Game of Thrones & Talent Acquisition Tech: Who Can Unite the Kingdoms?

Spoiler Alert: If you aren’t current on Game of Thrones, go catch up and come back :).  (How are you not up to date anyway?!)

Game of Thrones Season 5 is coming this Sunday, and at SmashFly we’ve been counting down the days. The season preview looks pretty epic, and for someone who’s opted for the TV series vs. the (extremely verbose) books, I’ve been waiting for FOUR YEARS for Khaleesi and her dragons to find their way to Westeros.

With more books on the way (if George R.R. Martin hurries up), I know this is most likely not the season for a complete takeover or a union of the Seven Kingdoms. But in my anticipation for the final battle of power in Westeros, I started thinking about a similar battle for leadership: in talent acquisition technology.

There are many technologies being used in the attraction phase of talent acquisition: mobile, social, CRM, job distribution, career sites, recruiting analytics and employee referral tools. Each technology plays a role in attracting qualified candidates―but will any one of them rule the talent acquisition kingdom?

My belief: no, not alone. In a modern talent acquisition strategy, the sum of technologies is greater than the parts. At least it should be, if they all work in concert. Imagine the power of Westeros if the Baratheons could work hand-in-hand with the Lannisters, the Starks and the Tyrells. This was Tywin Lannister’s vision, and the reason behind the arranged marriages of his children.

But while Tywin’s vision for ruling the throne sadly went into the toilet (yeesh), your talent acquisition strategy doesn’t have to meet a similar fate. You just need a better plan to unite the kingdoms. Here’s my take:

Uniting the “Kingdoms” to Create an Optimal Talent Acquisition Strategy

Mobile – LinkedIn found that nearly 75% of active candidates view a company’s career site on their smartphone, and 65% have browsed career opportunities or company social channels from mobile. Still, mobile tactics are green in the talent acquisition world—organizations know mobile is important to recruiting, but the question is how to leverage it in the overall strategy. It comes down to better understanding of the new candidate experience: How do candidates use mobile to search for jobs and engage with employer brands? What do they expect from using mobile to apply? Mobile can’t be assessed by itself because it’s a channel through which candidates engage with every other part of your talent acquisition efforts: career site, social channels, search, email, apply and so on.   

Social Recruiting – I see this similar to mobile: it’s essential, but recruiters haven’t really figured out how best to use it in the candidate experience. How does social influence engagement? Can it affect conversions? How can we measure the impact it has on new and quality candidates in the pipeline? Are we giving social the proper credit toward our desired outcomes (i.e., making quality hires)? If you use a solution that encompasses all of your channel data and campaigns, as well as your other tactical efforts, you can gauge source of influence and a more complete picture of a candidate’s journey. But currently, many organizations are using technologies that are purely social-focused or gathering metrics from individual channels. There’s no way to connect the dots if your technology is siloed.

CRM – The CRM is a database for all of the qualified contacts you want to keep in your pipeline and continue to nurture until the right position is open. It’s a living, changing and growing tool in which you are continuously building relationships with candidates that have critical skills. In fact, this database of contacts is the most valuable asset you have in talent acquisition. But by itself, it is just a list of names―it’s how you reach and engage those names that matter. And you engage them through your email nurture, SMS campaigns and content marketing, to name a few. The CRM reminds me of the Lannisters—powerful and currently in charge, with connections to a vast amount of people. But working alone, they know they don’t have what it takes to control all of Westeros.

Job Distribution – You need job postings. You need distribution of those postings. But they only really reach the 15% of workers that consider themselves active job seekers. The purpose of job distribution is to convert active candidates into applicants―not to help build a relationship with passive candidates. And that’s why it must serve as part of a larger strategy that includes attraction and engagement efforts as well. The key is figuring out how much of your budget should be used towards job marketing versus tactics that attract new candidates to your pipeline. To know how to allocate budget, you need to know which tactics are most effective at influencing qualified candidates to apply. And to know that, you need an integrated view of your entire strategy.

