Tools and Applications

Get Referred: The Big Change In #SocialRecruiting?

There is a feature that I have been noticing appearing on most of the Facebook recruiting applications. The get referred feature enables you to see how you are connected with the employing company, and enables you to message your contacts to ask to be referred for a particular job. In most of the apps you get to see both your LinkedIn connections and your Facebook connections. You can find this feature on the Work4Labs, TMJ,  Gooodjob, Glassdoor, BranchOut, Jibe and more. This might not seem like a big deal, it has become common place, but I think it could be.

My thinking behind this is that it changes the dynamic for social referrals and job pipeline. I’m a big fan of social referrals. The average person has 125 Facebook friends and 225 LinkedIn connections. From the research I’ve conducted there is usually a 20% crossover between the channels, and around 70% relevance for employment. This might be as tenuous as living in the right area, but when you multiply the numbers by the number of employees then there is massive potential.

Applications like Work4Labs and SocialReferral (available through Broadbean Inc) have matching technology under the hood that matches the social profiles of an employees connections, enabling employees to refer jobs to potential candidates creating a relevant and on-going pipeline. The success of social referral programs are dependent on five things:

> Understanding that a social-referral is based on a profile match and is not a recommendation. this means removing accountability and asking for the level of relationship.

> Establishing trust at point of sign up that you want access to networks for automated matching only. You need to provide reassurance that you won’t be stripping any data or messaging anyone without going through the owner of the network first.

> Establishing a review and response time to ALL social referrals regardless of fit.

> Rewards for referrals rather than hires.

> Making the process quick, and using technology to take the work out of matching, with no reliance on memory.

These are the pillars on which I build social referral programs, along with ensuring high-profile visibility and recognition well beyond the launch date. The reality of this however is that most social referral programs falter beyond the first 3 months because they cease to be a priority, become a distraction or the promised rewards or recognition are not forthcoming. There is always a new initiative or something more important that becomes a priority. To make these programs work you need to embed them in to culture, and keep them going. It takes real effort, but the pipeline rewards are significant.

What changes this is the get referred button because this changes the onus from the employee to the interested party in terms of effort. Potentially this also changes the candidate experience where referral candidates are given priority for review and response. It also gives potential candidates the opportunity to look deeper in to companies by enabling conversation and investigation on a peer level before application, and the more informed the candidate, the better the conversion rate to employee, because those who choose to opt in after investigation interview better because they have already established their interest.

LinkedIn go a bit further on their get referred feature because they show the relationship with the advertising recruiter and the closest connections. I’d like to see this feature being integrated in to all the applications beyond who you know, including features like who you know who does this job now with the potential employer. The how are you connected feature is also a great way to promote a talent network, giving potential candidates a great reason to express their interest, even if they are not ready to apply. As this feature catches on, it will only encourage people to make connections within companies that could be of interest at some stage in their career, and offers a very real benefit to those who network.

Combining an internal social referral program with get referred features on all jobs and social places will only enhance your pipeline, and make your applications better. Get referred might just make a real difference to your results.

Bill

 

@ITweetlive: My new cool Twitter tool

You know that I get really excited when I find new tools and applications to play with. Earlier this week I got sent an invite to take a look at ITweetLive, a new twitter engagement, searching and analytics tool. I’ve been playing around with it for a few days looking at recruiting and sourcing applications and I can see real potential.

The search function enables you to identify people from their content. One of my most popular posts was about Ivan Stojanovic who searched for “geek words” to identify programmers and hired 27 people. Geekwords are those words that only the target candidates would use. This application makes these searches easy with filters for:

> Has all these words or “phrases in quotes” 

> Has one or more of the words

> Don’t show results with any of these words

> Geolocation

Searches can be saved and return the tweets with the option to follow, list and tweet back. The results show the tweet with a tweetback column. You can organise results by time, following, klout scores, peer index and other criteria. i love the results screen because it makes it easy to reply or message tweet by tweet.

The other features that i have been testing are:

> Group actions enables you to group accounts together and send bulk tweets. I’m not personally a fan of bulk tweeting, but I could see the benefit of sending everyone an individual message who were using a hashtag,

> Interactive analytics. This is a very neat way to split test tweets to sections of your potential audience according to search results. I like to test 3 different tweets to see which gets traction, and this makes it possible to identify a new target audience from search and send the 3 tweets out evenly. You get results back on retweets, mentions, url opens for each tweet. I’m going to be testing this next week to find a specific audience for each new blog post and I will let you know how I get on. The geolocational option makes it great for targeting jobs to reach the right people and testing which tweet gets the best result, and you can sync ITweetLive with the link shortener bitly for even better analytics.

> Follower list. this lets you group your followers according to your needs, as well as twitter lists. I really like the way you can organise your searches and see the results as individual tweets. it easy to scroll down the list and reply to individual tweets, or select messages for a group reply. This tool is built to make engagement easy and you can run multiple twitter accounts through the same platform. I found it really useful to see full conversations with one click so that I can enter them in context.

> RSS Tweets. This is ideal for feeding jobs, blog posts, content and updates. It is very easy to set up and set frequency, different tweets, timed posting and repeat feeds.

