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3381_Wyatt Hall WindowStudents 2011College recruiting has been in the doldrums during most of the economic downturn, and as a result there have been few strategic changes in it, even though the rest of the recruiting function has undergone major shifts during the downturn. And just in case you haven’t seen it yourself, I am predicting that college recruiting demand is about to explode and the competition will soon reach previous “war for college talent” levels.

This resurgence of interest in college hires is due to a reviving economy but also because of the urgent need in a VUCA world for employees who are creative, innovative, fast-moving and who are comfortable with new technology.

If you are one of the corporate talent leaders who want to get and stay ahead of the competition, the time is ripe for re-examining your college program to see what needs to be done to update it. Start with the college recruiting staff. Make sure that it is staffed with data-driven, experienced recruiting professionals prepared for real change, rather than simply enthusiastic young people whose primary qualification is that they themselves are recent college grads. I’ve put together a list of the top 10 categories of strategic change that could literally propel your program into dominance. They are listed with the most impactful strategic changes appearing first.

Action Steps to Win “the War for College Talent” in 2014 (more…)

Get mobile! Now!
Oh no, everyone’s mobile but us!!
If we don’t optimize for mobile, we’re dead.

Sound familiar? There is no greater hue and cry right now across the recruitment landscape than the “sky is falling” refrain of the “get-mobile” crowd. Google recently added to the anxiety when it announced that it would be rolling out changes to its algorithms designed specifically to improve search functionality for the mobile web. The takeaway: If your company’s website isn’t deeply optimized for mobile users, your search rankings are going to suffer.

Following this announcement, Larry Engel contributed a great piece to ERE.net examining just how Google’s changes may affect the recruitment and HR sector. In short, he theorizes that if your career page isn’t optimized for mobile, you could miss out on a good chunk of quality hires. And he’s right. (more…)

PhilipsDuring the newly reinvigorated and exciting ERE conference, two attendees posed related but powerful questions to me. The first was “What advanced topics should be on the agenda of recruiting leaders at elite firms?” Or as another put it “What should Google be planning to do next in recruiting?”

At least to me, future agenda items are an important topic. Because after visiting well over 100 firms, I have found a dramatic difference between the agenda items that are found on 95% of the firms (cost per hire, ATS issues, req loads, etc.) and the truly advanced subjects that only elite recruiting firms like Google, DaVita, Sodexo, etc. would even attempt to tackle.

So if you have the responsibility for setting agendas or recruiting goals, here is my list of truly advanced recruiting topics that elite leaders would find compelling but that most others would simply find to be out of their reach. If you want to be among the elite, you should select a handful for implementation. However, even if you are currently overwhelmed by your current agenda, you might still find them to be interesting reading.

25 Advanced Recruiting Topics for Bold Corporate Recruiting Leaders (more…)

comScore_IncWe have all seen the stats: more and more people are using smartphones and tablets to connect to the web. We probably all use our own mobile phone to interact online every day. But what does this mean for recruitment? Do people use their handheld devices to research companies and find their next job? (more…)

The average smartphone user in the U.S. now spends a little over two hours a day on mobile apps. That’s a number that’s starting to rival the amount of time people spend watching TV — about three hours on average (who are these people?). To state the obvious, mobile is where we’re headed, as web access through desktops declines. Recruiting will change as a result, but a failure to recognize how mobile platforms are different can mean a long and arduous journey marked by hard lessons. (more…)

Mobile technology especially the apps that go hand-in-hand with portable devices, is fueling tech hiring this year, as companies scramble to build out their mobile capability.

Just over half (54 percent) of IT leaders surveyed for the quarterly TEKsystems’ Executive Outlook Survey will implement some mobile initiative during the year, with more healthcare leaders (76 percent) planning projects than those in any other sector.

Mobile apps are among the leading projects, according to CIOs polled by Robert Half Technology. Twenty-two percent of them say they’ll be developing a mobile application for their company before the end of the year. Besides getting their development teams, the biggest challenge, say 28 percent of the CIOs, is finding and hiring IT staff with the necessary skills.

“Building mobile applications requires intense collaboration between numerous groups within the organization, including marketing, IT, operations and sales,” said John Reed, executive director of Robert Half Technology. “It’s important for mobile application developers to have strong soft skills, in addition to the ability to write code and test and debug software applications.”

