The Cost of Technological Anonymity

Technological advances are unprecedented. In fact, thinking about technological changes is mind numbing. In recruiting and sourcing, our current technology is so sophisticated that most of our process can be automated. Think about it–we automate how candidates find jobs on the web (Search Engine Optimization—SEO); we automate the application process and much of the interview process (Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS); and we would automate the actual interviews if we could. As sourcers and recruiters our goal has been to use technology to guard our time and only speak to people that are qualified for a position. We hide behind this wall of technology in our corporations so that we can operate anonymously to everyone except the chosen few that are candidates for a job.

There is a downside to our anonymity. I invite you to step into the experience of a person that stumbles over one of our jobs.

Imagine you are at work. You are researching a special project. You put your keywords in your favorite search engine; as you skim the results in Bing you notice a job advertisement from a competitor. There staring you in the face is the seemingly perfect job. You press the link and read the job description. Many questions come to mind. You press the link that says “apply” to see if your questions can be answered and to further investigate the opportunity. You are directed to an electronic form and offers you the opportunity apply for the job. You think to yourself—do I have time to apply for this job? What if my boss walks by? You wonder how long can an application process take—you conclude that this is the 21st century and it should only take a few minutes. 30 minutes later, you are still being asked questions about your life history. You are feeling uneasy since you are at work. A colleague walks by and you quickly close the window on the screen in order to protect your privacy. You have just wasted 30 minutes of your life. And your competitor has just lost a great opportunity to meet you.

The above scenario is played out daily. This is one of the byproducts of the amazing technology age—prospects for our opportunities become frustrated with our process and drop out of our application process. Before you dismiss this as isolated, Gerry & Mark at CareerXroads have some research that suggests that not completing the application process can occur over 60% of the time. If you think about it, it is not the active job seeker that drops out of the application process, but a more passive person who is just sort of kicking tires. And if you are like me, it is that passive prospect that I need because the number of active candidates do not meet my numerical or quality requirements need to fulfill my hiring objectives.

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I believe we can use technology to reverse this trend of passive prospects dropping out of an application process. The solution isn’t just shortening the application process (although, I am in favor or that); we can use technology to engage is conversations with these passive prospects. I believe that we can and should use technology to rehumanize sourcing and recruiting.

At Microsoft, we are Employing Talent Communities to Rehumanize the Recruiting Process. I will discuss our approach at Sourcecon 2010. I invite you to be part of the presentation and conversation. I am the last speaker on Monday, so as you plan your departure from SourceCon, take a later flight and please join me.

Marvin Smith is veteran talent acquisition practitioner who focuses on strategic talent sourcing, talent community building, social recruiting, employment branding, and the use of technology to drive talent identification and engagement strategies. He has been on teams that were at the forefront of resurgence of talent sourcing as a strategic weapon in talent acquisition. These teams piloted groundbreaking programs (ERE-Media-award-winning) work that used business intelligence, data, and technology to segment the target talent audiences and build talent pipelines and communities. His current role is a strategic talent sourcing consultant with Lockheed Martin, where he is responsible for talent pipeline building for critical skills talent; project management of a RMP (recruitment marketing platform); and driving corporate-wide, talent community initiatives. Previously, he served as senior research recruiter on an internal executive recruiting team with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; a strategic sourcing program manager with Blackberry (Research In Motion); and a talent sourcer/program manager for Microsoft. He is a writer and speaker on the topics of talent communities, strategic talent sourcing, Moneyball sourcing, and talent acquisition strategies. You can follow his blog or join a community that he created on talent community development or follow him on Twitter.


1 Comment on “The Cost of Technological Anonymity

  1. Marvin,

    I’m glad to hear that Microsoft is taking a leadership role in re-humanizing the recruiting process. The intelligent use of social media tools to interact with prospective candidates will be a welcome change that allows candidates and companies to engage in a mutually beneficial discovery process.


    Omowale Casselle

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