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Ways of Seeing Recruitment

When Your Recruitment Marketing Agency Threatens You…

Imagine this. You’re wealthy (I know, I know – you’d never imagine that… but for the sake of argument, if you don’t mind just this once…) You’ve got a bunch of money you’d like to invest. You reach out to an advisor, and hire them to manage your fortune. They agree to provide you with regular updates on performance. Seems fair. Things percolate along. You’re not trained at this investing thing, and assume they must be an expert, because… well, because they told you they were.

Time goes on. The “reports” you get are pretty basic, simple Excel spreadsheets. Plus, they only show you “expected results”, not the actual returns. That’s weird. The team that is supporting you seems to change constantly – lots of turnover. That makes you a bit nervous, but you carry on. Eventually, you decide to dig in a little. You’d like to know more detail around how your money’s doing. Heck, you’d at least like more insight into where your money’s going. When you ask the consultants for detail, they tell you not to worry. This makes you worry.

You ask for some detail behind the numbers. They let you log in to the platform they use, and everything seems great. But… also weird. You see a line that shows where around 50% of the money’s invested. Turns out, they’re putting half of your money into their own product. And the tool they’re using to measure & report performance is that same product. The one that’s telling you how great it’s doing.

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So, yeah: that seems off. You ask your consultant if you can use some other tool to measure your investments. They get angry, and tell you that will damage your entire portfolio. It feels almost like they’re threatening you. So you move from nervous to mad. You start researching alternatives. Turns out, every advisor you talk to seems to have a similar model: invest half your money in their platform, and then assume it’s giving you accurate reporting on its own performance. Oh, and you ask the advisors (both your current one, and the ones you’re interviewing) if you can talk to representatives from some of the investments you’re making. It’s sizable money, and you kind of feel like as a stockholder you’d be allowed to do that. They all insist that they know best, and that part of their “model” is that they’ll control all the conversations, and that you shouldn’t worry your cute little head about complicated things like this.

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Because you’re an idiot, amiright?

At this point, you’ve got a decision. Stay with what seems like a really broken model, one where you’re pretty sure you’re being taken advantage of (or, best case, where your money is not getting the bang for the buck you think it should). That, or take on a task you don’t really have a lot of training in, nor bandwidth for. It feels lose-lose.

Here’s the thing. This is happening in our industry. When I look around at the, that’s what I see a lot of companies struggling with. Last week I sat down with a Fortune 500 prospect, that was using a career site & job distribution tool from the same agency they used for consulting and advisory services around… career site performance and job posting effectiveness. The agency really didn’t like them talking to vendors (ie, Indeed, Glassdoor, etc), and had been insisting that they could handle it for them and that this was standard practice. The prospect had told the vendor they wanted a new platform for their career site, and the vendor told them flat-out “if you do that, it will ruin your SEO, and you don’t want that, just trust us, we’re the experts here”. And, when the client would ask around metrics that went beyond cost-per-applicant, and that could show cost-per-hire (ie, what are the actual, not just projected returns on this investment), they were told the ATS wouldn’t support that. Which is BS, by the way.

That rang a bell. At a previous role, as a practitioner, I fired a competitor to the vendor I’m referencing above. Their line? “If you do this, it will kill your SEO, and you don’t that”. They were, I suspect, also still pissed off that I’d gone behind their backs to a few vendors to see if their data matched up with what I was seeing from my agency. It didn’t.

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This is all kinds of messed up. You, as a talent acquisition leader, should be able to trust the data your agency gives you. Annnd, you definitely should be able to talk to your vendors. Not to mention, why do they think they can threaten you, and why in the world do any of them think they’re going to fall for the “our SEO is king!” line? Unless they’re named something like Indeed, Glassdoor, or, say… Google, your career site listings are not coming up first. It just ain’t gonna happen. Heck, your SEO is way more influenced by the activities of your corporate marketing team than they are by a recruitment marketing agency. That’s just how the algorithms work.

