The Future Of Recruiting, Part 4: Websites Shift to the CRM Model

In last week’s article, Part 3 of this series on the future of recruiting, I examined the strategies that firms will use in Internet recruiting in the future. Here in Part 4, I will focus more specifically on corporate and other websites and the new features that they will offer. It’s important to note that most corporate sites are now little more than “application takers” for active job seekers. This is a flawed approach that will soon be replaced with an approach modeled after customer relationship management (CRM) systems that are used extensively on the business side of the corporation. CRM software will help HR and recruiters better identify and segment their customers (potential and current candidates) in order to focus resources on the most promising ones in high-impact areas. Using Corporate Websites to Improve Recruiting Effectiveness Corporations and the remaining job boards will improve their recruiting effectiveness by implementing a number of new approaches, including the following:

    1. Source quality assessment. Automatic analytical (statistical) packages will continuously identify which Internet tools and which sites produce the highest hiring and on-the-job success rates. Once “source success rate” becomes a common statistic, the number of sources used by firms will drop in half and the current “price only” assessment criteria will become a thing of the past. It will also become common practice to label all electronic and paper resumes with their source. By physically stamping them with the source, everyone that comes in contact with a good or bad resume will automatically know its origin. Hiring managers will then (for the first time) learn where the top resumes they review come from. As they learn this, they will stop demanding that recruiters “place an ad,” and instead will demand more referrals, Google searches, etc., as sources. The net effect of this will be that recruiters will be forced to refine their sources and drop the very weakest ones. Recruiters will sometimes find that not a single resume from certain sources ever even make it through their firm’s ATS to hiring managers.