The TEKsystems survey reported a similar result. More than half — 53 percent — of the 1,500+ IT managers and directors and some CTOs and CIOs in the survey ranked finding mobile app developers as a 7 or higher on a 1 to 10 scale. Only a handful of skill sets got a similar ranking, and these included such specialties as enterprise, data, and cloud architects and security professionals.

Ever since Apple introduced the iPhone in 2007, mobile applications have moved front and center. A TechNet research paper by Dr. Michael Mandel, senior Fellow, Mack Center for Technological Innovation at The Wharton School, says that in less than five years the mobile software industry has added 466,000 jobs, 311,000 of them at companies developing apps, with the balance considered “spillover” jobs. Of all those jobs, about 155,000 are purely technical staff.

No wonder then that TEKsystems found 76 percent of IT leaders say the widespread use of smart devices and tablets is having a “high impact” or an “extremely high impact” on their organization. Cloud computing, the other hot IT area, was a distant second, with 58 percent of leaders expecting it to have those kinds of impacts.

While mobile projects may be at the top of IT project lists overall, the TEKsystems outlook reports 44 percent of IT leaders say they’ll spend more on infrastructure and 40 percent say they’ll be spending on application services. Budgets for 53 percent of them will be higher. Only 21 percent expect theirs to shrink.

The biggest challenge to success, say 56 percent of the IT leaders, is having the necessary staff. More than a third of the leaders in the survey say they’ll be adding headcount by the end of March. Thirty-five percent expect to make permanent hires; 34 percent say they’ll bring in temps.

I was just reviewing the predictions I made for 2011 written at roughly this time a year ago. Much of what I thought would happen unfolded as expected, except for talent management. I had thought there would more focus on integrating the employee development and recruitment functions, and more internal hiring. I still think that’s on tap for this year. I was on target regarding hiring: There was no great uptick in the volume of hiring, and unemployment remained static. And I was on target with predicting that social media would be core to recruiting success and that RPOs would thrive.

Over the past two years, the way we think about work has changed. Perhaps accelerated by the recession, there is more focus now on finding satisfying and rewarding work than on just finding a job that pays the most.

More people are thinking about finding something interesting, challenging, and perhaps even fun to do that provides enough income. The key words here are interesting/challenging and enough. Fewer expect to get rich and there is less focus on the money. There is more focus on lifestyle, flexibility, free time to pursue other learning or hobbies or sports, and less interest in family. I’ll do more columns on these trends soon, but partly because of them here are the major changes that I see happening this year.

Internal Recruiting Goes Mainstream

Perhaps one of the most significant trends will be a greater focus on finding current employees to fill existing jobs. Rather than continue time-consuming and expensive external searches, more hiring managers will opt to go with an almost-ready internal candidate who is a good cultural fit and is willing to learn fast. Although hiring managers may push back at this, management will encourage it, and the increasing difficulty in finding and recruiting top talent will help accelerate the trend.

Over the next few years there will be a move to enlarge the skills of current employees so they can be moved around to different functions as demand fluctuates. Employee development will morph from delivering training, to providing accelerated apprenticeships, developing simulations, and finding ways to encourage informal and on-the-job learning.

Recruiters should focus on encouraging hiring managers to look at these internal employees, encourage them to hire internally, and develop better internal talent communities to expose hiring managers to talented employees and employees to opportunities.

Social Goes Mobile

When recruiting does look externally, more of it will happen on mobile devices. The explosion of Android and iPhone apps means fewer potential candidates will be using traditional computers.

Clearly candidates with technical edge and savvy — the ones you are probably the most interested in hiring — will be spending most of their time on smart phones, iPads, and other tablets. If you have not developed specific recruiting apps that take advantage of these mobile platforms, you will be at a disadvantage as we roll into the middle of 2012.

More applicant tracking systems are now capable of using a social profile rather than a resume, and as most candidates already have such a profile it only makes sense that they use it to apply for a position.

Everything from branding to screening to even doing interviews is moving to mobile platforms and using such things as simulations, video, and chat. Twitter, Google, Facebook, and other major players will introduce more mobile apps and functionality during this year.