I’ve got a whole lot to say about bias and general bs in the industry – because there’s a ton of it. That said, I’m staying focused on the agency piece for now, for two reasons:

  1. I work for an agency, and we are deliberately taking  a stance that we’ll never make products. Because we think it’s an automatic conflict of interest, and we think our clients deserve better. We do take a percentage of spend per media site, but it’s a consistent percent across vendors as well as standard advertising industry practice (and something we detail to clients and prospects in writing and verbally).
  2. This junk has a huge impact on not just companies, but on the economy. When vendors put their own wallets ahead of hiring, obfuscate data in order to make themselves look better, they hurt all of us. Hiring slows down. Bad hires happen. People lost jobs, kids go hungry, etc etc. It, quite frankly, pisses me the hell off. It should do the same for you.

I don’t know if it’s a crusade, but it matters. Find out what platform you agency uses to track data. Ask them if they take referral fees when their clients buy products where they have a deal with a vendor (dollars influence – heck, we’ve had vendors off us “a free iPad to your reps for every deal they close for us”). Find some former clients, and ask them what it was like to fire the agency. Ask if they’d go back. That sort of stuff. Because it’s your money, and your company.

(Long rant ended – for now)

Rambling on About Job Board Acquisitions, CareerBuilder, Monster, and the Dutch. Also Some Gifs.

Okay, so: job boards. Sexy. As. Hell. Amiright? The only thing sexier, in my ‘umble, is ATS.

Right? I mean, yeah. MMMM, ATS… supply chain technology: but applied to people. Yeah  baby!

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Anywho. Job boards. Lately, lotsa people have been snatching them up. Monster. SimplyHired. LinkedIn (and yes, LinkedIn: you are a job board/ resume database, just with a social angle). Now CareerBuilder’s on the verge. Heck, even Indeed is owned by somebody else at this point.

Here’s the funny bit: only one of the aforementioned companies sold at a premium  (CB may, but I’d bet my hat – if I had one – that it’s going to be a bit of a fire sale). LinkedIn sold for a ton more than the one I’m thinking of, but it was at 2/3 of the valuation they’d been at just twelve months prior.

Indeed. Indeed did it. They took a total of $5 million in funding, and turned it into a billion dollar exit. That’s… impressive.

Here’s the next bit: Indeed did that, without trying to become a CRM/ analytics/ ATS/ career site/ whatever-product-we-can-throw-at-the-wall company. “Oh, you say you want HCM?? We can try to do that! Wait, you want ATS, sure, we can screw that one up, too! Hey, maybe we’re into social now! Whadda think about that? PLEASE LOVE US AGAIN!”

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Indeed knew what they were: a job board. One that figured out that Google is actually the world’s real job board, and everyone else is just a node off of that simple little black and white box. Getting to the top of the list, and in front of us attention-starved humans

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is all that matters, in the end. So they got really, really good at SEO. And then they got the dolla dollas. As they should have.

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So…. what the hell? Sorry. I keep looking at that weird-ass, and yet alluring in way that I know you all understand (even if you’re loathe to admit it) squirrel.

Right: job boards.  They’re on fire right now. Only not in the good way….

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(I’d promise to stop with the gifs… but then I’d be a dirty, dirty liar)

Why is that, exactly? Well, to my mind, screwing up your core business is never good. It’s hard to recover when you ignore emerging competitive models, your industry, and then treat your customers like idiots that were only good for milking.

And that’s they play most all of them made. And then, instead of saying “Hey, our bad, we’re going to refocus on our core business, pricing, delivery, service, and fix them”, they said:

“Nah, fuck that. We’re just gonna make a bunch of poorly thought out acquisitions. Buy lots of product companies, many of which suck worse than we do at their core business (and we’ll admit that’s actually kind of impressive). Overpay for nearly of them. Heck, we might even just outsource one of the most important parts to a b-player technology, then put our name on it so we can take the body blows when it sucks wind. Oh, yeah, and then we’re going to not bother with integration, so people won’t even know that some of these products are ours. Heck, they can even have a booth completely separate from ours, at the major trade shows, to further confuse our buyers. And then, we’re going to make sure all these products don’t have a unified code base.

