Monday, July 28, 2008

Candidate Visualization

We're making recruiting much harder than it has to be. All this talk about "sourcing" and "deep internet" and "CRM-ATS interface" might result in higher salaries, but it is all hogwash.

The shoe retailers (of course) do it better. And the home improvement big boxes. And the fast food hawkers. They know who you are, and they know what you are likely to do. So they send you credit cards, discount coupons and birthday greetings to get you to visit their establishments and buy something.

How do they do this with such accuracy? Because they collect data, tons of it. And they share it, with their competitors. Then they analyze it, find patterns, categorize behavior and build a DSW Shoe Warehouse within walking distance of my home. Brilliant!

A little known company called Acxiom Personicx trades in human shopping factoids. Every time you buy something at a major retailer, they collect information about you. They use the information to categorize you into a life stage cluster. Then they teach retailers how to visualize their customers:

Shooting Stars
Still relatively young at a mean age of 36, and with top rankings for income,college education, home value and net worth, these consumers have the world by the tail. Feeling financially secure with large investment portfolios, Shooting Stars spend their disposable income making life a comfortable one, focusing on health, exercise, gourmet food, golf and travel.

Tots & Toys
Two things – work and family – consume these professional working couples. They’re putting their college degrees into action, climbing the corporate ladder for lucrative careers, while saving for their children’s education through do-ityourself home improvements and trips to the zoo for entertainment. With time at a premium, it’s not surprising that the radio is the most relied-upon source for news and entertainment.

What if we were able to "visualize" candidates? If we were able to combine demographic data with employment data to determine where a candidate fit within the cycle of career dynamics?Perhaps we could align the narrative with particular positions, or groups of positions.

Keep in mind that the retailers aren't speculating about consumer behavior. They know. They know that every Friday, I stop by the Borders and buy every magazine that I don't subscribe to, so that I can curl up on the sofa and catch up on everything. So if they want to control my behavior -- they can catch me at the bookstore, or on the pages of the magazine.

What if we knew that every April, our main talent competitor shared the results of its onerous performance management system, communicating raise and bonus amounts? And what if we had intelligence that the company typically rewarded entry level and very senior employees, but overlooked the middle tier employees with longer tenure? Then we would know that April would be the best time to recruit experienced hires from the competition! What if you could describe your candidates in terms other than company, tenure and skills? What if we explored recruiting against clusters, and delivered messages to candidates in media other than job boards? A lot of what-if's, but if it were possible, if I knew that mid-level financial analysts for Fortune 1000 companies typically shopped online at popular retailers, recieved the WSJ online version daily, and were 60% likely to be in the midst of a home remodel, I might structure my sourcing and advertising plan differently.

To my knowledge, no employers have taken a such a sophisticated approach to candidate marketing. But this is where we should be headed. Our CI, CRM and knowledge management systems should talk to each other; our data collection should reach beyond the typical employment details and capture candidate behaviour; our analysis should be aggregated and cultivated in order to better know how we can market to desirable candidates.

It's time to stop speculating about our candidates. Technology allows us to deeply understand their needs and behavior. We should leverage technology with the same vigor as the retailers, especially the shoe retailers, who at this very moment, are studying the behaviour of my kind:

Shoe Luster
This hardworking corporate type is unable to resist fancy shoes and will travel miles for specific styles, or search eBay for hours to find a discontinued color. Despite being broke as a result of their addiction, they are likely to be found sipping cocktails at a hip bar, with the intent of showing off their fashionable kicks.

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