Where does AI belong in recruiting?

Where does AI belong in recruiting?

Previously on the blog we’ve talked about whether we are all doomed to be replaced by robots and how the prevalence of automation may impact jobs and the recruiting industry.

 

As these technologies continue to be developed, experts are still debating what the full impact that automation and artificial intelligence will be on jobs and economies around the world. Without a crystal ball in hand, we can at least begin to think about how AI may be used in recruiting.

 

One area ripe for artificial intelligence-powered automation is the more routine work and tasks that recruiters perform, which they are sometimes guilty of neglecting. Writing for HRtechnologist.com, Rhucha Kulkarni suggests AI could help improve the candidate experience:

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Everybody's Talking About Google Jobs

What Everybody’s Talking About: Google Jobs

 

While the impact of recruiting technology is widespread, it’s still something of a niche when it comes to mainstream news headlines. But that’s not the case when big companies with household names make a move in the recruiting tech arena.

 

Google recently released more details on its Google Jobs initiative, and it has everyone in the recruiting industry talking. TechCrunch has a good summary of what it’s all about:

 

In a few weeks, Google will begin to recognize when U.S. users are typing job search queries into Google Search, and will then highlight jobs that match the query. However, Google is not necessarily taking on traditional job search service providers with this launch – instead, it’s partnering with them.

[…]

What makes the service interesting is that it’s leveraging Google’s machine learning smarts to understand how job titles are related and cluster them together.

 

So what does it all mean? And what does it mean for recruiting and job boards?

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Municipal and Regional Job Boards for Economic Development

Municipal Job Boards for Regional Economic Development

Cities both big and small find themselves focusing on economic development to improve the lives of their citizens, help local businesses, and their local economy. One challenge that cities and local employers face is both attracting new talent to their region and retaining their local workforce.

 

Katherine Risley, writing on the website of recruiting company Meridia, talks about the challenges employers face in hiring local talent and relocating new employees:

 

“Firstly, organizations struggle to capture the attention of potential candidates. Once an applicant does materialize the second challenge is assessing the applicant’s motivations. Employers often fear that a candidate may be considering the job because they are desperate for work or that the candidate hasn’t truly considered the lifestyle impact of a move to a rural area.”

 

Cities, counties, and other types of municipal regions can play a big role in helping local employers with these challenges through a regional job board, career portal, or recruiting platform. Whatever you want to call it, the following list outlines ways that a municipal job board can significantly help local economic development:

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niche job boards - are you niche enough?

Are you niche enough?

The online recruiting industry is a big and bustling place, full of competition, but small job boards that are niche have a lot going for them.

 

Writing for the Society of Human Resource Management, Roy Maurer describes the advantages of niche job boards in recruiting:

“Niche boards may not boast the traffic of mammoths like CareerBuilder and Indeed, but their use often leads to lower cost-to-hire and higher quality-of-hire metrics because they are more likely to attract highly coveted candidates with specialized skills and relevant experience, experts say.”

 

Many new job boards can find themselves struggling to stand apart from both older, more established job boards and those mammoth-sized, generalist platforms. One of the questions we encourage job board entrepreneurs to ask themselves is, “Am I niche enough?”

 

This blog post will outline how new job boards can think about being niche, explore ways to further specialize, and highlight a few helpful tools that may help.

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Data Ownership in the Cloud

Understanding Cloud-Based Job Board Software

 

“It’s in the cloud!” is a phrase that doesn’t really tell you much, if you’re not already familiar with modern hosted software infrastructure.

 

One of the most commonly used cloud-based services is probably email. Web-based email providers from Hotmail to Gmail don’t require you to physically store your email data on your own hard drive or on your own server. Instead, you can access it on a website through your browser, where you can login and access your email. The email data is retrieved from where your email service provider stores it. In the cloud. Hmm. Still confused?

 

Let’s back up a bit.

 

Just where the heck are these clouds, anyways? Why are they so special? Part of why cloud computing has become so popular over the last couple decades is that it pools together processing power and other resources, which makes it easier for software providers to deliver their services more quickly and efficiently.

 

This is particularly useful when the software needs to use large sets of data and run searches and complex queries on it. It’s also why some cheap-and-cheerful solutions for job board software out there can run into trouble as their database grows. Data processing power is not equal on every server or hosting service provider.

 

Software as a Service Models

 

Software-as-a-Service (or “SaaS” for short), is software that is delivered to you as a (surprise!) service, as opposed to a package that you purchase, download, run, and host yourself. Gmail is a commonplace example. Social media management tool Hootsuite, personal finance tool Mint.com, and online storage solution Dropbox are all SaaS products.