Because, why make it easy for our products to, you know, actually talk to each other?

There’s a word for what you get when you do that…. wait… it’ll come to me….

Ehh, never mind. I’ll figure it out eventually.

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Now, I’m not saying it’s foolish to buy them. Not at these prices. There are some good deals in there. Monster’s new PPC offering works really well – we’re seeing good success with it with our clients. CareerBuilder’s Talentstream Supply & Demand tool works well – that said, as a former client of it, getting people to use it was… challenging. And they hold a majority stake in Textkernel, which is interesting.

Love me some Textkernel.

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Ahem. Anyways. Occurs to me there’s a weird Dutch angle going on here. Randstad bought Monster. They’re Dutch. And they have an investment wing, that, well, invests in a bunch of cool companies. (If you’ve read this far, and put up with the gifs nonsense, I’m betting you’ve heard of a few of them). Textkernel is based in Amsterdam. (I love me some Amsterdam, too). The suitor for CareerBuilder is… yup: an investment firm.

Hmm.

Here’s how I see it playing out: CareerBuilder & Monster have some value. In parts of their business. They’ve got a bunch of junk, too. They’ve been acquired by people who are good at separating wheat and chaff (and, yeah: lots of chaff to sift through). Once they’ve figured out what’s the what, I don’t think we’re going to see either brand left standing. If I’m Randstad, I’m integrating the good bits into my other investment companies. Maybe scaling Monster down to a slim PPC resource. Getting rid of the excess. If I’m buying CareerBuilder, I’m getting my hands on Textkernel, combining it with workforce analytics, and using what good is left in their data set to build tools that power companies like Airbnb, PwC, Uber, the Washington Post (amongst many others) that are looking for ways to take advantage of workers in the gig economy. Because there’s gold there.

But… yeah. Cede the ground to Indeed. And stop trying to sell me an ATS… sexy as that may be.

Also this gif is completely gratuitous. Because you put up with reading this ramble.

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HireClix Continues to Grow – Come Join Us

Not for nothing, but things are a’cookin at HireClix. Very pleased to be able to share this press release. The acquisition of Meritage brings us many things, but most importantly, it brings us Kara Yarnot, while demonstrating the exciting growth path HireClix continues to follow.
 
A quick pitch: HireClix combines seasoned leaders from corporate talent acquisition (ie, “been there, done that, feel your pain”), with a talented team of recruitment marketing analysts, recruitment technology experts, creative services, and deep vendor relationships. It’s a very hard model to match, and we’re proud of the service we’re bringing to the market, as well as how often our client’s refer us into new relationships.

Beyond that, it’s the best culture I’ve ever been part of, full stop.

If you need our help – be it with your recruitment marketing mix, ad spend, technology selection, sourcing strategies, etc, please reach out.
 
Annnnd, if you’re thinking about career change, we’re growing, and building our own talent community to engage with as that happens. What will you get, aside from the opportunity to work on fascinating projects, for great brands, delivering work you can brag about? Colleagues you’ll love. A leader who’s all heart. Random paint parties. Outings to Escape the Room (where a bunch of, sadly, did not in fact escape said room). Lots (and lots) of free lunches. Dogs running happily around the office. No hierarchy – every idea is listened too, and everyone’s voice counts. We are defining the culture. Oh, and benefits. Full (100% company paid, with multiple plan options), medical, dental, vision, company matched retirement plan, APE service days (have to help animals, people, or the earth), and on and on. And on.

