Aug 10, 2011, 5:50 am ET
We’re only just digesting 3.0. But what direction are we heading in? Is it a coherent journey? Is there a clear destination/end goal?
Before anyone screams “unrealistic” or “utter fantasy” or cries B.S., let’s be clear that Recruitment 4.0 moves into the territory of vision. This is some years off. But by calculated hypotheses it is clear there will be a 4.0 and that it is a natural progression of 3.0 and builds sensibly on its foundations.
Let’s recap the different versions of recruiting.
Recruitment 1.0 encompasses traditional recruiting over a huge timeline, including good old-fashioned fax machines, print advertising, (post, spray ,and pray), and Rolodexes moving into traditional ATSs. Recruiters more focused on processes than end results. The basic any-bum-on-any-seat philosophy.
Recruitment 2.0 saw the move onto online and using technology for recruitment purposes, including the advent of online job boards & online CV searches. While the technology moved forward, the traditional methodology of 1.0 was prevalent, including online post, spray, and pray candidate attraction (aka the recruitment lottery of let’s hope the right-ish person looks at the online advertisement, at the right time and feels willing to go to the effort to apply).
Both Recruitment 1.0 and 2.0 were/are fundamentally focused on the active job seekers, (applying to vacancies, on agency books, and those watching job boards like a possessed predator).
Recruitment 3.0 is a huge leap as it moves recruitment out of its comfort zone. The beating heart of 3.0 is the non-active/passive individual and a focus on “best talent” and building predictable talent pipelines. In addition, the philosophy of “everyone is a potential candidate so engage them” is central. 3.0 takes us into building engaged, two-way, free-conversation based, transparent communities. This is anchored by things like employment branding, marketing, and PR. 3.0 is not only concerned with building communities but mapping key competitors and seducing cream-of-the-crop talent with your brand and in-house opportunities.
Recruitment 3.0 is all consumed and focused on building communities. 4.0 is all about the value of those communities, both real and perceived.
Recruitment has traditionally been a cost center. It sucks money from the profit line like Count Dracula on a feeding frenzy in Transylvania, especially if agency fees are involved, coupled with advertising/job board fees etc. Add this up and it can be an overwhelming drain on resources.
Remember that many of the Fortune 500 and FTSE 100 companies are addicted to agency hiring and mass job board advertising like an alcoholic drawn to drink. Why highlight the Fortune and FTSE companies? Primarily they should have the advantage and resources to wean off agency addiction, source passive candidates far more easily than small to medium companies, (but funnily enough it is the small- and medium-sized companies who are far more fleet of foot and innovative).
Recruitment 4.0 sees recruiting move from being a cost center (a loss-making division) to being a profit center.
It’s huge and revolutionary.
Recruitment being a profit center.
“Impossible,” you cry.
Perhaps not if you reflect and apply some visionary foresight.
Recruitment 4.0 is some years off. But not as far as some may think.
Consider the world we live in. Value is defined differently. Companies like Zynga, Facebook, and LinkedIn have massive valuations, well above their profitability margins. Their reach and potential reach and the size of their mass following — an engaged following.
Our generation is living in the information age. The power lies in networks. Networks are data. Data is power. And data is money.
We all want data. Especially recruiters and marketers/salespeople.
So how does a community, (or let’s crudely call it data) = value = monetization = recruitment becoming a profit center?
There are several facets to recruitment moving to a profit center.
Let’s look at some of those in a little more depth.
Traditional advertising is failing. The days of successful, targeted TV and print advertising are long behind us.
Ways to communicate, once limited and restricted, are now numerous and disperse.
Looking at TV, the former medium of choice for mass communication, now diminished, as people are now hungry for choice and happily spread their viewing over a diverse and numerous multitude of TV channels. If an advertiser manages to define a great TV slot to advertise to reach their target audience they are thwarted by the fact that people can now record and Tivo, hence skipping ads. TV advertising then is a busted flush.