By the end of 2012, the traditional career site will be mostly obsolete. If it exists at all will be little more than the place where the candidate makes the formal application. Smart firms will make everything they do mobile-friendly and compatible and encourage candidates to interact more with hiring managers, other employees, and even alumni in online forums, chat rooms, Twitter chats, and via video, Skype, and other similar media.

Just-in-time Sourcing and Recruiting

Sourcing has already moved from searching static databases to using social media, and this trend will continue to grow. Rather than build proprietary databases or talent pools, recruiters can participate in and look for potential candidates in many different online forums and communities. As almost all professionals have an online presence, whether in LinkedIn or Facebook or elsewhere, and as many are also likely participating in Twitter chats, Facebook conversations, and so on. Searching for talented people is getting easier each month.

A recruiter can find an interesting potential candidate, start a conversation, provide the candidate with a variety of information sources about the organization and position, and even direct the candidate to screening apps and apps that allow the candidate to apply.

Recruiters can also use their network of current employees, alumni, friends, and colleagues to crowdsource good candidates and leverage referrals.

Entire recruiting campaigns can be run in a matter of days or weeks by using referrals, crowdsourcing, social media, mobile technologies, and by rethinking the recruitment process. Through streamlining, simplification and by getting hiring managers more involved, candidates can be found, screened, assessed, and hired in days.

Continued Rise of Contingent Workers

The use of contractors, part-time employees, and consultants has soared during the recession. And it will continue to grow for two reasons: the first is that it provides employers with the flexibility they seek to manage costs and headcount easily and much more cheaply than by frequent layoffs. Second, many people are finding that contingent employment suits their lifestyle and interests well. They can plan other activities around their work schedules, they can budget according to the amount of time they are willing to work, and they get variety in the kind of work they do and who they work for.

It will be hard to return to the model of employment where just about everyone is a regular employee. Strategies changes frequently, world events and business cycles make it necessary to adjust priorities more often than ever before, and people are less and less willing to commit to a long-term employment arrangement that is uncertain and stressful.

The Beginning of Applied Analytics

Look for more vendors to offer analytical software specifically for human resources and recruiting. We will begin to see how various independent events have an effect on the quality of hire by tapping into data hidden away in their ATS and HRIS systems. They will begin to seriously track and use data to decide the best sources of candidates, what key traits lead to retention and on-the-job success, and where they can reduce costs or efforts and still get good results.

All in all, the economy and the election will dominate this year and, as a result, this should be a year of modest employment growth, a focus on hiring returning military veterans, and even more growth in outsourcing volume recruiting and hard-to-fill positions to RPOs.

Roman ruins (photo - F. Tavares)Recruiting never seems to change very much. As I have often written, even with computers, smart phones, cheap video, big bandwidth, and years of accumulated experience, the way we look for people and select them looks very much the same as it looked 50 years ago.

The question is: why haven’t these tools and technologies made any significant difference?

If we look at other professions, it is clear that technology is not what makes the real difference. Take building as an example. Using only primitive hand tools, carpenters and masons from Roman times on crafted buildings that are enduring and emulated. The construction methods they used are studied and copied, while their tools gather dust in museums. Chinese accountants used abacuses to keep their books and sailors had glorified rowboats to explore the world’s oceans. It turns out that knowing how to do something is a far more critical skill than what tools are used to do it. Tools do not cause change and transformation, but methods and processes do.

The skills involved in building, accounting, or sailing are what make the difference between success and failure and often between life and death. Those who have improved the methods of building — the ones who figured out how to build skyscrapers and elevators — have contributed more to our progress than have the tools they used.

Technology saves labor and time and often lets us do things we could not do with our own muscles or brains, but it is not a substitute for core knowledge or for understanding how to do something or for human behavior.

And that is most likely why recruiting has not changed. While recruiters have many new tools, they are using traditional processes and methods without much innovation. This is most likely because, despite the hype about a talent shortage, there is really not a major problem finding talented people. If fact, most recruiters would be bored if their job became too easy — and many enjoy the hunt. Innovation usually occurs when there is an unsolvable problem or a major problem or a crisis, and recruiting has yet to run into any of those.

But what could be is still interesting. What would an efficient, updated recruiting process look like? Here are a few ideas that I think might work.