Employee Branding/Career Sites – The employer brand is the face of your culture, your people and your organization. Design, usability, smart copy and dynamic videos—they are all great career site features to attract candidates. But to have a great career site, it has to have substance―relevant content, thoughtful SEO, simple lead capture forms and calls to action―along with a way to measure and track results. It also needs the right visitors, which means you need attraction strategies to get them there and a personalized experience once they arrive. Your employer brand is reflected in your career site, but your core message and look and feel must trickle down into your messaging on every other channel. I liken this to Margaery Tyrell, who is young and beautiful at face value, but has backed up her pretty face by proving patient, intelligent, cunning and strategic, thus giving herself a foundation as Queen (I’m rooting for her, can you tell?).

Employee Referrals – Many organizations will tell you they have some type of employee referral program. If not, they at least know that employee referrals can equal stronger, quality candidates that have been vouched for. However, it’s hard to gauge the value of referrals if you don’t compare their quality to candidates from other sources. And many organizations don’t have a way to systematically support their unique ERP process or accurately track referrals. Employee referrals may bring in some of the most qualified candidates for current and potential jobs—yet these referrals are siloed from other prospective candidates. How will your organization engage with them? Do all interactions need to be about a specific job? What is their value in the future, if the current position wasn’t a fit? You need to be thinking about how your engagement efforts in other channels can filter into this audience as well.

Recruiting Analytics – You can have a point technology solution for each of the above individual efforts―and there are some platforms that offer metrics on a few of these tactics. But what happens when you want to see metrics across each effort over the course of time? It’s nearly impossible to output data from each technology into one side-by-side view to get a complete and accurate picture. How can you trust data from multiple sources consolidated manually? Is each tool tracking metrics in the same way? To get clear, actionable insight, you need a holistic view of how your efforts are performing togetherAgain, it’s your strategy that should be succeeding, not just individual tactics.

Each of these kingdoms—or technologies used in attracting and nurturing candidates—is significant to the overall talent acquisition strategy.

But in my view, none of these kingdoms can or will be the leader because they are individual pieces. By themselves, they aren’t able to take a step back and provide a strategic view―they are tactics, each too focused on its own ambitions. When you have each tactic working individually, management becomes more difficult, the need for oversight increases and holistic measurement is impossible. There needs to be one connecting, overarching, strategic leader that unites them.

Recruitment Marketing Platform: The Technology to Rule Them All

I wish I could predict how George R.R. Martin’s tale will end (actually, I love the thrilling suspense of each episode, so I’ll keep waiting). But I will bet on what the front-end of talent acquisition will look like in the future: it will be ruled by Recruitment Marketing Platforms. Yes, I work at a Recruitment Marketing Platform company―but hear me out. A Recruitment Marketing Platform is the only way talent acquisition teams can effectively practice the art and science of modern recruitingand measure their efforts. I believe this because, as a marketer, I couldn’t live without my marketing automation system.

We’ve accepted the ATS as a solid technology for every part of the candidate application process. But imagine if the ATS was broken into seven separate components: one tool for online applications, a separate database to store data coming from those applications, a different tool to create job descriptions, another system for storing hiring manager feedback, etc. What a nightmare trying to get them to work together to make the application process synchronized and compliant!

This nightmarish example proves why a Recruitment Marketing Platform makes sense in today’s modern recruiting world of attraction, engagement and conversion efforts: it is a single technology solution that provides an integrated, measureable and holistic vantage point of every recruitment tactic an organization is using. One platform to serve as your CRM; to execute job distribution, personalized email campaigns and social media; to manage and track employee referrals; to measure clicks, opens, page views and conversions; and to integrate with your ATS so you can see the complete journey of your pre-apply and post-apply efforts.

The battles on the Wall and in King’s Landing are far from over, and I’ll be glued to my TV on Sunday night (and every Sunday after) to see what storms are brewing in Westeros and beyond. But in talent acquisition, the leader is already here: Recruitment Marketing Platforms will unite your kingdoms.

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