Are You Are Becoming A Technology Dinosaur?

Technology is evolving at the fastest rate in recorded history, and tools relevant to recruiters are not exempt. Every day a new piece of hardware, software, or service is announced that could be used to better support world-class recruiting. Staying abreast of evolving technology is difficult but essential for any savvy recruiter hoping to stay on top of efficiency and effectiveness expectations.

Technology by itself is never a solution, but it often enables leading-edge solutions and approaches. When someone becomes aware of a new tool or service that makes an activity easier or cheaper or faster, they naturally see how that tool could work in other parts of their life even if that tool wasn’t created with those other purposes in mind. Hiring managers, candidates, and savvy recruiters forge such expectations, so failing to be aware of and address how emerging technologies could impact your recruiting operations is akin to saying “I am happy being a laggard.”

While there are numerous indicators that that you may be on your way to becoming a “technology dinosaur,” some of the more obvious are highlighted below.

If you don’t text, tweet, own a smartphone, or know what OMG means, it might be a good idea to take the self assessment and see where you stand on the dinosaur scale.

The Technology Dinosaur Scale

The following top 10 indicators provide you with some insight into how far you are behind the times. If you are falling behind on more than five of the factors, you need to consider yourself a potential technology dinosaur.

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  1. You wear a watch — the first and most obvious indicator that someone is “old school” is a watch on the wrist. Most individuals under 25 have become accustomed to using their mobile phone to check the time. A wrist watch is a redundant “single tasker” that is often wrong.
  2. You carry a camera –– for anyone other than a photography enthusiast, owning a separate digital camera or — gasp, non-digital camera — is evidence of life in a bygone era. The cameras embedded in smartphones and tablets often shoot general purpose photos/video at quality levels akin to consumer cameras. In addition, embedded cameras are not likely to be forgotten and can share the captured memories with friends and family instantly. Even the national media have begun to use pictures and videos captured by mobile devices because of their quality and the fact that such devices are almost always present at the seen of a newsworthy event. If you need further proof that the stand-alone video camera is becoming obsolete, look no further than the recent announcement by Cisco Systems that it will shutter its Flip business unit which produces standalone high-definition camcorders, even though it just acquired the business two years ago for $590 million.
  3. You still use a fax machine — if you use a fax machine on a regular basis and have the fax number listed on your business card, you are sending an instant message that you live in the past. Desktop scanning solutions offer far better options for transmitting hard-copy documents electronically. The fax machine has joined the pager and the VCR in the technology antique shop.
  4. You use printers and file cabinets — typewriters, long ago headed toward extinction (there is only one producer left on the planet) should have been an indication that print in general was on its way out, but many missed that. Printed documents are expensive to produce, to duplicate, to store and to distribute. Digital documents are far superior because they can be stored, backed up, updated, and accessed more efficiently. As Internet access grows even more pervasive and digital document creation, collaboration, and sharing services evolve, print will disappear. The technology-savvy have already abandoned file cabinets and printers. Even books will fade away; Amazon now sells more e-books than hard copy books.
  5. You make telephone calls — communicating by a telephone is rapidly becoming passé. Today there are so many alternative/asynchronous communication channels including text messages, tweets, social network messaging, video conferencing, etc., each of which offer distinct advantages over the sometimes dreaded phone. You might still hold the notion that phone calls provide the “personal touch,” but the data is in, and fewer and fewer people are answering!
  6. You rely solely on e-mail — if you have an e-mail account with an old-school provider like AOL or Hotmail, most already know you are old-school. While e-mail itself is still alive, it has many faults that will soon doom it to the history books. Techno-savvy individuals are shifting to communication channels that restrict access, don’t transmit viruses, and offer 24/7 access.
  7. You carry a day planner — worse than wearing a watch, nothing sends a message that you are not techno-savvy more than a paper-based leather bound “Daytimer” or calendar. Few under 25 even know they once existed. The technology alternatives are loaded with capabilities the antiques simply can’t rival including electronic alerts and CRM integration. Losing a paper-based day planner can literally be a disaster; electronic alternatives on the other hand provide numerous safer and even encrypted backups.
  8. Your language — those that openly embrace technology realize that it brings with it its own language. For example, you can’t possibly text or tweet without knowing the latest acronyms like OMG, WTF, LOL, etc. But you should also know that this new language is gaining usage in all forms of communications and messaging. Even the length of typical messages is changing and becoming shorter to better fit the size limitations of tweets and the miniscule keyboards of smartphones.
  9. You listen to CDs — if you still buy or listen to CDs, the world has already passed you by. Most newer cars have switched to MP3 technology, but even carrying an MP3 player is an indication you are falling behind the times. That insane multi-tasker called the smartphone can not only play MP3 files, but also access audio streamed live over the Internet or by satellite radio stations.
  10. Miscellaneous factors — in addition to the previous factors, there are some indicators that are hard to categorize. For example, MySpace and Friendster might have been “cool” a few years ago, but today they are considered the domain of laggards. If you watch 100% of your TV shows on TV as opposed to, Hulu, Joost, or iTunes, you are lagging. If you play video games on a standalone home console versus on an Internet gaming network or even more recently on your mobile phone (i.e. Farmville and Angry Birds) you are also not “with it.” If you can’t walk fast while texting or if you participate in meetings without your mobile phone or laptop on the table, you may be falling behind the technology trend.

