I have been involved in recruiting for over three decades, and I used to routinely say that nothing had changed in recruiting. However, in the last few years, the Internet, the mobile phone, and other changes in society have finally produced enough change in recruiting that someone can differentiate between “old-school” recruiting and “new-school” recruiting. Old-school recruiting relies heavily on old media, including newspaper ads, career fairs, large job boards, and mailed-in resumes.
In direct contrast, new schoolers are enamored with new communication media like blogs, podcasts, and text messaging. The divide is getting larger, and it’s becoming more obvious every day. Old schoolers in recruiting are decidedly uncomfortable with these new communication approaches, the same ones that the new schoolers can’t live without.
Incidentally, the term “new school” here doesn’t particularly refer to an age group as nearly every age group knows what “LOL” means. Instead, it refers to a lifestyle and a way of communicating that differs significantly from the approaches that were dominant just five years ago. Another distinction is that the prime recruiting target for these new schoolers isn’t the average, actively-looking job candidate that the old school seems to be satisfied to attract. Instead, the narrow focus of the new media approach is on the 5% of the workforce who are both innovators and game changers, as well as first users of this media.
10 Signs of an Old-School Recruiter
Here is a simple list that can be used by hiring managers to determine if the recruiters assigned to them are decidedly old school.
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- They don’t use text messaging. While only 20% of the adult population utilizes text messaging, over 50% of the younger generation uses it. In fact, they prefer instant or text messaging over email by a significant percentage. If you don’t utilize text messaging to communicate with your candidates, you’re likely missing a significant portion of this new mobile phone-reliant population that doesn’t require a laptop to communicate. If you’re not aware of the new IM applications and jargon, IMHO, you are so last year! In fact, the mobile phone is becoming the next must-use recruiting platform for those smart enough to successfully utilize permission-marketing techniques.
- They don’t blog. Having your own blog is no longer unusual, but it’s still a great way to communicate your message to potential recruits. Blogs by corporate recruiters give potential applicants a chance to get a real, unfiltered message about the recruiting process and what it’s like to work at the firm. They also provide an opportunity to make comments and ask questions before a formal application to the firm is made.
- They don’t have a MySpace or Facebook page. If you are a corporate recruiter and you don’t have a profile of yourself as a recruiter (and as an individual person) on a social networking site like MySpace or Facebook, you are a relative dinosaur. Most old schoolers are afraid of MySpace because they’ve heard about the lurking molesters who can be on it (molesters can also use telephones, but that’s no reason why recruiters shouldn’t use them). Some think that these sites are for only young people, but the average age range of a user on MySpace is in the 30s. Facebook is the fastest growing of the two, but there are many other social networking sites that allow individuals to learn more about you as a recruiter and as a source of potential recruits. It used to be that you had to have your own personal website in order to be new school, but it’s becoming okay to use social networking sites to display your individuality.
- They are not using LinkedIn. Business-oriented social networking sites like LinkedIn might themselves be well on their way toward becoming old school, but for now, they’re still an effective way for recruiters to become known and get referrals. Other non-resume based search approaches that new schoolers are likely to use include ZoomInfo, Plaxo, Jigsaw, Spoke.com, Passado, or GoLeads.com.
- They don’t use news alerts. As the amount of information that’s available to potential prospects and corporate recruiters expands, you need electronic help in order to keep up with the latest news and what bloggers are saying. If you’re not using Google alerts (or a similar service offered by Yahoo!), you’ll never be able to keep track of the activities (and then comment on them to build the relationship) of your targeted top prospects. Old schoolers don’t visit Google trends or digg.com to keep on top of what’s hot.
- They only use English. As the U.S. becomes more diverse, and recruiting from around the world becomes more common, only old-school recruiters recruit 100% of the time using the English language. Yes, even though the job itself requires English, it’s often still a good idea to begin the conversation in the recruit’s native language.
- Videos are too difficult. If a picture is worth a thousand words, think how powerful a “moving picture” would be. A significant portion of the world’s population is hooked on visual means of passing information and telling stories (TV, streaming videos, and/or films). New-school recruiters, at the very least, periodically visit their websites like YouTube in order to keep up with the latest trends. The very best new-school recruiters either post their own online videos that visually demonstrate how great their company is or they actively encourage others at their corporations to post their compelling videos. Although new schoolers love all forms of video technology, old schoolers would never consider using online video interviews or reviewing portfolio or video resumes.
- They don’t use podcasts or jobcasts. The majority of new-school recruiting prospects probably don’t even know what a Walkman is. Instead, they love MP3s or iPods (if you don’t know the difference is you’re probably old school). If you think they’re just for music, put yourself in the old-school category. Even Walgreens is utilizing podcasts as a recruiting tool. If you haven’t made a recruiting-oriented audio or video message available for download on these devices, you are missing a great opportunity to communicate.
- They’ve never tried contests. What better way is there to create a buzz than to offer online contests. The top firms have found that these contests not only allow you to identify and hire previously unknown talent from around the world, but they are also a great source to gather ideas and innovations.
- They don’t use nonrecruiting places or websites. While old school recruiters frequently attend job fairs, new-school recruiters, much like their targets, like to hang out for hours at places that have never been recruiting venues, like Starbucks. They see recruiting at these places (especially ones located close to major employers) as an opportunity, whether it means recruiting in person or by placing messages on the protective coffee sleeves that fit outside the coffee cups (Accenture, Sun, FlipDog, and LAPD have all used coffee sleeves in this way). Other prime recruiting venues for new schoolers might include concerts and industry conferences, as well as alumni, sports, charity, and community events. Places where well-paid people (and thus, likely top performers) frequently dominate the crowd. Old schoolers also see no value in spending time in electronic forums or placing recruiting links and banners in frequently visited nonrecruiting websites.
Looking Ahead to the Future
If you’re old school, there’s really no need to look ahead and anticipate recruiting tools that, while now used by only a handful, may soon become typical. Some of these trends that new-school recruiters need to plan for include using video games (the Army and the MITRE Corporation already use them) and TV shows (Donald Trump with The Apprentice and Southwest Airlines with Airline have already led the way) for recruiting.
Other future trends that old-school recruiters won’t need to worry about include sourcing using data mining of financial and credit card databases and focusing on putting together applicant pools (because nonapplicants don’t have to be tracked according to the commerce and EEOC guidelines). Committed old schoolers also need not worry about how expanding “work from home/anywhere” options will change recruiting forever (IBM, Sun, Best Buy, Cisco, and JetBlue have already jumped on this incredible opportunity) or how to recruit college students remotely without having to go through the career center. Other concepts to ignore might include using matching/dating sites for recruiting, as well as learning from/converting concepts from successful business approaches, including AdWords, viral branding, pattern buying, and capturing innovative product ideas from customers.
If you read this (or a friend makes a similar comment on it) and you think, “This is silly. I don’t need any of these modern, flashy techniques to be successful as a recruiter,” then the odds are that you are hopelessly old school. You probably also said similar things when these new wireless mobile telephones came out (you might have remarked, “I don’t see why I would ever need one of those”). In fact, it wasn’t very long ago that a majority of recruiters didn’t see any need to use the Internet to look for candidates or to post a job.
Like it or not, it has become a fact that recruiting all candidates, especially the 5% that are innovators, is closely tied to changes in the way people communicate and learn. As long as those methods keep expanding, recruiters will either adapt quickly or lose their jobs. It’s really just that simple.