If anyone has already tried them or plans on giving them a try, I would like to hear from you in the comments section.

Idea 1: Stop any branding activities and focus totally on referrals. If you are in a nationwide or global firm with a known reputation, branding is a secondary concern. You already attract people because of your product or service brand and most likely have a pipeline of good candidates. Whenever you have an opening, just let employees know and ask them to use their networks to bring in any additional people you might need.

Referrals are free, fast, and effective. Incentives are not really needed and may actually cause employees to reach out to less-than-optimal candidates in the chance of getting whatever reward your offer. Instead give the employees who refer the best candidates, whether they are hired or not, a title such as “Preferred Referrer” or “Trusted Referrer,” and give anyone they refer priority consideration. This will incentivize others to become a titled referrer and raise the bar on the type of candidates you get.

Idea 2: Use online assessments and reduce interviews. Forget screening interviews, meet and greets, and extensive resume reviews. Instead invest in developing one or two screening tests that can be given online, are scored instantly, and provide both you and the candidate with feedback.

These kinds of screening tools can reduce your workload, improve the candidate experience, and result in much better candidates. The challenge is to develop the right tests that actually screen for the characteristics that are important for the job or for the organization.

There may need to be several tests for different positions or levels, but none of this is more costly or time-consuming than endless phone screens and interviews. I would go so far as to say that recruiters should never interview anyone in person. By implementing online screening and eliminating face-to-face interviews, you could potentially expect a recruiter to handle 20-50% more open requisitions.

There are many firms who can do this for reasonable costs, and the online testing and screening business is growing rapidly. Charles Handler, one of the other writers on ERE, has just released a book cataloging and commenting on most testing services available today.

Idea 3: Use video interviews heavily. Video interviews are a powerful and effective way to do more with less and improve legal compliance.

Video interviews are no longer taboo, and many candidates find them much more effective and less stressful than face-to-face interviews. Face-to-face interviews are expensive and time consuming and most of the time lead nowhere. Probably 75% of all interviews do not lead to an offer because of poor screening and poor candidate qualification. By conducting one live interview that is recorded, many people can view the same interview and evaluate the same responses. This leads to consistency, the lack of which is the greatest legal issue with multi-person, live interviews. By recoding the interview, there is proof that the interviews were done legally and that no discrimination occurred.

Idea 4: Train recruiters and hiring managers thoroughly on closing candidates. Make sure every recruiter and as many hiring managers as possible know how to identify potential acceptance issues and how to overcome objections.

Most acceptance failures are because someone — a recruiter or a hiring manager — did not pick up on signs that a candidate had reservations or issues that would be difficult to overcome: perhaps a reluctant spouse, a nagging doubt about the organization or the project, a desire to stay at their current employer, and so on.

It takes practice and training to notice these things and many recruiters are not well trained to not only notice the potential problem, but to deal with it. I often recommend that recruiters take a traditional sales training class where these skills are and the methods to overcome them are taught.

Idea 5: Communicate with mobile technology and via social mediaGetting feedback to candidates regularly and fast is one of the ways to differentiate your organization from other and to get first-mover advantage with a candidate.

Most candidates today are more than willing to receive feedback and updates via their Facebook, LinkedIn, or other accounts. Email is fine, but experiment with other methods that cut down the time you spend and get the word out faster. Hiring managers should consider interviewing candidates using Skype or other tools. You could develop a mobile app to provide feedback or updates.

There are probably at least a dozen more ideas that you could try that would lower costs, improve speed, and provide higher quality candidates. But, then again, by doing it the way we always have, we ensure job security — for a while.

It’s always better to be prepared than surprised.

By definition, being strategic requires that you look forward — identifying trends, opportunities, and threats. With the December lull looming, now is a great time to plan for the future. I’ve listed the “top 10 talent management trends” I foresee that require your attention.

But you should certainly do your own thinking. I recommend that you start by examining this past year…

2011 Was The Year of Social Media

2011 was a tough year for many in talent management, but despite compressed budgets, organizations continued to hire and develop talent. One factor that seemed to invade nearly every high-level functional discussion was social media. It’s clear that Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter will play a dominate role in recruiting and development best practices in years to come.