Print advertising? Again, some national newspapers and magazines are spiraling downward from their heyday readerships. People tend toward reading the latest news online 24/7 or from niche web sites. They don’t want to wait the next day for old news. Print has had to be more salacious and do what it can to get the best scoops to get whatever sales possible. Online, people not only digest news, but have the benefit of posting comments and engaging in discussions.
So traditional messaging vehicles are struggling.
This coincides with a time when recruiter networks are expanding. Combine a recruitment database (with some companies having in excess of ½ million – million names), with social media networks, a targeted mass of names, email addresses, with perceived affinity to a business or product, and a growing realization awakens that this has a marketable value.
A marketing department does not have this scale, (or quality), of information on its database.
Now the first step is for recruiting to cross charge its marketing division to advertise to its database and community. Why not? Many marketing departments don’t see or understand the value of recruiting databases. They’re a potential goldmine of information and data … and potential business opportunities.
Taking this a step further, why not allow specific external companies the opportunity to advertise to your community? (Mindful of data protection and ensuring a community buys into contact by third-party advertisers). You remain in charge of the names and not divulging data, but certain advertising is safe to your community and could be revenue-generating for recruiting.
As this thought sinks in, revenue potential opens up.
As companies build their databases of talent, via sourcing, identification through LinkedIn, talent mapping, and coupled with their valued online communities, the need and reliance on recruiting agencies, both contingent and retained, will dramatically lessen.
This will also coincide with less of a need for corporate in-house recruiters. Hiring managers are more than adept at searching on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is greatly expanding its offering and making recruiting easier for everyone. Initiatives like ‘Genome’ from LinkedIn will radically lesson the need for dedicated in-house recruiters in the future. Coupled with your community recruiting on your company’s behalf (crowdsourcing of talent), the need for recruiters will lessen and hence accelerate cost reduction.
The very future of recruitment agencies depends on their ability to adapt to the new realities that companies are waking up to the need to break out of the active candidate pool and identify and attract passive candidates. If we take as an approximation that of the 100% of candidates qualified for your job, only 10% are active with agencies and job boards, then it’s the 90% who are more attractive to companies, and the agencies need to identify, attract, and present those candidates.
Contingent recruitment agencies, especially the large ones, are in the business of competing to be the first to present the CV of that 10% active pool, all trying to Bolt out the blocks. Unless they start to adapt by attracting and mapping out the 90% non-active and building their own communities, their model will face extinction. Now is not the time to rush and buy shares in traditional contingent operators as a long-term investment.
Even worse, the business model of traditional retained search and selection companies, as we reflect on it in this modern age, is founded on the delusions of lunacy. A client pays a 30% fee for first-year guaranteed compensation (or even just basic salary only), split into thirds, a third for commencement of the project and a third for presentation of a shortlist — the risk all loaded on the fee-paying client. Certainly, cost models will change toward loaded placement fees.
The irony is that search firm marketing is based on its peerless reputation as the ultimate Rolodex of all the golden names in the industry. Their network is the goldmine that we are seduced to unlock. If their databases are that peerless and they have done hundreds of similar searches, why then does it take four to five weeks for a shortlist? Perhaps that question is not raised enough.
The zealots will cry that the search agency is peerless in assessment and interviewing. But is that not we do in house? Why am I paying two-thirds of a fee without a placement? It’s even more laughable when the shortlist of contacts is most likely generated by a fresh graduate on $40,000 a year in the back room of the search agency, who then passes all their lead generation to the search consultant.
Alternatively, a growing trend is using a new breed of company that is engaged in market mapping, talent pooling, and recruitment research solutions — hence providing a company with a mapped market of qualified talent, with contact details and candidate profiles that the recruiter then follows up on. Not every company can afford internal sourcers, and this is the next best thing, and significantly cheaper/more cost effective than a full search.
However you cut it, the future is not bright for contingent and retained search and selection unless they adapt to changing new business realities. Not many currently have that foresight as they focus on short-termism. Hopefully agency CEOs have strong managers in their crow’s nest who are prepared to shout “iceberg ahead” before disaster strikes.
Coupled with the death/decline of agencies will be the faltering and restructuring of the large job boards.
As companies build their own recruitment databases and even more importantly their own communities, they can use creative ways to sourcetalent.
