Wanna Grab a Coffee? Talent Acquisition/ HR Conference Update

Hi there -

I tend to bop around the globe from time-to-time, generally for honorable purposes. October, far from the cruelest month, is when I’m at some fall conferences. I’m at three (so far) for the month. If you’re planning on attending any, I’d love to catch up and talk shop, look at tech, etc. Vendors: love to hear what you have to say – predictive analytics, talent pools, inbound marketing, social, and mobile are high on my interest list.

Here’s my quick list:

  • 10/2: Boston Recruitment Media Day (presenting) http://bit.ly/1wcueBq
  • 10/7-10/10: HRTech: http://www.hrtechconference.com/index.html
  • 10/20-10/24: LinkedIn Talent Connect: http://business.linkedin.com/events/talent-connect/north-america.html

E-mail, DM, text, carrier pigeon, etc me at your convenience…

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Forget Mobile Apply – It’s Mobile Connect


There are few buzzwords in the recruitment industry being used with more frequency right now than “mobile”. Try it – ask a talent leader at an organization: “What’s your strategy for 2015?” I’ll bet they say something along the lines of “mobile social candidate engagement – using big data!” And then, I’ll bet they run away.

That is, of course, ridiculous. They won’t just run away – they’ll throw a smoke  bomb at the floor, and ninja the heck out of there. And, yes, speaking of buzzwords, I just used ninja. Yikes.

The Risk of No-Mobile

But… to my point. Mobile is, despite the word’s now-ubiquitous use at recruiting conferences, important. There’s debate around how it’s going to be used, why, how to track it, etc etc, but… no real debate that we need to play catch-up when it comes to our career sites, how we communicate our jobs, heck, even the formatting of our job descriptions.

(Finally, btw, firms are being forced to stop throwing every stinking requirement into a job description – mobile demands pithiness, simply because of the screen size. I love this.)

A key part of all of that is mobile apply – that point where a candidate gets to in your job description, and they say “Ah, I want this job, I’d like to let them know I exist”. Quite often, they see a note that says “Interested? Great. E-mail this job to yourself”

Oof – you lose 40% of your candidates right there. And then, how many actually remember to apply when they get that e-mail? I’m still digging into hard evidence, but right now we’re looking at about 50%.

That’s insane, to me – it comes down a 70% drop off rate among mobile applicants. With mobile now accounting for half of all job searches, that’s a number that should make you nervous. Very nervous, indeed.

The Risky Side of Mobile Apply

Now that said, Jeff Waldman – who I happen to think is one of the most terrific people in the industry – raises a solid point in his post “Beware the Dark Side of Mobile Apply”. The risk of an uptick of quantity, without quality. Making it so easy to apply to a job that you get resume spam – your team is overwhelmed with applicants, most of who aren’t qualified for the role, and you lose out on time getting to the candidates you’d like to speak with. You wind up losing time, money, and hires. It becomes a bit like what happened when LinkedIn made it too easy to connect via their mobile app. Connection spamming began, and it’s just getting worse.

That’s… messy.

The Power of CRM

This is where I suggest you leverage your CRM – you do have one, don’t you? If not, get on it – the CRM is critical. As important as your ATS. Peter Gold does a good job explaining why, here. Well worth your read.

The CRM is, essentially, your marketing machine. It’s where you want to have an abundance of potential applicants – the key word there being “potential”. It’s your collection of talent pools, your own personal LinkedIn/ Monster/ etc. Not candidates, per se, just… strong contenders. You actually want to lower the barrier to entry to your CRM, while keeping the barrier to your ATS where it is. The ATS is the walled garden, that you invite individuals into. The CRM is the front lawn, where you’re just having a bit of a party.

So, to my mind, don’t make it a mobile application – that’s almost impossible as it is, considering screen size, human patience, OFCCP issues, etc, when it comes to mobile. Call it… Mobile Connect. Ask them to join your community – tell them (in essence) “Connect with us, and if you’re looking for a job immediately, let us know by checking this box – we’ll take a quick look, and if we see a connection to a role we have open right now, we’ll let you know. If not. or If you just want us to be aware of you, you fabulous person, that’s okay too – we’d just like to invite you to the party against the time in the future when we’re ready for that great dance. And, if you’re really eager and want to get an application going with us, there’s an option to do that, too – we’d just recommend you do it from a PC or a tablet, since there are a few extra steps it’s easier to go through with a bigger screen.”

They key thing is: don’t shy away from mobile, but don’t cast open the doors so wide that you swamp yourself. Turn it into an opportunity to power your CRM, instead, and reap the benefits of a solution that combines… egads.. mobile… candidate experience… social… and, yep, big data (hey – done right, this strategy’s gonna give you all sorts of fun data to slice and dice).

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Getting Away From Unicorns in Job Descriptions

I was reading a really interesting article in Forbes by Lou Adler, who I happen to think is very smart, about a time he helped a client recognize what he was looking to get done, as opposed to looking for a unicorn who could do everything. This is something we encounter a great deal in our work in talent acquisition. A big part of it, is defining what the person you hire is supposed to accomplish. It got me to thinking….

