2012 Review

2012/13 Part 7: Whatever happened to #LinkedIn?

2012 was a bit of a mad one for LinkedIn. On the business front  they consistently outperformed their competitors and posted record sales, record revenues which they reinvested in to the business by increasing the size of the sales team (which is why they have become much more visible), and big investments in to product development. On September 30, 2012, LinkedIn had 3,177 full-time employees located around the world. LinkedIn started off 2012 with about 2,100 full-time employees worldwide, up from around 1,000 at the beginning of 2011 and about 500 at the beginning of 2010. Only a few days ago LinkedIn announced that they had reached their next milestone with 200Million members in more than 200 countries, growing at a rate of 2 members a second. Sixty-three percent of LinkedIn members are located outside of the United States, as of September 30, 2012.

The fastest growing demographic on the channel is students with over 20M profiles at the end of 2012. I’m confident that this will explode with the launch of alumni pages in early 2013, when data rich pages will help students make informed choices based on other members’ data. The example I was given was using the education of users from a particular discipline to identify the best employers, best courses, best options etc, and to connect students with working alumni. One of the big developments I’m expecting to see this year is that it is going to become easier and easier to interrogate collected data from other users for decision-making, such as career paths, etc.

A great example of this is the data available on company pages. More than 2.6 million companies have LinkedIn Company Pages, and more and more data on employees, connections and employer branding content is proving to be a really valuable resource. I was lucky enough to get a view of the Merlin data for a few of my customers a few months ago. If you pay for any LinkedIn products, or you are thinking about it, then you should ask your account manager for the data. The trends that really stood out for each of my clients was the number of people who looked at employee profiles from the organisation before applying for jobs. The typical route was generally look at the employee profile, link to the company page, then look at the jobs. When you see this, it makes you realize how important individual profiles are. When I conducted an audit for one of my clients, the findings were that only 30% of the staff used the same company and department name as the company page. For 70% of the employees there was no link.

I’ve heard Craig Fisher (@Fishdogs) speak a few times this year about what he terms workforce marketing, which has the LinkedIn profiles of employees at the heart of it. If the employee profiles are the most viewed employee content for reference, it is important to give guidance, training and additional resources to make the profiles consistent and useful. That doesn’t mean making them all the same, but it does mean lining up company names, links, presentations etc. It really works, and PPC advertising against your employees profiles linking to your company page or jobs really pays off.If you are going to be investing in any recruiter products, then get these bases right first.

On the product side, LinkedIn has been changing with much more than a cosmetic makeover. There has been so many big and small changes to the channel that you could have been forgiven for thinking they were Facebook. Each time you logged in during the second half of the year something looked or felt different.

Let’s jump back 12 months and consider what LinkedIn was, compared to what the channel is now. Profiles were largely static. Users visited on average of 1.2 times, and the level of engagement outside of select groups was very low. This is very different now. Time on site and pages visited have increased tenfold, and there is now more engagement, comments, shares and likes in a month than in a year. LinkedIn has gone from inactive, to active, and that’s a great thing.

I’ve blogged in the past about where I think LinkedIn is going, and what they are aiming to be for their users. Whenever I’ve met  anyone from LinkedIn, they have been quick to stress that all changes are made with the free users in mind. The reason behind this is that the more valuable the channel is to the free users, the more time we are going to spend in the channel, and the more up to date we are going to keep our profiles. The more data we add, the better LinkedIn know us, and the better we can be targeted with relevant content, connections and opportunities. LinkedIn are always quick to point out that their purpose is to connect people with opportunities. I think the use of the term opportunities is important, because they really want to move beyond jobs, to careers, profesional reference, and to become the best source for profesional content.

From my point of view, the big change this last year is that LinkedIn has become the channel for professional content sharing. I wrote about this earlier this year, and a few of the LinkedIn experts were not so sure, but a big part of the new features have been built around sharing. Anyone posting content should post to LinkedIn updates first, manually, via updates on the home page, then share to Twitter and other social places from LinkedIn. The reason for this is that LinkedIn apply an Edgerank style ranking system, and promote content that trends each hour. Points are awarded in order according to comments, shares and likes. The more interactions, the more you get promoted to users who have reacted to similar content, your link appears at the top of your networks news feed, and you increase the potential of being included in LinkedIn Today. Provided you have the LinkedIn share button on your blog/webpage, and you are sharing the LinkedIn link in other channels, all interactions in any channel count. There are more than 1.3 million unique publishers actively using the LinkedIn Share button on their sites to send content into the LinkedIn platform.

The addition of the notifications flag and messages envelope to the top bar of any page has made it much easier to see, and respond to any interaction on the channel. It has been a great add that I’m sure has contributed to the increase in interactions. It has lead to the channel becoming, well, social!

