I ran into Mason Wong on Ryze last week. Mason is the staffing manager for Advent Software. I asked him if he thought Ryze-like social software would find its way into the features of staffing solutions from companies like Hire.com. He wrote:
While the fundamental mission and functionality of Ryze is to expand an individual's network while employing a relatively narrow set of criteria in identifying new contacts, the fundamental mission of Hire and the functionality of its applications are to bring efficiencies to processes involving high volumes of people and heavy criteria sets in sourcing and selection. I, too, have wondered if the similarities between Ryze and Hire can ever be enough to bridge the differences so the two worlds could connect.
I could envision a highly progressive and online savvy recruiter, with a lot more available time than any actively working recruiters that I know, trying to maintain an online community of potential job candidates using a Ryze-like guest book style site as a supplement to a more traditional email newsletter subscription list, but this really is limited to the sourcing side of recruitment, which is only one part of the full recruitment process supported by Hire-like systems.
I must admit, I have mostly doubts about the value in linking up Ryze-like social services with Hire-like systems, especially because it has been my experience that to effectively use Ryze and to effectively use Hire applications, it takes a lot of time and focus for each. Without a clearly viable profit driven model behind such an effort, I don't expect many recruiters, much less hiring managers, diving into some sort of synergy between the two.
I agree with Mason's observations but I have a few other conclusions.
Imagine that, upon signing up at your career site, job seekers got a Ryze-like page. Even better, you get a weblog and news aggregator too. You can not only look for work, but easily subscribe to job listings as RSS feeds, mingle with other data mining software engineers, post about your new explorations in technology and work.
In other words, what happens if you make it easy for job seekers to build social capital?
A few guesses...
- Better Navigation. Social network features (like Technorati, blogrolls, ) make it easy locate clusters of related professionals. Job seekers are effectively answering in advance the question "Well, if you aren't available, do you know someone who is?"
- Pre-branding. The knowledge reflected in the blogs, wikis, and discussion forums becomes a way for your employees to become aware of potential candidates.
- Fresher Content. Bloggers tend to post frequently, hundreds of times more often than they update HR profiles or resumes. Contact information is up to date.
- Transparency and Conversation. It may take getting used to, but you'll start to get useful and frank feedback about the job seeking experience, the company's products, etc. Engagement that's ongoing, perhaps throughout a career.
- Career site as destination. To the degree your organization niches, your career site may be a magnet for people in related industry or occupational categories. Hang out with the other financial engineering leaders.
About your reservations, you're right for now. The positioning of the smart folks at Hire.com, and every other ATS/HCM solution, has been to automate HR bureaucracy. Their systems can save time, effort, and money in the day-to-day life of a recruiter.
This won't be enough. Skilled labor shortages will become more pronounced in the next 9-18 months. Recruiter workflow optimization, once executed, is yielding diminishing returns.
So where do you put your next staffing dollar? The inputs to the process: job seekers.
The world of manufacturing went through the same deep shift, widening from an internal focus to an external focus. From managing internal logistics to reaching outside the corporate boundary to the external supply chain. None of the new skills and practices, like MRP or quality circles, were abandoned. Attention widened to include a network of suppliers. And new practices emerged to better harmonize the internal and external.
When raw material is talent, the processes are more difficult than manufacturing lives with. The products are widely differentiated (people don't have SKUs). What they can do and where they fit changes day to day. The goods can't be moved when and where needed via UPS. And, unlike a can of soup, these goods have opinions and desires of their own.
So ATS and HCM vendors can expect pressure to serve this new focus. Employers like you will demand features that create value for candidates. Increasing a job seeker's social capital is just one type of value, one that Ryze supports.
So I see a future for Ryze's in HR.
- As extensions to the career relationship.
- As new tools for data mining.
- As personal branding tools.
- As a retention tool, binding workers to your intranet and extranet social networks.
After all, schmoozespace isn't so far from recruiting, is it?