Why It’s a Great Time to Be in the Talent Business

Apr 29, 2013

Screen Shot 2013-04-24 at 4.10.05 PMAccording to PwC’s 15th Annual Global CEO Survey 2012, talent acquisition and retention are top priorities for companies worldwide. That doesn’t surprise me, and I doubt it surprises you either. It’s a great time to be in the talent business.

What does surprise me though is that despite talent being a top priority, most recruiting products don’t work very well.

That’s because most were designed more than a decade ago for decision makers — not you, the user — and haven’t evolved much since.

Now for the good news: things are changing. Consider the case of iPhone vs. Blackberry. In 2007, BlackBerry was the go-to device for professionals. Then Apple built a smartphone that was easier to use — the iPhone. Meanwhile, Blackberry remained laser-focused on decision-maker priorities: scalability, security, and administrative control. iPhone adoption steadily increased as a result. Eventually, people started bringing iPhones to work, but were frustrated that they couldn’t access their corporate email. Fast forward to today: iPhones are increasingly common in corporate America and are supported by many IT departments.

This is a prime example of a fundamental shift in behavior: the consumerization of the enterprise.

At the risk of stating the obvious, the users of enterprise products are people like you and me, not enterprises. We use devices and apps like the iPhone, Gmail, and Facebook … and we expect the ones we use at work to be equal to, if not better than, the ones we use at home.

Consumerization means putting the user’s priorities first. Instead of striving for security, scalability, and administrative control alone, you focus on the principles that drive great consumer-product design:

  • Simplify — Hide complexity while retaining power
  • Recommend — Surface relevant information based on preferences and usage
  • Automate — Eliminate repetitive tasks that feel like work
  • Socialize — Build on the user’s network and the user’s company’s network

When will the talent-acquisition industry have its iPhone moment? Soon! Recruiters are starting to demand more from the products they use, and savvy vendors are stepping up with products that are easier to use and more powerful. That means spending less time sourcing and more time engaging with candidates in more meaningful ways.

Here are three things recruiters should do now to take full advantage of the consumerization of the enterprise:

  1. Be more demanding. Expect more from the products you use and the vendors who develop them. Ask yourself: Do your vendors specialize in enterprise software only, or do they develop consumer products as well? Companies that understand consumers and put the user first will be the long-term winners in the enterprise.
  2. Be technophiles, not technophobes. Embrace and experiment with new products to identify the ones that are a pleasure to use and increase your productivity.
  3. Be creative — As phases of the recruiting workflow become automated, recruiters who thrive will distinguish themselves by engaging candidates in more meaningful ways. Analyze the capabilities of your products and identify the new ways in which they can help you more meaningfully engage the right candidates at the right time with the right messages.

Now more than ever before companies realize that talent is their greatest competitive differentiator and recruiters are gaining access to easier to use and more powerful products. Like I said, it’s a great time to be in the talent business.

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