The Emerging Digital Recruiting Challenge

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I believe the advent of the Internet along with the subsequent continued advances in connection speed, infrastructure improvement, and social tool capability is having a profound effect on corporations and society on par with the industrial revolution. There are 3 big challenges / shifts I see for the recruiting function as our profession migrates to this brave new world.

3 Challenges for Digital Recruiting

Speed of Technology

One is that the speed of technology change is so fast that it is obsoleting the skills of the mid to senior level members of our profession and adding new competency requirements that are a mismatch for their basic core personality. The integration of technology in our daily activities, and the understanding of how the web, social, and emerging communications infrastructures fit together is a core component to be successful as a recruiter, and especially in recruiting management and leadership. This will create profound change on the type of individuals our profession hires and promotes. I have seen this radical change years ago as part of the “Quality Movement”. At the time, I was managing quality at a major chemical producer that supplied the textiles and automotive industries. The norm at the time was to promote line workers that had leadership skills to increasing levels of supervision and management jobs. I was tapped to lead training programs and install the basic tenants of quality that included the “social aspects” such as participative management & quality circles, as well as the nuts and bolts “Statistical Process Control Curriculum”. Over several years we tried and tried to “train” many of these great employees in this new world. In the end, this training fell short since many of these folks lacked the basic competencies to be successful. The answer was not to “train” but to “select” engineers and engineering technology degreed individuals to assume the management and leadership roles. (One note…. I am not a training person….I am a selection person. I believe in one simple concept: you can train a horse to fly, but it is better to hire an eagle).

I see a shift happening today in recruiting. Organizations that embrace the “wild ducks” who have a recruiter mentality with a techie gene will in my estimation have a distinct advantage. I have worked on both sides of the HR technology fence in both corporations and for vendors. The number 1 complaint, I hear over and over again from my vendor colleagues, is the lack of technical prowess in recruiting leadership! What I find exciting is that I know several of my wild duck friends, who have been run out of organizations in the past for being unique and creative in the digital space, are now sought after talent in the age of social recruiting.

Fixing the Day to Day Operations of Your Recruiting Department

The second big challenge or shift underway is in how the recruiting departments function and operate on a day to day level. In recent years, there has been a movement to what I term “self-service supply-chain” staffing. The focus has been on speed, efficiency, and cost reduction. This has work fairly well in recent years, especially with lackluster economic conditions and an oversupply of labor in many markets – but this type of short term think does not support long term success. The issue I see is that organizations have used technology to replace social elements in the interaction between jobseeker and organization, instead of using technology to enhance the communication. This lack of interaction stands out in the age of social. The days of “post and apply” are fading. Jobseekers want to have interaction and they have high expectations regarding how employers should behave on the web. Basic HTML pages with mixed branding and fluff content do not cut it anymore. They want to know the real company, engage with content focused on their specific career category, and interact with real employees to help facilitate their career choices. This will take investment in social recruiting activities and the technology to facilitate the experience.

Reacting to Job Seekers Positively

The third challenge/shift is in how recruiting and HR react to jobseekers and candidates in the emerging age of the “naked corporation”. As years go by, jobseekers have more and more access to tools that help them assess the inter-workings of organizations. Sites like Glassdoor provide ratings from employees on their work environment, benefits, salary, etc. LinkedIn has the potential to redefine the marketplace if they ever did a jobseeker focused “Best Places to Work” analysis. They have more data on an organizations workforce than the companies HR Department. They know where talent flows within industries as well as why candidates leave certain employers. I can imagine that within the next 5 years there will be enhanced ratings of corporations as places of employment that will further impact jobseeker perception of “XYZ company as a workplace.” Add to that an organization’s employees. They can be a major aid in helping locate the best talent or a net roadblock.

During the “Quality Revolution” of the 1980’s, an American statistician (W. Edwards Demming), who was responsible for the rise of the Japanese Auto Industry, often mentioned the power of a happy and an unhappy customer. He understood the viral nature of positive and negative news. If he were alive today I bet he would revise his concept to include the power of a happy and an unhappy employee!

This brave new world is upon us today, and our success as an organization depends so much on our ability to adapt and change to the new norms and corporate reality.

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