Can innovation be practical? Or does recruiting need to be more radical?

Lisa Jones asks tough questions of recruitment ahead of this week's Symposium Innovation in Recruitment conference in Canary Wharf...

Worklife-balance

The Innovation in Recruitment Summit  is coming up and I’m up speaking alongside a client and HRD, Marc Bertrand (Northgate plc). 

I’ve known Marc a few years and we have had numerous coffees (and cake!) and chewed over the practicalities of social recruiting strategies. 

We’ve focussed on “practical” as he is a practical HR Director – he wants to drive his business forward, wants to engage with best practice, but doesn’t have a bottomless pit of cash, or time in his or his team’s day to stop the bus. 

Can practical be innovative? 

The word practical and innovation are not often used in the same context – if anything they are often seen as opposites.  The word innovation smacks incremental change at one end of the scale, leading to revolutionary change at the other.  In any event, it’s about improvement. Perhaps you may even see innovation as radical (and totally impractical).  In recent years to say that technology has been innovative is an understatement – and recruitment has run along behind massively out of breath barely keeping up. This has got me thinking – what’s innovative about recruitment right now? 

ResourceBank have asked Marc and I to speak at the event on 18 September and our focus will be on why recruitment needs to have technology and social media – does it even need to be that innovative? 

Innovation in recruitment – a practical list 

So, what do I see as innovation in recruitment?  How about this for a starter list: 

  • When using social media and tech, have goals, not simply a strategy with tactics.  There’s a difference.  (And this would be a massive and positive step forward for recruiters both in-house and agency in 2014.) 
  • Understanding how your existing employees use technology and social media and then harnessing that knowledge to engage with their clones on the outside of your business (your ideal talent?)  We are so busy running out into the street waving a job spec that we ignore the people we barge past on the way out of the door. 
  • Accepting that there may not be a candidate shortage – but there definitely is an “interested” candidate shortage. It’s about them not you! 

This is what I see as innovation in recruitment – a realisation… it’s about them not you. 

Check out the average social media profile of a recruiter or a corporate – it’s about them – their business, their jobs, their products.  At a stretch it may be about their staff, their culture, their future (but that’s still about you). 

It’s easy to talk about you – it’s something you’re passionate about.  You’re an expert on it. You have a marketing team to do it for you.  This needs tackling!   

Having a content plan aimed at “them” not you is key, whilst having a platform aimed at them not you is absolutely crucial. 

 Mobiles are so yesterday 

We know a lot of about people and technology.  We know that big-screened smart phones were not created to send big texts (or heaven forbid massive emails). They were created to help us share and engage with images and video (and apps, games) and integrate with our lives. 

They have massively changed how we walk down the street, stand in a lift, what we do when we wake up, which hand we push a swing with and how we order food.  It’s likely that the kit I have in my pocket is more powerful than the kit I have on my desk at work.  I am more likely to apply for work outside of work than sat at my desk.  

But recruiters have yet to really get a handle on mobile recruiting. 

Candidates 1 – Recruiters 0 

Candidates have become massively innovative and the tech they have in their hand and in their pockets has driven this. 

Candidate behaviour and candidate access to technology is now driving our thoughts on how to engage with them, but we are not moving these thoughts into actions (quick enough).  I’ve recently written about the theoretical improvements to the candidate experience through technology and how I feel that as recruiters we are focussed on speed enhancers rather than experience improvers, whilst bemoaning a lack of interested or quality talent. 

Even if you suffer from the “low” figures of 20% mobile usage of your website, it’s pretty dire if you still have don’t have a mobile-enabled site.  According to some stats quoted in Work4Webinar’s latest webinar 16% of global employers have a mobile site whilst 48% of applicants have applied for a job on a mobile device and 63% of job seekers use mobile to search for jobs. 

Only 10% of the fortune 500 career sites are optimised for mobile.  iPhone is about to launch “6” and some companies haven’t even launched v1 of their mobile site! 

When was the last time you went to a website, using your smart phone, and said “yay! They don’t have a mobile-enabled site, but I’m fine with that!”  And a really scary question – when was the last time you applied for a job, or tried to approach a hiring team using your mobile… 

Candidate agility should drive practical change 

It’s clear that our talent is more agile than we are as employers.  It’s clear that we need to get practical with our strategies and focus on the goals again, rather than the tactics.  Less updates on Twitter and LinkedIn posting jobs and content about you, and more focus on practical initiatives to engage with people who have tech in their hands pretty much 24 hours a day. 

About Lisa Jones

Lisa is a director of Barclay Jones, a consultancy working with recruiters on their recruitment technology and social media strategies. Prior to Barclay Jones she worked in a number of Recruitment, IT, Web and Operations director-level roles. She is a technology and strategy junkie with keen eyes on the business process.

You'll see Lisa speaking at many recruitment industry events and being a recruitment technology and social media evangelist online.

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