I’m excited that LinkedIn are now using user behaviour to become more intuitive about what users want from the platform. A great example of this is the new profile. Different users see different data and information on your profile according to what they have previously looked at on other profiles. There is a recruiter view, a jobseeker view, a networker view etc. Your behaviour gives you a customised view, making the channel much more interactive and relevent to the needs of individuals. The next goal is to learn your content preferences, in order to change your view again, for example, if you regularly look at SlideShare and other embeded documents on profiles, then you will see these on first view, if you never look, then you will have to go find them. It is about customising your experience, and the more you use the channel, the better they get to know you.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the most talked about new feature, endorsements. LinkedIn were faced with a challenge, because the search engine was driven by location, skills and keywords, but the skills sections were largely incomplete. The introduction of endorsements has changed this, with all active profiles adding skills. The endorsements are now impacting on search results. The more endorsements in the searched for skill, the higher the ranking. Whilst the ease of endorsing skills has attracted some complaint, not without merit. I would say the profiles that I track are accurate in terms of the top 5 – 10 skills. I’ve also noticed that now the novelty has gone, skills are endorsed less, but with more merit. Skill matching will drive search moving in to this year. My feeling, (and I’m going to cut mine down as part of an edit), is that less is more. Adding only 10 specific skills will clean up profiles, and give users more of a yes/no option. There’s also the option to add plenty of additional information to your profile in the edit sections on the right including projects, languages, test scores, courses, patents, certifications and volunteering. The more searchable, structured data added to profiles, the better the search results, and the more LinkedIn knows about its users.

At the end of 2012 the popular events feature disappeared, along with many of the other apps like BlogLink. My feeling is that this was aimed at increasing link sharing through updates and messaging, which in turn will raise engagement and interaction, and gives users more of a need to keep checking the update stream. You can now add unlimited Slideshare, presentations and video using the rich media icon under education. You can reorder these with drag and drop, You can search all updates and changes in your network by keyword by using LinkedIn Signal. This is hardly used, and should be a much more popular feature amongst recruiters and sourcers.

Another feature has been the introduction of influencer content in to the channel. Taking the lead from other channels like the popular Mashable social app, users can follower influencers by topic grouping (such as recruiting), or by individual. There are currently 150 influencers listed in the pilot program, and I’m following this closely. Influencers can post extended updates, in effect blog posts. These posts are attracting far more views, comments and shares than their original blogs, and the views and shares tend to be far more relevant than in other channels. As this rolls out to more influencers (and it will be controlled), then I’m expecting to see a growing group of people moving to making this their home channel, and moving away from other blogging platforms. All of this will serve to build original content in he channel, and give members more and more reasons to check in and stay in channel. The more time in channel, the more opportunity to serve up ads and other paid for options.

A lot of the new features and initiatives are being driven by LinkedIn employees who take part in hack days (held on a Friday each month) and the incubator program. The incubator program enables any employee to pitch a project and get funding and support to assemble a team and explore the idea for up to three months.

Kevin Scott, the SVP for Engineering at LinkedIn explains the incubator initiative as follows: “When teams pitch their [in]cubator projects, I have the pleasure of joining a panel of judges that includes CEO Jeff Weiner, co-founder Reid Hoffman, and SVP of Product Deep Nishar. The creativity, variety, and enthusiasm have been inspiring. We’ve seen proposals for internal tools, new product lines & business lines, infrastructure improvements, and human resources programs; the teams have included folks from all over the company, including engineering, product, design, marketing, sales, and human resources.”

So far five incubators have been approved, with the next round coming in Feb. When we look at those companies that are renowned for innovation, and LinkedIn must rank in this select group, you find a culture where new ideas, invention and experimentation is actively encouraged and backed. There is no such thing as failure only research, and the best innovation comes out of things that don’t quite work as planned.

The challenge LinkedIn face this year is to change unsociable users’ behavior  and that usually means recruiters who use the channel as a giant hunting ground, with limited attention to the relevance of jobs offered  and approaches. I have read that LinkedIn are working on a spam filter in the lab to try to control this a bit better, and that they are developing a tool that will automatically move jobs from the stream in groups to the jobs section, without the need for manager interventions. We could see LinkedIn being clearer on their terms of service for users, and coming down harder on those who breach the expected standards. I have heard stories, although I have no evidence, that some users are being penalised or having InMails removed or not delivered when they have a high rejection or non-open rate. Most importantly though, I think it is vital that recruiters take responsibility for themselves and don’t bite the hand that feeds.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see more changes around groups this year. There are lots of redundant and idle groups that could be subject to a clean up. A well run group has a great value to the members and the owners in particular. I wouldn’t be surprised to see more control over managers, with tighter expectations over the role of the manager, and what goes on in the groups. Personally, I’d like to see the number of groups cut down, with more promotion based on activity in the group rather than membership numbers. This is only speculation, but is an area that needs some attention.

