Although the Internet has created a variety of tools for communication, data sharing, and relationship building, almost no one in recruiting uses them. Our websites are generally sad affairs, duplicating the paper processes and marketing materials we have used for years. We use email to communicate with candidates some of the time, but we are still more likely to pick up the telephone. In fact, a recent survey I did on screening and assessment shows that telephone screening is far and away the most popular method for determining whether to move forward with a candidate or not. Let’s face it, we’ve got a long way to go to be really effective at creating, building, and maintaining any kind of relationship with a candidate via the Internet. Most technologies take a long time to become mainstream, but they usually offer significant advantages for early adopters. Take job boards as an example. The first recruiters to use Career Mosaic and other early job boards had good success at extremely low cost. And, while there were many fewer candidates than today, those that put their resumes on the boards were generally very creative and forward-focused people. They were frequently just what many organizations were looking for, and they were available at an incredible bargain compared to the costs of using a job board today. Communication technologies are the key to tomorrow’s world for recruiters. Even now, with restricted travel and economic uncertainty, the Internet offers a number of ways for you to market to, find, assess, and even close on candidates at low cost. For those of you willing to experiment a bit in this slow economy, there are lots of tools and techniques you can try. This week I am going to provide a quick and shallow overview of some generic technologies you can incorporate into your recruiting functions. In ensuing weeks, I will dig a bit deeper and explore some of these in more depth:
- Email. Email is a mainstay for most of us. We use it to communicate on a regular basis with each other, and frequently with our candidates. More advanced email tools, like Microsoft’s Listbuilder, allow you to create entire lists of candidates to communicate with by email. You can develop extensive lists, divide them by specific interests, and schedule regular emails to go out to these people. All of this requires only a fraction of the time and money it would take to telephone or mail messages to the same number of people.
- Instant Messaging. If any of you have ever used AOL Instant Messenger or Yahoo’s Messenger, you know how powerful this technology can be. You can instantly communicate with anyone who has an ID and is online. Getting an ID, much like an email address, is easy and free. Like everything worthwhile, we will eventually have to pay for these services. But today you can learn and experiment for no cost at all other than your time. You can get candidates to acquire an ID and then initiate a chat with them almost at will. They can also check in with you when they need to.
- Audio conferencing. Imagine having all interested candidates for job in your company call into a special number you provide them by email for regular chats and updates about the company. Your CEO and CFO are probably using audio conferencing today to communicate quarterly financial information to analysts. These conferences have almost replaced face-to-face or written communications about the financial health of your organization. We should be adopting the same technology for recruiting. Interested potential candidates could join in to ask questions about a range of topics or you could simply make a statement and allow questions. The cost for this service can be steep, but it is a powerful way to communicate with a lot of people in a fairly personable way and allow them to ask questions.
- Video conferencing. Face-to-face interviews over television are commonly being done using video conferencing. Since the September 11th terrorist attacks, the number of people using teleconferencing has gone up considerably. Video is almost as good as face-to-face, and considerably cheaper than airfare and associated travel costs. Some organizations are using this type of communication on a regular basis, but most of us have never tried it all. Conferences can be arranged almost anytime and almost anywhere, and Kinko’s and other firms offer candidates easy access to the service.
- Data conferencing. You can use services from companies like WebEx and Centra to share PowerPoint files or other documents with a large number of people simultaneously. Sales organizations have been using data conferencing for several years, but they can also be an excellent way for recruiters to market and sell their organization. Rather than spend money on job fairs, you can use email to interest a large number of potential candidates in an information session conducted over the Internet on their computers. You prepare a PowerPoint presentation and show it to them while you talk. They can usually ask questions of you via a type of instant messaging system that’s built in.
- Calendaring and scheduling. We haven’t done much in this space at all, but the potential is vast. Can you imagine a candidate going through an online screening process, passing that screen, and then being passed directly to your calendar to set up her own appointment with you for an interview? This is what can be done using the right web interfaces with your Microsoft Outlook program. This could be extended to include the hiring manager’s calendars as well.
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There are other technologies such as e-learning, groupware, and even an automated help desk that could be made part of your recruiting efforts. While each of these technologies has to mature and develop more users before they will be mainstream, now is the time to get yourself familiar with them, experiment a bit, and get that first-mover advantage I discussed above.