Web 2.0 Recruiting is Here

Feb 13, 2008

My friend Sue, a project manager and an expert in the biomedical arena, was looking for a job change. Her husband had taken a new position with a firm several hundred miles away from where they lived, and she was in pursuit of her next gig. As she surfed around the Web looking at various corporate recruiting websites, she was very frustrated. Mostly what she found were online brochures, nice, boring, and uninformative sites filled with corporate-speak. Clearly, these sites had been designed by a committee, written by PR departments, and massaged by lawyers until nothing of much interest was left.

I advised her to leverage her network and use the emerging Web 2.0 world to help get a more realistic picture of prospective employers, the corporate culture, and the kinds of people with whom she might be working. In the end, she used her Facebook network and a number of blogs to narrow down the firms she was interested in. She found a new position a couple of weeks ago, after a series of experiences that I will document in later articles.

But, her search underlines the differences between the world of Web 1.0 and Web 2.0. There has been a lot of talk about Web 2.0 and recruiting, but not a lot of clarity about what it means. Simply put, Web 2.0 is the evolution from text-based, online brochure-like websites to websites that are interactive, allow control and input from the candidate, and provide information in a variety of formats, including video, audio, graphics, and text. Web 2.0 sites tend to focus on blogs, wikis, and chat and they keep the boilerplate to a minimum.

The advent of YouTube, cheap video cameras, ubiquitous broadband connections, and a sophisticated video-savvy worker means that video tours of corporate campuses as well as interview clips from employees, management, and the CEO are all becoming requisite to a positive website experience. Good recruiting sites are reducing the number of words and adding more graphics, pictures, videos, and live interviews.

But, another aspect of Web 2.0 is giving the candidate control over the experience and allowing choices. Social networking sites give a clue as to what will emerge over the next couple of years for recruiting sites.

Imagine a recruiting site in the year 2012: Sue searches for a product manager position in the biomedical field. She is taken to a variety of links, but the most outstanding one supplies her with a spectrum of information about the company in myriad ways. She can watch several videos that provide her with a good understanding of the corporate background, products, and history. She views a number of interviews with current employees, and she can even send them an e-mail. One or two of them are online and she has a 10-minute instant message (IM) conversation with a young biologist who has been at the company for six months. He gives her a lot of insight into the recruitment process and the on-boarding practices.

She is given the opportunity to participate in a simulation that will help her find the position that she is most likely to be happy in. She spends 20 minutes in the simulation and finds it fun and informative. At the end of the simulation, she is shown information about three positions that she might enjoy. She is also linked to some of the incumbents in those positions and can send them e-mails to get in-depth information.

She is invited to complete an online profile, much like the profiles she has in Facebook. In fact, she can even link to that if she prefers. She could also link to her profiles on LinkedIn or MySpace, or she can create another one just for this organization. She is invited to submit a video of her own and is provided with some guidelines on how to do that easily and quickly.

From the moment she completed the simulation, she has received a few e-mails from recruiters who would like to talk with her using Skype or the phone, whichever is easier for her. She ends up Skyping the recruiter for the position she is most excited about and has a 20-minute interview. The recruiter refers her to a password-protected portion of the site where she completes some formal documentation and officially applies for the position. She also is directed to the online scheduling system and sets up a series of interviews for the following week, and she gets a link to the profiles of the folks who will be interviewing her. These are surprisingly useful as they contain short videos of each person and provide insight into their personalities and interests.

After about 90 minutes of interactive, informative, and mostly fun online activity, she has learned a great deal about the company, positions, corporate culture, and daily activities, and she has had a telephone screen and set up interviews.

Everything I have written here is possible today, and pieces and parts of this solution are available from a dozen vendors or more. The building blocks are interactivity and candidate involvement. Here are three ingredients to get started with.

Use Multimedia

Incorporate short videos into your website as soon as you can. These can be simple productions and, in fact, the best ones are not professionally produced. Short, candid interviews and simple tours are best. Limit each video to less than 3 minutes and make them fun. Get your CEO to record a greeting. A good example of a corporate campus tour is one made by Tivo and available on YouTube.

Incorporate Interactivity

In order to keep candidates on your site longer and get them more involved with your organization, build short polls for them to take or ask them to get involved in a chat room discussion. Provide ways for them to send e-mails to selected employees and, if you are ready for it, open up some IM capabilities to let them instantly get information from willing employees. Provide many ways to get information, from text to video.

Keep It Real

Make sure the tone of your website is real and practical. No one wants to read PR language and no one wants to hear over and over how wonderful you are. Provide facts, candid information, and links to third-party discussions about your company or products. The younger your candidate base is, the more you have to follow this advice. Young folks will not believe or pay attention to the usual corporate language used in the recruiting sites I see. While your PR folks and lawyers may balk, you need to be as committed as you can be to ensuring that your site is perceived as honest and open.

Web 2.0 is here to stay and the world of interactivity is one that recruiters should be embracing as quickly as they can. Right now, it offers a tremendous edge to those who put it into practice.

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