More than 75,000 developers are using LinkedIn APIs to create innovative tools and services for professionals, up from 60,000 at the end of the first quarter of 2012. LinkedIn has become integral to many of the apps we use, and is the professional reference source for most of the new recruiting tools. LinkedIn rule over access rigidly, which means no competition, and protection of the users data. The more apps integrate profiles, the more benefit to having a profile, and the most popular apps, like CardMunch, Rapportive and SlideShare have been acquired and integrated in to the channel, a good encouragement to build great tools for LinkedIn. It is also interesting to note that in the third quarter of 2012, an average of 25 percent of unique visiting members came through mobile apps, versus just 13 percent in 2011. Expect this to exceed 50% by the end of 2013, so any links must lead to mobile optimized destinations.

I think that covers most of everything. A long post, but a very busy year for LinkedIn. I think they are the most changed channel, and I’m sure there is lots more to come. Don’t be surprised to see live calling (it has been piloted via an iPad app) and chat, because the more we chat in channel, the longer we stay there.

Bill

All data taken from LinkedIn Press Report

 

 

 

2012/13 Part 6: Video Selection And Mobility

In the last post of this series we looked at some of the technical aspects of mobile. Most of the conversation is around mSite, apps or responsive web design, and what the best solution is. The really important discussion though as with any change or innovation is what it means in real terms to people and practices.

Probably the best mobile development that I have seen over the last year is the HireVue iPhone app. This enables candidates to record answers to pre-recorded questions, to view employer brand video, and to switch to a Skype style live, two-way interview if required. When I first looked at video selection a few years ago, I could see the potential but the market wasn’t quite ready because of user attitude to being filmed, and the availability of technology. This has all changed, now most of us have a camera in our pocket, and we have got very used to video calling as a result of Skype, Facetime etc. I think HireVue have the lead at the moment in the video selection space because of the iPhone app, but Irish company Sonru are not far behind, and Dutch company Camio, and US based Green Job Interview and Wowzer (formerly Ovia) are not too far behind. Clooks are also worth a look.

As the pricing comes down and the technology gets wider adoption, this will become mainstream over the next year. This is also a busy space with lots of new products being launched each month in local markets, being fully multilingual is a challenge most tech companies will need to overcome if they are to compete on the world stage. The benefit of video is that it needs no translation, once the operating platform has been changed. Employment branding video content needs to be local, and in a language understood by the target audience, with support and recruiting process that reflects this. No point switching from a video in Spanish, to a Spanish video selection assessment, then on to an English based ATS. You need to be speaking the language of your candidates for hire and selection, and considering images and content according to local attitudes, getting properly in tune with local attitudes.

What I am confident about is that communicating by video, and video selection is going to become far more common over the next year and as more and more start-ups are entering the market, and the established vendors are integrating with the enterprise ATS’s, we can expect the costs to become more competitive, and use to increase. The mobile aspect of the HireVue application really opens things up in this area.

At #truLondon, Felix Wetzel, the Strategy Development Director at Evenbase ran a track talking about what he terms mobility. Mobility is the term used to describe how mobile has changed the when, where and how of recruiting on-line. I find this the really interesting aspect of mobile and social, because accessibility has become anytime and anywhere. 75% of e-mails are opened on a mobile device. This means thinking about the length and content included, and that any links go to a mobile optimised location, and that any images or video are view-able on mobile. The peak times for access to web destinations are also changing. The golden hours are 6.15 – 9.15, 10.45 – 11.20, 12.10 – 2.15 and 4.40 – 9.30. This is really important because these are the times recruiters need to be live to respond to questions, updates and conversations. The traditional 9 – 5 just won’t cut it.

What is also clear about these times are that people are accessing web locations, viewing content and browsing on the move.  The data from Evenbase companies Jobsite and Broadbean show a pattern of browsing and searching for jobs in the morning and bookmarking opportunities, looking at supporting employer branding content and companies in the day, and spending time applying in the evening from a desk top. The data clearly shows that this is what is happening, but I think that this is really a result of what is possible via mobile rather than what job seekers really want.

Research among job seekers by Potential Park, shared at #truStockholm shows the following data: (The survey was taken from 5000 students)

> 88% of job seekers are or would search for jobs via mobile Internet.
>The biggest current activity is to “search for jobs”, followed by “looking for career related information”.
> The second largest desire is to be alerted of jobs to look at
> Nearly 1 in 3 job seekers want to apply from their smartphone.

> Information on an employers recruitment process and tips ranked highly

This shows that the desire to complete the full process via mobile is there, the opportunity is not (yet!). This means employers need to think about the technology that enables candidates to go through to the apply stage on mobile. The other point Wetzel makes is that mobility means people seeking access to content on the move. This means browsing on journeys such as the daily commute where internet access may be dipping in and out. Wetzel makes the point that because of this, it is important to consider making the caching of data possible and simple, which leans towards an app approach.

