Predictions for the Future of Digital Talent Acquisition: Content (Part 1 of 3)

Screen Shot 2014-05-06 at 5.10.16 AMThere’s a Zen saying that you can never step into the same river twice. The same is true for technology. It changes every day, not just by adding new channels and platforms, but by suggesting new strategies, new tactics, new messaging, new touch points, and entirely new ways of thinking about our own jobs. What worked yesterday will not work tomorrow as you are stepping into an entirely new river.

This is as true for talent acquisition professionals as it is anyone. All of your prospects and targets have become tech savvy in their pursuit of better positions, while you are just trying to keep your head above water.

As they say, you want to skate to where the puck will be. So the better you understand how technology is changing, the better you can plan for the future. Over the next three articles, I’ll be presenting predictions on what is changing and what you should be doing about it. Today, I focus on the power of content.

Content online has been growing exponentially since its inception, but I’ve seen an explosion in the last two years. This trend is expected to continue as the amount of content will double in the next two years. As brands realize that every company is now a media company and start to build content shops in house, talent acquisition has been furiously following suit, building content around the company and various jobs. But creating content is not the same as executing a content strategy. Here are trends I think will be shaping everyone’s strategy very soon.

People want content that has value specifically to them. This may or may not be the same as content that has value to the company or the HR director. For proof, take a look at your metrics: are people reading and acting on the content you produce? Or are they gravitating to content that helps them solve a problem?

At the same time, audiences will demand and expect content on their terms. This means that they won’t want to have to read your content on your website. They might want to read it in Paper (from Facebook), in Flipboard, on their phone, on their tablet, etc. Making your content as flexible as possible will not only enable people to read or watch it, but allow them to read and watch it in the manner and on the device they choose.

People are still less concerned with the attractiveness of the content as they are with its utility. We saw this a decade ago when Google and Amazon were considered two of the most trafficked and most used websites, despite having some of the least attractive designs. People care far less for your brand design standards than if the content is useful to them. Help your prospects with content that serves them and they will listen. Build content that helps them learn something, be it about you, the job, or even themselves, and they will become a fan.

Most of the content being created recently is “fast content.” Fast is a reference to the speed of its use, not in the speed of its creation. It’s like fast food. This is data surrounding the job, like location information, job descriptions, an illustrated hiring process, quick videos about what it’s like to work there, etc.

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But I suspect that the well is being quickly tapped dry of fast content. What’s left, and the way forward-thinking companies will be differentiating themselves, is via “slow content.” Slow content — long-form videos, longer technical articles, podcasts, digital magazines, thought-leadership white-papers and the like — will start to form the tent poles around which fast content and social media promotion will be best used. Slow content gives you, your content team, and your marketing team the best opportunity to really illustrate your employer value proposition in a way that encourages trust, confidence and enthusiasm. Rather than tell a prospect you are focused on innovation, a long video showing interviews with staff members about current projects goes much further in sparking a relationship. Remember, it must clearly serve and help the user, not just you.

All of this content is worthless if it isn’t distributed well or if you have recruiters who don’t know how (or when) to use it. A candidate at the beginning of the process, someone on the fence about even applying, will need one kind of content pushed to them as opposed to the candidate in negotiation of a final offer. Recruiters are your lieutenants, making dozens of spot decisions in service of your objectives. They need to know how to use the weapons you’re providing them. That includes content.

Brand investment in content will continue to grow. Talent-focused content budgets may start to be influenced or even fully absorbed into the marketing department. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Marketing teams have experience generating content that aligns and supports a brand position (though, some do it better than others). If nothing else, having the marketing team involved may give talent acquisition access to more content budget and resources than they might have had before.

But with more content coming from more places across more platforms, the value of the employer value proposition will increase dramatically. If everyone’s telling stories, how long before they all sound the same, like yet another crime show on CBS (“This one’s a police procedural about court stenographers who use logic and the law to right wrongs”)? You need to know and reflect your company’s unique employer value proposition in order to build content that resonates with your prospects.

In the next two parts, I’ll look at how talent acquisition will expect to use social media and mobile technology to drive engagement and applications.

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