> Cloud based. Everything is in the cloud so you can log in from anywhere with any device.

> Tweet chat widget. This is a really neat widget you can embed anywhere that enables visitors to tweet and enter in to conversations with you in real-time. You get a tweet sent with every message for instant reply and conversation.

> Open API. The open API tracks conversation trees in a way I haven’t seen before. This enables developers to perfect searches and apply synonyms tailoring any of the features for your users. This is a very open collaborative platform.

What I’m most impressed about ITweetLive is that it is built to make personal messaging simple and quick. Your replies to messages are saved, giving you these tweets as options when you get similar search results back. When you set up a new account, the platform imports all of your saved searches from twitter. The navigation is really simple, so you can separate results for grouping and replying.

There are 4 pricing options:

> Free – this gives you 50 credits. A credit is a tweet through the platform. You earn credits by allowing a sponsored ad from your account every 50 credits used. once the sponsored tweet goes out you are back to 50 credits.

> 500 credits – $9.99 – No sponsored tweets sent from your account and opt out of ads on the platform.

> 5000 credits – $50.00 - No sponsored tweets sent from your account and opt out of ads on the platform.

> Unlimited credits – $250 a month - No sponsored tweets sent from your account and opt out of ads on the platform. Full support.

I can see this being a perfect toll for running employment branding and recruiting campaigns on twitter because of the search capability, targeting, engagement and how easy it is to organise your activity for group or individual messages. Give the free option a try to see what you think.

This intro video explains a little more.

LINKS

ITweetLive Try it

Live and Breathe Social Media By @jobgram

I’ve been following Paul Jacobs new business Jobgram Ltd since they launched earlier this year. I’m going to be publishing a case study shortly that will share the results of one of the Jobgram campaigns. What is clear is that these infographic job descriptions have caught the imagination and are getting shared around a lot more than conventional advertising.
I particularly like Paul’s latest offering for a cool social media job. It is simple, but I think Paul has been very creative in combining images from the channels. Pass it on!
Bill

Don’t think mobile, think responsive design

At #SHRM12 I got to spend time with Jeremy Langans.  If you don’t know of Jeremy, he was the force behind Starbucks launch in to social, and is a thought leader in this space, We have been connected for a few years now but have never had the excuse or opportunity to sit down and just talk. We were talking all things recruiting, a regular back and forth, when Jeremy sais something that really set me back. We came on to the topic of social via mobile, when Jeremy said: “You need to stop thinking about mobile.” This is a different view to what I’ve been hearing and talking about with many of the experts and commentators, and so he got my attention.

Jeremy’s point is that all websites should be built to be viewed and operated regardless of the device the user is accessing it with, using responsive web design. What this means is that when you link to a site the design and navigation adjusts to fit the users device from tablet to smart-phone. It is neat and means that you don;t need to build a different interface for each type of device, android, i-phone, Kindle, games console etc. One size fits all, rather than building multiple landing pages. Stop thinking about pages and start thinking about systems. With so many variations of device it is no longer viable to build a different website for each device. Responsive web design provides a real solution for this problem. mobile is not a special case, it’s another device, and web design should take account of the multitude of devices users might be accessing your site with.

I don’t really understand the technical bits of coding that go on under the hood, but I can understand how the concept works. Sites are built on a grid with multiple viewing options. When a user lands on the page a “media query” selects the best options according to the size and resolution of the users device. The easiest way to understand this is to think about how you would want a picture to appear on different devices, and save multiple versions of the same image in the grid. This means different sizes, resolutions and positioning for each image. When the user lands with their device, it sends a “media query” to the grid which delivers the best image from the grid to the device.

Another example that helped me to understand this, and I’m not a technical person, is menus and navigation.  If I access the site on a wider screen device like a PC, the menus and images appear across the top of the screen, perhaps with small text links, easy to see and click with a mouse. If I access the same website by smart phone, I need to see the images stacked for scrolling, with larger buttons for clicking with my thumb. This is the same content delivered in a different way according to device.

Design is as much about making things easier for the user, as it is changing the look. A good example of this is when you access a responsive web site using a smart phone. The design makes it easy to scroll the site because users typically do this with one hand. The layout is different to suit the way the user is going to navigate it, even though most smart phones could now display the whole site with a no loss of quality, navigation or loading speed.

The case for responsive web design.

> Browsing Habits

Users may access a site many times using multiple times using multiple devices, PC, smart phone, tablet, netbook, laptop on 3G etc. Responsive web design gives them device friendly navigation and features each time.

> Content.

Adjusting the layout and navigation to fit screen size and device means that your content is easy to find and is presented in the best way. Images always appear with best resolution and screen size to fit the users device.

> Branding

Designing the way your site appears on any interface means that you can consider what brand image you want to portray whatever the screen size. This could be as simple as the positioning of logos and images or the order that you want content to appear.

To show how this works I’ve taken the images from the Barack Obama site, as it is viewed on 3 devices. The site is built to be responsive. This is the same site on 3 different interfaces.

PC View

Tablet view

Smart Phone View

While Jeremy helped me to understand what responsive web design means, the first person to show me a responsive web site built-in HTML5 was Ivan Stojanovic at #truDublin. Ivan has recently been building responsive sites for recruitment companies, and he is a real advocate of this technique. Judging by the bounce rate of people dropping off sites when landing, this is really working. It makes sense to deliver content, images and navigation to the users device in the best format for them.