Falling Behind in Talent Management Technology

Technology designed specifically to support talent management or that is relevant to the things talent managers do is evolving just as fast as that for other domains. New software-as-a-service offerings, Internet applications, desktop software extensions, mobile applications and social media platforms, are making more advanced talent management solutions not only possible, but also economically feasible for even firms with the tightest financial controls in place. Some of the technological advances you as a recruiter should be knowledgeable on include:

  • Collaboration tools — if your company experimented with collaboration products in their early years, chances are you have grown to hate the category of collaboration software, but the offerings of today are easier to use, much more powerful, and in many cases integrated with the desktop applications you rely on. Basic services like Google Docs and Zoho and more advanced products like Microsoft Sharepoint allow talent managers to build technology-empowered processes that deliver exceptional internal and external customer (candidate) experience.
  • Social networks — while most in recruiting still look at social networks as a playground for sourcing, the capabilities of the major platforms themselves and the applications that extend them can be used to empower activities throughout all stages of the recruiting lifecycle. By incorporating document sharing and live chat, your careers fan page on Facebook could very easily become a real-time candidate support application.
  • Software-as-a-service offerings — the sheer volume of software-as-a-service solutions available today is overwhelming. While enterprise solutions can still be costly, pricetags often pale in comparison to licensed software.  Advanced CRM solutions, workforce planning tools, collaboration websites, and even full blown applicant tracking options abound. For companies really lagging behind the times, many service providers now offer free/low cost personal accounts that you as an individual could leverage.
  • Desktop plug-ins and services Plug-ins extend the functionality of the desktop applications you use every day. From plug-ins for your browser that let you organize your Internet research or automatically monitor websites for changes, to e-mail application plug-ins that let you send/receive messages to all of the major social networks, this category of technology is immense. If you can imagine it, chances are it exists. One of my favorite tools is Contact Capture from Broadlook Technologies; it parses the text of web pages extracting identifiable contact information and makes it available to a variety of contact databases, no more cutting and pasting.
  • Knowledge domains (ideagoras) first coined by author Don Tapscott in Wikinomics, ideagoras are online places where large numbers of people gather to exchange ideas and solutions. Like it or not, one of the key labor types that will dominate the workforce in the future if the contingent resource engaged through any one of several dozen engagement models. Great examples of ideagoras relevant to recruiters include Slideshare, Wikipedia, and InnoCentive.
  • Mobile applications — I have said it before and I will say it again, the smartphone is without a doubt the most powerful tool in the modern recruiter toolbox. Not only can the smartphones of today support unified messaging across all channels of communication, they can also run a bevy of applications aimed at making the modern recruiter more effective an efficient. Online document sharing applications, social networking applications, remote access to enterprise applications, mobile CRM tools, location-aware applications, and productivity tools let recruiters do almost everything that could be done in the office outside the office.

Final Thoughts

This quick assessment is meant merely to be a wake-up call to those that have been too busy to keep up with the latest technology. If you find yourself slipping behind, I recommend that you adopt the approach that Jack Welch used on his technology lagging executives at GE: acquire a technology mentor (probably a recent college grad) to guide you through your upgrading process. Set as a goal to learn one new technology each month until you become the technology leader within your department.

