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19 October 2012

HR Technology & Recruiting Trends: Taking A Timehop

Posted by Talemetry Today

One of the technologies that Craig Fisher recommended during the "Cool Tools" component of our workshop on Branding for Culture, which kicked off this week's Recruiting Trends Conference in Las Vegas, was Timehop - a service that basically sends you a daily e-mail with all your social media activity (and text messages, if you so desire - I don't) from exactly a year ago that day.

So I subscribed. And turns out that the Recruiting Conference (#TRC12) was being held a year to the day after I'd presented on "Building & Maintaining a Social Recruiting Framework" at the 2011 SHRM Atlanta Conference (#SHRMATL11). I'll be presenting at that conference again this April (#SHRMATL13) on the exact same topic I had just presented at #TRC12.

So basically, the last year in HR and recruiting has been pretty much, same stuff, different hashtag.

I've got the Timehop to prove it - many updates almost verbatim what they were exactly a year ago - and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. Where before progress was measured in miles, it's now, like football, a game of inches. While most HR and recruiting content tends to be purely speculative (see: "the future of work," "the worker of the future," "tomorrow's talent," or whatever pithy phrase you prefer), I thought, as the very existence of Timehop suggests, we've hit a point where we can actually look at social recruiting and cloud-enabled talent management technologies in the rearview mirror.

Recruiting Trends: Is Status Quo Apropos?

So, here's what hasn't changed in the past year (and longer):

1. HR is Afraid of Social Media: One of the things that surprised me most at both HR Tech and Recruiting Trends was the fact that HR and recruiting professionals still live in fear of social media, loathe to try it and are clinging desperately to the belief that their job is as enforcers, rather than enablers, of these technologies in the workplace. The same themes (or recruiting trends, if you like), inevitably reoccur - and so too do my repetitive responses.

*"Social Media Is A Big Waste of Time." Probably (I'm looking at you, Tweetdeck). But you know what's a bigger waste of your time? Worrying about your employees using social media. It's going to happen, and you can't even block it with a firewall, because they'll just pull out their smart phones.

*"What if my employees are saying bad things about our company?" Then use the opportunity to listen - and let them know you are. They're not stupid, so if they know HR is watching, they'll probably curtail those posts in the first place. But, if you're acknowledging that social has an impact on perception, then it's up to you to take control of the conversation instead of hiding from it...

*"How Do We Make Our Content Viral?" You can't make anything viral. But you can start by making it viable, and valuable, to the audience you're trying to reach. Stop worrying about getting more followers, fans, friends, etc. and start worrying about how to attract and engage the right ones - mainly, qualified candidates and current employees. The great thing about social networks is they have a multiplier effect: start with the low-hanging fruit, and the rest pretty much takes care of itself.

2. The Cloud Casts A Really Long Shadow: Of the hundreds of software vendors at HR Tech, not one of them, at least as far as I could see, was selling a primarily on-premise solution. But almost ubiquitous in collateral and content was the theme of "the cloud" or "software as a service", both of which are just really fancy ways of saying that you can access your information anytime, anywhere.

We get it. Although, from the way it's being used as a selling point, HR professionals actually should have a little bit of skepticism about the cloud - not from a security or delivery standpoint, but concerning continuity. A question I asked almost every vendor utilizing a SaaS model is: "What happens to my data if I'm no longer a client?"

The answer, in most cases, was that you're pretty much out of luck - you don't actually "own" most of the information secured on third-party servers. Although they do have to give it to you, the trade-off of easy implementation, access and updates is the difficulty in moving from one service delivery model to another. And I'm not 100% sure that, contrary to most messaging, we should be concentrating on growth rate and penetration as success metrics, but rather, customer retention.

The other trade off are the fact that, due to its delivery model, when you ask about a must-have feature, integration, or any other feature of any product roadmap that’s relevant to your business, vendors are loathe to say no - and they don't have to. Instead, they say, "It's coming in Q1." Yeah, and I'll let you get in on buying the Brooklyn Bridge.

3. Candidate Experience Still Sucks: It's great that we're giving awards for them, but the fact of the matter is, and as the Candidate Experience Awards organizers would tell you, the problem isn't that more companies are getting it right, but that most companies just aren't ready to do even the bare minimum to improve to a threshold of acceptability.

So, while we can talk about it all day long, and do, the sad fact is big data isn't our biggest problem. While technologies can be invaluable enablers, at the end of the day, we still haven't changed mindsets when it comes to even finding a standard definition of the word "candidate." And really, who cares?

Talk is cheap and it does not seem to lead to a lot of action - only an increase in awareness. That's a decent first step, but until we can get this basic tenet of our profession right, all the tools in the world won't help you attract and retain the best talent.

So, in short, the biggest trends in HR and recruiting technology aren't really trends at all. Social and cloud technologies are really just the way the business of people gets done today, not as selling points, but as realities. But when it comes to applying these technologies to the most pressing problem facing our industry, end user adoption still lags. And so too, inevitably, does the conversation. Or at least, that's what Timehop tells me.

Topics: Recruitment Marketing & Branding, recruiting trends, talent generation, SaaS, hr technology, candidate experience, social media, big data

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