Jeremy is now responsible for global brand and talent attraction at Expedia, who he joined in March. In his previous role as program manager, employment brand and channels with Starbucks, he launched what is probably the first responsive design career site. The best way to see how responsive design works is to view the Starbucks.Com Careers . You can shrink the image down if you are viewing on a PC or Laptop to see how the view and navigation changes instantly according to how you are viewing the site. It is immediately responsive, and gives you a real idea of the possibilities. Stop thinking mobile as a special case, and start thinking responsive design for everything. The only other big question is whether you need web or application, a question for another day. Thanks Jeremy for opening my eyes to the possibilities presented by HTML5.

Bill

Guest Rant: BranchOut: A network for the rest of us? by @topchefsie David Hall

After publishing the guest rant about the decline in BranchOut user numbers by Marc Drees, and the response from the platform themselves, I was contacted by Chef recruiter David Hall, to say that no one had yet spoken on behalf of the Branchout users, and that he had a few things he wanted to get off his chest. I’m glad to add the users voice to the conversation. I hope BranchOut are listening to what he has to say.

 Much has been written about BranchOut and most of that has been about their stellar growth in users, or, more recently, the complete collapse in their user numbers. Some very good pieces on this from Marc Drees. Mr. Boorman on the other hand has led the cheering, credit where it due for allowing us dissenters some headroom. The Silicon Valley blogosphere takes a slightly different tack and occasionally gushes about BranchOut’s other numbers, their blowout fundraising rounds, $49Million and counting. But what about the product itself? Has it got anything serious to offer us or is it the reason users seem to sign up and seldom, if ever, go back? This post won’t be covering every area of BranchOut’s functionality, perhaps I’ll save that for another day, but will instead focus on a couple of features of most concern to recruiters.

Never Mind the Quality Feel the Width

In case you’ve been hiding out in a bomb shelter the last two years, BranchOut claims to be a professional network built on top of Facebook. Once you install the App on Facebook you can see which of your friends are already there. More than that you can see where they work and, here’s the biggie, where their friends work. From a recruiters perspective it doesn’t take long for the penny to drop that BranchOut is potentially a huge disrupter and that’s the way BranchOut encourages you to think about them too. The idea is that BranchOut’s reach is potentially much vaster than LinkedIn, XING or VIADEO put together and in theory this is the case, no one can touch Facebook’s almost one billion users. Yes the Profile Data will be less rich than on any of those business networks but no sourcer worth the name would balk at shallower profile data with those numbers on offer. Give us just the merest shrivel of data and we’ll go to work filling in the blanks. Rather than do an exhaustive “BranchOut for Idiots” today I’ll confine myself to sharing with you my own experience of testing whether, on BranchOut, your network really is stronger than you think.

BranchOut’s Gamifacation Play

I joined BranchOut at the time they still had the platform “gamified” to encourage connection promiscuity i.e. connecting with as many people as possible. There were badges on offer for various network milestones such as your number of direct connections and your number of extended network connections. There was even a leader board. I quickly figured that in the early stages of a network a healthy amount of super connectors is a good thing from the perspective of the platform owners, it creates activity and helps people extend their network reach fast. I also figured that for a recruiter it would be foolish not to take advantage of a situation which might not last forever. Both Linkedin and XING employ various strategies to discourage, or at least limit, such behavior and it wasn’t such a big leap from there to the assumption that sometime in the future BranchOut would too. So I dived right in determined to get some early mover advantage. I quickly noticed that with only a handful of direct connections I was already over the 10K mark in network size; all very early and all very encouraging. This early indication of BranchOut’s ability to, ahem, branch out was to prove highly misleading but we’ll get to that later on. So (un)suitably encouraged I went on a program (spree) of sending connection requests by the bucketload to people within the Catering and Hospitality industry, especially Chefs. That’s what I do, connect Chefs to Chef Jobs. In digress, BranchOut made all this pretty easy and never imposed any limits so I kept on keeping on. It was only sometime later that it became apparent that something was wrong, very wrong.

Bridge Into Troubled Water

The early signs of this showed up on BranchOut’s own “Leader-Boards.” There were two of these back in the day, one would show you how you ranked in terms of direct connections i.e. First Degree Connections and the other would show how you ranked in terms of your network strength i.e. Second Degree Connections. Over time it was difficult not to become aware that those who had the strongest networks, by some margin, had a relatively modest number of First Degree Connections and that none of those with the largest, largest by a huge margin, number of First Degree Connections seemed to get anywhere near the leader board for Network Size i.e. Second Degree connections. This was far from being the smoking gun, that something was broken, but it was a bad sign, bad enough for me to take a look at my own numbers. I noticed that I was now up to about 6-8K (I’m doing this from memory) First Degree Connections but that my network of Second Degree Connections was only in the low to mid 20K. That’s a derisory return of something in the region of 3.5 Second Degree Connections for each First Degree BranchOut connection. Now bear in mind that your Second Degree Connections on BranchOut include your contacts First Degree BranchOut connections PLUS their FaceBook friends. Taking this into account I knew something was really amiss so I got in touch with BranchOut support by email and explained to them what I’ve just explained to you. This was to prove to be a very long and frustrating relationship, most of which I’m going to spare you, but in this instance they had an explanation for what was wrong, you see there wasn’t any issue with BranchOut, no, there was an issue with the people I had connected with, apparently I’d somehow managed to connect with a demographic of 6-8K whose only friends or connections in the world were each other. Yes, inadvertently I’d connected with the loneliest souls on the planet, at least that’s what BranchOut seemed to be saying.