Dr. John Sullivan, professor, author, corporate speaker, and advisor, is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high-business-impact talent management solutions.

He’s a prolific author with over 900 articles and 10 books covering all areas of talent management. He has written over a dozen white papers, conducted over 50 webinars, dozens of workshops, and he has been featured in over 35 videos. He is an engaging corporate speaker who has excited audiences at over 300 corporations/ organizations in 30 countries on all six continents. His ideas have appeared in every major business source including the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, BusinessWeek, Fast Company, CFO, Inc., NY Times, SmartMoney, USA Today, HBR, and the Financial Times. In addition, he writes for the WSJ Experts column. He has been interviewed on CNN and the CBS and ABC nightly news, NPR, as well many local TV and radio outlets. Fast Company called him the "Michael Jordan of Hiring," called him “the father of HR metrics,” and SHRM called him “One of the industry's most respected strategists." He was selected among HR’s “Top 10 Leading Thinkers” and he was ranked No. 8 among the top 25 online influencers in talent management. He served as the Chief Talent Officer of Agilent Technologies, the HP spinoff with 43,000 employees, and he was the CEO of the Business Development Center, a minority business consulting firm in Bakersfield, California. He is currently a Professor of Management at San Francisco State (1982 – present). His articles can be found all over the Internet and on his popular website and on He lives in Pacifica, California.



25 Comments on “Are You Are Becoming A Technology Dinosaur?

  1. I would like to point out the following:
    1. Wearing a watch could serve as a fashion statement or status symbol. So just because a person is wearing a watch, he/she is an old school?
    2. Cisco IP phones can receive fax documents and convert it to .pdf format. BTW, the same said device can play a vital role in Computer Telephony Integration.
    3. If you don’t talk to your candidates by phone, how are you talking to them? Do you have them look up the answer to your “interview questionnaires?” by e-mail? How about the behavioral/soft skills assessment?
    4. The sound quality between CD and MP3 files are quite noticeable. a MP3 file at 192KPS will have much distortion and will sounds like a well, compressed file.

  2. John, I guess I am old school… we still use a fax at Broadlook. Idea for an article I would love to see: When you are cutting edge with technology, how do you interact with outside vendors/candidates who are not? Would be interesting to dive into this. i.e. “I’m sorry, you can’t come to work for us because we don’t do digital signatures…we need paper”

  3. My thoughts exactly Cory. Watches are selling pretty well on the high end:

    Mobile is huge, but where would it be without voice capability? Years back of where it is now…..

    Email dead? I don’t see it. Text is short form email, just like twitter is ultra-short form blogging. My guess is that email, phone, text, and database will eventually just be a single interface for most people, just like your phone is going to be the single client-side computing device for most people.

    I think Dr. Sullivan misunderstands the totems and symbols. A nice watch is still a status symbol. Having to send an email to someone is a status marker for the target. In the days gone by, not having a briefcase was a high status move. But the deeper mistake is confusing FASHION for STYLE.

    You can be out of fashion yet carry high style, and in that regard, as to technology, STYLE means a working understanding of science and history: the ability to apply critical thinking to technical questions. That means the basics of the scientific method (e.g. the real meaning of the word “theory”, how a hypothesis is formed and what you do with one), the basics of statistics (e.g. what’s the difference between mean and median, how is correlation expressed, etc.), the basics of ecology (how natural selection works, how network effects are achieved, how support pyramids form and fail).

    Understanding history means that you can relate complex contributing factors to possible future outcomes, you can identify the differences between tactics and strategy, and you can project how people will behave when placed in certain circumstances.

    In the end, those are the attributes that generate real technical advantages, not the fashion of the moment in any given sphere. Understanding and manipulating status symbols and rituals will always be key to success in human affairs, and those tend to lag fashion (in many cases by decades).

  4. Great article and I think in general the comments are spot on. I don’t like my dinosaur tendencies but call me what you like. I am in the process of evolving. Remember, during the period of evolution, the dinosaur ate the “early adopters” for lunch for nearly 10,000 years before conditions completely flipped.

    I like to tell my dinosaur friends, while we are feasting on the hip and cool, that if text was the first communication tool of choice and someone then created voice transmission, the hip would all be buying phones to make voice calls to display their hip factor.

