Streaming live from RecruitFest! Shanghai 2019:

Ni hao class of 2019! Please sit back, relax and loosen your spacesuit collar, I would like to introduce you to @pauljacobs4real. Some of you may know of Mr 4real as an overly parochial New Zealander who won a trip to Mexico 10 years ago. Paul now spends most of his time on Mexico’s beaches, but teleports frequently around the world and to the Moon to recruit and clone talent. So please point your 13Gs iPhones towards Cancun, as we beam Paul in and get a sense of recruitment through his eyes.

Hola! As I look back over the past 10 years I am in awe of how the recruitment profession has evolved. Technology and social media has undeniably had a massive impact on our industry. Pretty much everything is automated, end to end. Real-time technology is the norm and recruitment happens in real-time. The rise of the machine has replaced a lot of human decision making and analysis. Recruitment algorithms and predictive models have markedly reduced the potential for errors in human judgment. We now have at our disposal considerable amounts of data, beyond traditional demographics, around the psychogenic characteristics of different groups of people. On one hand the social web humanized recruitment, but on the other it has de-humanized many parts of it.

I recall where the recruitment revolution really started. It started within companies. It took a couple of years, but eventually employers were using free tools like Google Wave, micro-blogs, and all manner of social media plug-ins, extensions, and platforms. Employers morphed into ‘collaborative communities’. Within this new environment the HR and recruitment functions found it hard to demonstrate their value and eventually merged with marketing and communications into a new discipline called ‘Community Augmentation’. This move sparked a new era of recruitment innovation and closeness with jobseekers and referral networks.

The community augmenters took what was working internally and extended the model to engage externally with consumers, suppliers and jobseekers. Productivity soared as employers realized they could turn the wisdom of the crowds and their input into commercial gain. The community augmenters started experimenting with tools to extend their networks and engage even more closely with their communities - they started looking more seriously at things like instant messaging, smart-phone campaigns, hosting live events, live video-streaming, and looked really hard at why the games industry was so successful. This is when everything got very exciting for recruitment - employers started applying all these things to source talent. It sparked a new era of open communication, closeness, and fun within recruitment. The once-passive jobseeker was being reached and interacted with using the very tools that they were familiar with. And better still for the jobseeker, the recruitment process happened at super sonic speed.

So in this brave new world, what role did third-party recruiters start to play you ask? Well, they took to the streets, literally. They held up their smart phones, using augmented reality applications (a technology that started to emerge in 2009) and they walked and walked and walked. When the recruiter passes somebody on the street who is open to new career opportunities, their phone pings. The recruiter then approaches that person and an exchange of information (social networking info, career profile etc) occurs, in real-time, between phone devices. A match is either made or not on the spot. If there is a good match, then the jobseeker’s details are beamed directly to the hiring manager with a recommendation. Likewise, if an employer has a vacancy, the recruiter gets a ping as they walk past their office building. I often recall my early days in recruitment when our agency manager would say “pick up the phone, hit the streets, pound the leather”. Sometimes things change, but stay the same! Interestingly, third-party recruiters became less interested in making money from sales. The key motivator became reputation management, which as we know became the number 1 currency on the web. It was therefore vital that recruiters were active on the social web. Many recruiters became nearly full-time on platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn - not for recruitment purposes but to feed their addictions to connect, update, endorse, and appear on lists. For this very reason, many recruiters are currently considering offering a freemium model, a move many job boards adopted years ago.

Though there are many opportunities in recruitment from now in 2019 into the future, we may need to contend with a potential rebellion. There are signs many people want to disengage from the social and mobile web altogether - they want to live in private. In the meantime, I view my future in recruitment as walking the streets with my mobile phone held high and proudly in the air, and working with employers to help them tap even more widely and deeply into their talent communities.

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