Through The Looking Glass

While no expert in probability theory but facing a support department straight from a Kafkaesque dystopia I went into polarity mode and decided upon the most direct route to volleying BranchOut’s return of serve. I simply sent connection requests to all the connections of the top five people on BranchOut’s own Network Size Leader Board. If BranchOut were right, and I knew as well as they did that they weren’t, my network size should quickly start to get massive traction. The big downside to this was that I was now connecting to profiles of little or no strategic value to someone working in a Chef Recruitment Agency. But so what, this was, after all, a business network which was Gamified (slogans “like build your BranchOut Empire” Badges and Leader Boards made this much clear) to encourage promiscuous connection activity; it wasn’t as if there was some unspoken or hidden rule that once you hit 10K direct connections BranchOut would effectively shut your account down, forbidding you to send or even accept any more connection requests (however outstanding requests you’ve already sent may be accepted thus lifting you over the 10K limit). As I was to find out later on that’s exactly what would happen to me, and as I know, many others too. Thanks for playing our game kids you did great, now here’s your punishment, we’re going to cripple your accounts and ditch those Leader Boards. That’s BranchOut for you, they really do know how to treat their most loyal users.

Old School, BranchOut Leader Board (BranchOut have scrapped these in their most recent platform “upgrade”):

And here’s the Leader Board for Network Size (Note the absence of everyone from the previous, “Actives,” Leader Board):

However not knowing any of this at the time I kicked on and connected with the top networkers connections and arrived where I am now, the proud owner of a BranchOut network of Direct, First Degree Connections of over 15K. And, you may wonder, how did that experiment help the size of my network of Second Degree Connections grow? What sort of scale did I hit? Well, it gives me no pleasure to disclose that the ratio of Second Degree Connections to First Degree connections actually collapsed rather than grew. My Network Size, from a total of 15K First Degree Connections, is now a whopping 33k i.e. roughly 2.2 Second Degree Connections for each First Degree Connection. So much for BranchOut’s theory that I was connecting to the wrong people. Connecting to the right people makes things even worse.

It’s hard to believe but seeing is believing so check this out:

You might question why BranchOut can’t even seem to agree with itself about the number of direct connections I can boast is it 14,688 or is it 15,030? If you can figure that one out be sure to use comments to let me know.

Searching my BranchOut Empire

So what’s searchable on BranchOut? In theory you should be able to search the profiles of your BranchOut connections, their BranchOut connections (in fact every BranchOut profile) AND, here’s the Holy Grail unavailable elsewhere, their Facebook friends. Even with only relatively shallow profile data, compared to XING, LinkedIn etc, this is like honey to a bee for any recruiter and is potentially a way to get to a huge database of less senior candidates who haven’t yet created any profiles on the aforementioned business networks. To me this is potentially manna from the heavens, if only I were being asked to source senior level Executive Chefs every day I’d be sorted with my existing networks on XING and VIADEO, but I’m not, or at least not often enough, so the promise of BranchOut was for me, unfortunately, irresistible. Space, and your patience, being limited resources I’ll now present to you now the outcome of just one BranchOut query which supports the thesis that there is much wrong with BranchOut’s engineering and its ability to serve as a business network to rival any of the incumbents. I’ll keep it broad by searching for “Ritz Carlton” an international brand of upmarket hotels with an wide international geographic spread.

Here’s the results 3,936 in total:

3,936 isn’t a very impressive number but because BranchOut leverages BranchOut members Facebook friends you’d expect a decent proportion of that 3,936 to be profiles from Facebook, wouldn’t you? Well lets’s check this out by going to the “Members Tab:

 

No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you, that really does say 3,756. Ok to avoid being accused of overstating the issue, remember that BranchOut is supposed to show me only the profiles of BranchOut members with “Ritz Carlton” in their “BranchOut” profile data PLUS the Facebook profile data of the friends of my BranchOut First Degree Connections. Still a poor figure though. For comparisons sake, with a much smaller network on XING and much fewer First Degree Ritz Carlton connections I scale to about 16k Ritz Carlton Second Degree connections.

So exactly how many Ritz Carlton First Degree connections have I managed to collect on BranchOut: Here goes:

A total of 187, not bad and a lot more than I have on XING. But what about my second degree connections, how many of those have I managed to bag thanks to BranchOut?

Yes, 299! Thats a far cry from the 16K a couple of dozen First Degree XING connections earn me, and BranchOut is, remember, a business network built on top of Facebook’s user base of over 900Million, that’s a lot more profiles to shuffle than XING’S quite modest 12-14Million.

The End

I could go on and on about BranchOut and its shortcomings but this has to end somewhere, at least for today, and it might as well end here. Is there a happy postscript? No!

