Web 2.0 Recruiting is Here

My friend Sue, a project manager and an expert in the biomedical arena, was looking for a job change. Her husband had taken a new position with a firm several hundred miles away from where they lived, and she was in pursuit of her next gig. As she surfed around the Web looking at various corporate recruiting websites, she was very frustrated. Mostly what she found were online brochures, nice, boring, and uninformative sites filled with corporate-speak. Clearly, these sites had been designed by a committee, written by PR departments, and massaged by lawyers until nothing of much interest was left.

I advised her to leverage her network and use the emerging Web 2.0 world to help get a more realistic picture of prospective employers, the corporate culture, and the kinds of people with whom she might be working. In the end, she used her Facebook network and a number of blogs to narrow down the firms she was interested in. She found a new position a couple of weeks ago, after a series of experiences that I will document in later articles.

But, her search underlines the differences between the world of Web 1.0 and Web 2.0. There has been a lot of talk about Web 2.0 and recruiting, but not a lot of clarity about what it means. Simply put, Web 2.0 is the evolution from text-based, online brochure-like websites to websites that are interactive, allow control and input from the candidate, and provide information in a variety of formats, including video, audio, graphics, and text. Web 2.0 sites tend to focus on blogs, wikis, and chat and they keep the boilerplate to a minimum.

The advent of YouTube, cheap video cameras, ubiquitous broadband connections, and a sophisticated video-savvy worker means that video tours of corporate campuses as well as interview clips from employees, management, and the CEO are all becoming requisite to a positive website experience. Good recruiting sites are reducing the number of words and adding more graphics, pictures, videos, and live interviews.

But, another aspect of Web 2.0 is giving the candidate control over the experience and allowing choices. Social networking sites give a clue as to what will emerge over the next couple of years for recruiting sites.

Imagine a recruiting site in the year 2012: Sue searches for a product manager position in the biomedical field. She is taken to a variety of links, but the most outstanding one supplies her with a spectrum of information about the company in myriad ways. She can watch several videos that provide her with a good understanding of the corporate background, products, and history. She views a number of interviews with current employees, and she can even send them an e-mail. One or two of them are online and she has a 10-minute instant message (IM) conversation with a young biologist who has been at the company for six months. He gives her a lot of insight into the recruitment process and the on-boarding practices.

She is given the opportunity to participate in a simulation that will help her find the position that she is most likely to be happy in. She spends 20 minutes in the simulation and finds it fun and informative. At the end of the simulation, she is shown information about three positions that she might enjoy. She is also linked to some of the incumbents in those positions and can send them e-mails to get in-depth information.

She is invited to complete an online profile, much like the profiles she has in Facebook. In fact, she can even link to that if she prefers. She could also link to her profiles on LinkedIn or MySpace, or she can create another one just for this organization. She is invited to submit a video of her own and is provided with some guidelines on how to do that easily and quickly.

From the moment she completed the simulation, she has received a few e-mails from recruiters who would like to talk with her using Skype or the phone, whichever is easier for her. She ends up Skyping the recruiter for the position she is most excited about and has a 20-minute interview. The recruiter refers her to a password-protected portion of the site where she completes some formal documentation and officially applies for the position. She also is directed to the online scheduling system and sets up a series of interviews for the following week, and she gets a link to the profiles of the folks who will be interviewing her. These are surprisingly useful as they contain short videos of each person and provide insight into their personalities and interests.

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After about 90 minutes of interactive, informative, and mostly fun online activity, she has learned a great deal about the company, positions, corporate culture, and daily activities, and she has had a telephone screen and set up interviews.

Everything I have written here is possible today, and pieces and parts of this solution are available from a dozen vendors or more. The building blocks are interactivity and candidate involvement. Here are three ingredients to get started with.

Use Multimedia

Incorporate short videos into your website as soon as you can. These can be simple productions and, in fact, the best ones are not professionally produced. Short, candid interviews and simple tours are best. Limit each video to less than 3 minutes and make them fun. Get your CEO to record a greeting. A good example of a corporate campus tour is one made by Tivo and available on YouTube.

Incorporate Interactivity

In order to keep candidates on your site longer and get them more involved with your organization, build short polls for them to take or ask them to get involved in a chat room discussion. Provide ways for them to send e-mails to selected employees and, if you are ready for it, open up some IM capabilities to let them instantly get information from willing employees. Provide many ways to get information, from text to video.

Keep It Real

Make sure the tone of your website is real and practical. No one wants to read PR language and no one wants to hear over and over how wonderful you are. Provide facts, candid information, and links to third-party discussions about your company or products. The younger your candidate base is, the more you have to follow this advice. Young folks will not believe or pay attention to the usual corporate language used in the recruiting sites I see. While your PR folks and lawyers may balk, you need to be as committed as you can be to ensuring that your site is perceived as honest and open.

Web 2.0 is here to stay and the world of interactivity is one that recruiters should be embracing as quickly as they can. Right now, it offers a tremendous edge to those who put it into practice.

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.