 

SaaS products often sell on a “freemium” model, where they have a free version of their software with limits on features or usage, and offer paid, premium options that unlock more features or provide more use in the form of things like their number of users or amount of data.

 

Most SaaS products tend to be accessible by all customers from the same website by logging into their individual accounts. All of their customer data is stored together, with each customer’s data partitioned from each other. For some SaaS solutions (including Careerleaf) the set up is a bit different. With each job board existing on its own domain, each job board’s data is separate, and our customers maintain ownership over their data.

 

Owning Recruiting Data with SaaS

 

In the recruiting industry, the intersection of SaaS products and data is particularly interesting when it comes to how it’s used and who may profit from it. Sites like LinkedIn, Indeed, and Glassdoor all offer products and services delivered through a SaaS model. Recruiters can post jobs and connect with candidates, but those interactions, and the data that candidates submit to recruiters and employers, is “owned” by the SaaS platform.

 

A couple weeks ago I wrote the following about data ownership for recruiters as part of a news round-up:

 

To me, it emphasizes how important it is for both job boards and recruiting companies to avoid heavy reliance on providers of technology, traffic, and/or candidates who can claim ownership over candidate and employer data. If all your candidates pass through and register on Indeed or LinkedIn, it adds to the coffers of those companies, not yours. And if or when they decide it’s no longer in their interest to be helpful to you, they can take their toys and go home.

 

Of course, there are also other cases of data insecurity in SaaS products that have resulted in data bleeds, leaks, or otherwise compromising on the promise of keeping customer data secure:

 

Data ownership and security has consistently been voiced as a top priority for our clients – and we totally get it, because we see corners being cut. From our experience, we’ve seen cases where one database was used to store multiple customers’ data, and due to negligence, was inadvertently leaked and was accessible to different clients.

 

Data security and ownership is a topic we don’t see getting enough attention in recruiting and in the realm of job board businesses.

 

Data on Your Own Platform

 

When recruiting on your own platform, you have the advantage of connecting directly with candidates and (depending on your business model) with your customers.

 

It’s not about secluding yourself from wider networks or spurning the use of tools they offer, but instead it’s about building value you can rely on in the form of data. If you recruit talent through your own platform where candidates can register and update their information, without fear of your service provider transforming into a competitor and poaching them.

 

One way in which Careerleaf stands apart from its competitors is its ability to deliver white-labelled job board platform to each of our customers, each on its own secure instance. “Data” is a deceptively simple term for what helps make online recruiting and job board businesses so valuable and profitable, which is why it’s important to us to deliver a great SaaS solution for job boards that lets our customers retain ownership of their data while keeping it secure.

Recruitment Marketing Platforms: Dead or Thriving?

A couple weeks ago ERE published two articles on the same day, with each article’s premise opposing the other:

  1. 10 Reasons Why Recruitment Marketing Platforms Are Dead By Tom Steele
  2. Recruitment Marketing Platforms Are Not Dead. Here’s Why By Chris Forman

 

Both articles raise interesting questions about what problems need solving in recruiting and how different technologies have tried to solve them. Below I’ll dig into both perspectives and sum up the broader questions that recruiters need to ask about not just recruitment marketing platforms, but about their whole process and all the tools involved.

 

Steele’s contention is that most solutions calling themselves “Recruitment Marketing Platforms” come with a series of inherent flaws which will determine their demise. In his experience, a recruitment marketing platform adds unnecessarily to a recruiter’s tech stack, and doesn’t solve the fundamental problems like candidate experience, which continue to plague recruiting:

“Yes, I’ve heard you all say your career site is mobile optimized. But after your 35-step application process on my mobile device, I have to disagree. Maybe the front of your career site is mobile optimized, but not certainly the application.”

It’s a fair point, considering how many job applicants still face the situation described above. Recruitment marketing in and of itself does not fix a problem caused by employers and recruiting agencies who still use tools and processes that are suited to their own bureaucracy instead of a positive candidate experience, which in turn positively impacts hiring. So if recruitment marketing platforms are simply a glossy veneer designed to lure candidates in without the infrastructure to capture and retain them, as the picture Steele clearly paints, it does sound like they’re a dead-end.

 

But that’s not the whole story.

