No one got into recruiting or human resources to spend their time wading through new technology. And yet here you are, awash in apps, tools, startups and tech that you don’t really understand and the company is looking to you to evaluate it and develop a digital ecosystem that drives the not only the most, but the best candidates.
Kinda makes you want to go back to classified ads in the Sunday papers, don’t it?
That’s unlikely to happen. Instead, recruitment marketers and employer brand managers need a framework to evaluate new technology. It’s far too easy to be swayed by flashy features and demos only to end up with an expensive dud sucking up precious budget dollars.
The framework is simple. When looking at any new piece of tech, you need to consider the ecosystem, the audience and the action.
Consider the Ecosystem
Your digital ecosystem is all the tools and processes through which candidates find, engage with and apply for jobs at your company. At some companies, this might simply be a simple ATS (or even just a shared spreadsheet and a Dropbox for resumes) and Craigslist. Bigger companies might also include a employer referral program, social media and ads.
At some of the larger companies, we might need to add onto that list a career site, micro-sites, content marketing in multiple formats, multiple social media channels in a single platform, predictive media, re-targeted media, search engine marketing, analytics, tracking tags, and specialized marketing campaigns.
And now, take a breath.
Each one of those tactics, tools and systems has to connect to the others in order to be effective. What good is an amazing career site that doesn’t connect to the ATS, or a social media campaign that doesn’t connect to jobs? No good at all.
So, when you are looking at the next new tool to demo, find out how exactly it connects with your existing ecosystem. Will you have to scrape jobs out of your ATS? Will you have to input data by hand on a regular basis? All these things take time and money and should be part of your evaluation process.
Here’s a great example: Someone might be talking about Facebook’s new jobs tool, explaining how it can put your jobs in front of potentially 2 billion people. Sounds amazing, right? But if I explain how it doesn’t connect to your ATS and will force you to create its own silo of “applications” separate from how you do everything else, the value diminishes severely.
Consider the Audience
When someone is showing off a new tool or piece of technology, they are expected to have an assumed use case. But that isn’t always stated. If I hand you an umbrella and tell you it will keep you dry, I am assuming a use case of rain (I’m not assuming you’re jumping into a swimming pool).
In recruiting, we aren’t looking for quantity, but quality. One qualified applicant is more useful than a million unqualified ones. But marketing tools, especially those adapted from consumer marketing spaces, don’t take that into account.
For example: Let’s say I was selling you a tool guaranteed to put your recruitment marketing message in front of a million people for an unbelievably low price. Your instinct might be to jump on the idea to start your candidate pipeline.
But who are these people? Are they people in the same region as your jobs? Are they qualified? Are they people worth talking to? A million new applicants who live on the other side of the globe and aren’t able to actually do the jobs are effectively worthless. Actually, they’re less than worthless as they will clog your recruitment funnel, making it harder for your recruiters to identify the qualified candidates.
Suddenly, it’s not much of a deal.
You need to walk through how a given tool connects to the audience you care about and how they will engage with it. An amazing desktop one-click apply process sounds amazing for getting resumes from entry level applicants without degrees, until you consider that this audience is far less likely to have a desktop computer than a smartphone. You have to truly understand your audience when considering the tool.
Consider the Action
Remember the days of classified ads in the Sunday newspaper as the main focus of our recruiting efforts? Those were the days in which we could take someone unaware of our brand to application in one step, jumping the entire length of the consideration funnel in 30 seconds (plus the time to mail a cover letter and resume).
Those days are long gone, not just from a technology perspective, but from a process one. With the exception of graduate students who are so desperate for a job they’d click anything with the word “apply” on it, we can’t expect talent to just jump through the funnel in one shot.
In the modern recruiting world, we need to recognize that tools and tech can make people aware of your brand; it can help them consider your brand and jobs; it can help validate interest in your jobs, or it can facilitate the action of applying. No tool can do all those things.
So, it is incumbent on you to understand where your issues are and what action you want candidates to take when evaluating new technology.
Will it help make candidates more aware of your brand and jobs and if so, do you need help in that space? If you have a well-known brand, you might not need tools to get your name in front of new audiences. Your issues might be around helping candidates gain a better understanding of why to select your company over others. Or you might need tools that make it easier to take action.
In the end, selecting technology can be boiled down to a single idea: Understand what problem this tool is going to solve, and, if that’s a problem you actually have. Focusing on the areas of ecosystem, audience, and action can help you avoid costly mistakes and ultimately have better conversations with your technology and agency partners.
You may not love evaluating tech, but now you’re armed with the tools to keep from getting taken advantage of.
James Ellis currently runs The Talent Cast podcast (found on iTunes, Google Play and wherever you get your podcasts) where he can be found doing deep dives on all things employer brand and recruitment marketing.
Previously, James has spent the last three years helping companies get serious about the recruiting content and inbound recruiting strategies.
James currently lives in Chicago, where he spends his time partnering with Fortune 1000 clients to develop recruitment marketing, digital and content strategies to find and attract the best talent.