products to scale (what happens when job postings generate 100,000+ applications, or social networks balloon to tens of thousands of users). Overall, I was impressed by these and other products (I also saw good stuff at Jibe (cool reverse-referral feature, where candidates refer themselves to employees they know), Work4Labs (automatic redesign of Facebook career pages to fit the new Timeline design) and Wowzer (newest player in the video interviewing platform field).

And of course, there were plenty of other vendors not mentioned here demo-ing cool stuff. It’s definitely worthwhile to spend some time taking a look at what’s new in products and features, chatting with the salespeople (most are very knowledgeable, and no one attempted to hard sell anything). And, if you’re nice, you’ll get invited to the after parties networking sessions. Until next fall!

This article is part of a series called Opinion.