My own feeling is that we need to move away from asking every applicant to go through a lengthy and painful application process which has to be done on a desktop. From the clients I work with, 55% of people who bookmark jobs on a mobile never get around to applying. They are lost in the delay. Better to make it possible to express an interest with very basic info, like access to a LinkedIn profile, and get the profile in front of a recruiter to decide if the talent network is the best route, or if the candidate should be applying because they match the spec. That is going to reduce significant seepage and be better for everyone. LinkedIn apply and applications like Jibe make this very possible. Jibe are a bit different because they make it possible to apply from any device, and take the application data to the ATS. There’s also a referral and job distribution product integrated. I’ve watched Jibe for a few years now, as they have evolved from what was a social e-mail plug-in that didn’t work brilliantly in to the product it is now, that solves a real problem in the market for candidates and employers.  Expect this approach to gain momentum in 2013.

For job seekers the trends are clear. They are tired of applying for jobs and then disappearing in to a black hole. In a test I conducted this year the average application takes 1 hour 55 minutes, and takes a minimum of 50 clicks and screens. That is close to impossible on mobile and has to change.

Job seekers are now only applying for jobs they are sure they want, for organisations they want to work for, and in jobs they are confident they will get an interview for. For me, this means thinking of jobs as content rather than adverts, and this content needs to be accessible by mobile with simple navigation and a mobile user interface. Think Amazon on job content, you might also be interested in this, and think video, photo, blog, social connections etc as well as job descriptions with an early notification of minimum requirements clearly set out. Make expressing interest with a social profile possible and easy from every piece of content from Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook etc through to job boards. Think on-line events around jobs like Google hangouts and chats, scheduled in the golden hours and available via mobile. When you think this way, you start to recruit socially, and providing all the content candidates might want, in the format they want, with the opportunity to apply. It’s an interesting prospect we should all be thinking about.

In Part 7 I’m going to be looking closer at just what LinkedIn became in 2012, and a real example of social gravity. Thanks for sticking with the series so far.

Bill

Disclaimer: Jobsite sponsor #TruLondon and I have worked with Felix Wetzel as a consultant.

Clooks and Camio sponsor #TruAmsterdam

Meldonium tablets sale

2013 must be the year that mobile is accepted as mainstream rather than add-on. The debate will continue over responsive web design v mSite v mobile application, but anything that isn’t built mobile first just isn’t worth buying, and the person selling it to you is akin to a thief. Selling you something which they know is going to become redundant within 18 months. I would steer a wide berth when mobile is offered an option, you need to be thinking mobile to web rather than web to mobile. In some countries mobile search on Google is up to 60%. The emerging net nations are skipping desktops and going straight to mobile, which offers new opportunity for global recruiters.

I’m really excited about the prospect of mobile as a recruiting channel. As mobile search on Google rises (and it won’t go down), mobile optimization is great for SEO, because Google gives preference to mobile optimized sites in mobile search, and Facebook enables the targeting of promoted stories by device type. Any kind of social recruiting will attract far more response from mobile devices, and the destination you are sending people to needs to reflect this. Dave Martin, formerly of AllTheTopBananas and BraveNewTalent is working on a new product, Pocket Recruit. I don’t know much about this yet, but I know Dave, and it is another one to keep an eye out for. The three mobile stories that stood out for me this year were from Arie Ball, who launched the helpful app for Sodexo in the US. The app gives users different content and features according to their status, divided by employees, alumni and external people. Whilst I don’t remember the exact data, the biggest results came from internal mobility, because recruiters can match employee profiles with opportunity and notify them in real-time. When we talk target audience, we often forget the internal audience of employees, and it is this audience who offer the most potential. Most companies consider internal mobility to be putting jobs up on a notice board, and asking for permission to apply, what is different in this case is the app, and the notifications, without the need for permission to apply. UK company AllTheTopBananas developed the app for Sodexo after a meeting at #truLondon.
Number two is Carrie Corbin of A.T.&T. Not surprisingly for a phone company, mobile features highly in their recruiting efforts. Corbin reminded me of the importance of not forgetting text in favor of sexier mobile options. Corbin gets a fantastic response to combining the A.T.&T talent network with text messaging. There is a higher open rate than any other form of messaging, and usually within minutes of receipt. By targeting texts, and adding a link to job opportunities with a simple click-through, they also get a great response.
The other story is from Mike Vangel, who is responsible for implementing and managing social recruiting efforts with U.P.S. Vangel was responsible for launching the highly successful UPS road trip campaign on Facebook, (as well as a social recruiting approach built over 3 years) that required users to view employee videos and rank them. Over 70% of the views were via a mobile device. This changes the way we need to think about video production, taking out graphics and flash changes, and looking for short, clear content with great lighting. YouTube is built for mobile, giving real opportunities for building culture branding content through video for mobile. Vangel comments that the one thing he would have done differently if he did the whole thing again would have been to put mobile in place first.