  1. A shift to a market research/sales focus. Most Internet recruiting is focused on finding resumes. But eventually, all recruiting managers and recruiters will realize that just getting the resume is insufficient. From a sales perspective, resumes tell you nothing about what it takes to get candidate to accept an offer (their job acceptance criteria). As recruiting managers begin to think more like salespeople, recruiting managers will institute processes that are designed to identify or solicit candidates’ (especially currently employed candidates) job switch or job acceptance criteria. With this information, all involved will better be able to determine early in the process whether the job and the situation the organization has to offer has a reasonable chance of meeting the candidate’s job acceptance criteria. In cases where the odds are low, candidates will be dropped early in the process. For others, these decision criteria will be used to target the selling approach toward a particular candidate’s individual job acceptance criteria. The net result of this scientific, market research focus will be higher overall offer acceptance rates and less wasted time and resources. This approach differs significantly from most current “job fit” assessment attempts. These look at psychological factors, while the “decision criteria approach” focuses specifically on what criteria candidates are using to select a company and a job.
  2. Corporate websites. Corporate websites will improve dramatically from their current sorry state. Rather than providing the same information and treating all candidates the same, corporate websites will “mass personalize” the questions asked and the information provided to specific candidates. This mass personalization will utilize the strategies and processes designed for customized manufacturing and customer relationship management. For example, candidates visiting a corporate website who were previously identified as the most desirable will be placed in a database. When these top candidates visit the site, instead of the standard questions they will instead be asked only a few targeted questions and then be rapidly provided with more detailed information related to their specific interests, based on what the organization already knows about them. This mass customization approach will also apply to different categories of candidates. For example, college inquiries will see a different website view and will be provided with completely different information. That targeted information might include the number of graduates from their school that work for the firm, as well as specific information about on-campus recruiting at their particular campus.
  3. “Answer guy” sites. Most corporate websites and the remaining job boards will realize that job search and career-related sites, by design, cannot attract a large number of employed people, because at any one time over 84% the population is not actively seeking a job. They will also learn from other Internet models (including information sites and adult websites) that the key to selling difficult candidates is to provide them with information that is valuable or interesting enough to get them to return on a daily or weekly basis. Building a site that has a higher regular return rate provides you with an opportunity to build trust, something that few job sites have been able to accomplish. Unfortunately, no jobs site is compelling enough to get individuals to return on a regular basis. As a result, web designers will realize they must develop (or closely link their sites to) what are known as “answer guy sites” as an entry point to their job sites. Answer guy web pages are developed to inform and educate professionals about happenings in their industry and their profession. In short, they are compelling because they provide information to working and nonworking professionals on how they can do their jobs better. Some “answer guy” sites will offer insight into the future of the industry or functional competency requirements for future on-the-job success. Others will provide sophisticated future salary and job security calculators that will allow working professionals to forecast their working future. Still others will provide benchmarking data, salary surveys, best practices and tools, coming events calendars, “who’s moving,” and even interesting gossip tidbits to help professionals grow and learn. By drawing professionals to the site on a regular basis, the firm (or job board) can build its image as a knowledge leader in the industry or function. The repeated visits by professionals to gather information and to learn helps to build a long-term relationship, as well as excitement and trust, that firms and job boards can eventually use to convince targeted individuals to apply for a position.
  4. Amazon-style job identification. In order to find a job on most corporate sites and job boards, you need to know the precise name of the job you’re looking for. This search for “your” job can frustrate candidates and cause high drop rates when a visitor can’t find what he or she is looking for. In the future, sophisticated fuzzy-logic systems will, once a candidate selects a job, automatically find other similar jobs using the same process that uses to refer relevant books to customers. This system will allow candidates to search for jobs without knowing the precise title or having to search through each of the individual geographic location sub-pages. It will allow candidates to search not just by job title but also by just entering a few keywords or phrases. Fuzzy logic systems will then look to find (and rank) all jobs that fit a candidate’s interests. They will also provide candidates with suggestions about other similar jobs they might be interested in (“If you like this job, you should know that others like you also applied for these jobs…”) based on past candidate searches.
  5. Likelihood of success probabilities. As resume spamming becomes more pervasive, it will become increasingly necessary to actively discourage the least qualified from applying for jobs while simultaneously exciting the most qualified. In order to accomplish this, most corporate and external job sites will feature a “likelihood of success” calculator that automatically notifies potential applicants of their relative probability of success (given past hires and rejects with similar qualifications). By discouraging low probability applications, companies can minimize the administrative burden and legal responsibilities that occur when a candidate formally applies for a job.
  6. Limiting search abandonment when a desired position is not open. An additional feature of both corporate and job board sites will be a system that notifies individuals seeking a position that is not currently available when and how often in the past “their” particular job was available. This will minimize candidate frustration, because even though the position is not currently available, candidates will know how frequently the position has been open during the past year. This information will increase the likelihood that they will complete an application (even though the position they seek is not currently being actively recruited) because they will be informed about the relative likelihood that the position will be open in the future. Of course, there will be no guarantees a future opening. In addition, candidates who request it will be notified by email when their desired position actually becomes available in the future.
  7. The remaining job boards become recruiting consultants. As noted earlier in this article, the future of most large job boards is bleak. The commoditization of job boards that focus on easy-to-find “active” candidates is inevitable. The net result of this commoditization will be that only two or three large job boards will remain around the world. In order to stay profitable, these remaining boards will need to evolve into sites that provide recruiters with more than resumes. In order to differentiate themselves, they will become “online recruiting consultants” that provide, in addition to resumes, information, tools, and advice to corporate recruiters on how they can improve their recruiting effectiveness. Essentially, they will become recruiting consulting sites that provide corporations (for a fee) information and tools on how to improve employee referrals, sourcing strategies, screening effectiveness, branding and recruitment advertising. This shift will become necessary because most recruiters will realize that there are multiple keys to recruiting success beyond compiling a stack of resumes. Corporate recruiters will begin to look for help in improving the final result, so job boards, recruitment agencies, executive search firms, and recruitment advertising agencies will all begin this shift towards full-service recruiting. The shift will require job boards to become partners with recruiters and to use market research techniques to better understand the needs and problems facing corporate recruiters and hiring managers.
  8. Job boards become metrics-driven. In an attempt to build their credibility, all major job boards will offer metrics to firms, which will demonstrate the relative cost effectiveness of the board, the percentage of their candidates that make it to the interview stage, and the typical on-the-job performance of hires from their site versus other sites and sources. Eventually, the most advanced sites will offer to put their fee at risk based on their actual hiring success with the firm. This will become increasingly necessary as firms realize that they currently have no idea how many resumes from job boards actually make it through their ATS screening and result in a successful hire. The current level of trust will be replaced by a demand for proof that job boards produce quality hires.
  9. “Best candidate” lists will impact niche job boards. Currently there is a great deal of evidence to indicate that niche boards provide a higher quality candidate than most larger job boards, because they are frequently “answer guy sites” that have a much higher regular visit rate by candidates. However, niche boards share common weaknesses with all job boards in that they fail to provide metrics demonstrating their success rate. They provide no information on a candidate’s decision criteria and they provide no tools or advice that helps recruiters become better at the job. The primary disadvantage facing niche job boards is that the sheer number of niche sites requires recruiters to visit numerous ones in order to gather enough resumes. This time-consuming approach will be minimized when sophisticated “best-price shopping” search tools are adapted to recruiting. This technology allows a search engine to visit hundreds of individual niche sites and then put together “best candidate lists” for recruiters. This approach is very much like search tools that currently search multiple sites to find out which offer the best price for a particular product. Once this technology is in use, niche sites that offer little more than association membership lists and active job seekers will fall by the wayside. Only those sites that can provide both high-quality employed and unemployed candidates will remain viable, and the best niche sites will learn to tag their jobs so that search engines will hit and rank their jobs.