Not surprisingly, 2011 saw no fewer than 40 new vendors emerge to help organizations use social media to attract referrals. We also started to see early stage tools to use social media in talent assessment (pre/post hire) as well as applicant/candidate/employee experience management. New tools brought much enhanced visibility into talent issues, but most talent-management metrics continue not to resonate with key leaders outside of the HR function.

2012 Will Be “The Year of the Mobile Platform”

By the end of next year, even the skeptics will have to admit that the mobile platform will have become the dominant communications and interaction platform by early-adopting best-practice organizations. The capabilities afforded users of smartphones and tablet devices grows immensely day by day. Long before unified inboxes existed for the desktop, smart device users could see all incoming e-mail, social messaging, text messaging, and voice and video messaging in a single place.

Tablets will become the virtual classroom, and an emerging class of tools will let employees manage almost every aspect of their professional life digitally. During the next year, talent management leaders need to invest heavily supporting execution of talent management initiatives across mobile.

The Additional Top Nine!

Intense hiring competition will return in selected areas — global economic issues will persist for years to come, but the global war for talent will continue spiking in key regions an industries. While growth has slowed somewhat in China, Australia and Southeast Asia — including India — continue to see dramatic demand for skilled talent. In the U.S. and Europe, demand is still largely limited to certain industries where skills shortages have been an issue for years.

In high tech inclusive of medical technologies, 2012 will see a significant escalation in the war for top talent. As innovators and game changers step out of established tech firms like Facebook, Apple, Google, Twitter, and Zynga, a whole new breed to tech startups will be born each vying for the best of the best. While recruiting will move forward at a breathtaking pace, so too will “rapid” leadership development.

Retention issues will increase dramatically — almost every survey shows that despite high engagement scores, more than a majority of employees are willing to quit their current job as soon as a better opportunity comes along. I am predicting that turnover rates in high-demand occupations will increase by 25% during the next year and because most corporate retention programs have been so severely degraded, retention could turn out to be the highest-economic-impact area in all of talent management.

Rather than the traditional “one-size-fits-all” retention strategy, a targeted personalized approach will be required if you expect to have a reasonable chance to retain your top talent.

Social media increases its impact by becoming more data-driven — most firms jumped on the social media bandwagon, but unfortunately the trial-and-error approach used by most has produced only mediocre results. Adapting social media tools from the business coupled with strong analytics will allow a more focused approach that harnesses and directs the effort of all employees on social media. Talent leaders will increasingly see the value of a combination of internal and external social media approaches for managing and developing talent.

Remote work changes everything in talent management — the continued growth of technology, social media, and easy communications now makes it possible for most knowledge work and team activities to occur remotely. Allowing top talent to work “wherever they want to work” improves retention and makes recruiting dramatically easier.

Unfortunately, even though it is now possible for as much as 50% of a firm’s jobs to be done remotely, manager and HR resistance has limited the trend. Fortunately, managers and talent management leaders have begun to realize that teamwork, learning, development, recruiting, and best-practice sharing can now successfully be accomplished using remote methods. Firms like IBM and Cisco have led the way in reducing and eliminating barriers to remote work.

The need for speed shifts the balance between development and recruiting — historically, best practice within corporations has been to build and develop primarily from within. However, as the speed of change in business continues to increase and the number of firms that copy the “Apple model” (where firm is continually crossing industry boundaries) increases, talent managers will need to rethink the “develop internally first” approach.

In many cases, recruiting becomes a more viable option because there simply isn’t time for current employees to develop completely new skills. As a result, the trend will be to continually shift the balance toward recruiting for immediate needs and the use of contingent labor for short-duration opportunities and problems.

Employee referrals are coupled with social media — the employee referral program in many organizations is operated in isolation as are the organizations’ social media efforts, but talent managers are beginning to realize that the real strength of social media is relationship-building by your employees.

With proper coordination, employee relationships can easily be turned into employee referrals. This realization will lead to a shift away from recruiters and toward relying on employees to build social media contacts and relationships. The net result will be that as many as 60% of all hires will come from the combined efforts. The strength of these relationships will lead to better assessment and the highest-quality hires from employee referrals.

