As we dive into the new year, top of mind for a lot of us are questions of need and want. One of which is the need for marketing and transparency in recruitment.
And, if we could have anything we wanted in terms of HR Tech, what would it be? To better push employee engagement — with some kind of magical Big Brother-like metrics that ping us when employees start to lose interest? To finally relegate those creaky file cabinets in Storeroom B to things of the past, by allowing us agile and responsible access to the Cloud? What about big picture planning, endless processes and admin: can tech just do that so we don’t have to?
Depending on our role in the field, we may want all sorts of shiny toys. A colleague recently described HR as a big funnel, and the widest point is where I think we need HR tech to pay the most attention right now. We need all the tools we can get our hands on to attract the talent. Before a job at Company X is a gleam in anyone’s eye. Well before they are finally filling out the paperwork. And by the way, on paperwork, I’ve got my own dreams about how HR tech solves those 15-minute applications. I think we all do.
Let’s call this the ETF in HR: Edge of the Talent Funnel. Here’s my wish list:
Wider and smarter. As it was aptly pointed out and talked about, during our #TChat at the HR Tech Conference, there are enormously compelling reasons to not treat potential candidates like people filling out applications, but like consumers. The rise of social and mobile, the shift in demographic cultures and the 24/7 constancy of brand identity and awareness means that we need to market and target talent. A company has to maintain and deepen its brand on all platforms; a workplace has to convey its own culture and make it appealing; and even the hiring process itself has to sell the potential consumer on its ease of use and benefits.
Stickier surface. There’s a lot of talent. According to the B.L.S., there were 5.0 million job hires on the last business day of July 2015. We need to be able to grab the attention of these possible hires far before they’re even considering being candidates. That means we need tech that can seize any and all opportunities to create an initial handshake and get them interested in your company.
User friendly both ways. User interface and experience are not just about talent, they’re also about the HR professionals who utilize them. In our quest to catch the eye of talent, we can’t overlook the need to also appeal to those doing, well, the eye-catching. In the trenches, the HR tech had better deliver without complicating things more, or all that fancy software won’t mean anything.
Unslick. There’s a nice trend towards using video and chats, with nice packages to convey employer identity and run onboarding, and neat ways to conduct interviews and supply FAQ-type info. But let’s not let that be a one-way screen dump, and let’s not forget to bring humans into the equation. No matter the power and scope of the tech we adopt, please let it be appropriately transparent. Real questions should be answered by a real person. A potential staffer in a given unit should be able to confer with top performers about what it’s like. Use video to close the distance without shutting out unscripted conversation. Transparency is authenticity, and tech has to build that into itself.
On an interesting point raised recently regarding the intersection between sales, marketing and HR, I want to add a note of caution. The goal of marketing is always to land a sale, and the goal of shaping a consumer experience via that sale is to always create a loyalty to that brand and product. One key difference: we are more than consumers when it comes to working. We are workers, working together. Ours is a long-term, constant gig. The kind of loyalty we need tech to enable is for more than a product, it’s got to be a commitment to deeply engage with time and energy in a company where we are willing to give our all. It’s a thick and thin loyalty, not a “gee that’s cool” loyalty.
If we don’t remember that, we’re not going to be able to maintain transparency, and we’re not going to be able to retain our best talent.
A version of this post was first published on Forbes on 10/16/15