Friday, March 17, 2006

Show Up!

The ERExpo this year was energizing! It seems that more and more organizations are adopting practices that have been a direct result of the presentations from these events over the past several years. I’ve always been amazed at how many poor recruiting practices exist. I spoke to many attendees this year who are really starting to raise the bar in our profession. For those of you that read my blog and have not attended an ERExpo you need to. I’m convinced that many of the best recruiters in the industry attend this event. One of the other observations I’ve made is that business leaders (in general) understand the importance of talent. You may say—duh, of course, but I don’t think our business leaders understood talent in way they should—they see it as imperative for survival now. I also believe this is a result of recruiting and HR professionals putting meaningful information in front of them. This is an exciting time in the history of recruiting because more eyes, from the world’s top business leaders, will be on us. We will be looked at to help business succeed and will be held in the same regard as other business leaders if we do our job well. If you are not attending events like this, connecting with leaders in the industry and learning you will put yourself at a major disadvantage. I will be writing more about some of the highlights from this years event. Stay Tuned!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

One Small Innovation One Giant Leap for Blogs

I just finished reading a white paper about blogs written by one of our online/new media experts. One of the things that caught my attention was the rate of adoption versus the earlier personal website/html development. This really got me thinking about innovation and how small conceptual differences can have profound impact on the adoption of the technology.

I developed my first website back in 1994. Many of you who built personal websites then probably remember the process. You of course needed an ISP that gave you some space on their servers to host your site. Then you needed an FTP program to get your HTML from your computer to their server. Then you needed to develop the HTML. If you were like me you found sites you thought were cool and then you would view the source, copy the code and rewrite it to fit your style. Then you would upload this one page and one picture at a time. After you updated the code you would then go to your URL and see how it looked. If it looked good you would keep it. If it didn’t you would update the code, delete the old page from the server and upload the new code. One can only imagine why the masses didn’t adopt this process.

Now—let’s move to 2005. You sign into one of many sites that host blogs. You sign-up; this takes five minutes. Then you choose your blog template and layout. Then you click “post an entry”, write your blog and then you are published, searchable, and can be instantly viewed by millions connected through social networks. Someone basically took the process of 94 and simplified it. The technology change is pretty subtle when you think about it but the impact is huge! Remember Windows 95 when Microsoft said DOS will become invisible? What consumer wants to mess around with DOS? They just want to turn on their computer and have it do what it is supposed to. Like with blogs this subtle difference made the Windows 95 launch one of the most significant Windows launches in history.

I do believe there has to be one other component that makes adoption complete. There seems to have to be a voice behind the innovation so consumers can accept it. There were probably thousands of people back in 94 that said, “hey, I can easily simplify this process.” I bet there were many developers that did; however, their inventions probably didn’t get much further than their 250MHZ IBM’s. If there was a powerful voice behind these inventions then the leap may have happened sooner. The voice can be viral—a zeitgeist if you will. Or the voice can be driven by PR/Marketing/Advertising.

When I write about recruiting technologies I often hear from representatives from recruitment technology firms that say, “I hear you—but check out what we did.” To be honest, I’m still waiting for that small innovation and giant leap. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen some great evolutions in the past few years. I just haven’t seen the giant leap yet. What will this look like for me? When I can come into the office and know that every candidate who comes into contact with my company has a great experience whether I talk to them or not—my ATS works as fast as I can click a button, total integration and total simplification. Is this a lot to ask or a pipe dream—NO! We shouldn’t settle for anything less.

Like with blogs I believe we are in store for one small innovation and one giant leap for recruiting technology. Listening to the many recruitment tools vendors at this years ERExpo I believe we are close. The vendors understand the business problem so now the question is can they achieve the “duh factor.” When they make that small innovation that creates the tipping point people will say, “duh, I should have thought of that.”

Monday, March 13, 2006

The Luxurious West Tower

I just arrived at the 2006 San Diego Electronic Recruiting Exchange conference. This is my first official (live) blog update on the ground at ERE Expo. I missed the 2005 conference but did attend the 2004 expo which took place at Lowes Coronado on Coronado Island. This year the conference takes place at Sheraton San Diego.

When I got out of the airport I jumped in a cab and asked if he took credit cards—he did, but when I gave him the address he pointed to the hotel across the street from his window and said he wouldn’t take a credit card for a four dollar ride. I was a little embarrassed that I could have practically walked there but being lazy I stuck with the cab instead of jumping in a shuttle. So I arrive at the Sheraton, and while it’s not the Coronado, it seems nice. There is a big beautiful fish tank the lobby, internet area, nice restaurants and relatively swanky d├ęcor. I check in at the front desk person says “your in the west tower.” I think—that’s fine by me. Okay—anybody that’s staying in the west tower knows where I’m going with this.

I walk out the back door, past the nice fountain and beautiful pool and notice another Sheraton that looks like it’s across the Bay—I just thought, oh, that must be another Sheraton all together. Then I continue to walk down the side walk, around a bend, past a little shack, and then proceed to go to what looks like a Sheraton power station. Nope—that’s the luxurious west tower. I didn’t notice a whole lot of cars in the parking lot…hmmm, a sign maybe? I proceed in past several conference rooms and I’m thinking, oh, maybe this is the wrong place. This must be the conference area when the other hotel fills up. Uh, No—this is the hotel. So I ride up in the elevator that looks a bit worn, little chipped and smelling like bourbon and half smoked cigars. The room actually turned out to be okay—and hey, they have broadband.

At the end of the day does any of this really matter? Not one bit! I’m just psyched to be in San Diego and hanging with some of the best and the brightest in the industry. I’m looking forward to seeing you all!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Lies, Smarts or Just Plain Tact?

I had an interesting conversation with our new Worldwide Talent Acquisition Leader. We were talking about influentials in the recruiting space and the dialogue that has occurred in the online space regarding ethics around headhunting and guerrilla recruiting. My inclination has always been to lean in favor of a more, let’s say, aggressive approach to finding and hiring the best talent. I have no problem calling a candidate from a competing firm and offering them an opportunity to explore a career with Waggener Edstrom Worldwide. Companies do not own employees and if another firm offers a career opportunity that is a better match than so be it. I don’t think she disagreed with this but she did provide an interesting point of view to consider regarding guerrilla recruiting tactics—and it really made me think that there is a lot more at stake then ethics……let me explain…

Her example involved a very large retailer, and a competing firm. This large retailer had employees attending a conference in Las Vegas. The other retailer was also attending the conference and had employees staying at a hotel across the street. Here’s where it gets juicy! The competing retailer had their recruiters wear shirts with branding used to recruit employees from her company. The kicker is that they entered the hotel and mingled in the area where her company’s employees were staying. She asked me if I thought this was unethical. I thought about it for a moment and I couldn’t find an ethical dilemma with this. BUT….I did see a dilemma….

The dilemma for me was that this technique lacks tact. This is an important distinction. If you are only looking at ethics as a filter for your approach you may overlook this. She didn’t disagree with being smart and strategic about how we source candidates; however, she did have a very good point that some of the tactics being suggested out there should come with a warning label. She’s right. An organizations recruiting brand should be kept sacred. What does a tactic like this do to the brand? If I worked for her firm and witnessed this I would think these recruiters from the competing firm are cheesy and aggressive. This would not give me a compelling reason to want to work for the competing firm.

So next time you develop a sourcing tactic you think is smart, and you ask the question—is this ethical, also ask the question around tact. Will this approach convey a message that is consistent with your recruitment brand? How will this ultimately be perceived by our target audience?