The Future Of Recruiting, Part 3: Internet Recruiting Approaches Will Change

No area of recruiting will be exempt from change as recruiting progresses over the next 10 years. But one of the areas that will undergo some of the most dramatic changes will be the area of Internet recruiting. In my experience, most current Internet recruiting approaches are really just traditional recruiting using “electrons.” As a result, the strategies and tools that are currently utilized will be obsolete in the very near future. The world of finding candidates on the Internet will change dramatically. Some of the changes you can expect in sourcing strategy and tools include the following: 1. Google dominates internet candidate “finding.” Google, Yahoo, eBay and Amazon will be the firms that dominate Internet recruiting because of their combination of brand strength, Internet sales savvy, and powerful search engines. The current “monster” approach of using large job boards to find people within an established database of candidate resumes loses its value when it contains a lot of dated resumes (old data). A new, but clearly superior, approach will be developed by Google and perhaps other well-branded Internet firms. Their “resumeless” search tool will dominate future Internet recruiting. The approach they use will be an adaptation from the current information search model, but it will instead search for the more valuable employed top performers, who are everywhere on the Internet but who may not have ever posted a resume online. These firms will do this by using an instant search technique that finds great candidates using modifications of currently available information search technologies. Google candidate search will first find the best people based on the candidate’s “Google score”. Continuous, 24/7 searches will yield more targeted, current information on higher quality working professionals than most job boards can. As managers get more skilled at using search engines, they will be able to create their own “instant” customized candidate pools. Once identified, rather than relying on what may be an old resume (or even no resume) to know the candidates background, these candidates will instead be “profiled” by using information that is gathered in bits and pieces and then put together on a single candidate profile form. The information will be gathered from many websites:

  • Alumni sites for educational information
  • Association sites for awards and professional contributions
  • Speaking and class reunion bios for general information
  • Their personal web site for examples of their work
  • Press releases for announcements of previous promotions and achievements
  • Publication sites for articles and quotes

The combined compilation of information will actually be more complete than the candidate-provided information found in resumes today. One of the problems with current searches that identify candidates who have no resume online is that a recruiter or manager would know little about their current job functions. One amazing feature of this new search process will be that it has the capability of matching any person with the job description from their firm. It will work like this: When a search engine identifies a targeted candidate without a resume (we know only their name and their job title at their firm), the search engine will automatically search its extensive job description archives (gathered from daily scans of all major company job openings in the last 18 months) and then match the title with the archived job description. The skill requirements and the job duties found in the description will be added to the candidate’s “profile,” so managers will automatically know about the candidate and his or her current job (and past jobs if they want) without needing to see a resume. In other developments, eBay will dominate job “bidding” systems where the very best candidates will literally auction off their services online. Both Google and Amazon.com will offer lists of the most “inquired about” jobs and best companies to work for, much a they now do with books, records, and other search. Candidates will also have access to search engines which will search 24/7 for that perfect “dream” job. For example, candidates will be able to set up a search engine to deliver only jobs with the right combination of pay, commute time, zip code, environmental record, placement on best-places-to-work lists, schedule, etc. 2. The globalization of Internet search. As the world of business becomes faster and more global, even small firms will realize that their current “home country” focus of recruiting will have to shift to a strategy that focuses on finding the best in the world, no matter where they reside. The shift to a global search means that recruiters will either have to be fluent in multiple languages or else utilize translator programs to convert resumes to the firm’s native tongue. 3. Remote work will change recruiting forever. In addition to the globalization of all Internet searching, remote work will have an even larger impact on recruiting. As communications and technology become cheaper and more available and work continues to shift away from physical labor toward knowledge tasks, more employees will now able to work remotely outside the office, at home, or literally anywhere around the world without having to be close to a firm’s physical offices. This will dramatically expand the recruiting pool and search territory, because you will now be able to seek out the very best no matter where they live (since candidates can stay put and still accept your job). The ability to recruit (and retain workers) outside the U.S. will move from a “luxury” to a critical competitive advantage. 4. Remote college recruiting. Rather than the expensive approach of physically visiting only a few top colleges, the focus of college recruiting will shift towards identifying the very best graduates from literally every college, regardless of its location. In addition to saving costs, this Internet approach will allow firms to identify superstars at non-name schools, who are more likely to have reduced egos and expectations then recruits from “top 10” schools. 5. Focus on quality, not volume. Currently, little effort is made to assess or demonstrate the quality of the applicants on a job board. In fact, because most boards require a complete resume to join, they are already excluding many top quality candidates who are working and do not have time to update their resume. As recruiters become more frustrated with the high volume but low quality of the majority of Internet resumes, they will demand a smaller volume of resumes and a higher quality of candidate. A related consequence of the shift is that managers will demand a higher proportion of candidates who are currently employed top performers (versus active job seekers or the unemployed). This increased demand for “poaching” will mean that sites and tools that attract mostly unemployed people will have significantly reduced usage. 6. Web-based assessment will become the norm. The globalization of the talent market will make evaluating candidates from a distance a necessity. Rather than relying on face-to-face interviews, most assessments will be done online. Some of the key features will include:

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  • Computerized simulations (and eventually virtual reality simulations), which allow potential candidates to be assessed on how they handle the real problems facing an individual firm.
  • Video-conference interviews, which will be accepted as the standard process for interviewing all but finalists candidates. In addition to cutting costs, remote assessment avoids many travel and scheduling delays. This means managers will be able to make faster hiring decisions.
  • Online technical skills testing, which will be available for most jobs. Potential applicants will be able to “self test” themselves which will have the net impact of discouraging weak applicants from clogging our system with applications
  • Online, worldwide, instant reference and immigration checks from an employment database similar to the current consumer credit checking systems.