This is an amazing time to join us – either as a client, vendor partner, or colleague. Whatever ship your arrive in, we can’t wait to greet you 🙂

Oh, and here’s how to reach me – I’ll move you along to the right person, if it’s not me: martin@hireclix.com

And now, some gratuitous pictures… 

HRsmart Customers Just Took Another Hit

Follow the bouncing ball. In 2005, Monster agrees to be a reseller for an ATS called HRsmart. Over time, as the market shifts and other tools (Indeed, LinkedIn) outmaneuver Monster, it decides to roll itself out as a product company that also happened to have a deep candidate database, and a job board. They bought several companies, and began offering career site hosting, nominal job distribution, etc. They kept HRsmart at part of that offering, but did not acquire the technology

*(As an aside, the ATS is a super important tool to not control it as part of your tech-offering stack, if you’re offering a full stack solution for sale…)

Monster sells its solution to a number of companies.

In 2015, HRsmart is acquired by Deltek, a poor-man’s, wanna be Oracle.

You remember them, from the movies, right..?

They decide that since Oracle has an ATS, they need one too. Support and development at HRsmart stops almost immediately. ATS begins to go down for clients, sometimes for days on end.

In 2016, Monster is acquired by Randstad, which has its own set of tools, as well as investments in numerous recruiting tech start-ups. Including some which could compete with Monster’s tech stack – so, is the tech at Monster being sunsetted, merged, or what..?

This week, HRsmart drops the ball with at least a dozen clients. Jobs do not post, and applying is turned off, as they announce that Deltek is being acquired by Roper Technologies. And if you use HRsmart, and think things were bad under Deltek? Just you wait. This ride’s gonna get all sorts of bumpy for you.

Here’s the thing – this is where it helps to be able to “dial a friend”. If any company that bought HRsmart over the past few years had asked for our advisement, they would not be in the boat they’re in now.

It’s that simple. HireClix Consulting Services (we’re calling it “Sherpa”) is designed to help avoid just these types of problems. We have spent years getting to know the technology in our space – who’s doing what, where, what’s the innovation, what’s breaking, who integrates with who & how, who simply cannot be implemented, and on and on. Our depths and breadth of knowledge in talent acquisition technology comes from years of working within the space. We install, rip out, reinstall, fine tune, etc, ATSs, live within their CRM, marketing platforms, sourcing tools. Manage our clients’ tool selection processes.  Partner with the investment space, providing guidance to HC tech investors. Test products and help with design for vendors.

And, because of all of that – we don’t build products. Not ever. Any consulting firm that tries to offer advice on what tool to buy, when they build a tool like that… is pretty suspect. Our guidance is agnostic – client driven, and knowledge informed. We can get you to the top of your next mountain.

Meantime, if you’re reading this, and you’re using Monster’s technology, call us. Asap. It’s free – we’d like to help, since the site dropping, and acquisition, cannot be fun to be dealing with. Just email martin.burns@hireclix.com, or call: 617-851-7277.

Heineken’s New Recruitment Advertising: The (Oh, So Very) Bitter in the Sweet

Last week, I was shown the new Heineken recruitment campaign site for Go Places.

It was, and I’m sorry for using this word, amazeballs. (I am really sorry for using that word, actually, but… it was). I believe I called it “genius” on Facebook. Showed it around. Loved it. Choose your own adventure, on steroids. Stylish, cool, fun steroids.

It’s almost perfect.

And then… god, and then it is terrible. Awful. Like meeting the person of your dreams, greatest first date ever, only to get invited in for a coffee at the end, to discover they live with their parents, 35 cats, a flock of pigeons, two of their exes, and their spouse. And then being told that they’d like to talk to you about “Our lord and savior, Cthulhu” (okay, that last bit might be hysterical).5b1d071c622d3bb26b6c26a80d80534e.jpg

Here’s the thing: Heineken invested a year-and-a-half, and a ton of money on this. It’s clearly a work of love. Their employment branding and recruitment marketing teams deserve huge praise.

But. No, they don’t. Not yet. See… they take that experience, one where at the end you are delighted to apply for a job (seriously: I wanted to apply, just for the sheer fun of it all), and tank it. Kill it. Stick a knife in it’s back, whilst forcing strychnine down its throat, all while laughing and shouting “Tricked ya! There is not true joy in life! Taste the pain!”

It’s the ultimate example of the front of the house not checking in with the back of the house. This is the mullet of recruitment marketing.