This year I had the pleasure of meeting up with Jeremy Langhans of Expedia (formerly of Starbucks), first at #SHRMAtlanta, and then at #ATCMobile and #truAus in Sydney. In Atlanta, Jeremy brought me up to speed on his work with Starbucks, where he built the first responsive web design career site. Langhans’ belief is that career sites should be device agnostic, whatever device the user views the site on, the content should adjust to them without the need for different mSites on different domains.

The site, navigation and functions adjust according to the device being used. Everything is built around user experience. Think about the way you view a site on different devices from desktop, tablet or smart phone. You need the navigation to be different with menus in different places. The smaller the screen size, the less text you want, and the more you need images and bigger the buttons you need. Langhans believes that if you need to pinch or stretch screen images then the user experience is poor, and the visitor is more likely to abort the site and go elsewhere. Langhans is also a big advocate for making the experience end to end from view to apply or expression of interest to avoid losing interested people.

The majority of companies are still building from desktop to mobile, trying to recreate the same experience, whereas the build should really be the other way round. Traffic from desktops will only decrease year on year. It is expected that mobile access will overtake desktop by the end of 2013, accelerated by the release of the 4G network globally, which will more than halve load times for data.

Whilst responsive web design is a good catch all solution, serious consideration should be given to mSites built for specific devices, such as iPhone, iPad, Android etc. Whilst Apple have enjoyed a degree of dominance in the market, the Android market share is rising at a significant rate, driven by the success of Samsung in particular. The benefit of using an mSite is that you can build the experience, functions etc to be device specific. What you want to do with an iPhone may well be quite different to what you want to do on an Android. The area that really interests me here is that you can target sponsored Facebook updates to specific device type, and drive traffic to an mSite built for this purpose. UK mobile expert Dave Martin and Metashift founder Matt Alder reported in their Guide to mobile recruiting 2012 reported that in the UK there are 40M ‘recruitment related’ Mobile Google searches a month,and a mobile site provides direct traffic. I recommend downloading this free report for plenty of data on the mobile landscape.

Social is mobile, with up to 80% of tweets, and 65% of Facebook updates coming from a mobile device, given the volume of searches conducted via mobile, we should now consider the web as a whole to be mobile, and always think mobile first.

The other consideration in the mix is adding a dedicated native mobile app. Aki Kakko, my partner in crime for the new #tru events spoke about apps as a part of the mobile infrastructure at #truAus, and gave some incredible stats for the level of downloads, particularly on iPhone. When you consider the volume, and the fact that we use apps for just about everything on mobile (think Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc). Why should recruiting be any different? There is a strong case for adding native apps for internal comms and mobility, talent networks for push notifications etc. I also see a real benefit for offering a dedicated app to candidates coming for interview to provide progress notifications, additional content, maps (using geolocation), picture of the interviewer and the facility for check in on arrival. Consider this for candidate experience, and the opportunity to offer a fantastic user experience. The uses are endless when you consider the potential, and the addition of augmented reality.

Another interesting thought came from JobRapido founder Vito Lomelle, when we were discussing their plans to role out on Facebook through an app. I asked about the plans for a mobile app, and Vito pointed out that there was no point developing two. As Facebook see themselves as a mobile rather than a social media company, why not develop one app for mobile and social.

One of the big story’s around mobile this year has been the rise of BranchOut, going from less than a million users to over 27M within 6 weeks when they launched their mobile Facebook app, with very simple friend invites in groups of 50 friends. The bigger story was the fall in Branchout users, at an even quicker rate. Despite the decline, this showed the real potential to go viral very quickly, combining mobile with Facebook. Review site Glassdoor have learnt from this, and adopted the same approach, with an app with a very similar invite function, that has seen them grow to 2,400,000 monthly average users in less than 12 months.  Leaders in Facebook recruiting apps Work4Labs have just launched their mobile app which enables candidates to apply in Facebook from mobile. This is a real step forward, and I look forward to seeing how this develops.

The big lesson for me last year is that the web, rather than social only is mobile, and that mobile optimization has a big impact on SEO. Job seekers want more than what is generally on offer now, and the companies who make moves in this area will be the ones who win out. In tomorrows post I’m going to look in more detail at mobility, video and how these technologies are impacting on the candidate experience. Hope you are finding the series useful, only 5 more to go!

Bill

2012/13 Part 4: Changing face of the social ATS

This is the fourth post in the review series of 2012, addressing the changing face of the ATS. It is an area that attracts a lot of attention and discussion from users. Perhaps the technology buyers in organisations should be taking notice.

