A Recruiting World’s Fair: What Would You Include?

Welcome back to what is shaping up to be a special year. It seems like the early years of any century are exciting and full of change. If 2004 is as exciting a year as 1904 was, then we should see the beginning of many of the innovations that will shape the 21st century of recruiting. I expect that hiring will pick up significantly after the first quarter of the year, and that many new advances in how we use technology in recruiting will appear and begin to be tried out by the adventurous and entrepreneurial among us. This year, technology will begin to radically change human resources and, especially, how we recruit. The role of recruiters will become, to some degree, one of understanding and using technology ó the Internet, computers, software, and applications ó to the benefit of their organizations. Let’s take a quick peak at what 1904 brought before we look at 2004. 1904 The first World’s Fair of the 20th century was held in St. Louis, Missouri, and it showcased some of the technology that would shape the century. Included in the numerous displays were radium, submarines, the wireless telegraph (radio), gas-powered engines, airplanes, and the automobile. That same year, the New York subway system opened its first section. Ivan Pavlov won the Nobel prize in medicine for his work on conditioned reflexes in animals. The ice cream cone was invented, along with the tea bag, and the first wristwatches appeared. Many who attended thought the displays “fanciful,” and I doubt if many really appreciated how profoundly these inventions and discoveries would change their lives and those of their heirs. 2004 If we were to hold a World’s Fair of Recruiting, what would we showcase? What would differentiate this dawning century from the past one? Would you include technology or processes? I believe that technology will dominate, and I have listed a few things that I think will emerge over the next few years as significant advances in the acquisition of talent. Adaptive Websites An easy outgrowth of where we are now will be the emergence of websites, whose content changes to match the interests and skills of the person browsing. For example, if a person interested in human resources came to an adaptive website, the site would ask what they were interested in (or figure that our from what they clicked on and looked at) and then show them content that as tailored to that interest and skill. While we can do this today, I don’t know of any recruiting site that actually is doing this. The benefit, however, would be that candidates would see material most interesting to them and most likely make them continue on reading and learning about the opportunities you have. These are likely to appear in some form within the next few months. If any of you have already put a website like this into place, please let me know so that I can pass the word on to others. Extensive Online Assessment and Screening It is now possible to use a variety of web-based software products to do a sequence of tests to screen and assess an individual candidate in such a way that the candidate is positively impressed and that the results are predictive. Technology has advanced from 80-100 question instruments that turned candidates off, to much shorter but still valid ones. It is no longer necessary to send candidates to special testing places or to make them come into your offices to take these tests. Many organizations are using their recruiting sites to do behavioral interviews that provide each candidate with the same questions and the same opportunities to respond. They remove individual bias and all chance that an illegal or inappropriate question will be asked. Take a look at sites such as Chili’s Restaurants and Best Buy to see examples of these. Other firms are using aptitude or culture fit tests or other types of assessment tools. Look at Enterprise Rental Cars and at Radio Shack for examples. A few innovative organizations are experimenting with behavioral judgment tests. These are adoptions of the situational judgment tests and focus on actual past performance. This allows the assessor to confirm the candidates’ choices by contacting third parties the candidate provides. I will write more about this type of testing soon. Online Simulations for Assessment Large firms have been using in-box and other simulations to test executives and people who will hold the most significant positions in a firm for ages. But these simulations require a full day of the candidate’s time, as well as that of a battery of psychologists and technicians who set up, administer, and interpret the results. Thus they are too expensive and too impractical for anything other than a handful of positions. Emerging, however, are online simulations that consume much less time and require no psychologists to interpret. The U.S. Army has pioneered the use of a simulation of driving a tank to determine such traits as speed of learning, the ability to multitask, perceptual accuracy, and short-term memory. The simulation is fun and doesn’t take a lot of time. It appeals to the age group that the army is seeking and provides a level of assessment that previously only much more costly and extensive tests could deliver. I expect that these will become one of the most popular forms of assessment ó especially for positions that require agility, speed, precision, and fast learning. This is only the tip of new technologies and processes that are coming. Next week, in Part 2 of this article series, I will talk about how the popular networking software from organizations like LinkedIn and Spoke can be used in recruiting and about what is happening in wireless technologies for recruiting. If you are a user or a creator of technologies for recruiting, assessment, sourcing, or communicating, I would love to here from you. I would also like to know what you think should be included in our World’s Fair of Recruiting. Best wishes for an exciting and innovative new year!

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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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