Over the course of the last few posts, I have fleshed out what I take to be the important aspects/core concepts of cloud recruiting. Two of the main points were:

  • Making use of social networking technology (using the same technology that makes up the cloud to connect others to the cloud)
  • Understanding that, in order to harness the power of free and apply Google’s model, recruiters need to provide a service to candidates and clients alike: effective and productive professional networking

I can (and eventually will) break both of these down into several stages/parts. But basically I take these two concepts to be at the heart of what cloud recruiting should be. I will start with a focus on the technological side of things. Which social networking tools should we be using and how should we use them?

I think the best place to start is with a tool that helps individuals organize and stay on top of their social networking efforts: Asurion Mobile Applications’ AddressBook. While the product is not out yet (you can sign up for the beta here), it should be available fairly soon, and for a number of different platforms although I am guessing that the iPhone is up first.

What it does: AddressBook essentially tracks all of the social networking activity between you and the people in the address book in your smart phone. For each individual, you decide which service that you would like to track (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.), and AddressBook will show you every interaction that you have had with that individual when he/she is selected in your AddressBook. The initial benefit should be pretty obvious here. Staying on top of interactions with candidates and clients can be a fairly intensive process when those interactions are spread out over a dozen or so social networking services. This application allows you to respond “directly from your address book with a call, email, IM or status update.”  The app also allows you to set up “Smart Contacts” which allows easier access to services such as plane and hotel reservations.

Screen shots for AddressBook

Screen shots for AddressBook

So what are we going to do with this aside from keeping track of who said what and when? Without a hands on evaluation, it is hard to talk about exactly what the app will what it won’t.  However, there are a few things to be said about the convenience and efficiency that this app would offer.  First, it is one thing to have mobile access to Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.; but it is another thing entirely to have access to everything that an important contact has said on several different services with just a few clicks (maybe just two…). What’s more, having easy access to this information from a mobile device for several individuals affords networking opportunities that might have been harder to notice without a more thorough and time consuming search. 

Think about it this way. Professional networking is largely a matter of knowing who needs what (and/or who) and when. Typically this information takes a while to round up when it is coming from a number of different sources whoe are using a number of different services. This app affords you the ability to determine more easily and more quickly the flow of talent needs in your professional network. Of course it also offers you the ability to respond to issues (read: put out fires) more quickly.

More on Monday…

Chuck

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Cloud Recruiting Part III

August 27, 2009

In the last two posts, I have spent some time worrying about how we should view and understand the concept of cloud recruiting. There is essentially a gestalt switch in play here. Are recruiters making use of a cloud in the sense of deploying social networking technologies, or are they providing candidates access to a cloud by deploying social networking technologies? The worry is that recruiters will get caught up in the hype surrounding these technologies and think of them only as a fix/panacea for managing client communications.

My contention is that the “power of free” factor will get lost in the shuffle and that recruiters will lose site of the fact they still have a service to provide to candidates: value added content & productive networking. You have to have something to offer in order for the power of free to work. Of course, social networking technology is both the means to providing it, and it is part of what is being offered. In other words, we offer candidates access to a cloud of resources by way of the very same technologies that make up the cloud.

Getting weird and a bit confusing? Yes. I suppose the better way to think about this is to stick with Google as an analogy. Google doesn’t offer individuals access to the Internet, but offers them an excellent way to figure out which part of the Internet they really want access to (and of course they do this for free). They use the Internet, in part at least, to perform this function.  So in much the same way, if we take the cloud to be a collection of (professional) networking resources, one that is connected through social networking technologies, then our job is to provide candidates with a way to figure out which part of that cloud they really want access to. Furthermore, we will do this by applying the very same technologies that make up that cloud.

Again, I use Google as an analogy, but one that is, on a functional level, not very far removed from what we should be doing with social networking technologies. Just like the Internet, from the point of view of the average Internet user, the web of professional networks is a massive and confusing one. It would be very helpful to have some guidance in searching for the right connections and opportunities. While no recruiter could ever provide the level of access to the cloud that Google provides to the Internet, the basic idea is the same. It is a service oriented approach, and one that can potentially lead to far better word of mouth advertising among candidates. 

