Thursday, March 17, 2005

"It's just people, people."

Heather should be go straight to the top of the class for her post today entitled Blogging is not the "big, new thing" in recruiting...relationships are.

She perceptively discusses blogging as a new technology and whether it is the 'Big New Thing'. Her words on blogging resonate:
But it's role is as an enabler.

and then whilst sprinting towards the finish she finds that final kick (hey, I was a 400m runner once-upon-a-time)
Relationships and, more specifically, treating people like customers (shocking concept, huh?), is where it's at (bad grammar...sorry). Let's not even refer to them as "candidates" because that is very short-sighted. It's just people, people.

This mindshift change is both the most profitable and hardest change you can ever make to a corporate recruitment function. Too many recruiters in corporate HR see enquiries and applicants as a drag. Why do so many of the ATS companies sell 'process' - it's because the average recruiter with their 'internal clients' think that way.

I frequently get teams to envisage what the recruitment function would look like if it were designed by the people at Amazon (Amazon used because most have used it at one time). Treat your prospective employees (or employees because often they get an even worse deal) so it makes them feel special, listen and learn what they are wanting, treat them with respect and give them a service that makes them tell all their friends.

Does the 'if you don't hear from us in 3 weeks presume you're a not successful' do this? How hard is that courteous email?

Take every one of your processes, everything you do, and go through them asking 'would Amazon treat its clients like that?' and then 'how can I make people feel special?' There are no 'we can't do that's allowed in that brainstorm.

Of course you need to segment people and treat different groups in different ways depending on their 'value'. But here's the depressing thing - do anything decent in this industry and your average person thinks you're great. Yes, the bar is that low.

Presume that you're going to run out of people and you will need everyone one day. Now understand you get one chance to impress. That reject email has to be a call to continue the relationship.

So where do blogs fit in? Well as Heather points out it's one way of enabling relationships. Blogs work for some communication needs but not for others. You need a good strategy for them. Discussion boards are useful for other things (like customer service) and fixed websites useful for others.

Unfortunately with blogs you can't easily understand the reader profile. I want my relationship system (also known as an ATS) to tell me not only who is right for a job but who subscribes to my RSS feeds, who reads what pages on the site, the frequency they visit, have they ever commented, what terms they searched on, do we have their cv, when was it last updated, what percentage click through do you get on email. That's because it has to be a relationship system.

Why do I want this? Because I really, really want to add value to them, because if I add value to them they will do to me. I want to talk to them about things that interests them. If they are interested in a role in finance I want to send them a copy of each article in the WSJ, FT or the trade press that says what great work we're doing in that area. I want to segment them, know what they want and then I can sell the relevant messages directly.

I'm going to want to get them to give me lots of selection information when they find the right role not just send off a generic CV. Would they invest the time if they're not eager to get on board? Your dream is to get people who say 'I'm not looking but if yourcompany comes to me with the right offer I want to talk'. There's one of these companies in every sector. It being your competitor is unacceptable.

Technology helps you provide a feeling of personalisation to a large group of people and guess what - talk to any futurist and personalisation is one of the key consumer trends and candidates are just consumers of your jobs. Study candidate behaviour and consumer behaviour for major purchases such as cars or houses and they are almost identical.

But it doesn't end with technology. Relationships can be developed in a variety of ways, some online and some face to face. The good recruiter will use all available methods but calculate the real cost (including time) and provide different levels to different segments. Blogs are one tool but the strategy is still king.

In some ways I'm glad Heather is half way around the globe. I won't be competing with her for many people. Heather certainly gets it.