Editor’s note: At ERE Digital: Back to the Future, May 25-27, we’ll be exploring how to move recruitment forward. But you can’t plan for the future without properly understanding the past.
The article below was originally published on ERE.net two decades ago. At some points, it feels like it could’ve been written today. At others, it’s amazing to read how things have changed.
The article’s author, Michael McNeal, appeared at the first-ever ERE event in 2001, and he’ll be back at the upcoming event for a panel discussion titled, “If You Could Turn Back Time: Looking Back on 20 Years of Recruiting.” Join Michael and other TA professionals here.
Staffing today and tomorrow cannot be discussed in 10 bullet points. So what follows is a philosophical discussion — almost a Dennis Miller-like rant — about an idea whose time is near. I hope you’ll join me as we walk into the future for a bit…
At this point, we all painfully feel that there’s a finite amount of people out there to fill our open jobs. As far as true industry shapers go, it’s beyond finite. Finding and landing an ideal candidate today is looking more and more like searching for a needle in a haystack. And discovering that prized employee hidden deep within a million resumes — ouch. (It’s not the discovery that hurts; it’s the path we have to take to get there.)
To examine what can be done about this, we first have to take a look at what’s been done so far.
One Step Up, Two Steps Back
A more automated and digitized HR process is a good thing. It has made us more productive, enabled our departments to become more streamlined, and added Information Age tools to a generally Industrial Age process.
Getting out of some of the administration allows us to focus more on the future of HR. Oddly enough, though, the recent developments haven’t put us in any better position to do what we really want to do: become true business partners with the executive team.
It could be said, then, that while we’ve taken a step forward in some areas, we’ve taken a step back in others. We’ve applied technology to our current world, and forgotten about what our world will (should) look like tomorrow. Why not start now?
Visualize Rich Candidate Data
As much as you may not want them to be, resumes are still the most widely used form of candidate data. We still consider them our main connection to potential employees. And we often think that the more resumes we have, the better the chance we have of finding the right person for the job.
Problem is, the resumes in your database are more than likely the same ones in your main competitors, or that large multinational moving into your turf, or that start-up across town who’s already attracted some of your top performers. This, of course, is a strike against any competitive advantage we once thought we had.
But none of us ever really believed that the student candidates we see on campuses around the world — or contingent workers from temp agencies, for that matter — were different from those our competitors see. (So it’s not all bad!)
In fact, embracing this reality opens up a new world of possibilities, one where we can focus less on the quantity of resumes and more on the quality of the people behind them. The idea of a Global Candidate Pool is the first step toward this brave new world.
What’s a Global Candidate Pool? In essence, it’s the vehicle that will lead us to the promised land of rich candidate data — the kind that tells us more than a resume could ever hope to. Operating on the same basic principle behind Microsoft Passport (which eliminates the mundane task of re-entering information at each stop by giving e-consumers a single name, password, and wallet for use at any site within a network), the Global Candidate Pool is a win-win for employers and potential employees alike. It assumes that the information typically found in a candidate’s resume is public domain. And it sets us up to get closer to the rich data that really helps us decide whether a candidate is right for a position within our company (work environment preferences, work style, competencies, etc.).
In short, it helps us scale down from 1 million static resumes full of information about past experiences to 10,000 rich thumbprints from which we can effectively profile and predict the success of potential candidates.
How the Global Candidate Pool Comes to Life
It’s happening already. You’re probably seeing more and more messages from candidates saying, “Come see my work at www.me.com.” As George Carlin said, “People want a place for their stuff.” Candidates want self-service. They want data control. Why not let them have a place on your corporate website that they own and can return to anytime they’d like?
Then it’s really more of a grass roots effort that starts with a network of corporate employment sites. A first-time visitor to any site within the network who finds a compelling enough reason to apply for a job online can now enter the pool. Ideally, they would enter their resume, profile their skills, and choose a password for future use. Should they then visit another site within the network, they will immediately be recognized and can proceed with providing more pertinent information for the job at hand.
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Recruiter Realness: Looking Back on 20 Years of Recruiting
For candidates, the benefit lies in the fact that a wealth of information about their competencies, skill sets, work environment fit, and past experiences would be available to help denote their potential for future success. Much like behavioral interviewing, by getting candidates to be more specific about how they work — to provide information far beyond the resume — we are able to extract behaviors and determine how they’d react in certain situations.
Sure, it takes some changed expectations. It takes weaning ourselves from resumes and just a person’s experiences. But candidates will benefit greatly from the shift. They’ll be able to present themselves more dynamically while also fostering one-on-one relationships with individual employers.
In short, the pool allows candidates the self-service they’ve been looking for, not to mention the chance to spotlight their own strengths and learn more about what a company is looking for in an employee.
For employers, the Global Candidate Pool provides the tools necessary for pre-screening and profiling candidates. By allowing us to focus more on the matching and selection technology (profiling, predicted competencies, cognitive testing, etc.), the pool positions the HR community to truly recruit for success on a mathematical as well as an emotional level.
Ultimately, it fuels a larger process in which your recruitment strategy becomes integral to your corporation’s business plan because it’s built to positively, proactively affect it, rather than to react to it. The pool allows more information to be gathered from each candidate, information that can be used to differentiate for potential fits.
Companies not within the network will run the risk of losing access to the hottest candidates because, as the Internet speeds past its infancy, potential employees will be less and less tolerant of yet another company prompting them for information that dynamically exists elsewhere.
You’ll Never Go Back
Providing potential employees with the tools for personal data delivery across a network is the shape of things to come for the new HR. It greatly benefits both the candidates and employers by enabling a more informed relationship structure (see Seth Godin’s “Permission Marketing”).
Using your corporate employment site to become a Global Candidate Pool facilitator — and your greatest marketing tool — is the first step to a better way of doing things. And I believe that once the standard is realized industry-wide, we’ll all quickly forget about the old way.
I liken the benefits of a Global Candidate Pool for HR to the everyday advantages technology has allowed us. I don’t stand in a line now to buy a book or CD and I know when to expect the next one. I don’t have to remember my airline tickets when I travel. And now I never get lost.
The bottom line is technology has changed my life. Likewise, I think the future holds a day when we won’t be able to (or want to) recruit without a Global Candidate Pool.
Join Michael McNeal for an ERE Digital: Back to the Future panel discussion titled, “If You Could Turn Back Time: Looking Back on 20 Years of Recruiting.”