The pain? The pain in question is called HRSmart – its from Monster, and it’s part of their tacked together recruiting “technology”. They take you, the consumer of jobs, freshly pumped full of love and joy, from this:

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To this:

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Yup. It says there are two accounting jobs in California. Until you hit search – hey, where’d the jobs go? And why aren’t you matching me to the info I just gave you? And why is this getting so hard, so fast??

Right. I get it. They need to get your info, collect it, and all the rest. It’s an application process. We expect to have a bit of this. But… this? Wait – I have to create a profile before I can apply?? This is terrible!!

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Because: HRSmart. Potentially the _worst_ possible option. A career site notorious for going down and dark. That forces candidates through so many hoops, and lags, and lost data, that the apply drop-off is one of the highest in the industry.

But… it’s even worse: the entire premise of “The Interview” is that they’re assessing you, in a very, very fun way. Heck, at the end, they say “We think you’re true character is [Investigator/ Innovator/ etc]”. They say they think they know some potential types of roles for people like you. That’s great! Fun! ‘Click here, and we’ll show you a bunch of potential fits,’ it implies.

But… no. Nope. Everything you just did, that fun work, the choosing and laughing and feeling hip stuff? A complete and utter waste of your time. None of it transferred. The campaign site, with all its data, can’t work to the freaking ATS. Here’s the conversation the marketing site and the ATS have at this point:

“Hey, this is Martin, he’s so super excited to apply, and we told him he could do it with his LinkedIn profile – wait, he can’t use his LinkedIn profile to apply? Oh, he kind of can, but it’s really not clear, and he really can’t, in the end, because that option fails all the time? Huh. Well, we lied to him, but.. well, never mind. We think he’s an Instigator! You know, that career category, and if he just tells you some basic stuff about his background, you’ll match him to – wait, what? No matching? What do you mean, you have no idea what I’m talking about?? Wait – who am I? You don’t know?? Didn’t employment brand talk to Operations about this, and get – he, where’d you go?? Shit – your entire site just went down again!! Goddamit, I’m gonna start pointing them to Sam Adams. Maybe they’ll listen….”

Heinken: why……?????? This was so full of win. And then full of fail. So sweet. And then so, so bitter….

Such the mullet. Next time, shoot me a note, or get in touch with HireClix. We’d be more than happy to help you get into a more modern style…

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Proud Spammers…

I’m doing something meta here. Just got spammed by a recruiting agency that’s clearly too fond of Constant Contact, and clearly doesn’t care to do research. So, writing them back, but via social. Because it was a social media job. So: meta. Right? Is that how it works? I have no idea. Anyways: bit of a rant, with some blue language. Just ‘cuz.

Since they decided it was okay to spam me by name, I feel like it’s okay to mention them by name. Since, you know: fairness.

Dear Entech Network Solutions:

Nope. I am not a social media strategist. Nor am I receptive to what is clearly a mass-mailing. Call me arrogant, call me an individual, or – crazy as this sounds – call me freaking human. Nobody appreciates random recruiter spam (no one – no one, at all). We all hate it. And, it doesn’t work – in fact, the more you do it, the more people come to hate recruiters, and the more likely it is they will refuse to engage with them.

In other words: you are spamming yourself, and so many recruiters who actually give a fuck, out of business.

Here’s the damned spam:

Hi Martin,
I wanted to check in with you and see if you are open to new job opportunities! We currently have a client in New York City with an opening for a Social Media Strategist. We also have other similar opportunities for the same client in Austin, TX and San Francisco, CA.
The ideal candidate would have a strong paid social media background. They should also be heavily client facing and be a key player in the clients’ social strategy to optimize performance marketing across all social channels.
To find out more about this positions click below:
If this is not the right fit or time for you, we are offering a $500 referral payout bonus if the candidate you connect us with gets hired by our client. Please pass this message along as I would love the opportunity to partner with you.
I hope to catch up with you soon!
Sincerely,

Blah. Bleck. Had to get that off my chest. If you’re reading this, and you’re not in recruiting, just know that not all of us are like this. Many of us love helping match people and jobs, it’s why we do it. We give a crap, in other words. But… clearly, not all of us do.