Employer branding returns — Employer branding and building talent communities are the only long-term strategies in recruiting. True branding is rarely practiced (hint: it’s not recruitment marketing) especially in the cash-strapped function of today, but years of layoffs, cuts in compensation, and generally bad press for business in general may force firms to invest in true branding. The increased use of social media and frequent visits to employee criticism sites (like Glassdoor.com), make not managing employer brand perception a risky proposition. While corporations will never control their employer brand, they can monitor and influence in a direction that isn’t catastrophic to recruiting and retention.

The candidate experience is finally getting the attention it deserves — Organizations have never treated candidates as well as they did their customers, but the high jobless rate has allowed corporations to essentially abuse some applicants. As competition for talent increases and as more applicants visit employer criticism sites like Glassdoor.com, talent leaders will be forced to modify their approach.

At the very least, firms will more closely monitor candidate experience metrics as they realize that treating applicants poorly can not only drive away other high-quality applicants but it can also lose them sales and customers.

Forward-looking metrics begin to dominate — Almost all current talent management and recruiting metrics are backward looking, in that they tell you what happened in the past. Other business functions like supply chain, production, and finance have long championed the use of “forward-looking” or predictive metrics and the time is finally coming when talent management leaders will shift their metrics emphasis. Forward-looking metrics can not only improve decision-making but they can also help to prevent or mitigate future talent problems.

Other Things to Keep Your Eye On…

In addition to the major trends highlighted above, there are 12 additional “hot” topics to keep your eye on:

  • Risk identification — almost every other business function has already adopted a risk management strategy. So the time is coming when talent management will be forced to adopt a similar strategy and set of metrics. This program will not only cover HR legal issues but also the economic “risk” associated with weak hiring, the absence of developed leaders, and the cost of turnover of key talent.
  • Prioritization — continued budget and resource pressure will force talent management leaders to prioritize their services, business units, key jobs, and high-value managers/employees.
  • Integration — there will be increasing pressure for talent management functions to more closely integrate and work seamlessly.
  • Expedited leadership development — as more baby-boom leaders and managers actually begin to retire, there will be increased pressure for expedited leadership development — specifically solutions that develop talent remotely using social media tools and within months rather than years.
  • Competitive analysis — the increasingly competitive business world has forced almost every function to be more externally focused. Although HR has a long history of being internally focused and not being “highly competitive,” there is increasing pressure to become more business-like and to adopt an “us-versus-them” perspective. That means conducting competitive analysis and making sure that every key talent management function produces superior results to those at competitors.
  • Contingent workers — as continuous business volatility becomes the “new normal,” the increased use and the improved management of contingent workers will become essential for agility and flexibility.
  • Unionization — there is a reasonable chance that actions by the NLRB will increase union power and make it easier for unions to gain acceptance at private employers.
  • Recruiting at industry events — as industry events return to popularity, recruiting at them will again become an effective tool for recruiting top and diverse talent.
  • Location software — talent managers will begin to realize that software that allows you to check-in and see who is within close geographic proximity has great value and many still unidentified uses.
  • Hire before they do — most firms will restrict their hiring until the turnaround actually begins. However, your firm must have a talent pool or pipeline developed, so that you can hire immediately and capture the top talent right before your competitors realize the downturn is over.
  • Assessment continues to improve — vendors, software, and tools continue to improve in this area that will become increasingly important.
  • Increase your revenue impact — increased economic pressures will continue the trend of forcing all functions (including talent management) to convert their functional results into business impacts in dollars. Talent management will face increasing pressure to directly demonstrate how their hiring, retention, development, etc. is focused, so that it directly increases and maximizes corporate revenues.

Final Thoughts

A recent survey of CEOs rates talent management as the No. 1 area where CEOs expect dramatic change during the next year. Given this increased attention, it’s even more critical that talent management and recruiting leaders set aside time to conduct a SWOT assessment (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) to identify where they are and where they need to be.

The “new” talent management leader must be more strategic, more proactive, and more business-like, and that means getting your entire staff to begin thinking about and planning for the game-changing events, trends, and opportunities that will occur during the next year. It’s time to realize the “but-we-are-overwhelmed-and-too-busy” excuse for not forecasting and planning is wearing thin.

If you are a recruiting leader or recruiter who is constantly on the lookout for new recruiting trends, practices, and tools, you have surely already heard of QR codes.