Communities themselves will evolve around certain disciplines/careers/industries and hence negate the use for paid job boards. Why pay for a large job board in the active pool when we can reach passive candidates in a free community?
Job boards will have to look at community-building themselves and earn their revenue through product placement advertising rather than paid-for job advertisements.
Companies have always embraced the concept of internal referrals. Why not the reverse? External referrals — even better through crowdsourcing using their communities.
Naysayers will point to the rewards attributed to internal referrals, generally through monetary bonuses, and hence the difficulty of applying this externally as companies don’t want to pay for talent they would have got anyway.
But recent times have showed the power of recognition and “public reward” through games like Foursquare. People love the status of being the Mayor of a local curry house.
Why not take this principle into recruiting and reward referrals from crowdsourcing: Public recognition and rewards in the community, (badges, leaderboards), on a sliding scale to reach actualization of ”real” rewards, be it monetary bonus, vacation, or a PC or iPad?
Recruitment can learn a lot from crowdsourcing.
This term was arguably defined by Jeff Howe in the June 2006 issue of Wiredmagazine.
Simply defined, crowdsourcing represents the act of a company or institution taking a function once performed by employees and outsourcing it to an undefined (and generally large) network of people in the form of an open call. This can take the form of peer-production (when the job is performed collaboratively), but is also often undertaken by sole individuals. The crucial prerequisite is the use of the open call format and the large network of potential laborers.
Howe further drives this home by stating that “it’s only crowdsourcing once a company takes that design, fabricates [it] in mass quantity and sell[s] it.”
In laymen’s language, a company posts a problem online; a vast number of individuals offer their opinions and ideas as to how to solve it; the winning idea is rewarded in some form; and the end result is the company adopting the idea for its own benefit.
Some great examples of the power of crowdsourcing exist on Wikipedia: (the following are all directly quoted from Wikipedia).
Crowdsourcing, as a concept, lends itself perfectly to recruiting.
Posing the question to your community, “We are looking for a dynamic Product Manager, with x/y/z experience … any ideas/recommendations?” will soon become a normal sourcing/name generating activity for recruiters.
The key is how to incentivize/inspire/motivate the crowd to do your recruiting.
LinkedIn gets it. It’s already making headway toward this goal, aiding a company’s ability to use employee networks and matching up people who are connected to our employees who closely match our job specifications.
But what about the wider crowd? That’s where attention will turn next.
Recruitment 3.0 recognized that recruitment is fundamentally boring. People tend to only visit corporate careers pages when they are looking for work. There is no engaging “repeat visit” content that drags them back for more. Many companies are using social media as a replacement job board and listing jobs with hyperlinks back to the job site. It’s hardly the most engaging content.
Recruitment 3.0 involves building “engaged” communities. The key is compelling, rich content, creating a destination that people want to go to on a frequent basis. That is not a list of jobs.
Remember again that recruiting is not about “bums on seats”; it also encompasses nurturing a strong employment brand proposition, attracting and seducing those not familiar with your brand, and taking them on a journey to either apply to work for your company or be an active brand ambassador in your community.
As communities build up in 3.0, underpinned by engaging content, and when those communities reach a critical mass, the next step is starting to grant VIP access and exclusive content to community members. If communities are engaged, they will be, by definition, happy to pay to be part of the VIP area, and we will see the monetization of these communities and a potential revenue stream for recruiters.
Aggregating all your social media feeds — Twitter, Facebook, YouTube content, and your blog — is the first step. This could and should be aggregated both on your corporate careers site and your mobile phone app (for those who want to be part of the community on the move). A one-stop shop for people to engage and follow your company encourages repeat visitors.
This content on the social media sites needs to feel personalized and humanized, giving exclusive access behind the scenes of your company and the individuals behind it.
But what else?
Understand the public pulse. There is no better place than the Apple Store. This shows what content keeps people coming back and is most popular to download. And guess what that is:
This content often focuses on getting people involved, something to do with your friends, and brings that “global community” together.
Each of these is “sticky” and keeps people coming back.
