A Plethora of Tools but a Paucity of Wisdom

Almost every day I am confronted with some new product or service that promises to at least greatly enhance and often to revolutionize the recruiting function. I don’t think it has ever been clearer that our profession is evolving and changing more quickly than any of us predicted. The Internet is the centerpiece of most organizations’ recruiting tactics, and we now have tools to help us at every stage of the recruiting process. In fact, we have a plethora of tools and a paucity of wisdom and skill in applying them effectively. Recruiters are confused?as are the senior management teams of most organizations?as to which technologies are essential to winning the talent war and which are fads. I often meet recruiters who equate technology with job boards, or who feel as if Internet searching is the only way to find candidates, or who have no idea as to what is good or bad in technology or what works and what doesn’t work. Tools and services are frequently purchased because the salesperson did an effective job in selling the benefits of their product, or because the recruiter is afraid that they will lose their competitive edge if they don’t have the latest tools. Unfortunately, many of these recruiters rarely have a clear strategy on how to deploy and integrate technology into their recruiting process. In order to steer technology choices there has to be an understanding of what is happening in the world of recruiting technology, and there has to be an appreciation for the evolutionary nature of all technology. The tenets of technology that every recruiter should know are these: Tenet #1: Whatever software or Internet application you are using today it will be obsolete within 1 year. It may be upgraded, it may evolve or merge with some other technology or it may simply be superceded by a better concept. You always need to understand this when you invest in a technology. Tenet #2: Know why you investing in the technology. To understand why it may be helpful to be aware of the technology adoption curve. This curve is based on historical evidence of how new technologies get adopted. It divides users into categories: Innovators, Early Adopters, Early Majority, Late Majority, and Laggards. Innovators are motivated by technology and adopt it quickly even if they don’t exactly know how to use it well. The recruiters who bought Resumix 10 years ago illustrate this, or those who began using the Internet before anyone even had a resume online. In some cases, using the technology was for them more exciting than the results it produced. They usually understand that the technology they have chosen will change dramatically. <*SPONSORMESSAGE*> The Early Adopters grab onto technology to gain or keep a competitive edge. They believe that by being early, they can pull far enough ahead of the competition to make the cost and effort worthwhile. This is where many of you are, I would guess. You are buying or learning to use technology because you are afraid that if you don’t you will fall behind everyone else. While there may be truth to that, there are ways to develop strategies to align the technology choices with strategic direction. The Early Majority adopters are focused on productivity and on being able to deliver results cheaper or with fewer people. The only recruiting technology that they could adopt today, the only one that has matured, is applicant tracking. Applicant tracking software has evolved over the past decade into a robust and useful Internet-based technology. All the other tools and technologies will undergo huge change and revolutionary growth over the next 2-5 years as the Early Adopters learn how to use them and demand more power and capability. The last two categories of Late Majority and Laggards are those seeking to be like everyone else. These groups are the ones seeking approval and need a high degree of general acceptance before they are comfortable adopting something they consider new. Tenet #3: All early tools copy what is done in some other way. For example, early applicant tracking systems simply scanned in resumes, duplicating paper electronically. These early systems rarely add anything new. Over time the products evolve and become more aligned to their own unique capabilities. Always seek tools that do more than you can do with existing methods. Think outside the traditional and be open to vendors who offer products that seem to break the established molds. They are probably onto something pretty good. Firms like FlipDog, Hire.com, and JobTag all are in this category. Tenet #4: Create a way to sort or categorize technology. This helps you understand where it fits, if indeed it does fit, the usual recruiting process. I will expand on this in another column but, for example, one category of technology helps firms build talent pools. Some firms that produce this type of product include Hire.com, RecruitSoft.com, Refer.com and JobTag.com. Other technologies aggregate people so they are easier to find. These include all the job boards. Tenet #5: Develop an overall strategy for your recruiting process. Know who you are recruiting and why. Be able to demonstrate how technology can assist you or not at each step. Then work with technology vendors to understand if and how their products will integrate with others to form a front-to-back solution for you. This is the most important tenet and one that I will also expand on in future columns. To simply buy a product because it solves an immediate need may make you an Innovator, but may also put you in the corporate doghouse. I suggest that any of you who are activity involved in deciding what technology to acquire and which vendors to choose read some of the books by Geoffrey Moore. He has written “Crossing the Chasm” and other books which help to explain what is going on with technology and how to deal with the chaos and promise it brings. While his books are written more for the vendors and creators of software, they are very useful for all of us as well. More next time…

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Kevin Wheeler is a globally known speaker, author, futurist, and consultant in talent management, human capital acquisition and learning & development. He has founded a number of organizations including the Future of Talent Institute, Global Learning Resources, Inc. and the Australasian Talent Conference, Ltd. He hosts Future of Talent Retreats in the U.S., Europe, and Australia. He writes frequently on LinkedIn, is a columnist for ERE.net, keynotes, and speaks at conferences and events globally, and advises firms on talent strategy. He has authored two books and hundreds of articles and white papers. He has a new book on recruiting that will be out in late summer of 2016. Prior to his current work, he had a 20+year corporate career in several San Francisco area tech and financial service firms. He has also been on the faculty of San Francisco State University and the University of San Francisco. He can be reached at kwheeler@futureoftalent.org.


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