I am a self-proclaimed non-writer. Send me in to talk to a room full of people, and I’m gladly there (could be why I am in Sales after all). When you get me talking about talent acquisition technology trends, ideas, strategies it’ll be hard to stop me ― trust me, my team will back me up on this. My point is, it takes a momentous occasion for me to want to sit down and write ― so here I am.
This last year has been a big one for SmashFly―and for Recruitment Marketing Platforms. It marks an exceptional milestone I hoped (and believed) we would reach when I started working at SmashFly three years ago: raising $22M in Series B funding, led by Bessemer Venture Partners with continued participation from OpenView Venture Partners. SmashFly also celebrated its 9-year anniversary, and the team made it a point to revisit our humble beginnings: from a home office with just a few founders, to an actual home that became an office with a handful of employees, to three floors in an historic old mill building with more than 100 employees. This year, I have never been prouder than ever to work for this company, which spurred me to think back on when I first started in 2013.
Low and behold, I had written a blog post! When I wrote the post in 2013, it poured out of me because there was so much to be said about the burgeoning category we were so busy creating. While currently reflecting on my time at SmashFly in such a big year, I revisited that post and was fascinated by just how much we have evolved in those three short years. How far we’ve come! So, here I am, writing again and revisiting the opportunities I saw in 2013 and the changes I’ve seen in the talent acquisition space since then.
Recruitment marketing is no longer a buzzword; it’s a discipline per the marketplace.
In 2013, recruitment marketing was still a buzzword. It had numerous definitions or was confused with job marketing or employer branding or recruitment advertising. You didn’t see rampant messaging about “the consumerization of the candidate” or to “recruit like a marketer.”
Three years later, recruitment marketing has arrived. It’s here, and it’s not leaving the party. Everyone from analyst firms like Gartner, Bersin, Aberdeen, Aptitude Research Partners and Brandon Hall Group to publications like ERE Media, Recruiting Daily, Fistful of Talent and more are writing about the necessity of using marketing best practices and dedicated recruitment marketing technology in their recruiting strategies. I talk with talent acquisition teams that have “Recruitment Marketing” titles as key roles. I’d like to say that SmashFly shaped that thinking, and still does, now at a heightened level. (Fun tidbit: In 2015, there was still no Wikipedia entry for Recruitment Marketing ― so we created it!)
There is a new focus on lead generation.
In 2013, I noted a major challenge in talent acquisition was that every effort pointed toward apply. Organizations wanted more applicants in hopes of finding those applicants who were qualified and the right fit. In turn, they received thousands upon thousands of applicants sitting in their ATS. Now, we’re in the midst of a new wave of thinking: attracting, engaging and nurturing leads. SmashFly may be a little more marketing-centric in calling candidates “leads,” but that is essentially what candidates are. It’s invigorating to see organizations wanting to build relationships with candidates before they’re ready to apply: to communicate with them, nurture them and send them valuable content, rather than just jobs. Offering leads a way to opt in to your talent network or community is the start of more qualified and educated candidates, stronger applicants and a bigger talent pipeline that allows companies to move away from post-and-pray and toward a proactive, dare I say, modern recruiting model.
The successes of forward-thinking companies using a talent network are tangible ― and impressive.
We’ve seen it with our customers. CH2M has 300,000 contacts in its talent network, every single one a potential candidate who is interested enough in the company to opt into receiving their communication. The Cheesecake Factory gained 182 hires from an email that reminded those in its talent network who hadn’t completed their applications to do so. This is one of the opportunities I listed in 2013 that I am most excited to see providing amazing results for our customers. I am thrilled at the progress, but this is still a major opportunity that needs to be adopted more readily. Only 27% of the 2015 Fortune 500 have a talent network! There is work to be done in demonstrating the value of the invaluable asset of a talent network: it is a living, growing database of interested candidates that you can source from, at any time, instead of starting from scratch. It is your pipeline of talent. Own it!
Talent acquisition teams now understand the importance of predictive and integrated analytics.
I highlighted this as the BIG ONE in 2013 ― it still is. Metrics are what will drive benchmarks, insights, change and growth in talent acquisition. One of our longstanding customers said in a webinar, “SmashFly provides us an agnostic source of truth.” I love that SmashFly is in that quote, but more importantly I love what that says about the growing maturity of talent acquisition teams. They seek analytics at both a macro level and a micro level; they understand why source of influence matters, not just source of hire. They want to offer insight into how talent acquisition can drive business growth. We are already seeing it, but I believe we can help drive change further in thinking of what measurement should be in this space: less about time to fill and more about quality of hire; less about source of hire and more about sources of influence. In a multi-touch, interconnected world, the traditional metrics of hiring success need to shift with it.
Recruitment Marketing Platforms is a product category.
In 2013, my biggest concern was whether talent acquisition teams were ready to adopt modern recruitment marketing practices in general, not whether organizations were specifically looking to buy a CRM vs. an ATS vs. [fill in the blank recruitment marketing technology]. Three years ago, the category for a dedicated Recruitment Marketing Platform didn’t exist. And now it’s here. I’ve started seeing RFPs named “Recruitment Marketing Platforms,” not just CRM or Job Distribution. Leading talent acquisition teams understand that to transform their recruiting strategies they need a unified Recruitment Marketing Platform dedicated to every aspect of managing leads, not another point tool that won’t show them the full picture (did I mention integrated analytics?).
Is the “future” that I outlined in 2013 really here now? When I joined, I can honestly say I wasn’t sure where it would be. From my long-term background in HR technology (I won’t say how old I am!), from Taleo to CareerBuilder to HireVue, I thought: maybe. I definitely saw the opportunity, but to be standing at this point now, I feel like I can say, with proof, that that the future is now. Recruitment Marketing using Recruitment Marketing Platforms is here to stay. And the industry’s not done. The innovation is coming fast and furious, and I am delighted to be on this ride with this company and its passionate team and these forward-thinking customers. It will be remarkable to see what I am inspired to write about in 2019.