Also, Entech? The mid-90s called. They want their web site back.

*Update: I did email the recruiter back directly, and asked her to think about focusing on quality, as opposed to playing the numbers game (I may have said “this spray and pray approach doesn’t work”). Her response? “Spray and pray serves us well”. So… I guess they’re… proud of it..? FML

LinkedIn & Those Fake Profiles – the Dangers of Bad Data

When I first joined LinkedIn, I was running recruitment for a competing recruitment product company (and, btw, if you’re on LinkedIn, and you’re not in recruitment or sales/ marketing? You’re the product). It was a good platform, different approach from my employers, and I wanted to check it out.

I was delighted back then. Seemed to make sense, lots of data, people kept adding to their profile, so the data got richer and richer. Recruiters worked out ways to look for job-search signals: a change of photo, sudden flurry of recommendations, job descriptions and titles getting more filled out (and, yes, if we find you interesting, we track those moves you make – there are even tools that automate that for us). It was good.

Moving along, LinkedIn has grown – rapidly. Deep, broad data-set. Global in nature. A mobile offering (which needs help, I’ll admit, but it’s not as bad as the people who like to kick it around claim). On and on.

With that growth, however, has come a growing number of clearly fake profiles. Set up by hackers and scammers, they have become relentless of late in their connection requests, to the point where I get scammer connection requests daily.

Check out Nabya. She just sent me the connection request that triggered this little note. She seems legit, right? Not a stock model photo. College listed, has some endorsements, connected to three of my connections, etc. Since I’m hyper sensitive lately, I do Google reverse image searches on every connection request I get from someone I don’t know. Guess what? Two pages of results – multiple LinkedIn, Google+, etc sites that use the same picture. All with different names.

This points to fake data in the LinkedIn data set – and, based on the volume of connection requests, points to a rapid rise in this fake data.

This issue here, for me, is that LinkedIn relies a lot on their numbers to sell products. One of their strongest claims when pitching to recruiting leaders is: “We have 130 million users in the US. The US working population is 200 million.” They leave it there, but the implication is that over half the working population is on LinkedIn.

But… is it? There isn’t hard data on this yet (it’s being worked on – and I know a few people who are on projects to work this out), but conservative estimates are putting the number at 15% minimum. The highest I’ve heard are 40% fake.

That’s nuts. Now, I’m not saying this % is the same region-by-region, since at least half the fake requests I get are from Asia Pac (so, the recent LinkedIn claim that they have 100m members in Asia Pac is hugely suspect). But, even if it’s just 15% of the US number, that’s significant.

The next piece is about engagement – or, to be frank, disengagement. It’s easy to set up a LinkedIn profile. The real issue is one of engagement. If you’re reading this, decent chance you work in recruiting, sales, or marketing. Why? Because engineers, auditors, nurses, CEOs, etc don’t really engage much with LinkedIn on a regular basis. In fact, according to the PEW Research Center, 46% of LinkedIn users log in less than once a week, whereas 70% of Facebook users log in daily. That’s huge. If you happen to watch Silicon Valley (if you don’t, it’s so worth watching), you’ll be familiar with the critical importance of daily average users – basically, if that’s a low number, than you’re doing something wrong…

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And, not to beat on this too much, but that percent of disengagement is highest with engineers – I talk to a lot of them, and by and large they ignore LinkedIn & LinkedIn inmails, unless they’re actively looking for a job. If they’re passive, it ain’t happening. They talk ruefully about “LinkedIn recruiter spam”, and how they just have LinkedIn emails directing to their email spam folder. A lot of them are so sick of the service, they’re deleting their accounts.