I’ve been back to BranchOut since connecting to the super connecters network and, as a consequence, seeing an even greater collapse in my network strength. Given my experiences with BranchOut’s support department I didn’t entertain high hopes that my newly acquired “proof,” that they weren’t passing on network value to me, would shake them from their resolutely “not our problem dude” method of issue resolution. Having set my expectations to the lowest set on the dial BranchOut managed to surprise me again, but not in a good way, in fact this time they outdid themselves in the buck passing stakes. Apparently now the issue isn’t that I’ve connected to the biggest lonely hearts club in cyberspace but rather that I’ve exceeded their brand new, never announced, silent limit of 10K direct connections thus introducing a bug into my account. Yup, my fault again! There really was no point in arguing that this happened precisely because the issue existed before I went over the 10K or even before anyone I know had heard of any limit on direct connections on BranchOut or even that their refusal to admit that there was a problem in the first place is was the very thing which caused me to crash through their secret ceiling of 10K. It makes no difference to BranchOut whose message is, essentially, tough luck dude.

This is a message an increasingly large number of their users are taking to heart as they head for the BranchOut exit doors. If you’re still wondering whether to invest any time, or effort, in BranchOut (and if you’ve really read this far you shouldn’t be) my advice is no, run as fast as you can and forget you ever heard of BranchOut. The platform simply doesn’t work in line with expectations and the people behind it, in my experience, have never once exhibited the slightest sign that they have any concern for the type of experience their users are having on their platform.

So is BranchOut headed for the dead pool? No, not just yet. They’ve raised $49million in VC so far (easily the most impressive thing about them) and still have at least 25million, probably more, users signed up, which if the platform can be made work consistently well for everyone, a big if mind you, means they could save the day yet. If there’s any hope of that happening they need to stop dreaming of a fabulously lucrative exit (or that exit needs to happen real soon allowing someone new into the building to fix things, before it really is too late) and get down to the hard work of developing a platform which offers real utility to its users. Oh yeah and a few courses in “service recovery” wouldn’t go astray either; blaming the customer for your own product’s miserable shortcomings doesn’t resolve issues, it makes them fester.

When David Hall isn’t taking BranchOut to the Woodshed he blogs occasionally about Chef Recruitment and can also be found on a couple of business networks which do work as advertised,Twitter, XING and VIADEO.

Thanks David for your contribution to the BranchOut conversation. It is good to hear comment from someone who uses the platform before forming an opinion. I hope the guys from BranchOut are listening to your feedback.

Bill

Twitter V LinkedIn: Much Ado About Nothing?

There has been a lot of noise over the last week about Twitter revoking access to their API to LinkedIn. It was billed as a battle of the social media channels, with Twitter choosing to flex their not inconsiderable muscle towards LinkedIn and taking a stand. Most of what was written was actually rubbish. I was surprised by the quality of some of the names who chose to get involved. Lets take a close look at what has actually happened.

Twitter have chosen to disable a feature that was massively unpopular. That being the ability to post tweets direct to your LinkedIn profile. A few months ago LinkedIn chose to remove the twitter app from those available to use with your profile. The reason given was that the users hardly used it and it was only cluttering up the app suite. On the most part this app was preety useless, as it only served to add tweets as a constant stream of updates. This practice was hugely unpopular with LinkedIn users who got a flooded stream of mostly irrelevance. I turned this off when I installed the app, though I did like having the facility to see which LinkedIn connections I had that I didn’t follow, so that I could follow them. I would like to see that facility back in either channel, or some other app. It could be that Twitter chose to remove some access in retaliation for the removal of this app. The only other change is that I can no longer update my LinkedIn profile by adding #In to my tweets. Again that is brilliant, because I occasionally retweeted a blog post and left #In in the title, inadvertently updating my profile with someone elses content. I never used this feature because I always wanted to add an image to my updates (you get a lot more opens when you do), and I can only do this from LinkedIn.

I can still post LinkedIn updates to Twitter from my profile, groups, comments, polls, questions, jobs etc. Sharing the LinkedIn link from updates is more valuable because retweets count as shares in the algorythm that calculates and promotes trending content to other users. For me at least, the changes mean business as usual, and it is my LinkedIn user experience that is improved by removing the tweets from the updates.

Looking at the wider picture though, Twitter taking a tighter, LinkedIn like stance over the use of their API may have other ramifications for other applications. If, for example, they were to introduce a non-compete clause as with LinkedIn, might we see the end of applications like Hootsuite that compete with Twitter owned Tweetdeck? I should think other apps that currently export Twitter profiles and data to other locations will also be sweating a bit, and there are quite a few of those. Could be that Twitter feel they have now achieved a critical mass of 100million users, and want users to stay in the channel, rather than work outside of it. Time will tell,

Interesting times ahead, but does this change impact on me now? No, not really. It is much-a-do about nothing for now, at least.

Bill

A look inside Glassdoor.Com

Bob Hohman

Last week, at #SHRM12 I got to meet Glassdoor founder and CEO Robert Hohman. He has a resume that reads like a whose who on the internet, having been President of Hotwire (the travel division of Expedia). Bob was one of the founding members of Expedia, carving a career through most of the travel divisions of the business, being one of the original employees, joining from Microsoft where he started his career. I got to spend some extended time with Scott Dobroski, the community expert at Glassdoor.