    In the end technology is a tool. Not everyone needs a hammer (or text or twitter) to do their jobs effectively but I do agree, you should know the names of the tools available, how they work, and everyone should make a conscious decision on the adoption of the use of these tools for their situation when the time is right. Getting behind is a bad option with potentially devastating results.

  5. Not all of these things are advantages. For instance – a fax is waaaayyyyy better than an email – being that many emails do not get seen, are not opened, or go into the junk folder. A fax is ALWAYS seen AND physically handled.

    Who do you think invented all of these new technologies? OLDER WORKERS DID! Who invented the jet plane, the automobile, the telephone, the camera etc?

  6. Computers and the new age technology have their downsides. For instance – what happens when a company computer system gets hacked and you are then liable for millions of dollars? There are lots of privacy laws that pertain to information gathered over the internet that make companies liable in ways they previously were not.

    What happens when your system crashes and you lose vital data? When I have time I will do a list of the DISADVANTAGES of the new technologies – trust me – there are plenty. The world was doing much better BEFORE we had all of the “new” technologies. The older generation did not RUIN the entire world economy but the generation now in power did. Congratulations – if all this technology is so good – how come it didn’t prevent the WORLDWIDE ECONOMIC MELTDOWN caused by the subprime – criminal mortage mess created by the current generation?

  7. Only half heartedly agree; get all the dinosaur obvious details and I am not in that category..
    Are we, all of us, forgetting how to manage our people skills.. if we no longer contact people.. if our only contact is tech-driven, we loose the human factor!

  8. Lol – looks like the poster or writer of this article believes in censorship – I guess he’s afraid his article can’t stand up to critique. Sure signs of a scoundrel – he censored my comments pointing out a few problems with his article. Hilarious!

  9. Hi. No, he did not censor anything, and I do not believe he even has access to do so. We, as always, remove anonymous comments, and we emailed you to ask if you could repost under your name. I’m still happy for you to change your profile to your name, and we’ll get your comments back up – thanks.

  10. What the author considers as “talent management technology” called social networking, AKA Web 2.0 has been around for years. This itself is considered old. I have yet to see web 3.0 technology being effectively utilized in recruitment: Ontology.

    BTW, I still would like to add two more things to the author’s view:
    1. I would not use 2.0 megapixel camera phone to take quality pictures for a night out. The 12 megapixel camera will win everytime with resolution, exposure, shutter speed, etc.
    2. What would you do if your company doesn’t have budget to electronically store new hire folders? You would at least need a place, such as file cabinet, to store the paper files, until you can electronically store them.

  11. ISTM that technological changes in recruiting mainly affect what can be easily no-sourced, through-sourced, or out-sourced- low-touch, low value-add activities. Technical advances have allowed us to locate and prescreen people in minutes as opposed to days, only to have them tied up in a months-long interview process dictated by prejudices instead of pragmatism. Also, it has been my experience that often technical advances in recruiting allow us to do more of what we should have never really done before. In summary, it’s usually more important how well you use the tools at hand and what you use them for rather than what the tools are.

    Keith “Has An 18 Year Old Son Who Loves Vinyl” Halperin

  12. See, I ditched the watch for a while but then brought it back. Got tired of pulling out my dang phone just to check the time. Can’t decide if that makes me lazy, considerate, or confused.

  13. I still use an analog knife to carve the turkey, too, even though I’ve been told that an electric knife is more technologically advanced.

    Honestly, the more I read in this article, the more I became convinced it was tongue-in-cheek. I respect Dr. Sullivan, but I disagree with many of his points here.

    It seems to me that too often people confuse neweer with better. It is a weird freak of history that the phone got invented BEFORE texting and email. Can you imagine if we only had texting and email and suddenly {whoever} announces the invention of telephony?

    There is a time and place for EVERY technology. I MUST have a fax or scanner in order to fax a printed document that is given to me.

    I have met people with paperless offices and they have struck me as control freaks with a trendy mission.