I haven’t been to, or held an event this year where someone has turned around and said: “You know what, we love our ATS!”. 2012 has seen a lot of complaining around what are seen as applicant turn-off systems. To be fair to the enterprise vendors, most users get the technology they deserve rather than the technology they need, but users, encouraged by the likes of William Tincup, are getting more demanding. I’ve seen Tincup speak a few times this year about getting much more from your technology suppliers. Tincup’s main point is that you only really hold the power when you are negotiating deals, and you should use this to your advantage to ensure free upgrades, (so you are always working with the latest version), and free support and training for the life time of the contract. Too often recruiters are only using a small part of the capability of their technology because they are uninformed or unsupported. My experience this year is that you should also insist on an open API, and integration with any other technology you choose, Technology suppliers need to learn that you are the client, and that they need to play nicely. I spoke about this at #HRTechEurope, and judging by the feedback it hit a real note.

This year I think we are going to be seeing a lot of change, and hearing a lot more about the social ATS. The stand out company in this area is SmartRecruiters. When I was first introduced to Smart, I liked the product but was skeptical about the viability of the pricing model. The platform is free, looks and feels like Facebook, is fully mobile optimized  and has career site build features and plug-ins, Facebook integration, job posting etc. The revenue is generated from job posting, where commissions are charged to the job boards for jobs posted by SmartRecruiters. They now have over 30,000 users, and lead a new breed of intuitive ATS’ that is easy to use by both recruiters and job seekers. Smart has been largely targeted at smaller companies with no existing ATS, but I wouldn’t be surprised to hear them announcing enterprise size users in the near future, as the platform continues to gain attention.
Using a similar model, Dutch company Vonq are launching Qandidate mid January. Qandidate has similar features, aimed at the European market. It has already been tested with existing Vonq clients, and is being built around the multilingual and legal requirements of the individual states within Europe. This will give them a bit of an advantage in this territory.
Recruitment platform and middleware provider Tribepad have also launched a social ATS, although this is priced in a more traditional way. Tribepad have enjoyed some big client wins this year including Sodexo Europe and the BBC. They have also launched in to the US during 2012, as G4S extended their use of the platform from Europe, as part of a global roll out. At #truLondon in October, Colin Minto outlined the necessary adjustments they had to make to comply with FCCP regulations. I haven’t seen another platform that is quite as comprehensive in this area, and if the Tribepad team are able to raise their visibility in the US, then more global client wins will follow. The real benefit of Tribepad is that you can wrap all of your recruiting data in one place, and the data flow in one direction. I’ve been impressed by the potential so far, and although I haven’t seen it first hand yet, I understand that they have now built social profiling in to the main platform, as well as making this available as a standalone product.

In response to customer demand, they launched a “light” version of the product for smaller users, available at a low monthly subscription with plug-in integration. What I like about the Tribepad team is that the product is in a constant state of development, almost a permanent beta, driven by user requirement and demand.If the company were in San Francisco rather than Leeds, I’m sure we would have heard a lot more about them already.  Watch this one closely.
Another new launch from the UK in recent months that is targeted around socialising and simplifying the application process is Peter Golds HirePad (No relation to TribePad). HirePad is built as the gateway between the ad (or update), and the ATS, making the job mobile, and creating a portal for a talent network. Talent networks record basic details creating segmenting interested people for updates, jobs and content that match their profiles. In most cases, this is much closer to what most hiring companies need, rather than the high maintenance, over hyped talent communities. Golds view is that the application needs to stay within the corporate ATS, but the process around expressing interest and connecting should be much easier, quicker and possible by mobile.

Gold is not looking to provide the full solution, given that most companies of size already have an ATS solution in place, but to provide easy integration, job posting and job marketing, and a complete mobile/talent network to make attraction and applying simple and effective.

I really like the integration with Google maps, that enables potential candidates to view jobs by location. I’ve seen this type of feature work very well for Pizza Hut using Jobs2Web. This is brilliant for the retail or hospitality sectors, where similar jobs are open at multiple locations close to the candidate. Jobs2Web have built a great business out of their platform, and were acquired by SuccessFactors in 2012.

I know Gold of old, and the real strength of HirePad lies in the job marketing from traditional to social job distribution, SEO, micro-sites by job etc, all  A/B tested to find the best solution.

Dutch company Maddle have had some success in Europe making individual jobs mobile through micro-sites and mobile apply at a low-cost, so the model is there. Maddle mobilise a job within 24 hours by launching a dedicated MSite, making the application process mobile, and providing the opportunity to add video and other content. It’s a brilliant, quick and cheap solution.

My reservation with the mobile half way house solution (as opposed to Maddle) is what happens when a potential candidate moves from a mobile friendly environment to a clunky, non-mobile friendly ATS. This puts a level of extra process in the application process, but is a big improvement on what is available now. In Part 5 tomorrow we will look closer at the mobile space and mobile recruiting.

The other platforms worth looking at when considering the social ATS are Irish company Zartis, and London start-up JobPage. Both offer low cost job distribution, social posting and ATS for the SME market. Zartis in particular is an evolving platform that integrates mobile, referral technology, WordPress plug-ins and other innovation. Zartis founder John Dennehy has a background in on-line gaming, and is integrating gaming thinking in to the platform. Expect to see more of these features in 2013. Dennehy is also involved in a really innovative country branding project with make IT Ireland and make IT Cork. I will be discussing these in more detail later in this review series.

