Old Business, New Tech: Why Online Recruitment Needs Change

Recruitment is an old business. At the HRPA conference last week here in Toronto, I spoke with an employment advertising publication that’s been around since 1891. Of course, they’ve had a job board online for a while now, too.


I had another conversation at the event about the benefits of just picking up the phone and calling someone–whether you’re looking for work, for talent, for customers, or just an answer to a question! It’s a sentiment I’ve often heard echoed by Careerleaf’s CEO.


There are many things about finding work and hiring talent that remain true, even as time goes by and the technology we use changes. And boy, has it changed since ten years ago, let alone 1891!


There’s a noticeable amount of tension in the recruitment industry right now, I find. It’s not all bad, but there’s push and pull between new and old, young and experienced. When it comes to technology, I maintain that the ability to adapt to using new tech isn’t strictly generational.


Sure, as one of those Gen-Y/Millennial people you keep reading about, I am, on average, technologically savvy. But I wasn’t born blogging and tweeting–I’m old enough to remember a childhood without cell phones and young enough to have honed my ability to type at light-speed by chatting to my friends on instant messenger as a teenager.


But whatever my comfort-level with the constant onslaught of new types of media and forms of interaction, I’ve become conscious of certain commonalities that allow people to readily dig into this new stuff. The main thing I’ve observed is that comfort with trying out new tech is due to an ability or willingness to adapt and experiment. There’s no innate knowledge that’s been hardwired into everyone born after 1980. This funny-but-true flowchart illustrates this best by depicting how most computer problems my Baby Boomer parents encounter can be solved. There’s no secret handbook, just a different approach.


The secret to being technologically savvy? Maybe. But good software shouldn’t be this hard.


Of course, the rapid expansion of technology into our lives hasn’t just happened. It’s developed and been so readily integrated into the things we do because it’s been made easier to use. If we were still all running everything on operating systems from the 80s and early 90s, I suspect there would be far fewer people out there reading this blog.


There’s a great demand for UX designers these days, and that’s because with the proliferation of Internet and mobile-based technology, you can’t simply compete by existing. Your tech needs to be easy to use, and easy to understand. Being able to browse a website or a new app without needing a detailed lesson or training course means it’s intuitive, and it’s more likely to be successful.


There is no age-restriction on using technology when it makes sense and is easy to use. It’s that “intuitive” piece that’s missing from so much legacy software and hardware that we all fumble with or find frustrating, no matter what generation we’re from. Kids and teenagers and retirees all make use of mobile devices built on intuitive touch screen technology, and they pick it up fast. Pictures and videos of laughing babies are at the ready on grandparents’ smartphones, as quickly and as easily as teenagers use Snapchat.


There’s no going back from this technological and social shift. It affects everything, from personal relationships to recruitment. Whether it’s mobile phones, tablets, phablets, or wearable tech–the way we exchange information needs to be adaptable in order to be sustainable in the future. (It’s one of the reasons why we’re so passionate about mobile-responsive solutions.)


Every day I come across job boards and recruitment websites that look like they were built in 2002 using Yahoo! Geocities and haven’t change since. Like a qualified candidate who isn’t communicating their value, a careers site that has stagnated in its design and technology drastically limits their own success.


Whether you’re starting from scratch or you have a job board that’s been around for twenty years, don’t just ask yourself how you plan to adapt–ask: how will you stay adaptable?


Change and adaptability aren’t about throwing out everything that’s old, or completely reinventing the wheel–but taking what works, improving on it, and translating as needed. Job Boards have been around online since the 90s, and whatever terminology we use to describe them, businesses are still clamouring to use them. By embracing adaptability, you avoid the regular scramble to catch up, feeling overwhelmed and out of touch, and instead find yourself ready dive in start making use of technology for your business.


Recruitment is an old business, and it’s being confronted with change. No matter what decade or generation you hail from, change is always possible, and new technology doesn’t have to be a barrier if it’s built for usability and adaptability.

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