Why can’t recruiters use these same concepts as part of their community building but adapt them for their own companies?
Gamification is the latest buzzword. What’s funny is that some well-known commentators are rushing to speak about this subject but end up mirroring granddad at the disco trying to throw “cool” shapes to the latest bangin’ tune but instead look rather doddery and completely out of touch.
People love to be entertained. Gaming is huge. Not just “serious” video console games like the Call of Duty’s, FIFAs, and Battlefields, or the PC games like World of Warcraft, but the spread of casual gaming whether on Facebook or on mobile shows the power of people of all ages wanting interactive entertainment.
Gaming educates us about the dynamics of engagement. (Some would take this further to addiction.) What a great game does is ingrain itself into the conscious and subconscious of the player. You think about it and love the roller coaster of emotions that the game takes you through. You may pull an all-nighter, or get up extra early to get in an hour or so before having to venture off to deal with humdrum reality. Escapism is the new drug of the austere Tens.
But what else can we learn? Casual games are the key to the door of mass/mainstream and that elusive community engagement via compelling content that we all seek.
Casual games are those that embrace all demographics, are simple, fun, accessible, and from which users get an instant form of gratification. This is different than “serious games” that are deeper experiences and are perhaps less accessible due to the time invested and the barrier of controllers/complexity of purpose.
Farmville on Facebook is a classic example of community-building and demonstrates some key buttons in engagement theory (in a social context). Farmvile has been such a success for a number of reasons. First, it recognized the unbridled thrill of “gifting.” When you first visit your farm, you don’t go straight to it but to a page with a list of gifts. Many games ask you to spam mail your buddies to play the game. Farmville cleverly goes further by allowing you to send a gift of an animal or plant/crop to your friends. Of course, when we receive gifts, we also like to give them back, starting the spiral of interaction.
Part of this psychology also encourages you to help your friends by reminding them to harvest their fields and to weed their farms. It’s very community-friendly stuff.
These gifts also have a perceived value. The whole point of Farmville is to build a busy and profitable farm and maintain it. But to do this, you need to build and grow the farm, which is time-consuming and takes a while to buy plants, crops, and trees, etc. But luckily your saving grace is your friends as they help out by sending all these valuable items for your farm. Hence my farm looks better with more content so I will invite more of my friends to play, give them gifts, and expect/request gifts in return. It’s a clever use of personal psychology and satisfaction of wants.
Farmville also gets that the game has to be accessible and simple. There are no extra levels; you just keep on growing the size and scope of your own farm. The only limitation is money. But having lots of friends gets around that.
Now the clever part kicks in. The game keeps you coming back. Certain crops you plant require harvesting at certain times. Some crops will die if you don’t come back. Strawberries mean you come back every four hours. That locks in an engagement and repeat visit. “I must log back in at 2 p.m. or my crops will die!”
Farmville also cleverly gets the whole concept of one-up-manship and competing to have the bigger farm, the more money, the latest gadgets 00 and that’s where monetization kicks in. Someone can pay to get ahead of their friends, and for many that is a key driver. “I must have the biggest farm and the latest items and be ahead of my mates!”
Hence Farmville teaches us there are three things to making social games huge viral successes: getting users to invite their friends (virality); getting users to return frequently (stickiness); and people competing to win/be ahead of their friends (showing off).
Interestingly, one of the first to understand these dynamics was the Hotel chain Marriott, which has released a Facebook game designed with the goal of introducing potential employees to life in the hospitality industry.MyMarriottHotel gives players the opportunity to “work” in various hotel roles, including hospitality manager. You can start by working in the hotel kitchens and gain points for excellent customer service and profitability. The game is geared to raising awareness among millennials to job opportunities around the world (cleverly available in five languages).
Critically for recruiting, the MyMarriottHotel Facebook game includes at the top of the game a banner shouting “Do It For Real” that hyperlinks to Marriott’s jobs site. Marriott’s goal is to fill 50,000 positions at its hotels around the world, helped by this game raising awareness, (predominantly outside the U.S.).
So what is gamification, and how can it be applied to recruiting?
