Recruiting InnovationWith the Recruiting Innovation Summit this week in San Francisco, I thought it was as good a time to discuss innovation in our space and discuss how and why it comes about.

I’m not down there but our CEO Mike Hennessy & CSO Scott Fowle are, if you want to get your SmashFly fix.

So let’s get started:

Identifying and Solving a problem

Innovation is almost always born out of the necessity to solve a key problem that the industry faces on a consistent basis.  The problem can be for a variety of reasons and crops up due to a number of different factors.  But in every case it solves a business need to can provide clear bottom line growth.

The life-span of an innovation can vary as well and in today’s environment this life-span is shrinking.  The innovations that have the most legs are ones that are less functional (unless it’s truly can’t be copied) and more strategic in nature.  It’s not about the technology per se but about how the technology ties into how you think about and execute your strategy.  It’s these innovations that provide the most value and ones that are the hardest to part with once you get them ingrained in your organization.

The recruiting industry has had their fare share of innovations in the last decade.  Here we will take a look at some of the key innovations and how they came to be:

Like this but Better

The first innovation type is one you are familiar with.  It takes an older but current concept and applies it to a new medium.  We saw this all the time with the internet revolution.  And the most important one for recruiting was job boards.

Job Boards are seen as pretty passe at this point (although the right mix still holds tremendous value to recruiters) but back in the day, they were what kicked off the sourcing revolution we see today.  And it just happened off the idea of taking newspaper classifieds and moving them to the online space.  It was an easy sell.  It was cheaper to do, anyone online could find your job ad and apply and you gained valuable metrics that you could tie back to the job board in terms of applicants.

Companies that jumped on this job board wave early saw more applicants than they had ever saw before and we able to in turn fill jobs more quickly with better people.

Addressing a need quickly

All innovations address a problem that people need solved, however, in some cases their is a need so huge that companies jump in to fill it as soon as possible.  Many companies will probably say they are this but I’m not too sure at times.

With the rise of Job boards and the increased mass of candidates applying for their jobs, organizations didn’t know how to handle the volume and ensure candidates moved smoothly through the hiring process.  Enter the Applicant Tracking System.  With a focus on creating processes where their were none before the ATS helped organizations manage their jobs and more importantly their applicants through a standardized process.

The ATS has evolved toward HRMS systems since that time but the real reason every large organization has an ATS is because they need a system to manage their job application flow and just as important, remain compliant in their hiring process.

Adapting Technologies from other disciplines

I’ve heard people say that HR / Recruiting is at least 10 years behind their Marketing and Sales brethren in terms of technology and strategy.  And while I consider this unfair, there is a little truth in there.  While there might be a gap, it is a gap that is closing by the day.

You can see it today in the point solutions that are cropping up that are based off of marketing and sales technologies.  From Recruitment CRM to source, manage and engage with potential candidates to SEO platforms designed to help candidates find your jobs to social recruiting tools to leverage social media in candidate attraction (especially with referrals), there are a number of technologies looking to adapt what works for other disciplines and make it available for recruiters to leverage and improve their strategies.

Familiar but new way of thinking

The last innovation is one that comes about through a new way of thinking.  It’s familiar in terms of what it brings but it provides a “Duh” moment when communicated.  This is because while you’ve never thought of it in the way described, it makes such perfect sense you don’t know how you have not thought about it before.

You’ve seen this in HR for ERP solutions and Talent Management Suites.  They brought together disparate point solutions and made them into an integrated solution to manage all of your HR technology needs.  Today, you are seeing it with Recruitment Marketing Platforms.  RMP’s are pushing the point recruitment solutions together to provide a way for organizations to manage ALL of their recruitment tools and campaigns from a centralized solution.  You should be familiar with all of these.  Think Job Distribution, Recruitment CRM, SEO Career Sites, Talent Networks /Communities, Mobile, Social, all integrated.

The value comes from not only being able to have your recruiting team manage everything centrally through one vendor but in providing you full visibility and recruitment metrics into the sources and activities that actually provide value (and which don’t) to your organization in terms of qualified candidates and hires.  Add in the unique integrated use cases (that only come with having all these tools together) that enable you to capture, attract and engage with more qualified candidates and you have an idea and innovation that’s worth pursuing.

Where to next?

Innovation in recruiting is nothing new and companies will continue to find new and unique ways to provide value and enrich the lives of recruiters.  The key is to really look at new technologies and trends that are being talked about in the marketplace and figure out if they are innovations that will last to provide value for your recruitment marketing organization over the long haul.  The indications are out there, it’s just about identifying them!

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