7. Social network referral systems. As the popularity of social network systems grows, more recruiters and managers will utilize them as referral sources. These systems will automatically rate the referrals based on the past referral success rate of the person making the referral. 8. Portfolio web pages. As more professionals become comfortable with the web, most will have searchable portfolio web pages that will allow managers and recruiters to scan examples of their actual work on a regular basis to pre-identify potential targets for recruiting. 9. Improved retention through Internet search. Internet search robots will automatically search the web in order to identify any current employees who may be entering a job search mode. Once HR managers overcome their initial ethical concerns, this will become common practice. When it does, this information will be funneled to managers to allow them to take immediate retention actions. 10. Managers do most Internet searches. As more managers become comfortable using the Internet in all of their manager activities, they will become more willing and able to do their own Internet searches. In addition, as Internet search tools become easy, intuitive, and fun to use, more managers will voluntarily do their own Internet searches. Eventually, only the most difficult and sophisticated Internet searches will be done by recruiters. 11. Search engines look internally also. The same search engine tools and strategies that are effective for external hires can also be applied internally to speed up the internal placement and redeployment of your employees. By identifying talent and moving people faster internally, you will be able to dramatically reduce retention problems while simultaneously ensuring that the right workers are in the right job. 12. Recognition that the Internet is the world’s best sales tool. The best thing about the Internet is not its ability to find candidates. It’s the fact that it is a superior tool for selling the candidate on the firm and the job. An effective corporate website allows you to show off your firm’s best features in a variety of ways. Streaming video and web cams allow candidates to get a virtual tour of the plant and their job without leaving home. The web also allows simulations, drop-down menus, still pictures, side-by-side comparisons, and individual manager and employee profiles. In short, if a candidate needs to see something or even have a question answered, the web can do it easily and instantly, whereas the other options, such as newspaper ads or discussions at job fairs, are relatively weak sales tools. The web allows you to add colors, music, links to other related sites, and customized content. In the future, everyone will realize that it is the most effective tool for educating and selling candidates on the company. 13. Even executive search will rely on the Internet. Executive search firms have been slow in realizing that executives and top-level professionals are easy to find on the Internet. In addition to finding names, executive search professionals will use the Internet as a tool for finding out more about a potential candidate’s background, accomplishments, and experience. As executive search professionals become more Internet savvy, they will find that more than 50% of executive search activities can be done over the Internet because the Internet is a superior finding, communications, and selling tool. 14. List servers and chat rooms get increased attention. The web has become for many the primary tool for learning and exchanging ideas. Automated email lists (list servers) and chat rooms are frequently used by professionals to learn rapidly and exchange ideas. Recruiters can also utilize these tools to remotely find potential candidates and assess their skills by identifying the quality of the answers provided by frequent participants. These people are frequently thought leaders, and the Internet allows us to assess their ideas over time, as opposed to a one-time quick resume overview or interview assessment. Next week in Part 4 of this “future of recruiting” series, I will cover more changes in the Internet ó in particular how firms and job boards will modify their websites to improve recruiting effectiveness.

Dr. John Sullivan

Dr. John Sullivan is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high-business impact; strategic Talent Management solutions. He’s a prolific author with over 900 articles and 10 books covering all areas of talent management. He has written over a dozen white papers, conducted over 50 webinars, dozens of workshops, and he has been featured in over 35 videos. He is an engaging corporate speaker who has excited audiences at over 300 corporations/ organizations in 30 countries on all six continents. His ideas have appeared in every major business source including the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, BusinessWeek, Fast Company, CFO, Inc., NY Times, SmartMoney, USA Today, HBR, and the Financial Times. In addition, he writes for the WSJ Experts column. He has been interviewed on CNN and the CBS and ABC nightly news, NPR, as well many local TV and radio outlets. Fast Company called him the "Michael Jordan of Hiring," Staffing.org called him “the father of HR metrics,” and SHRM called him “One of the industry's most respected strategists." He was selected among HR’s “Top 10 Leading Thinkers” and he was ranked No. 8 among the top 25 online influencers in talent management. He served as the Chief Talent Officer of Agilent Technologies, the HP spinoff with 43,000 employees, and he was the CEO of the Business Development Center, a minority business consulting firm in Bakersfield, California. He is currently a Professor of Management at San Francisco State (1982 – present). His articles can be found all over the Internet and on his popular website www.drjohnsullivan.com and on www.ERE.Net. He lives in Pacifica, California.