Gamification is using game mechanics/methodology to inspire engagement in activities that otherwise would be considered boring or routine. Recruitment certainly sits within that definition.
Key concepts of gamification that recruiters can learn from when developing communities and building compelling, repeat visit content, include:
These concepts can all be applied to corporate career sites, which are purely a repository of information overload and fundamentally dull, and of course tomobile apps. People, bored sitting on the train, plane, and bus, want content to engage them.
Some corporate sites already include games and other challenges — almost always in the Careers section — and some companies have added game elements to the recruitment process.
Some are asking, “Is this expensive? How can a recruiting department make games? But at minimal cost there is a thriving development community and graduates studying at colleges who would love the opportunity and exposure that creating and publishing a game on a corporate site brings them. Development time on games for mobile is minimal but the key is fun (look at games like Doodle Jump and Flick Football, massively popular but simple to develop).
Many recruiters are currently using Empire Avenue as a way of engaging with communities and making new contacts. Some are even using it as a sourcing tool to recruit from. For those who don’t know, Empire Avenue is fundamentally a stock market simulation social network game that encourages users to buy and sell shares of people and websites. Players have their own portfolio in a virtual economy and earn money, called Eaves, by investing in other people. This sees your own net worth rise by encouraging friends and community members to invest in you. What is cool is that when all accounts are linked together, including Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, LinkedIn, and blogs, your net worth rises based on the content you either create or share. What’s cool about this approach is that it combines simplicity with what we do on the web every day: creating and sharing content. Interestingly, Empire Avenue mimics the other sites as it’s also a social network itself. It’s allows opportunities to connect and debate with others by finding affinity groups (“Communities”) within Empire Avenue. Clever engagement mechanisms at play.
Concurrently, Google is also on the move with its Google News Badges. We all read the news, and applying the above theory — let’s call it gamification methodology — Google has created “Google Badges.” Google News users in the U.S. can earn different pins for reading the news, starting with bronze and moving up to Ultimate. There are more than 500 badges available to suit all types of interests, such as “stock market,” “Harry Potter,” and U.S. elections. These “Google Badges” follow closely on the heels of Google launching its own social network, Google+, and is increasingly trying to get people to share content via its network of services in a similar fashion to Facebook.
This will sound very similar to users of Foursquare. Foursquare is a location-based social networking website based on mobile phones. Users “check-in” at venues using a mobile website, text messaging, or a device-specific application, and select from a list of venues that the application locates nearby, e.g. restaurant, library, pub, house, etc. Each check-in awards the user points and sometimes “badges.”
The first time a badge is unlocked on Foursquare, be it an easy achievement (like the “Superstar” badge for 50 check-ins), or one that comes as a surprise (“Douchebag Badge,” which is unlocked after checking into venues tagged with “douchebag,” or the “Don’t Stop Believing Badge,” awarded for checking in to three venues tagged “karaoke” in a month), the game keeps people engaged with rewards that makes members want to use the system even more and compete with friends. Especially those who live or work in close vicinity of each other as they compete to be the Mayor of a location.
Why is gamification so important?
Interestingly, to give more credence to this area, Gartner, in research published in April 2011 stated: By 2015, more than 50 percent of organizations that manage innovation processes will gamify those processes. By 2014, a gamified service for consumer goods marketing and customer retention will become as important as Facebook, eBay, or Amazon, and more than 70 percent of Global 2000 organisations will have at least one gamified application.
That’s a big statement. 70 percent of Global 2000 organizations will have at least one gamified application.
Many commentators see that naturally fitting in the corporate careers site.
Perhaps gamification will be taken more seriously among current recruitment leaders moving forward.
People trust each other and members of their community far more than they do advertising or company communications. Paul Gillin, author of The New Influencers, talked about the impact of social media. One of his key points was that 78% of consumers trust each other more than they trust advertising — which is why they read blogs and go to chat rooms.
There are many examples to back this up, particularly when we go on vacation. The holiday industry has had to get far more authentic and responsible in its communications. No more fantastic ratings of restaurant food when it is tripe; no more “the beach is in walkable distance” … but only for those who are happy to walk for two hours; and no more “great local entertainment” when it is two people playing spoons. Why is that?