I’ve been interested in the site for quite a while, and tracking their progress since they launched an application that overlays the platform on Facebook without the need to leave the platform. The concept behind Glassdoor is to give job seekers access to data and reviews about employers from their employees and previous candidates. Given Bob’s background, it’s not surprising that they describe this as the TripAdvisor for job seekers. As consumers we are getting used to leaving reviews to help others, and Glassdoor go further by offering extra features to those users who do just that. You leave a review, add salary information etc, you get more access and more features. As a concept it is easy to see the real value of this kind of platform, and when you add the Facebook platform in to the mix with close to a billion users globally, you get to see the real potential.

Reviews are entirely anonymous. A new user gets a limited number of reviews for the first month, but can gain an enhanced membership by completing a quick review of their current employer, it’s free to job seekers. The review asks for the following info:

> Employer name

> Number of employees

> Overall rating of the company based on 5 stars

> Title of the review

> Pros

> Cons

> Advice to management

> A tick box to determine if you are a current or past employee

The next set of review info is optional. The next 6 questions ask for a star ranking (with 1 star meaning very dissatisfied, 3 stars neutral/ok and 6 stars very satisfied.) The categories are:

> Career Opportunities

> Compensation and Benefits

> Work/life Balance

> Senior Management

> Culture Values

Users then get tick boxes to determine if you would recommend the employer to a friend, and 3 arrows to determine the direction you think the company will take over the next 6 months. Next up is Job Type (Full Time,Part Time or Intern.)

> Job Title

> Job City

> Length Of Employment

In the side column of the page there are community guidelines, where Glassdoor state the following to keep things balanced:

We will not post reviews containing:

  • Rants, venting, or obscenities
  • Personal insults or defamatory attacks (by name, title, or association)
  • Aggressive or discriminatory language
  • Trade secrets or information protected by employer contracts
  • Content not relevant or helpful to our community
  • Text in ALL CAPS or using excessively poor grammar
Once you click submit the pop up will ask you for more info if the review is less than 60 words, with the option to post, though it may not appear, or to edit and add extra info..
Next up is the option to add extra content, with the opportunity to win an i-pad for taking part. The extra sections asks you to provide anonymous  data under the following categories:
> Salary –  Current/Former Job, Job Title, Location by country (drop down) and city, Years of experience in the field (drop down) and Employment Status (drop down.)
Submitting this data takes you to a salary screen asking for annual, hourly or monthly salary.
> Annual salary amount
> Currency
>Average hours per week
Other types of pay:
>Cash Bonus
>Stock Bonus
>Profit Sharing
>Commision on sales
>Tips/gratuities
>Weeks of paid vacation
>Health Benefits – By tick box
>Retirement benefits by employer
>Employer name – with the tick box option to leave it blank and add additional info on employer size and type etc.
Submitting this data asks for a confirmation of job title to match common titles in the database.
Next up is the option to add interview data asking for:
> Employer
>Job location
>Year of last interview
> Outcome by tick box
This moves you to screens with similar information on interview process and interview questions. On the plus side I can see the benefit of this information, and community minded people will be more than happy to contribute and take part. On the downside I was asked to complete a 5 minute review and I’m now 40 minutes in. I’m tempted to quit. A bit more transparency here might be better, although this data is optional, and I do have the chance to win an i-pad. A small gripe but one for consideration. Completing a detailed review to this stage with enough thought and info to be valuable to others will take at least an hour.
The other area for improvement is that  I got asked to submit information like employer name, type, city, type etc multiple times. Auto-complete from information already submitted would be time-saving and less frustrating.
The interview info asked for is:
> How did you get the interview? (drop down)
> Position
>How long did the interview process take
>What did the interview process consist of – with 12 tick boxes, drug test etc
> Describe the hiring process – This must be a minimum of 50 words to make the site
> How would you describe the negotiation stage? (optional)
> How difficult was the interview – from very easy to very difficult
>How would you describe your interview process – Negative, neutral or positive.
Submit this data and you are asked for 2 interview questions with the option to add answers or comments and tags. and the option to add more questions, comments and tags.
Last option is to add workplace photos and captions. The upload is simple, though it was a bit irritating to have to add company information and detail for the fifth time. I think Glassdoor need to look at fixing this for time-saving and the benefit of the users. It was also not clear how to quit these optional screens without signing out completely and possibly not returning.
The information asked for is comprehensive, and invaluable to job seekers when job hunting, considering applications and preparing for interview. it’s also invaluable for employers to keep a handle on their real employer brand. Users of either the Facebook app or the main site (which mirror each other), are easy to navigate.
Users searching the jobs tab filter by job title and location, all time down to the last 24 hours, company ratings (using the stars) and distance from location. Theres also an advanced feature allowing search by company. Job seekers can be as wide or narrow in their options as they choose, and the default is automatic to local area and country. Looking at the results for the UK, it’s very accurate, with additional options to conduct the same searches by salaries, companies and reviews or interview details. Navigation, as it should be is brilliantly simple,. Each company selected offers an overview, salaries, reviews, interviews, photos, jobs and your Facebook connections who are members of Glassdoor who work at the company. You can view the profile of each of the employees listed, identify mutual connections and send a message,, which could prove useful in the application process.
All companies related to users have a profile on both the site and the app. Company profiles state if the employer has submitted any information to the profile , which includes the following fields:
> Inside Connections
>Office Photos
>Awards and Accolades
>Ratings And Reviews
>Salaries
>Interview Questions And Reviews
>Recent News
Glassdoor generate revenue by selling enhanced listings which enable more employer branding features like video etc, enhanced search results for jobs and companies and featured listings. Ad’s can be featured alongside any company profile unless the company has an enhanced profile, another good reason for investing in your profile. Jobs in search include the enhanced jobs and aggregated jobs from sources such as CareerBuilder, the Ladders  and most other sites. Sponsored or enhanced jobs are clearly tagged. I think there is a real benefit to investing in both an enhanced profiles and jobs to rank above your competitors, because there are more than enough features, reviews and profiles to be a valuable destination for anyone looking for employer information, and recent shows that job seekers are looking for more and more information on a company from sources they trust before applying.
The most notable development for me though has been the growth in users for the Facebook app. It’s easy to see the potential here given Glassdoors coverage of both traditional web and the Facebook audience. Checking in on Appdata.Com, the average daily users is 580,000 with  monthly average users of  3,700,000, having gained a massive 3,200,000 monthly average users since June 4′th. I’m not quite sure on the reason for this sudden growth spurt, though the ADU figure went from 220,000 on June 25′th, peaking at 1,400,000 on June 30′th before falling to 580,000 on July 1′st.  It is volatile numbers but the totals now make Glassdoor the top career app on Facebook at the moment. Branchout currently ranks at 2,600,000 MAU and 90,000 DAU by comparison.  I’d like to investigate these numbers a little more to properly understand the reasoning behind it, but combined with the web traffic, Glassdoor is proving a powerful destination for job seekers, and i think it is the user generated reviews that are providing the real value.
Bill
>