It was HirePad founder Gold who first got me thinking that we should be doing away with the existing application process all together, inviting people to express interest, so that recruiters can get a look at interested people at the top of the funnel, and push only those candidates with a good fit in to the pain of applying in what is mostly a lengthy process, directing others towards a lighter touch talent network. I’m going to be very interested in seeing how this pans out over 2013, and if larger hiring companies can be persuaded to take this candidate centric approach. 2013 must see the applicant and the recruiter put at the heart of the application and candidate management process, and technology needs to reflect this.

Companies need to stop talking and start doing, which means involving recruiters in the recruitment technology buying process. All too often the real users just get given the latest purchase, and get told to get on with it. Is it any wonder that they just replace the old technology, with new technology without changing any of the processes.There is a lot of interesting technology coming in to this space to challenge the enterprise giants. The real innovation is coming from agile start-ups, and the market is calling out for change. 2013 will be the year we finally move from ATS to full recruiting platform, where tracking is only a small part of the functionality, and it is not before time. If the enterprise solutions don’t start changing usability, mobile optimization, ease (and willingness) to integrate with other technology and create easy navigation, then they are going to lose out as contracts come up for renewal. Watch this space!

Bill

Disclaimer: I have supplied paid for content to the TribePad blog this year, and Maddle and Vonq are sponsors of #TruAmsterdam.

2012/13 Part 3: Semantic matching, learning and some new technology

Happy Sunday. In Part 3 of this series I’m going to take a closer look at what has been happening with semantic matching, and how this impacts on recruiting tech, and a few more thoughts on how social learning is developing.

The social evidence based sourcing platforms I listed in part 2, have been proving their value in the tech sector. This is inevitable because the tech companies have a defined niche, defined communities, the greatest need and the expertise to develop the products. There is no logical reason however, that these technologies can not be applied to any sector for social evidence based sourcing.Expect to see this technology evolving in to other sectors during 2013.

The introduction of LinkedIn endorsements for skills, and there priority in search results is another example of where the thinking is going in this direction. John Sumser summed this up at #TruLondon when he described how the real problem was not a shortage of talent, but rather an inability to find it because of over supply. There is plenty of talent, it’s just not clearly labelled in the way it has been in the past. The only way you found someone with X skill was to hire someone with X qualification.

The problem now is that technology and business is evolving faster than academia, and people are learning skills in an informal way. Think YouTube, Stack Overflow etc. As jobs in the way we know them continue to disappear, and more people move their skills to being cottage industries, working on project rather than employment contract, so formal learning via expensive work based qualifications will disappear. The end result will be more informal learning, and a greater reliance on social recognition and endorsement. It is going to be interesting watching this unfold this year through learning programs like Udemy, which have a social feel, and are easy to edit, update and change as technology changes.

For recruiters, the soon to be launched MySocialTalent,Com is a great example of this, an interactive training platform that can be updated whenever needed. The platform is available on subscription at less than £200 a seat for a year. I know Johnny Campbells style well, and he makes what looks like complicated internet sourcing principles simple. The platform delivers training in bite sized chunks, with plenty of interactive exercises and feedback. The real benefit though is that as the search platforms and social channels change as they do on an on-going basis, the platform gets updated to keep you up to date. It is one of those products I wish I would have developed, and is built on a platform for the future.Expect more of these types of agile learning platforms to be coming to the fore this year, and reject traditional curriculum based learning, which is proving dated.

In terms of innovation, the other companies that have caught my eye are SmallImprovements, who offer an on-line continuous performance management and feedback product in a social way. It is a bit like Rypple for companies outside of the enterprise scale.(That is a compliment.), White Truffle, the intuitive matching platform with an innovative pricing structure, TalentFig, the assesment tool with a simple interface that is amazingly accurate, much better than SHL and other more expensive alternatives currently available in my opinion, and much easier to interpret.. Finnish swarm technology IntuneX that connects people within an organisation by their skills, expertise or interests, and Dutch HR data aggregator Hunite, who use mobile notifications taken from a companies vast array of HR systems to advise employees of essential actions via push notifications. (My description doesn’t really do it justice, but it is very neat.). I’m also watching what happens with Evenbases Jobsite.Com quite closely. This combines job scraping from corporate sites, with an agregator search interface for job seekers, semantic matching technology, and a pay for results pricing model where hiring companies choose to unlock details of applicants who both match and have expressed an interest in the job. My only concern with this is how companies will react to the scraping aspect, but then this has become common practice amongst the agregators.
I expect the agregators like JobRapido (also an Evenbase company by acquisition) and Indeed to continue to grow in popularity, as job seekers are looking for one on-line destination for jobs requiring no real registration, rather than having to go to multiple boards.

