The dawn of the internet marked one of the first significant shifts seen by the recruiting industry in decades.

Online job boards, resume databases, and applicant tracking systems rapidly replaced Rolodexes, newspaper classifieds, cold calling, and piles of paper resumes. The abandonment of the archaic “head hunter” model significantly broadened the candidate pool and fundamentally changed the way recruiters sourced talent prospects. The digital generation of the 2000s refined this important evolutionary step. LinkedIn, launched in 2003, brought resumes and talent profiles onto a universally searchable database.

The simultaneous explosion of social media expanded access to vast networks of potential candidates. In response, recruiting firms thrived, providing the manual labor and mental bandwidth needed to connect with candidates and court them into job positions. Recruiters could re-purpose the social graphs created by services like Facebook and LinkedIn as candidate-mining databases. Social recruiting became the new norm. But in a world where technology is advancing at a faster and faster rate, this model is already outdated.

Recruiters have gained access to an endless pool of talent without developing tools to determine the quality and relevance of that talent. Social recruiting lacks an essential layer that would make it more efficient: the use of big data and artificial intelligence. With the acceleration of these powerful technologies, it is vital for the recruiting industry to have an understanding of technological calculus and to innovate accordingly.

Recruiting is sales

Talent acquisition is and always has been a sales job; recognizing this relationship is the first step to understanding the path forward for the recruiting industry.

A recruiter’s entire purpose is to convince top talent to join a company. And unlike traditional sales representatives, recruiters must execute a “double sale” — once to sell the company on the candidate, and again to sell the candidate on the company. Not only is this twice as hard, but the ramifications are huge; the decision will have a substantial impact on the individual’s personal and professional fulfillment as well as on the organization’s ability to succeed. The importance of a perfect fit between employer and employee cannot be overstated. But how does a recruiter swimming in an infinite pool of random data points and social networks approach the search for this ideal union?

Pipeline management is an essential component of any successful sales process, providing a systematic and visual approach to selling a product or service. Sales pipelines are constructed using sales process engineering — the application of scientific and mathematical theory to optimize the success of a particular sales process. Given the congruence between sales processes and recruiting processes, it’s obvious that any modern, effective recruiting system will require comparable tools for quantification and metrics. Candidate pipelines are essentially sales pipelines; expecting recruiters to manage them without the latest technologies and analytics is analogous to expecting a sales team to operate without a CRM. Current trends in marketing and sales utilize new technologies and innovative methods of consumer engagement. These advances provide perfect insight into the future of recruiting.

Conversational recruiting

Conversational commerce, a term coined by innovator and hashtag pioneer Chris Messina, is the new frontier in sales and marketing. It describes the fusion of real-time messaging interfaces with people, brands, products, and services. Conversational commerce acts as a mobile concierge by merging artificial intelligence with everyday human interactions; it allows users to communicate with businesses and services in a way that is convenient, consolidated, personalized, and realistic.

Data shows that messaging applications make up 79 percent of smartphone usage, and while the number of mobile apps continues to multiply, the average person spends the majority of their time using only three. Consolidation is a no-brainer, and brands are recognizing the paradigm shift. Organizations are creating meaningful one-on-one digital relationships by integrating with messaging interfaces and engaging consumers on the platforms in which they spend the most time. This gives businesses powerful influence over consumer behaviors.

The evolution of conversational commerce in the marketing world directly informs the path forward for the recruiting industry. As people continue to shift how they interact with the world at an accelerated pace, organizations cannot expect comparatively sluggish recruiting tactics to fill candidate pipelines with exceptional talent.

Given the current trend toward bolstering referral programs, hiring teams must have tools that allow them to identify ideal candidates, send proactive referral requests, and communicate effectively with employees and those referred. Sophisticated referral programs will employ conversational recruiting, combining artificial intelligence and data science with messaging applications to provide hiring teams with the resources required to build such a recruiting apparatus.

Advanced algorithms can identify best-fit candidates within a social graph and strategically target optimal times to reach out to prospective hires. Conversational recruiting fosters meaningful interactions and builds relevant relationships with individuals in the talent pipeline, establishing credibility in the eyes of potential candidates and gaining a significant competitive advantage in the arms race for talent. An organization’s most important asset is its people — the best organizations will adapt to this brave new world and recruit with intelligence.

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