What has been interesting to note has been the steady climb in users of the Facebook app. Launched in

Hanging Out With Bullhorn. The Future Of #SocialRecruiting

I’m going to be taking part in a hang out chat on Google+ with Steven Duque, Bullhorns social media evangelist. We decided to go with a hangout because we want the conversations to be informal, rehearsed and a genuine conversation. The feature we are going to be using is Google+ Air that was launched in May. I think this is a brilliant feature for recruiters because you have plenty of control (through a mini-studio) over the image, who gets highlighted, the camera angles, lighting etc. You can broadcast direct on to your Google+ page, promote the “show” as on air, capture and record to YouTube etc, as well as sharing invites through all the social channels. The other really neat feature of Air is that you can embed a view widget on any web space. I’m looking forward to giving this tech a live run after having had plenty of practice, and it is free to use.

The topic of the chat is “The future of social recruiting”. I have a few views on the topic, but we are talking future not present or past. I have plenty of ideas that I want to share.
One of my big thoughts is that we will are moving from an “apply for” transactional model to a “talk to” model. that is relationship/engagement based. There is no need to apply for jobs any more, simply express interest. If the recruiters can see who is interested and evaluate them accordingly then they can direct the potential candidates in the right direction. Thats got to be good for recruiters and improve the candidate experience all around.

I’m going to be joining the hang out from #truAmsterdam on the 21′st June at 11.00am EST/4.00 PM GMT, so you can expect a few surprise guests to join the conversation. You can view the hangout on a specially built landing page on the Bullhorn Reach blog. Bullhorn Reach will  be sponsoring #TruAmsterdam again as well as hosting the hang out. I’m a bigfan of the reach product and it is great to be associated with the business.

It has been a big week at Bullhorn. This week the Boston based business announced that they have been acquired by Vista Equity Partners for just short of $100Mn.Founder Art Papas is staying at the helm of the business with the management team staying in place. The investment will enable Bullhorn to push on with some exciting developments on both their CRM and Reach products. This is great news given what they have already achieved. They work exclusively in the recruitment sector,  offering a pure SAAS solution.

Vista already have over $33.6bn invested in SAAS companies, and it is going to be interesting to see how the various parts might fit together in areas like research and development. It’s going to be exciting watching. Congratulations to Art and all the team. I look forward to hanging out. See you there.

Bill

VIEW THE HANGOUT HERE

BullhornReach

Twitter trends just got personal

There’s a new feature on twitter that I think is quite neat. On the twitter screen you can access trends by clicking on the #discover tab. Before Wednesday this gave you the global trends from twitter. You got to see the tweets, links, videos and pictures that were being most shared. This was quite interesting for amusement, but had little real value other than curiosity. You can usually predict what is going to be trending globally by what gets featured in the news or current affairs.This week that all changed.
Twitter have switched trends to a personalised version based on your location and your own following and followers. This is a really useful feature for recruiters in my opinion, because it makes it easy to stay current, and to join topical conversations.  This is also a great way to identify who is influencing or starting the trends, as the most shared are listed at the top of the list as the top tweets. With trends being based on your personal network, you can see what events or twitter chats are attracting your target audience.