The danger, to me – and this is selfish – lies in how hugely reliant the recruitment industry has become on LinkedIn, and it’s pricey Recruiter seats. The company has done an exceptional job selling and marketing itself to executives, That “we have X number of users” line I mentioned earlier? It’s catnip to CEO’s – they essentially insist their recruiting department fork over large percents (like, say, 50%) of their tight budgets to LinkedIn. The down-the-line impact is that there’s a lot less budget for tools that actually work for finding engineers, etc (Stack Overflow, Entelo, HiringSolved, etc etc). And, a lot of recruiters think “hey, if I send out 50 inmails a day, and look at 200 profiles, then I’m doing my job”, so it becomes a crutch – one that gets in the way of them actually doing their real job: getting top talent hired as fast as possible.

Beyond that, there’s the very real security risk. Hackers are generally very smart – and they know how to use social engineering. LinkedIn is ideal for that. Create a real enough presence on the site, with multiple “real” profiles, and target high-value individuals with connection requests. Then, start asking for expertise, and create a connection. And then take it deeper and deeper, until you have enough data from your target (email address, personal info, etc etc) that you can gain access to their employer and its systems. Dell’s cyber security team recently uncovered a hacking attempt by an Iranian group using false profiles, as one example. This isn’t, of course, limited to LinkedIn (all social networks face this challenge), but it’s increasingly becoming their social network of choice for activity like this.

End of the day, and this rant, it comes down to this: LinkedIn needs to clean their data up, and it’s not even that challenging. I mean – there are over 200 fake profiles on LinkedIn that use the word “douche” as part of their name. They could pay a couple of interns to sit there for a week, get creative, and get to cleaning, and it would be a big step forward. I suspect the issue is – and I’ll admit I’m cynical – that they know this would damage their numbers, and that hurts sales in the short term. Long term, this is now Microsofts’s issue. Wonder if anyone asked Bill Gates to see how many profiles he has on the site…

Monster, Randstad, and… What’s That About HRSmart?

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It’s entirely possible you heard the news. Possible. Certainly, if you work in the recruiting industry, it’s definitely possible. Maybe even highly so.

Anyways: Randstad (big giant Dutch recruitment process outsourcing company) bought (former) big giant US job board company Monster.

Which is interesting.

This acquisition may benefit Randstad – the integrations are going to be fascinating – and there’s nothing wrong with that. If they really keep the Monster brand intact, it’s going to be tough long-term (and I don’t see them doing that). So, if it’s not to create an entire separate product company, and it’s me at Randstad, I’m doing this for a simple reason.

Growth, through (a modest) diversification.

The RPOs have had several years of growth in the EU and Asia-Pac, but were more stagnant in the States and Latin America. They’ll likely slow in the EU (political and economic instability may hinder job growth), but continue to scale in Asia-Pac, as hiring by scale vs quality is still more the need for many of the larger manufacturers. The larger RPOs have been retooling internal processes lately, seeking innovations in models, technology, offerings, etc. On the technology side alone, many, if not all, of them are dealing with legacy contracts from clients, have to work with disparate ATS’s due to their client base, often don’t do CRM internally, etc. Because of this, they don’t have the ability to get a strong handle on source tracking, SEO, etc etc, because their data is in multiple places.

Ranstad’s move makes sense, in this context. If they want to rip out a number of internal, hodgepodge systems, and replace them with something new, unified, and efficient (not to mention being able to provide this suite, at a cost, as a service to clients), then they have two options: build from the ground up, or buy an existing stack and adapt it.

My money’s on the latter. To buttress, consider this: the Ranstad Investment Fund that invest only in TA/ recruitment start-ups. Some of them, you know. They also have a really smart team.

Here’s why I think it adds up. First, Randstad is buying a stack that has some tested technology across most of the recruitment cycle. I say most of, for a reason. There are a couple important gaps.

Roughly, define the recruitment process as starting with “we need to hire someone” to end with “they started”. It’s everything in that gap. Monster’s tools hit at pieces of that process (sometimes over and over) – they’ve got workforce planning tools to get the job opened, advertising and research tools to find people, a CRM to keep track of leads, a career site hosting product for you, and an applicant tracking system (ATS) so you can track people as they apply and move through your process. The issue is… not all of it works well, or necessarily together. There are still issues with integration across the tools. The CRM is a challenge, to say the least. And – strangely – the ATS and career site hosting offerings aren’t even Monster-owned products.

