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Six Musings from iRecruit Expo 2013

Peter Gold

Founder, Storifyd

So the first iRecruitExpo is well and truly over and post event there’s a lot to take in about the state of corporate recruiting.

There were the usual core topics such as social and mobile but employer branding got in on the conversation quite often. The opening session by corporate recruiting maestro John Vlastelica no doubt helped a number of recruiters think a bit more about what they do rather than (just) the tools they should be using. So often we forget about the basics of recruitment:

  • Candidate experience – give them what they want rather than what you want.

  • Candidate personas – know who you have and who you should be hiring. Aspirational hiring is often just that!

  • Push back – the customer (line manager) is not always right so be a partner not a slave.

  • Focus on importance – just filling jobs is not enough; you need to fill the critical roles first!

But, even with the recruiting basics in place, technology still plays a big part in every recruiter’s life. The question is to know how to get the right balance between skills and technology.

The Dream ATS

A key session of the day was full of hope, but alas, we were disappointed. The audience tweeted their questions and whilst the panel attempted to answer them the moderator seemed to miss the points. Bottom line, we didn’t get too many views on what the dream ATS looks like but based on earlier discussions, recruiters want:

  • Flexibility

  • Simple configuration

  • Easy integration with third party products if they can’t get what they want from their existing ATS

So whilst some may dream of the perfect ATS, in most cases there are some "traditional" recruiting aspects that still need to be in place with less emphasis on the (to quote John Vlastelica) "shiny stupid" stuff.

But what do you think?

Are core recruiting skills more important than tech or can tech replace a lot of the basic skills a recruiter needs? If the ATS can take a job and automagically find a shortlist of passive candidates, show who these candidates know in your company and kick off the referral process with very little effort from the recruiter, employee and candidate, would this be the dream ATS? Maybe we need a Google Hangout to discuss your ATS fantasies or just tweet them using #dreamATS to let us know what you think.

Big Data

The second day was kicked off by Chris Hoyt with a great demonstration of how they were starting to use "big data" to make better recruiting decisions. Early days for their iPad app, but it looks very promising! Although it all looked very expensive with the talk of dedicated data analysts the basic iPad app won’t require any specialist people to use it.

But does a recruiter really need to know the exact source of every hire or will it be more important to look at trends such as:

  • Which channels drive traffic?

  • What content gets the highest levels of engagement?

  • Where do candidates view content?

One argument from a marketing standpoint would be that it is almost impossible to really define the final source as the only channel of influence. Job boards, for example, will argue that a job seen on their site may result in a candidate going to the career site at a later time such as when they get home. Without the job being on the job board initially, would the candidate have thought about that employer? The same could be said about an employer presence on aggregator sites such as Indeed, having jobs optimised for search engines (SEO) or even having a page on Linkedin or Facebook. All of these "views" influence a candidate so again using a marketing approach, a candidate will need to be "touched" 5-7 times before they finally apply. Without these other touches the supposed source of hire would not be such and therefore the "exact" data may be misleading.

So do recruiters need the kind of granular data that Chris Hoyt showed us to make ultimate decisions or do they need to look at the trends and go where the candidates hangout?

A Touch of Reality

It was refreshing to see some honesty from some of the presenters with some great examples of "failure" although I use this word carefully. Supposed failure is not a negative thing but a great learning tool (hence not really failure). Delegates told me they were looking for examples of best practice but I’d reckon they will have got as much from the examples that didn’t deliver great results as those that did.

Less Is Not Always More

There were a lot of sessions that had been planned for the day but both attending and speaking I saw plenty of delegates at most. This did mean having to make choices so to make up for any lost opportunities the organisers have added many of the presentations to Slideshare which are well worth a look.

Next Year Anyone?

I managed to talk to a number of delegates and those I spoke to found the event up to their expectations and would be back next year. With so little time and so much information available online, delegates are attending fewer conferences so those they do attend need to be:

  • Big enough to support a lot of vendors so delegates can see many in one place.

  • Lots of content so they can always find something of value.

  • Best practice examples so they can learn from others.

  • A touch of reality so they know how their own operation compares.

Leaving the conference there was still one final question yet to be answered about recruitment technology. Is one system supposed to do it all, or is it more about a Recruitment OS (operating system) with a great API that allows recruiters to install their own choice of apps?

  • Using an iPhone as an obvious example, do you accept the standard (inferior!) Apple Maps or do you install Google Maps?

  • As a recruiter do you accept the standard ATS search or do you "install" the Social Search App from XYZ Company?

An ATS as an operating system with a marketplace of Apps; now that’s a bit more like a #DreamATS. Agree or disagree? The conversation started in the Unconference session; it’ll be interesting to see where it goes.

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