Job Applicants Have Feelings Too

I spent Thursday at the Enhance Media ‘Year Ahead’ Online Recruitment Conference. Now in it’s 14th year this event is a must-attend for those with an interest in online/digital recruitment and goes far beyond the usual job boards/mobile mix.

Once again Giles and the team pulled together an agenda that was interesting and provoked much thought and discussion during the break out sessions. Speakers from Google, Glassdoor, BT and KPMG were joined by specialists, practitioners, commentators and bloggers from the online recruitment world to look at emerging trends and some future developments.

There was some excellent live blogging from Alan Whitford – check out his RCEuro site for posts on several of the presentations.

I tweeted a lot of the content on the #EMConf2014 hashtag, so here are some of the things that were talked about…

We’re Only Human

Opening keynote was from the charming DeeDee Doke, Editor of Recruiter Magazine. She talked about the alarming disparity between the often exemplary client/customer experience and the, frankly often appalling, candidate experience that many businesses offer. She urged recruiters to look beyond the application to the person who had put a lot of effort into that application and to treat them with respect. She expressed concern that technology was dehumanising the recruitment process “Let’s make technology work right. Get the basics right then explore the potential”. She wanted every application acknowledged properly, not an automated email response.

There was little to disagree with. Recruitment is a people business, that helps bring real people into businesses to enable that business to meet it’s goals and objectives. Yet the process by which we do that is becoming ever more mechanical and pays little regard to the emotions, hopes and aspirations of the people.

I’ve written before that the recruitment agency industry largely operates to a transactional business model that has been untouched for probably 50 years (how many other sectors can say that) and whilst there’s money to be made it’s unlikely to change. To an agency there is little money in the candidate experience, unless that candidate is liable to be a client in the very near future.

We can only hope that somewhere in the room were recruiters taking heed to DeeDee’s call for humanity. For now it looks like recruitment technology is a lot more about the recruiter than the applicant.

We’re Always Mobile

Google made the prediction that by 2020 the entire global population would be online. I doubt this highly but can accept that their multi device world – laptop, mobile, tablet, TV, wearable, in-car – will impact on they way we do nearly everything. Including job hunting. Their figures showed that 88% of job seekers had used a mobile device at some point last year to search for jobs, which is in line with other research that I’ve seen. Interestingly their tracking software threw up the factoid that 87% of people who had searched for a job also went to Youtube shortly after (either in the same browsing session or an adjacent browsing session). Clearly an opportunity that too many recruiters miss out on.

Mixed in to all this was some ‘end of the CV’ stuff – sorry Google but even though my digital footprint tells a future employer all of what they need to know about me, very few will be looking for it and all will still want a traditional CV into their ATS – and a call to arms for companies to get creative in the recruitment process, to challenge the status quo.

We’re Under-skilled

Recruiters aren’t just recruiters anymore, they’re marketers, copywriters, strategists, social media experts amongst many other things‘ we were told by Giles Guest of Enhance Media. And he’s right. We were also told that you can’t successfully direct source if you haven’t got the right capabilities, which is very true.

All in all this talent acquisition business needs a bit more depth than we’re used to. The days of telephone jocks and super slick sales guys are becoming a memory and we need proper investment in capabilities if we are to rise above the post and pray mentality into some real sourcing. Some businesses are getting good at it but too many don’t even try.

I have to say that I don’t see this coming yet. Most recruitment presentations that I see are rooted in cost per hire and time to hire reductions and not in quality. To many recruiters a role like ‘Social Media Manager’ isn’t one that they actively source the channels for but one that they advertise and let the technology do the parsing.

We’re Looking For The Wrong Things

Those presentations that centred on social media and digital optimisation were clear in the message that we look for the wrong things. This manifested itself in different ways:

  • Too much ‘noise’ not enough engagement
  • Volume of links and likes not the quality of them
  • Obsession with large traffic not relevant applications
  • Continuous pursuit of new candidates without converting or properly assessing the ones we already have

Glassdoor told us that 90% of job seekers find company information and perspectives on social media useful in decision making, whilst 61% of new employees say that their new job is not what they were expecting. Conclusion is that many companies oversell and under-deliver on their roles. They also showed how real social engagement (proper conversations not robotic interactions) improves candidate flow.

We’re Facing Big Changes

So what are my thoughts from the day?

  • That the industry is going through a lot of change as working patterns, workforce planning and employee expectations all evolve
  • There’s too little investment in our recruitment teams. Some really are becoming a low cost automated, process led function and are in danger of becoming low skill too.
  • Candidates are ahead of recruiters on mobile, digital and social and their expectations of being able to use these in their job hunt are not being met
  • Some rays of hope. The tools are there and the data (small not big) is there to help recruiters and job seekers better align, to help expectations be better met on both sides and to help companies and job seekers avoid any nasty surprises in the hiring and on-boarding phase
  • There was a room full of recruiters eager to learn…let’s hope they go back and practice what they heard

And one final observation…

…it wasn’t until 2.32 in the afternoon that first mention of Google+ was heard…

4 thoughts on “Job Applicants Have Feelings Too

  1. Hi Mervyn
    A great roundup of the themes of the day a #EMConf2014. Thanks for the nod. As always, you deliver the thinking man’s analysis, while I ran the stream of consciousness reports.

    I agree with your concluding thoughts. While there may not have been too many things new, it is clear that a huge number of companies could improve their recruitment success by getting back to the basics. As Giles pointed out, most companies already have all the candidate data they need, they just don’t use it.

  2. Hi Mervyn,
    Great summary of the day. My first time attending, but will definitely be going next year.
    Thanks for sharing!

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