I’ve blogged in the past about setting up different accounts according to the disciplines you hire for by searching for geek words in either Twitter search or SocialBro and following the people you find, and sharing targeted content on these accounts. The added benefit of doing this now is that you can also pick up the trends and popular content in your target market. This also means you can spot and share the content that you know is already appealing to your target audience, and this is going to bring following.

Twitter understand that you may not want this new feature, so they have given the option to reset the default to global trends, or to toggle between the two, all you need to do is click on the change tab. This is another reason I’m moving from Tweetdeck and back to Twitter.com. I get all the features I need in the one place.

Bill


I’M HOSTING #HRCARNIVAL ON THE 20′TH OF JUNE. I’M KEEPING IT SIMPLE. NO THEME, AND A #SHRM2012 EXTRA. IF YOU WANT YOUR BLOG FEATURED SEND ME A LINK TO YOUR FAVOURITE POST. bill@billboorman.co.uk BY SUNDAY.

BranchOut Responds

I recently featured a guest rant from Dutch blogger Marc Drees, entitled “Hey Blodget, you better shut your pie hole.” with apologies to Marc, the title should have concluded “before LinkedIn does it for you!”. The gist of the post was comments on the significant decline in monthly average users of  the Facebook recruiting app BranchOut, during the month of May. Having achieved a figure of over 13Mn users up to the month of April, the decline was almost as quick. numbers from AppData showed a loss of 5.5Mn average monthly users, and the slide was showing no sign of abating. Marc was suggesting that the numbers could fall to zero by mid July. You can read Marcs full post HERE.

In the interests of open conversation, I invited BranchOut to respond with a post of their own presenting their own thoughts on this. I was contacted by Sarah Patterson, the Enterprise Director Of Product Marketing at BranchOut, and after a conversation over what i was looking for, Sarah contributed this post, which sheds some light on their thoughts:

“BranchOut’s top priority is to provide the best experience that ultimately helps our users create and grow their professional networks through Facebook.Companies, regardless of what industry they serve, are lucky if they experience periods of rapid growth. In our case, our growth was fueled by broad mobile adoption and from a diversity of international markets given key overseas partnerships. BranchOut quickly grew to more than 25 million registered users by this spring, as people discovered the value in having a strong professional presence on Facebook. By the end of April, we had 13.9 million monthly active users and over one million daily active users according to the appdata.comfigures.We are the first to recognize that all companies experience cycles of growth, which often will ebb and flow. But at BranchOut, we concentrate on long-term value. Specifically, we want to provide the best experience for people to build their professional network on Facebook. During periods of growth, start-up companies need to make choices on where to allocate limited resources. While this rapid growth certainly caught the attention of those within the professional networking industry, adding a significant volume of active users to BranchOut strained our resources. This strain meant our team needed to focus on scaling BranchOut to ensure we continued to provide an ideal user experience. As this growth plateaued, we saw an opportunity to shift our focus to build an even more engaging experience for our 25 million, and growing, professional users to network and find new business opportunities.

As an app developer, we have a huge opportunity to build our product on a platform of more than 900 million people on Facebook. We’re able to adapt the BranchOut experience quickly, and remain committed as we move forward to introduce changes based on feedback from our loyal users.

At BranchOut, our mission is to positively affect the trajectory of people’s lives by enabling them to network and job hunt in a safe and secure professional environment. Startups are a rollercoaster ride, and it can be mirrored by the highs and lows of our user growth. At the end of the day, our priority is on providing a great experience for our users – that’s never going to change.”

You can interpret that as you see it. Reading between the lines it looks like BranchOut were as surprised by all of us in the meteoric rise in monthly users. It may be that the platform couldn’t support the sudden hike, or it may be that the ease of inviting 50 people at once by mobile and other means provided a hike that no one could have predicted or expected, as has been suggested elsewhere, perhaps it was just too easy to invite and accept without any real interest in the platform.
I have been following the numbers closely to see how they are changing each day. As of today, the average monthly users stand at 4.5Mn. Thats a drop of 2Mn over the last 7 days. Interestingly,  daily average users reverses the decline, standing today at 120,000, a rise of 20,000 today and 10,000 over the last week. This figure has remained fairly consistent over the last few weeks. The drop in monthly average users and daily average users also shows growth, rising from its lowest point of 1.5% on the 31′st May, back to just over 3% and rising. These 2 numbers should be encouraging for the business, and suggest the free-fall could be over and is now bottoming out. It will be interesting to see how the numbers change over the next few weeks. My feeling is that this is probably the realistic position for the platform, and averages will rise to 5%, with the daily average users remaining around 130,000, with a slower decline on the monthly figure to around 3.8Mn. Taken in context, that is not bad numbers for the start-up, if we ignore the previous growth. Lets all watch closely to see if this is the real position for BranchOut, and what the promised improvements for users might be. The long term test will be if the lost users are willing to return albeit at a slower pace. That said, with a one time high of  25Mn users, that still leaves a massive number who could be convinced in the future. If I was BranchOut, I’d be looking to change the way invites go out in batches with one click, and perhaps ask new users to do a bit more, just to get the commitment. I wish them well in their endeavors.
Bill