Tomorrow’s recruitment world

Tomorrow’s recruitment world

The latest meeting of the Online Recruitment Marketing Council took place on Tuesday 31st August, at The Guardian's Kings Place offices.  There was a good turnout to hear Matt Alder of MetaShift (pictured) speak.  His theme was New Technology: what next in recruitment applications.

The talk opened with a quote from William Gibson (described in Wikipedia as the "noir prophet" of cyberpunk sci-fi): "... the future is already here.  It is just not very evenly distributed."  Matt thinks that this is the case in recruitment, with technology creating all manner of possibilities but realization either patchy in take-up, and/or as yet unproven.  Back in 1999, the recruitment communications industry went OTT in its enthusiasm for internet methods, before the market was ready.  By contrast today, the internet audience has become sophisticated in its adoption of social media and business networks but the industry is lagging behind, either unconvinced that new methods work, or nervous about the consequences if they do.

Matt used Gartner's "hype cycle" to describe how new ideas progress, from the point at which technology creates possibilities, through a period of hope and expectation, to the dawn of realism and eventual fulfilment.  Not all ideas get through the stage of disappointment - Matt's message is that open minds and patience are required for the full potential of new recruitment technologies to be realized.

Talent communities

This concept, pioneered by Microsoft and taken up by others, is now well-established: in essence, the employer builds a database of likely recruits, which is tapped as needs arise.  Recruiters "harvest" potential employees on social and business networks, CV databases, and from those who apply to advertised jobs or on spec.  Drawbacks are that there may be hot prospects who do not post details to Linkedin, Facebook, or wherever.  Gaps may be covered by the scary prospect of recruiters "x-raying" conference attendees.

Referral recruiting

It has always been the case that most people get their jobs through personal connections - suggestions, leads and introductions from family and friends.  The most successful links, according to Matt's research, are one step removed - ie a friend of a friend or a relative's contact.  The social graph - Facebook's and others' mapping of individuals' internet connections - has the potential to put a rocket behind the concept.  If developments are driven by technology, then referrals will represent a big opportunity for the recruitment industry.  If, on the other hand, employers embrace the concept directly, there is an obvious threat.

CV databases

In Matt's view, Linkedin must "scare the s*** out of job boards".  And other services are emerging that offer to examine people's online footprints, helping to identify the most relevant CVs.


Targeted ads on Facebook, Linkedin and other social/business sites can be effective and inexpensive.  There are risks attached, and results are by no means guaranteed.  Relevance - whether demographic, geographic or social - is important to overcome potentially harmful fallout, eg accusations of intrusion.

Job cloud

This concept is related to buzz marketing.  A job opportunity is communicated via a Tweet or similar, and the recruiter then relies on searchers' bots and spiders to pick up on key phrases and spread the word.  Matt used Cisco as an example: jobs were Tweeted (very few followers, and even fewer following) and results were disappointing at first, with a handful of CVs arriving in the first week.  And then, as the search engines kicked in, the tide turned and three hundred applications arrived in week 3.

Geo location

More scary stuff.  Facebook and other sites can now pinpoint your location (or the location of your smartphone), allowing relevant messages to be sent relating to nearby attractions, bargains, job opportunities or whatever.  Recruitment applications are yet to emerge, but there must be possibilities!


In summary, there can be no doubt that recruitment is likely to take huge technological steps forward over the next few years.  At present the picture needs tuning - there's obviously something there but it will take work and time for it to emerge clearly and to everyone's satisfaction.  At present, the USA is advancing more rapidly than the UK, with innovative start-ups appearing all the time.  Are we going to miss the boat?  Or are we simply biding our time until it's possible to cherry-pick the ideas that prove most effective?

The evening's proceedings were wound up by OMRC chairman David Hurst thanking Matt for a fascinating presentation, and thanking The Guardian for its customary stylish and generous hospitality.


Thursday, 2 September 2010

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Gareth Jenkins Date: Sep 3, 2010

This was indeed a good talk given by Matt. One point made well there in the questions and discussions afterwards was that there were numerous examples of social recruitment, or non-recruitment uses of social media by companies that had gone badly through either a lack of understanding of the platforms, lack of adequate monitoring, or lack of appreciation of the 2-way nature of these channels. Having a presence within social media is a good thing when done well, but it can also give a public place for complaints about lack of application response, a non-clear/transparent process etc. It should also be borne in mind that many potential applicants will treat these channels as genuine communication paths to ask employment questions - I've heard of HR staff setting up Facebook pages, then only checking on activity once a fortnight. This approach will likely just annoy potential candidates. This of course was just one point among a huge number in a well-given presentation.

MIKE ROBERTS Date: Sep 3, 2010

" The future is already here. It is just not very evenly distributed." In this one sentence Matt (or William Gibson) has captured the landscape of the current Media Recruitment Community. I think Matt's observations are well founded and it will be interesting to see how current traditional agencies grasp the nettle of this new world, and how many go the way of the likes of Barkers?

Alasdair Murray Date: Sep 3, 2010

As far as advertising is concerned, does this phrase of Matt's "There are risks attached, and results are by no means guaranteed" followed by "potentially harmful fallout, eg accusations of intrusion" not concern people? I wouldn't fancy having to break that sort of news to a client I was at the same time trying to sell into the idea of using Facebook as a recruitment vehicle.

Matt Alder Date: Sep 5, 2010

Ah but Alasdair you weren't actually there to hear what I said first which was that LinkedIn and Facebook offer very detailed targeting which if used correctly offers incredibly relevant advertising to users. Both sites have also been used for recruitment very effectively for several years in certain contexts. At this point you can then insert the quotes you are using above. Surely risk, potential harmful fallout and non guarantee of results have always been the downside of recruitment advertising in what ever format it has taken?