Additional Features Of Corporate Websites Here are a few more features that will be added to corporate websites in the future:

  • Electronic thumbs-up resume rating systems. The “thumbs up” rating technology that is currently used by TiVo DVR systems to positively “tag” TV shows that each individual viewer really likes will be adapted to recruiting in order to increase resume sorting and forwarding accuracy. Managers will be provided with a number of electronic resumes, and once an individual manager gives a thumbs up (or thumbs down) to a number of the best resumes, the system will automatically learn what the individual manager is actually looking for in a resume (as opposed to what they said that they wanted during the job requisition development process). Advanced systems will automatically do electronic background checks, and even schedule candidate interviews, for the highest ranked candidates. This easy-to-use system will then utilize the information provided to learn a hiring manager’s needs and eventually provide only those resumes that are likely to get a high manager acceptance rate.
  • Online surveys. All finalists in key positions will be automatically surveyed about their satisfaction with the hiring process. As part of that evaluation, the survey will attempt to get the candidate to identify what worked and what didn’t during the recruiting process (this process is already conducted in person with the new hire on their first day). This information will allow firms to refine their recruiting process and their selling points. Once this information is analyzed and understood, the firm will be able to improve both its offer process and its offer success rates.
  • “Friends of the firm” e-newsletter. One of the secrets to long-term recruiting success is to build a long-term relationship with potential candidates. One tool that can be used to build relationships is a “friends” newsletter. This newsletter uses the “permission marketing” approach. It is delivered to former employees, finalists who rejected offers, and other high potential candidates. The newsletter keeps these people informed about company events, products, and successes through a quarterly online newsletter that is pushed out to them.
  • Job descriptions written by marketing. Current job descriptions, which for the most part are painfully dull, will be replaced with a model that focuses on making jobs appear more exciting. Marketing professionals will be employed to rewrite job descriptions so that they more closely fit top candidates’ job acceptance criteria. Job descriptions will be tested in focus groups to ensure that they have the desired impact.

About Dr John Sullivan

Dr John Sullivan is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high business impact; strategic Talent Management solutions to large corporations.

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