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Cloud Recruiting

Weddles newsletter 2/27/08

Much has been written about the Google phenomenon. From a silly sounding search engine launched by a couple of Stanford University graduate students, it's become a way of life for a huge and still growing population of users. What's behind this tidal wave of popularity? Something Google calls "cloud computing." The concept involves shifting the user's attention from the functionality on their desktop-where Microsoft was and is king-to capabilities accessed on the Internet. Said another way, it moves the user from the real world to a virtual one, where they can enjoy interactions with friends, peers and even strangers without having to be present. That experience is then made even more appealing by another Google term of art-"the power of free." In essence, free content and activities are used to supplement the online interactions and give users a sense of ownership of what they see and do online which further enhances their allegiance.

What's all that have to do with those of us in recruiting? I think we can adopt the fundamental principles of Google's concept and adapt them into an effective strategy for winning the War for the Best Talent. With full attribution to its roots, I call this new approach "cloud recruiting."

Cloud recruiting involves shifting our attention from the transactional activities on which we have traditionally relied to fill requisitions to a new focus on relationships. As with cloud computing, the locus of this activity is online as that enables us to leverage the time and reach advantages of the Internet and efficiently tap "the power of free." The approach has two important characteristics:

It recognizes the real differences between passive and active candidates.

It overcomes the practical limitations we face when recruiting in the real world.

Let's explore each of these ideas a bit further.

Cloud recruiting recognizes the real differences between passive and active candidates.

As their name implies, active candidates are motivated to act. In most cases, they need a job so they are proactive about looking for one. They will come to us, to our job postings and to our Web-sites. Equally as important, they are receptive to the messages we communicate about our employment opportunities and inclined to take them at face value.

Passive candidates, in contrast, are reluctant to act. In most cases, they are employed, so they don't come to us of their own accord. We have to draw them into our recruiting process. No less important, they are good consumers so they take the time to look for evidence to verify (or not) our claims about our organization's employment experience.

To put it as starkly as possible, active candidates are ready to deal; transactions work for them. Passive candidates need reassurance that they are making the right decision; they require relationships. While recruiters often find great prospects among active candidates, they know there is even more talent among the passive population. That's why cloud recruiting focuses on building relationships.

Cloud recruiting overcomes the limitations we face when recruiting in the real world.

You can call or e-mail an active candidate, and they will likely respond. If you call or e-mail a passive candidate, they're going to want considerably more interaction before they will seriously entertain a new opportunity. And, there's the rub. Real world relationships are both time consuming and labor intensive to build. So, what happens? All too often, we are forced to sub-optimize our selection and take the first available candidate who is acceptable rather than the best candidate there is for an opening.

Cloud recruiting provides a way around this problem by building "virtual relationships" on the Internet. Virtual relationships can be developed more quickly and efficiently because they use asynchronous, one-on-many online interactions. In other words, passive candidates can engage with you whenever and wherever it's convenient (and safe) for them to do so-not on some meeting schedule that will often interfere with their business day-and at the same time, they can tap into free content that is useful to their career advancement-not simply a hard sell for a specific open position.

Where does cloud recruiting take place? On your corporate or staffing firm Web-site. Cloud recruiting re-imagines these destinations as the default site for passive candidates thinking about career advancement. In essence, you are positioning your site as the Google for career success among your target demographics. It's the place where they go to search for free content (as well as employment opportunities) that will help them get ahead.

Unlike traditional transaction al sites where the content was all about the company-its jobs, its benefits, its employment experience-cloud recruiting sites offer content that is all about the candidate. Sure, it includes information about your organization, but the focus is on what successful candidates (the ones who tend to be the most passive) want and need to continue their success. When you provide that kind of free information, the magic happens: your site becomes their site.

For example, your site's content might include:

* world class commentary on the professional issues and challenges facing some or all of the career fields in which you recruit;

* user-generated insights derived from professional networking among peers in those career fields;

* a "career alert" when news is breaking in their field; and

* "c-mail," free e-mail for those who want to communicate privately with their peers about career opportunities and issues.

Does all of that cost a lot more money than most organizations are now investing in the career resources they've provided on their Web-sites? You bet it does. But that increase in investment is a pale shadow of what we are currently spending to recruit the first available candidate who is acceptable for an opening. For my money, I think it makes more sense to build a compelling relationship fast with the best candidate there is, and that's precisely what cloud recruiting enables you to do.


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