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Recruiting and Job Search News - Spring Edition

Recruiting & Job Search News: Spring Edition

Job Search Bot Reveals Cracks in Recruiting Process

 

In January I wrote about the importance of having compassion for job seekers, both the highly sought-after “top talent” candidates and the ones who don’t even make it to your shortlist. Even if job seekers follow every bit of wise advice, it’s still so often a frustrating and unrewarding process.

 

Well, one man decided to build a bot that would apply to thousands of jobs for him as a kind of experiment while he searched for jobs. His thinking was he might be able to A/B test different cover letters and email subject lines. In theory, he would have been able to refine the content based on the results. But he was disturbed to discover that most large companies using Applicant Tracking Software rarely even viewed his applications, and fewer still returned any response, automatically generated or otherwise.

 

While his experiment confirmed that applying to jobs en mass (sometimes called the “spray and pray” method) isn’t effective, it also underlines how often employers and recruiters can miss out on great talent due to the systems and processes they use. There are many factors at play here, but Robert Coombs’ experiment illustrates how important it is for employers and recruiters to look closely at their candidate experience, and whether they are losing out on great talent because of their processes and tools, or assumptions and attitudes that may shape them.

 

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Attracting Millennials Memberships with Association Job Boards

Attracting Millennial Memberships with Association Job Boards

Many professional associations have found their membership growth stagnating when it comes to young professionals. The so-called “millennial” generation, who in 2017 are now roughly between ages 20-36*, may perceive membership-based organizations as “old school”, as well as being too expensive, having low value, and lacking in technology and curation.

 

Some context that may explain their views on associations is that most millennials have had a rough start to their lives as adults. Many began their careers during the Great Recession, facing periods of unemployment or underemployment, low wages and wage stagnation. Add to that the unprecedented weight of student loan debt most young professionals are carrying, and it’s not hard to see why millennials are reluctant to spend money to join organizations if they don’t see an obvious return on investment.

 

But millennial professionals are highly educated and accustomed to using digital technology, and while they earn less money than previous generations, they do want opportunities to network, to further develop their skills and training, and to discover new job opportunities. Due to the lack of economic stability during their adult lives thus far, most millennials can safely assume working in a great number of jobs over their lifetimes than did older generations. Put these facts together, and it seems millennials could really benefit from membership in professional associations – if you can convince them it’s worth their money.

 

So how can associations connect with millennials and be perceived as having value?

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The Status of Facebook Jobs: It's Complicated

Status of Facebook Jobs: It’s Complicated

Old Facebook

What Facebook Looked Like in the Old Days

Facebook started out in 2004. I joined in late 2005. Only college and university students could sign up back then, and you could only register using your school-assigned email address. Now we might refer to it as a closed social network, with subnetworks of people who add each other as “friends”. Later on, high school students were allowed to sign up, and then eventually the world at large was welcome on Facebook.

 

Naturally, most of the user-generated content on Facebook during those early years was posted with the assumption that only chosen friends would ever clap eyes on it. Messages on your Facebook wall (now your timeline) and selfies (taken without the advantage front-facing camera on your phone) were the norm, along with pictures of friends hanging out, partying, and making dumb faces.

 

If you’ve watched The Social Network, you can no doubt imagine that all sorts of social drama was acted out on the platform, and you’d probably be right. Facebook was responsible for popularizing “it’s complicated” as a relationship status, after all. On the other hand, it was also common to change your vital stats for fun – Antarctica as your hometown or relationship status set as “married” to unlikely match, platonic friend, or favourite food.

 

I’m not taking you down Millennial Memory Lane for no reason, mind you. The context of Facebook’s history and evolution is important to take into account when evaluating the social media platform as a recruiting tool, since now it’s a place to look for a job.

 

Back in November, TechCrunch reported on Facebook’s upcoming Jobs feature for company pages, and now it’s here. Let’s quickly review what we know about Facebook Jobs:

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eHarmony selling Elevated Careers

Industry News: eHarmony’s Elevated Careers for Sale

Elevated Careers is up for sale! Elevated Careers was intended to be a matching platform for candidates, jobs, and employers, and was created by online dating company eHarmony. eHarmony is known for its use of algorithms to match potential partners, and they presumably sought to apply similar methods to recruiting and job search.

 

Elevated Careers was launched in April of 2016, and featured extensive questionnaires and employer branding. Last week, Matt Charney reported that an email was sent to prospective buyers of Elevated Careers, with a slide deck explaining that the product was better in the hands of a company focused on business-to-business, rather than business-to-consumer (as eHarmony has traditionally been).

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