That’s right: two of, one could easily argue, the most important parts of the overall hiring process, are not Monster. They’re HRSmart, owned by  . HRSmart no longer works very well (source tracking is minimal-to-nothing, career site occasionally goes offline for hours – sometimes an entire day, etc). We’ve been urging Monster to work on the issues, but… well, not their product. And the products owners are Deltek, which is simply a private equity backed acquisition play that is not investing in development. So they’re not gonna fix it.

I see a possible future. If Randstad completes their acquisition, they’ll have some holes to fill in the offering stack. Notably, ATS and career site. Randstad invests in recruitment technology, and there’s an opinion out there that it’s simply as a way to test and potentially acquire technology firms. One of their investments is a platform called gr8people: a career-site product, ats, and CRM all in one.

Again, if I’m doing strategy at Randstad, I’m sliding those products into the stack, and shoving HRSmart out. Heck, I’m looking at my entire portfolio, and saying “can we really step up, and offer a working ERP that focuses purely on TA? It makes sense, right? You get your own internal ERP running, since it can track the vast majority of your product cycle; can offer a full stack to your clients; and get all that anonymized data in one spot, finally, where you can begin to build data models.

Here’s the rub for you, the HRSmart user: this doesn’t happen tomorrow. You’re still stuck with a platform that’s frustrating, and not going to get any better due to the integration. You may get access to the Randstad stack at some point, but it’s going to come with costs (higher fees, unlikely you’ll be able to just buy career site hosting & ATS, pressure to go RPO).

If it’s me, and now I’m just me, the guy who used to run Talent Acquisition at a few places, and thinks about this stuff way too much, I’m going to want to hear about options if I’m an HRSmart customer. Heck, I may just want to hear about options because I don’t like my current platform. If only for safety, to make sure what I’m doing makes sense (there are a loooot of options out there right now).

Can I Help?

Since I’ve been there, and feel your pain, I’d love to make an offer (paying it forward, since I’ve been given similar help in my time).

Call me. Well, or e-mail me for times, and we’ll set something up. A half-hour chat, about where you’re at, and what are your options. I’ll pontificate, probably, but mostly there will be good advice, and probably some laughs. A shared war story. Or two.

Here’s the info:
Phone: 617-488-9444
E-mail: martin@hireclix.com

HireClix Strategic Consulting Services Launches

So, first off: let me say that working at HireClix is like working with a bunch of people you love, all of whom just want to make recruitment marketing better.

Wait: it’s not like that. It is that.original

Recruitment marketing thunder-buddies for life.

Thing is, we decided it was time to start talking more publicly about the new group we’re setting up. We’re gearing it around the idea of being a Sherpa for our talent acquisition clients, helping them find the top of whatever mountain they’re climbing, silent partners who know the best paths, and tools, to help them succeed. We’re playing with names for the new group (Sherpa is in the lead, but Recruity McRuitface, and Tequilla Cobra are strong contenders – that may tell you a bit about our culture, too: very boring, and buttoned up…).

We’ll offer a number of service, and more to come.

The Strategic Consulting Services will include…

  • Talent Acquisition Architecture & Design
  • Recruiting Systems Review and Selection
  • Recruiting Process Transformation
  • Applicant Tracking System Audit & Optimization
  • Recruitment Marketing Audit & Assessment
  • Customized Strategic Services

Meantime, we just issued a press release. I’m blatantly using my blog’s SEO to give it additional life. I’d be thrilled if you shared it around. And, if you happen to work for, say the Boston Globe, Wall Street Journal, or – heck – the National Enquirer, feel free to republish (btw, if you’re with the latter publication, yes, that was Elvis, and no, Bigfoot was not drunk at my New Years Party – that was the Yeti, because: sherpas).

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