Talent Search: New Game, New Rules

#3 in a Series on the Evolution of Recruiting


The after-shock of the 2008 economic cave-in has forced change in almost every facet of business. Talent search and recruiting is no different.

The new face of recruiting is very typical of what is happening. It is driven by a combination of evolutionary including advances in technology, social need (a disruptive job market) and consumer expectation (immediacy and choice).

All three are re-shaping the talent search business to the extent there is a fundamental shift underway regarding the strategic role of recruitment within the corporate purpose.

Finding and engaging high value talent doesn’t just keep the CHRO awake today. CEOs across the board are focused on top talent as the understanding spreads that talent acquisition is moving rapidly from reactive and tactical to proactive and strategic.

Smoothly running procedures for ad hoc recruitment, filling an empty office with whoever is available at the time, no longer cut it. The catch-phrase now is “always on.”   Today’s leaders are always on the lookout for talent and to enable that full-time requires, among other things, a high-powered marketing campaign that establishes the employer brand and makes the firm known and desirable long before the need arises.

Recruiting innovator Michael Hennessy writes in the publication ere.net, about the “consumerization of the candidate experience.” Candidates are researching prospective employers just the way that consumers research products and services they plan to buy. Stay with that a bit longer and we find consumers consult 12 sources of information before buying and that 57% of the purchase decision is made before talking to a vendor.

That’s now the model. New game, new rules.

Here are three game changers that are shaping this new candidate experience and how leading-edge recruiters are actively involved.



The big game changer, but perhaps not the way you think. Hiring is indeed going high-tech and in 2014 venture capitalists put more than $400 million behind start-ups addressing what is now considered “one of the largest pain points of any company — hiring”.

But these investments are not putting more bells and whistles on applicant tracking systems. The frontier today lies with CRM systems and recruitment marketing technologies that warm up the transactional nature of the ATS with more engaging platforms and relevant information.

“The old HR software is forms and workflow – it isn’t smart,” says venture capitalist Venky Ganesan. “All of the applicant tracking systems in the market today are out of date the moment that an applicant takes an interview.”


Going Mobile.

Mobile is not a channel, writes Hennessy, it’s a lifestyle.

In the digital commerce arena, the biggest hurdle — according to many analysts — will be for CEOs to adapt their infrastructure to the consumer’s ever-increasing use of mobile devices. A business model which doesn’t have a reach to a mobile device will become obsolete.

In talent acquisition, where the candidate is now the consumer, the same rules apply. Mobile cannot be treated as a “bolt-on”. Companies that focus on the technology lose sight of the intended candidate experience among people who see mobile as a part of their lifestyle.

With 56% of all US online retail already taking place on a mobile device, according to comScore, companies satisfied with a “mobile as a second screen” strategy will be stuck playing catch-up to consumer expectations.


Bring on the Marketing

All front-running companies today have powerful, leading-edge marketing and brand-relating teams. But they’re on the next floor.   Marketing is a foreign language in most HR and recruiting environments.

This, however, is exactly where the fight needs to be fought. Pretty soon all companies, including the boring industrial ones, will have to learn what Google, Nike, Netflix and other outstanding brand builders live by every day. They will learn to find place on the HR team for content strategists, social media managers, video produceres and data analysts.

Talent search and acquisition left the campus notice board behind a long time ago. Today it is seamlessly aligned with corporate strategy and works with the full scope of digital marketing channels and tactics – job descriptions, landing pages, blogs, videos, career sites and candidate segmentation.

The goal is to be relevant at each stage of the candidate’s unique, multi-stage journey.




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