Saturday, May 09, 2009

Exploring the wild west of staffing

Last week I gave a presentation at the WRIPAC meeting in Burlingame, CA. The topic was "Using the Internet to effectively attract and screen the right applicants." Here are a few observations given my conversations with a very engaging group of participants:

1. There is immense interest in using the Internet for more than just posting jobs. But many folks are unsure how to start or what's out there. For individuals new to Web 2.0 concepts (e.g., social networking sites) there is a healthy--not necessarily unwarranted--skepticism.

2. Our worlds can shift relatively rapidly from "how do we get more applicants?" to "how do we get fewer applicants?" and then back again. As recruitment and assessment professionals we need to be able to pivot quickly and make sure our organizations are up to snuff in both realms.

3. In order to use the Internet effectively, most of us need to work with our IT staff. But this can be challenging given built-in resistances to change, security concerns, and assumptions. My advice was to push them as long as you have a good business case.

4. We have a lot of work to do on the most basic use of the Internet for recruitment and self-screening: our career portals. Many are cluttered and most likely have not been reviewed critically. More white space, more links, more pictures and video.

5. Most folks have some type of applicant tracking system, but many are unsure what its capabilities are and are not 100% sure how to use it to screen applicants. Oftentimes we rush to use built-in training and experience questionnaire functionality without first understanding the best way to use them. I just hope we move away from time-in-grade.

6. People seem to be moving away from the big job boards and towards cheaper--and usually more effective--alternatives, like craigslist or more targeted postings. People are also taking a harder look at whether their advertising dollars are really bringing in the candidates they need.

7. The balance of power has shifted in some ways from the employer to the applicant. They're not just responding to our (often uninspired) job postings, they're asking their friends, looking us up on glassdoor, connecting to people through LinkedIn, etc. As partial keepers of the organization's reputation, we need to be aware of all the different ways applicants research us.

8. These are exciting times. At several points in the presentation I mentioned that right now we are in the Wild West of staffing. Technology changes constantly, and along with them so do expectations placed upon us. We learn as we go. And it's challenging, but opportunities abound for those that are willing to take some risks.

Hang on, we're in for a heck of a ride.

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