Semantic matching tech will also become more mainstream, as people are looking to see only opportunities they match and are interested in, rather than having to search through every opportunity based on key-words, which is time consuming and frustrating. Expect to see semantic matching and single job presenting as a feature of career sites over the coming year. Why show people jobs they are not suited for? It makes no sense for anyone, and this will solve it, preventing people from being tempted in to applying for jobs they won’t even get an interview for.
On the subject of semantic matching, I’m also expecting to hear a lot more about Monster’s SeeMore and 6sense technologies. Monster have partnered with the Department Of Work And Pensions to power the on-line presence for JobCentre+. It is going to be really interesting to see how this technology works on this scale, for the wide range of people who are claiming benefit or looking for jobs. Having looked at both SeeMore and 6Sense in depth a few times this year (as well as several conference demos), the potential applications for sourcing and matching is impressive. If I worked at Monster, I would be talking about it a lot more.

 Tomorrow in Part 4 I’m going to be posting more on ATS;’s, new launches and the innovation in this area. What do you think are the technology and products that will stand out in 2013?

Happy Sunday,

Bill

Disclaimer: Jobsite sponsor #Trulondon and Johnathan Campbell often buys me beer.

2012/13: Part One. Why Recruiting Is Local

Happy New Year from a cold and cheery Berlin. Tonight, I’m going to be joining about a million other people at the Brandenburg Gate to say “Bye” to 2012, and “Hello” to 2013. The reality of a new year is that not much changes between the last quarter of the departing year, and the first quarter of the new one. I started writing my own review from this years notes, and when my musings reached 5000 words with no sign of stopping, i thought it was worth breaking these up in to a 10 part series. This is part one, and my lessons from 2012;

The best review post of 2012 was from Neil Morrison, who reviewed the year by saying that for most people, this year was about making sure they had a job to go to in 2013, and that he did a lot of necessary stuff he didn’t really like doing in 2012. If you haven’t read it yet you should check it out. I think this post is a very realistic take on what 2012 has been for many people at work in the UK and elsewhere. We can split the working population to be a shrinking group with a traditional job in full time employment, those out of work or between jobs, and a growing collection of people who work on projects based on their skills, moving from company to company. This changes the role of recruiter from talent acquisition to project management, and I’m expecting this trend to be a dominant factor in 2013.

I was surprised to make a top 10 recruiting posts list this year, for a post I didn’t remember writing called “Return on irrelevance.” This was my take on why non-targeted chat and conversation without a real business objective were important, and how the more we tried to strategies  the more we lost sight of this. I still think we spend too much time theorizing and not enough doing. I haven’t really changed this view. The way to understand social is to be social, and the best relationships come from accidental engagement and begin with conversations, connections and introductions. Make more time this year for chance conversations without objective, and see where they lead. The more conversations I have, the more opportunities I get. There is no mystery to that!

One of my most memorable conversations this year was with Paul Maxin, the Global Resourcing Director At Unilever, about their approach to Facebook and pages. They are using BuddyMedia (now owned by SalesForce.Com), to run one corporate page, where the visitors country of origin (according to their IP address) determines what local content they see, whilst keeping in a corporate environment. This also means that local brand ambassadors can create their own content and have their own local conversations. Maxin was quick to point out that the original thinking (and experience) in this area came from their corporate marketing team. What was working for the individual brands, could equally work for the local employer brands. There was no need to reinvent the wheel.

Whilst the local focus  is quite neat, the thing that really stood out for me was that they hadn’t added a means of applying for opportunities with the company, or join a talent network. This is purely about creating an on-line place where people can connect with the company. Applications come later, and in other places. Paul opened my eyes to the benefit of looking at applicants and candidates as two different sets of people, and having technology and process to manage both. Maxin is my old head boy at school, and he is the “head man” in global recruiting in my opinion. When the purpose of your social places is to connect and converse, and the job bit is secondary, then the real social recruiting happens. There is a difference between talk to and apply for.

The stand out point from all the travel in 2012 has been the confirmation of just how local recruiting is, and how much recruiters have been seduced by the digital media mafia to focus on talent attraction rather than whole recruitment process. It seems the concentration has been on reaching and getting more and more people to apply, whilst employing technology and process to persuade more and more people not to. It’s all a bit nuts. Learn more updates from Labor Law Compliance Center.

I’ve been overwhelmed by the amount of talking about candidate experience, and extremely underwhelmed by the number of people actually doing anything about it. Plenty of outrage, very little action. Let’s hope that the changes in 2013 are more than surface, a few forums and communities, starting with a wider adoption of Nick Prices excellent Mystery Applicant product, which is a business I hope will really take off, taking real feedback and data from source. Only by real feedback and data collection, will the applicant process ever really change.

Tomorrow I’m going to be looking closer at some of the innovation I have seen this year in recruiting technology. Hope you enjoyed part one.

Bill