Many people now check out Trip Advisor and read how people have voted/rated their vacation/hotel en masse and then read through some of the commentary. Real. Authentic. Trustworthy. No hidden agendas, just shared experiences.
Companies value their placing on “best companies to work for” and “great places to work” lists. And these are a mix of internal questionnaires of employees’ experience and then a specialist evaluation of policies and internal structures by a panel of experts.
Glassdoor is the closest to a trip advisor for recruitment. Its bias is more U.S.-focused and needs to hit that critical mass to be held in the same esteem.
As we head to 4.0, those principles behind Glassdoor will see job seekers trust the crowd, and companies will value that authenticity far more than traditional manufactured best-places-to-work lists.
Some reading this will rightly raise the question of whether this is all this scalable. Cynics will openly proclaim there will always be a need for local agencies to hire receptionists, builders, joiners, hairdressers, admin assistants, and hosts of other roles. Screams will be heard:
Job boards will never die!
This was all predicted 10 years back and it never happened!
How can a small company generate its own community?
Many criticisms/protection of vested interests will emerge in this debate.
They’re fair points to discuss. Interestingly, when Hard Rock Café wanted to open a new venue in Florence, perhaps the initial reaction of many recruiters was to advise them to go to local “high street” agencies, or place an ad in the local press, even on a job board. The Hard Rock took a different approach and used Facebook to reach out and recruit. It built a community around the new venue opening. Hard Rock needed to hire 120 staff across eight categories from waiting staff, barmen/women, to accounting. It was inundated with responses and was able to interview 600 candidates for the roles and whittle down to the 120 needed for opening.
Whatever the size of a company, all the concepts here are relevant. It may be that a company does not have the time to build its own community but will be able to access other communities and groups, be they local or discipline-specific, such as hairdressers, and crowdsource their vacancies.
Technological, access to information, and communities know no boundaries. That’s the difference the past 10 years have made and why jobs boards and agencies have to adapt, or else.
Recruitment 4.0 is a long way off; yet, many of its concepts are resonating today and being built upon and planned. Some early adopters are even implementing some of the component parts. 4.0 is a natural progression from 3.0. It takes the community concept to the next level.
While some will be initially shocked at the radicalism involved at suggestions of recruitment transitioning into a profit center, crowdsourcing talent, and entertaining/gamification, with a period of reflection it makes sense as a natural strap-on to 3.0 communities.
Many of the recruitment leaders in place today are not ready for 3.0, let alone 4.0. They have been schooled in traditional recruiting techniques that will soon be outdated and detrimental to their business. Many more are worried about process than end results. Where does your leader stand?
Imagine those recruiting leaders who can go to their CEO and demonstrate that they have been able to map out competitors, and identify and build relationships with cream-of-the-crop talent. Leaders who have helped shape and who have put in place engaged communities with positive two-way communication social media channels, thus enhancing employment brand attractiveness, (with a positive spinoff for the consumer/product/service brand), and have hence been able to slash expenditures on recruitment and are now coming up with proposals of how to turn recruitment into a profit center.
Compare that to your current recruiting leader. Are they shaping your future in this direction?
Who do you think your CEO would prefer as a recruiting leader? The one described above or your current one?
There is plenty above to chew on and debate. Agree or disagree, what is certain is that exciting times lie ahead for recruitment.
And before someone asks, will we see an article on Recruitment 5.0 anytime soon? Not from Autodesk. We’ve got to focus on delivering 3.0 and 4.0 with the great team at Autodesk. There’s lots to do and achieve.
Ok, I'll admit this was way too many words for me to read the whole thing. What I did see, though, was the part about the death of corporate recruiters or something and how hiring managers could use linkedin all by themselves. I laughed so hard I nearly fell out of my chair. My hiring managers are continually thinking of new and creative ways to bribe me, kidnap me, or somehow insure that I will never ever leave them to recruit all by themselves. THEY NEED ME - no matter how many fancy blogs say otherwise that will never change.
But thanks for the giggle. :)