QR codes are a second-generation barcode that allows potential candidates to quickly and directly access supporting materials and websites using only a camera equipped smartphone. QR codes have many uses, but are most often used to direct target audiences to online content that cannot be easily conveyed in print.

You can of course provide a printed URL, but if you have ever tried to enter a long URL into a mobile browser, chances are you wouldn’t do it again.

What Is a QR Code?

The QR in QR code stands for quick response, and although you might not know them by name, you have undoubtedly already seen these one-inch square shaped symbols that look a little like a maze in advertisements, on billboards, and in posters. Don’t let their size fool you: QR codes can be powerful communication mechanisms because they can take candidates directly to customized supplemental recruiting information that might include a website, pictures, videos, narrative information, or point directly to Twitter or Facebook. Organizations that have taken lead in using QR codes for recruiting include Google, the U.S. Army, E&Y, AT&T, Siemens, and Pepsi.

The Many Benefits of Using QR Codes in Recruiting

QR codes were designed to support mobile users, something the recruiting-tools community hasn’t invested a great deal of time in despite the widespread adoption of smartphones. Because many smartphone users are never more than a few feet from their almost-always-on device, mobile will become the platform of choice for recruiting activity. The application to decode a QR Code comes pre-installed on most devices and there are many free Apps for users with a device not pre-installed with one. Potential candidates could be on the subway, reading the paper, or walking down the street and with the push of a button be immediately taken to follow-up information or a job application.

If your recruiting effort is attempting to show off your firm’s innovation or its use of technology, the use of these codes might help to reinforce that message. QR codes can dramatically increase the value and usefulness of print ads, billboards, posters, business cards, and brochures. Because college students are particularly mobile phone dependent, QR codes should be embedded into all aspects of college recruiting.

These codes are also powerful because they easily allow for effective tracking analytics that can identify sources and usage rates. In addition, QR codes can be produced for free and because they are so small, will save space and advertising costs. These codes can also be used for non-recruiting purposes including check-ins and to provide employee, vendor, and customer information.

“Like a picture, a QR Code can replace a thousand words.”

Potential Uses of QR Codes in Recruiting

There are literally dozens of ways in which these codes have been or can be used to provide recruiting information to prospects and candidates. Some of them include:

  • Newspaper/magazine ads — to provide follow-up information that can’t fit in the ad.
  • In job postings, social media and blogs — they can provide detailed reference or follow-up information without taking up space.
  • Referral cards — they can instantly take a referral to an application site.
  • Wall posters/stickers — that can be placed on bulletin boards and even on poles.
  • Billboards/signage/on vehicles — QR can work even when the picture is taken from a distance.
  • Career fairs and college events — they allow an interested prospect to instantly access additional information without having to wait in line or ask a question.
  • In text messages — they can be attached to text messages as a picture or they can be used to send text messages.
  • Job alerts/calendar events — individuals can sign up for specific job alert notifications and calendar items can be easily saved on a phone’s calendar.
  • Direct mail — they can move an individual directly from a paper letter to the Internet.
  • In slides — they can direct you to more detailed information from presentation slides.
  • Invitations — they can be used to invite people to join talent communities, and to participate in contests or events.
  • In retail outlets/at trade shows/on product packaging — they can convert customers into applicants.
  • Bus cards/name tags — they can provide instant detailed information about you.
  • On T-shirts — they help send a message that your firm is “cool” (Google used them)
  • On resumes — applicants can place them in resumes to show work samples.

Possible Issues

There are of course a few downsides related to the use of QR codes. The first is that many recruiters will resist them for no other reason than most recruiters resist any kind of change that involves a new technology. Second, you will most likely get a spotty response from potential candidates because while QR codes have existed for a while, not everyone is familiar with them and others don’t yet have a smart phone with QR reading capability.

Final Thoughts

Although QR codes won’t solve every recruiting problem, they certainly are a quick, cheap, and flexible way to re-energize and make your non-Internet recruiting information approaches more effective. These codes are particularly effective because they support mobile audiences and that allows individuals to act when they are most excited. Soon QR Codes will be as common as embedded hyperlinks that are only effective within electronic messages.

You can test the effectiveness of QR codes for providing contact information by using your smartphone camera to take a picture of the example at the top of this article, or you can create your own QR codes for free by going to a site like http://goqr.me/.