  14. I feel similarly Robert. I find that playing a CD in the car just works for me some times. It’s not a lack of adaption (I also listen to downloaded music, and my single-most-favorite website used to be Songza, prior to its dramatic changes). Sometimes, though, the CD just does the trick. I have AOL for very limited and specific reasons ( ) but also Yahoo, three gmail addresses, and so on. I don’t dread the phone and find it is better in some cases than digital communications, and in some cases worse. I’m not sure why a scan doesn’t do the job — why you need a fax — but in general, I hear you: technology is fantastic but sometimes what’s practical at the moment isn’t the highest-tech. I love the idea of cars running on something other than gas, but right now, while we work on that, we need oil.

  15. @ Todd: Quite right. (If you had a tiny 10 TByte memory stick with all your media data on it and your player had voice recognition capacity, would you feel the same way?)

    I think my technical preferences go counter to prevailing trends as I want technology:

    1) That does a few things very easily and intuitively- not something that does a million things, most of which I’ll not use, and none easy to figure out: “Your ATS here.”

    2)Increased ease-of-use of existing functions along with significant cost reductions, as opposed to increased functionality for the same/slightly more cost. Think: a Windows 7.5 that was significantly better, easier, and cheaper than Windows 7.0

    3) Greater durability/modular repairability: I don’t weant to replace my laptop because the glue drying out on the small pad underneath the space bar makes it difficult to enter information. I want a tablet I don’t have to worry about falling onto the sidewalk or spilling a drink on it.
    (Anybody remember HP pockket calculators?)

    Oh well, I’ll dream on while the engineers design, the sales reps sell, and the sr. execs buy overcomplicated, counterintuitive stuff/systems that they don’t have to use themselves…


  16. For those of you who know me, I’m very passionate about what I believe. There are times like this that I choose not to be politically correct. It may be perceived by some as unprofessional, but I believe there’s a time and place for everything and this is one of those times.

    This article chaps my ass so much that I couldn’t even get to the 2nd part of it. John’s 10 comments are typical of so many HR folks who live in a black and white world. We all need to live in a world with shades of gray. It will make for a much better environment.

    1. I wear a watch because it’s fashionable. I wear a watch when I’m horse back riding because it’s easier than pulling my smartphone out of my saddlebag. Etc…
    2. I carry a camera to places I want to get quality photos, like the mountains and national forests we have here in CO. The camera on my device is fine for spur of the moment shots.
    3. I have an All in One fax printer. I don’t use the fax often, but had had occasion to use it if someone else is living in the past. Do I really need to bust their chops for being “old school”? They already know it.
    4. I print anything that I need to mark up. I work with many people and find it’s more productive for me to take notes on the page so I can ask questions about it. Plus it gives me an opportunity to get away from my Imac for a little while. I file some documents in file cabinets still, like business receipts, vet bills, insurance items, etc. Yes, I could scan and save all these things onto my hard drive, but I still like to see the paper products if that’s what I have.
    5. “Communicating by phone is passe'”??????!!!!! This is just the reason that people don’t’ communicate effectively any longer. People have either forgotten or haven’t learned the art and ability to verbally communicate. You have to be “intimate” with someone you verbally communicate with. Email lacks this, or effective emotion frequently.
    6. With respect to solely emailing, see above and learn how to talk on the phone.
    7. I must admit I agree with this one. I have a friend who refuses to use anything but a day planner because it’s what works for her. I don’t get it, especially since she has a smartphone. If she loses it, oh well. No one to blame but herself.
    8. There’s a time and place for OMG, WTF, etc. This doesn’t mean we should be required to use these “now” forms of communication as our sole method of communicating.
    9. I listen to CDs and MP3s. In fact, I’ve put many of my MP3 recordings on CD so I can listen to them in my pickup. Yes, I’m a professional and I drive a pickup. But it’s a working truck. And when I want really great sound I pull out one of my many, classic vinyls which are wonderful. Why should I have to buy more technology so I can play my MP3s on my HI FI?
    10. As far as the “miscellaneous factors”, I must really be old school. I record everything to DVR and watch at my leisure. I spend enough time in front of my computer. I don’t want to spend my leisure time there too. MySpace and Friendster just got beaten by Zuckerberg. I never used them and they will probably just die out if they haven’t already. When I’m in meetings, whether they be phone, Skype or in person, I don’t take calls or emails. In fact, I put my computer to sleep so I don’t become distracted. I’m paid a lot of money by my clients and I will not rip them off by giving them any less than 100% of my attention. That would be out of integrity.

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