8 Comments on “Web 2.0 Recruiting is Here

  1. Kevin, you make excellent points. Like John Sullivan said, most career pages are boring the candidate. Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) or Candidate Relationship Management Systems (CRMS) are restricted with their database structure and text based communication mode. Web 2.0 is taking on a more candidate-centric front end. Candidates expect more. More two way exchange. More engaging experiences. Candidates are decision makers too. Web 2.0 is providing candidates with information to support their choices.

    Maybe we will see the ATS/CRMS being replaced or morphed into the CEP – Candidate Experience Platform. The CEP could provide the dashboard and vehicle for integrating the various modes of contact and the delivery of a wide range of multi-media insights into campus and culture, real-time interactions with potential co-works, and virtual experiences, such as simulations and job tryouts.

    Recently I was exploring a career page for high tech jobs for a firm in Canada. About two pages into the text about the job I read: ‘We hope you are excited about this opportunity.’ Somehow, I feel a good majority of the potential candidates never made it that far. With today?s low tolerance for boring web pages, they clicked away, looking for Web 2.0

    Keep writing Kevin. Give the recruiting community a continuous nudge into the present.

  2. Kevin’s points about Web 2.0 are spot on; I couldn’t agree more. But, in the end, all the fancy site work in the world won’t deter a quality candidate from the things that truly matter to them – salary, benefits, culture. If these things aren’t competitive and ground-breaking enough to speak to them, the candidate will still pass the company by, cyber-saaviness and all. (Or they won’t; they’ll get hired and in 6 months you’ll be wondering why you couldn’t retain them after all that work to revamp the web site).

    I would appreciate thoughts on trends toward changing the way companies look at how people want to work. The most obvious being opportunities for things like flexibility for remote connectivity, flex-time, job sharing and generally being truly accountable for their own productivity regardless of where they are and what time it is.

    Granted, this environment is not conducive for everyone, but time and time again, we see that people are looking for more control over how they live. Work and life are not separate anymore; they aren’t even balanced anymore. They are integrated and so connected to each other that sometimes you can’t tell where one stops and the other begins.

    What if we first review and revitalize a few internal policies before repackaging the same way of doing business? Migrating to Web 2.0 is something that companies won’t choose to do; they’ll have to do it in order to keep up with the dynamic recruiting environment. But before we rush to get into it, it might be prudent for companies to see what changes they can make from the inside out to make themselves more attractive to candidates. Then the real fun begins — launching that new perspective with Web 2.0.

  3. Kevin:

    A very on point article. It certainly drives home the point of the emerging use of Web 2.0 for recruiting.

    Thank you for sharing and for providing clarity.


  4. Kevin – I think you’ve definitely explained where things are going.

    I also like Jennifer’s comment – at the end of the day salary, benefits and culture will always play a big role. But I think what Kevin is describing has a lot to do with culture. Companies – using Web 2.0 technologies – have a better / more effective way of showing off their culture. All the ‘gadgets’ in the world won’t matter if you don’t use them to authentically represent what makes your company and the people there tick. That’s what attracts top quality candidates … an ‘insider’s view’ into the company’s culture & team.

  5. Kevin,

    Great article. The challenge that we see with the current (and very Web 1.0) tools is that the candidate is just a resume stuck in a database. The fundamental shift with the new technologies is that the candidate is now empowered to showchase (in great detail) what they’ve accomplished, and what they are capable of achieving.

    Soon the days of resumes sitting in big Monster-like databases hoping to be discovered will end.

    Candidates can now create their profiles, manage them, and distribute.

  6. Kevin’s article is an excellent profile of what could happen in the near future but ignores many realities faced by corporate recruiting functions. For one example; this article ignores the many issues with data security and internal controls found in many more traditional corporations.

    But there is a more fundamental problem I see:

    The article, as with too many on ERE, in my opinion, is slanted towards highly educated tech savvy job seekers at ease with evolving tools and cutting edge technology. The reality is, most of us do not spend our lives searching for these people. The vast majority of the workers we seek are ‘regular Joe’s and Jane’s’ most of whom would not be equipped to deal with this recruiting approach.

    My team hires 2500 people a year many of whom have no presence on the web beyond a resume in a job board (if that) and an email address. We find these people through ‘real networking’ not virtual; employee referrals; trolling resume databases and other grassroots activities. I suspect this is more in line with most members of ERE…sorry it’s not so thrilling.

    I write this not to rain on Kevin’s parade and indeed some of his ideas can be used in more traditional recruiting. However before you go charging off to convince ‘the powers that be’ at your company that skype, facebook, streaming multi media, online chat et. al. are the future of recruiting, take a hard look at your candidate profile and ask ‘are my candidates really using this stuff?’

    Just food for thought.

  7. To answer your question.YES your candidates are using the new technology such as Facebook, Myspace, Linkedin, Zoominfo etc. Most people are just not ready for the Web 2.0. advertising and they are comfortable with the job boards. For the most popular way a candidate searches for a job is through search engines.

    Let me ask you before internet how did you find candidates? Newspaper correct? And it was a risk to go on job boards. Well now this is the new way and it will keep going forward.

  8. Thanks – I enjoy your posts – wanted to comment that some great tools/techniques exist for those in job search – on the other side of the table.
    Sue can utilize some Web 2.0 tools outlined in this blogpost: http://tinyurl.com/2nkang

    I showed this to one contingency recruiter and she is using it to help identify potential sales leads.


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