I’ve never been a huge fan of business/ self-help books – I’m pretty sure someone a one minute manager hit a tipping point and moved your cheese into your chicken soup, because. That said, I also know a good idea when I hear one (or, when I refuse to acknowledge it, fail catastrophically, and then say “Oh, what a good idea, I’m glad I recognized it…”). One of them is from the 7 Habits. It’s very appropriate when it comes to writing job descriptions, and I’ve told many a client this: begin with the end in mind.

What do you want this role to achieve? From there, pull back. How can that be achieved – by what actions? Then, work back, and find people who have demonstrated they can take those types of actions, successfully. Even if the ends they were achieving were not the exact same as the client was looking for, the abilities inherent in their ability to take those tactical actions are transferable quite often. It usually comes down to a base level knowledge of the industry, smarts, the ability to think around corners, creativity, and communication skills.

Once you have that lined up, it’s pretty likely your client (internal or external) is going to have the same “that’s what I meant to say” reaction – and that’s a good thing. It means your lined up, and you can define your search a whoooole lot better.

It’s not magical, really, but it gets people on-point, and away from getting lost in bullet after bullet of “requirements”. I mean, everyone loves a unicorn – especially the Scots, oddly enough – but… nobody likes hunting them.

And this picture… this is simply what the Internet’s given us…


Farewell, Mobiquity

About a year and a half ago, a good friend & colleague in the talent acquisition field connected me with Susan Miele, one of the top human resources pros in the world (as a side-note, if you ever have the chance to work with Susan, jump at it). We hit it off, to say the least. After several hours over coffee, swapping stories, approaches, ideas and ideals, she asked me to come chat with the executive team at a company she had recently joined: Mobiquity.

What sold me (beyond the chance to be mentored by an A+ level boss) was the opportunity to fix a pretty broken talent acquisition department. Over our tenure together, Susan and I have built a team that is second-to-none in terms of quality, camaraderie, and results (also, this team – if you have the chance to work with, for, or hire any of them, don’t lose that opportunity). We get things done, and we do it with a sense of humor. To paraphrase Joel Spolsky, we looked for people who were “Smart, Can Tell a Good Joke, and Get Things Done”. We succeeded beyond our expectations, and the team was able to play a key role in scaling Mobiquity from around 100 employees to close to 450, a small handful of offices in the northeast of the US to 12 offices on 4 continents. Personally, I’ve had the unique opportunity to spend time overseas, working on M&A from an HR perspective, along with traveling domestically helping open offices in key cities across the US.

It’s been a blast. And, now, it’s coming to an end – for me, at least.

I’m not going to say much, yet, about where I’m going, beyond saying that an opportunity arose that became too interesting for me not to pursue. When I was discussing it with a trusted colleague, in a Hamletesque moment of indecision they said: “If you don’t pursue this, I’m going to tell Susan to fire you so you can. You have to do this.”

So… I did. I’m beyond excited for my next step, while, like Janus, looking back with a pretty ridiculous smile at what my team hath wrought.

Here are (a few) of the people I had the absolute pleasure of working with – the Talent Acquisition team: Jeff Newman, Alex Bowler, Michael Fabiano, Melissa Adamo, Becky Bajan. I thank each and every one of them, and I can’t wait to work with them again.

More to come, soon – I promise….


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How We Harm Our Daughters’ Futures

Not to soapbox (I have Facebook status updates for that), but this is something that struck a chord with me. For the past few years, I’ve been involved formally as well as informally, in efforts to encourage more women to get involved with technology.

It’s not because I’m heroic – it’s because I’m selfish and lazy. The more women there are who get involved in technology, the easier my work as in talent acquisition becomes. Not simply because there are more tech candidates (since, I’m not always a tech-focused talent acquisition person), but at a more meta level: the more people there are working in tech, the more rapidly we advance. New tools for talent acquisition, Better medications and technology to help us live longer.

We get to build NASA’s warp ship sooner.




Ahem – sorry… I get a little excited when I think about how WE’RE TALKING ABOUT BUILDING A WARP SHIP THAT CAN GET TO ALPHA CENTAURI IN JUST A FEW WEEKS.


S0. Right. Important real-world stuff time.

Do the math: over 50% of the populace in the US is female. The majority of college students are women. And yet: only 18% of college engineering majors are female. That not only makes zero sense, it’s also a major blow to us COLONIZING PLANETS IN ALPHA CENTAURI.

Google just released their internal study about diversity within the organization – and, it’s depressing. Admirably, they admit as much, and are committing to correcting the issue. (The race issue is another, and I suspect driven by similar social behaviors, issue that should trouble you greatly – we are wasting talent in so many directions…)


Here’s the thing: it’s blow-by-blow, the way we limit our development as a species. By constantly trying to make our girls more “girly”, we are killing them. Limiting their chances at success, while also limiting our society. There’s a terrific video out by Verizon that illustrates this much better than I can – I’m embedding it below. You should watch it. And then: watch yourself. I think we’re all guilty of this at some level, and it’s time we did better. For everyone’s sake… (also, so we can go to Alpha Centauri)

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