New Latitudes: A Story Set in the Future

February 23, 2010. Another day at DH Services, one of the largest healthcare providers in the United States, and Jamie Deal was just arriving at his office. Well, actually it wasn’t much of an office ó just a small cubicle with wireless technology that connected him to his candidate relationship toolkit. DH Services had stopped assigning offices to people back in 2005, and employees now had the ability to work from anywhere they wished. They could access everything from web conferencing tools to VoiP services with just their laptop or PDA. Jamie didn’t like to work at home, as many of his colleagues did, because he had three small children. The cubicle was fine. Jamie was responsible for recruiting all the medical professionals for DH, which operated more than 200 hospitals and clinics in the U.S. Jamie hired doctors, specialists, nurses, and some of the more senior technicians. He was usually at various stages in the recruiting process with between 50 to 60 candidates simultaneously. Sometimes he thought back to the mid 1990s, when he was just a beginning recruiter, and he sure was glad his boss had decided to investigate the CRM concept. Back in the 1990s, CRM was a dream. The only recruiting tools were a telephone, a primitive applicant tracking system database, and the Internet. He spent hours searching the Internet for candidates and even more time trying to find one in his database. He couldn’t really tell much about the candidates without interviews. With those tools, he regularly dealt with 10 to 20 candidates, although he admitted the level of service he gave them wasn’t very high. Most candidates were interviewed at least twice, many more than that, and lots of great candidates slipped through the cracks and never got an interview at all. Back in 2004 and 2005, the vice president of staffing at DH had decided to take a look at the then-emerging area of CRM. Jamie hadn’t paid much attention, to be honest, as he was consumed primarily about dealing with the 10-20 candidates he had. In hindsight, though, he realized what a brilliant decision his boss had made. The first time he encountered a CRM tool was in 2004, when DH began to test all professional applicants for skill and attitude. Although Jamie had been skeptical of testing candidates, he was soon made a convert. He had thought for sure that quality candidates would not take tests and that the tests would be long and boring. It turned out candidates loved the tests and appreciated the immediate feedback they got on how well they did. The tests themselves were really fairly short. Jamie was amazed at how well they could tell the skill level of candidates. Once in a while he would interview a candidate and then compare his thoughts to the test results. It was clear that he wasn’t the great judge of people he thought he was! At almost the same time that it instituted testing, DH decided to re-create the recruiting website. They made it an interactive, marketing-focused tool that would help steer the right candidates to the right job. By asking the candidates to answer some carefully thought-out questions, the site directed candidates to various web pages that gave them whatever information they needed to more fully understand what the position would demand of them. Because the website offered to give candidates feedback on various short tests to determine skills levels and attitudes, very few candidates dropped out of the screening and assessment process. By the middle of 2005, DH was testing all professional candidates and giving them real-time feedback on their likelihood of being given an interview. Jamie also found that, by the time he got the candidate’s information, the candidate was well informed about DH and was excited about a job possibility. As his boss was a real believer in streamlining processes, many hiring managers got to see the candidate’s data at the same time Jaime did. By 2008, hiring managers often made direct email or telephone contact with a candidate, reducing the time Jamie needed to spend in administrative details. Offers were put together using software that compared market survey data, current salary ranges for that position in the firm, and the candidate’s expected salary. Once in a while an adjustment had to be made for the exceptional candidate, but more time was saved by using technology to improve this process. Jamie’s job changed from spending time selling DH and getting candidates in front of managers to working on making sure the talent pool was full of qualified candidates. In fact, for the past three years, Jamie has been working with vendors to improve the technology he uses to stay in touch with candidates and others who were interested in positions at DH. He had begun by simply using email, but he soon had learned that even email takes a lot of time. DH also used chat rooms to answer candidates’ questions and to communicate with groups of candidates. This was a fair solution, but not as good as the use of social networks. By using a product called Spoke, DH wound up building its own community of hiring managers, recruiters, and candidates. They could refer each other for specific jobs, ask questions, and discuss issues offline if they wanted. This really had changed the quality of the interaction. DH could also tap into a growing body of knowledge about candidates and hiring managers. The analytic software the company had recently purchased could look at information from the talent pool and analyze it in different ways. DH soon realized that important patterns emerged. Some candidates were attracted to specific kinds of information, and the website could be made flexible enough to adapt to their likes. Certain candidates, with specific traits and skills, seemed to be more likely to get offers than others. Some hiring managers with certain characteristics were more likely to hire one type of candidate over another. Using this tool, Jamie was able to very closely match candidates with hiring managers, quickly, and that freed him up to work with other candidates. He could also tweak the website and marketing messages on a regular basis. Jamie spent more and more time looking at external and internal labor market patterns and doing scenario plans so that he could be ready with qualified candidates for almost any possible change in the market. He could hardly recognize his old job as a 1990s recruiter. After five years of slowly adding technology and re-engineering processes, Jamie could handle roughly three times as many candidates as he could before. The candidates themselves were much happier with the quality of the service they got and the information they had about the company and the positions. The hiring managers were pleased as well. They rarely had to wait more than a few hours for a good candidate to surface and often made the hire the same week they had the opening. It seemed to some that all of a sudden recruiting had become an efficient process ó but one that still retained its human and personal dimensions.

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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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