Has technology replaced entrepreneurialism in recruitment?

This was the burning question raised at the Recruitment Society's recent presentation on the evening of Tuesday 16th June, and in the event it received a pretty decisive answer - in the negative.  In fact, technology probably offers the recruitment industry more entrepreneurial potential than ever before.

Held at the Guardian's new Kings Place offices, the latest event again featured a trio of speakers in the shape of Google's Luke Mckend, RS Components' Jon Hull and Arithon's Stephen Fowler.

First up was Luke, who contended that new media provides a whole world of opportunity for anyone who really wants to embrace it.  He quoted examples of candidates marketing themselves entrepreneurially, such as www.myhusbandneedsajob.com (which succeeded in gaining a mention on CNN) and similar UK phenomena.  These help to illustrate the growing power of social networks and personal branding.  And even though times are tough for everyone at the moment, the fact that this is the first ‘digital' recession is generating lots of interesting new opportunities that simply weren't available before.

With the fivefold increase in recruitment-related queries on Google over recent years, Luke stressed the importance of using all the available tools to find out as much as possible about target candidates and their behaviour, his mantra being "follow the user".  Looking at some of the emerging technologies, he reckoned that the latest generation of phones meant that mobile was finally coming of age, and cited ‘augmented reality' ("sci-fi that's happening now") as an exciting innovation that people could soon begin to find commercial, and indeed recruitment-related, applications for.  And, as ever, he stressed the importance of measuring, monitoring and evaluating everything constantly.

Jon Hull, senior HR manager at RS Components, agreed that technology has actually improved entrepreneurialism in recruitment markets.  By moving the main thrust of the company's recruitment online, technology has helped to achieve greater visibility, more choice, lower cost, a wider range of channels and better management information, particularly in terms of measurement.   Jon also stressed the importance of regarding candidates in the same way as customers, and ensuring that they receive a consistently high-quality experience throughout.  He also exhorted recruitment consultancies and generalist job-boards to "adapt or die", stating that they needed to differentiate their services more effectively in addition to delivering a better experience.  ("Entrepreneurs innovate!")

Finally Stephen Fowler of recruitment software provider Arithon presented an enthusiastic session on blogging, including how to create a blog, what to blog about, and the resulting benefits that could be anticipated (which cover everything from "free candidates" to the development of a guru-like reputation and the establishment of a strong professional network).

Perhaps the most perceptive comment of the evening came from Luke Mckend in the closing question-and-answer session.  As he said, technology can become a commodity if everyone uses it the same way.  The trick is to differentiate your use of all the available tools in order to achieve your own business purposes.

Recruitment Society chairman Steve Huxham closed proceedings with a reminder of the date for the Society's summer - Thursday 16th July - which, he said, was "not to be missed."

Thursday, 18 June 2009

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Has technology replaced entrepreneurialism in recruitment?