In the next post I will get into more detail as to how this can work. Specifically, I will take a look at some mobile applications that can help to provide better access to the cloud of professional networking.

Chuck

Cloud Recruiting (Part II)

August 26, 2009

Before I look at some of the recruiting practices that have sprouted up around the buzz phrase “cloud recruiting”, I would like to summarize where I am with the analysis so far.

In the last post I talked about Google’s philosophy of “the power of free” and how it was the original basis for the cloud recruiting idea. Google provides a very useful and free service, and does so for what is quite possibly the largest conceivable class of Internet users:  those looking for information on the Internet. The ‘power’ is essentially the age old draw of getting something good for free. Assuming the idea behind cloud recruiting is in part to make use of the same phenomenon in a way that mirrors Google’s application of it, then it would seem to follow that the recruiter’s job is to provide a free and “on demand” service (value added content for job seekers) to the largest possible class of qualified candidates (primarily passive candidates).

As I discussed in the previous post, Weddle points out two of the benefits of cloud recruiting. It distinguishes active from passive candidates and solves the traditional problem that creating productive relationships with candidates can be a resource consuming process. It shifts the focus from transactional activities to maintaining relationships.

With these points in mind, let’s take a look at Michael Marlatt’s view of cloud recruiting (see www.cloudrecruiting.net). He advocates the adoption of a collection of mobile and social networking technologies, to the point where recruiters develop a strategy for employing as many as they can productively integrate. Recruiters who make use of these technologies are, according to Marlatt, S.M.A.R.T. recruiters: they are Synchronized, Mobile, Appropriately equipped, RSS enabled and Tuned in.  Without going into too much detail, as the idea should be pretty straightforward, S.M.A.R.T. recruiters make productive use of current technology, plain and simple.

I think Marlatt is quite right to advocate the use of Web 2.0, social networking, and mobile technologies. Anyone who doesn’t greatly increases their chances of just getting left in the dust. That much is obvious. However, my concern here is more a matter of preserving the original sense of the term cloud and its accompanying philosophy of the power of free. As I pointed out in the last post, there are two ways to envision how the cloud (any cloud for that matter) comes into play when we think of cloud recruiting. In Michael’s case, the assumption seems to be that the collection of technologies he discusses is the cloud, and that recruiters are to be ‘smart’ and put it to use by making it easier to develop and maintain relationships.

While I take what Marlatt is recommending to be useful and a practical necessity, it is not cloud recruiting in the sense of harnessing the power of free by providing an on demand service. It puts technology to work for recruiters on only a superficial level, instead of integrating the power of technology with the benefits of identifying and making use of basic aspects of human nature. Passive candidates want information that fits their needs, they most certainly aren’t going to pay for it, and they want it yesterday.

So enough blathering on. What is it that I am recommending on a practical level? Use social networking technologies to make it easier for passive job candidates to get what they want. Make it easier for them to gain access to information about job opportunities that appeal to them. And when contact is made, use the technology to maintain and develop those relationships.

I can put a bunch of job postings on a number of different sites, adopt a solid SEO strategy, and even optimize it by tracking which candidates came in from which source. But that is SO Web 1.0 😉 Better would be to offer ‘direct’ access to the human being who knows a lot about the job in question (more than a web page or job description), and someone who offers access and advice on other opportunities. Furthermore, I can do so in whatever way is most convenient for the candidate: Twitter, LinkedIn, phone, texting, or even ‘old fashioned’ email.

The bottom line is that, in order to make use of the power of free, a recruiter will have to, in some way, provide the cloud.   

Chuck

To the best of my knowledge, the phrase “cloud recruiting” was coined by Peter Weddle in February of ’08 (see http://employerblog.recruitingnevada.com/2008/02/28/cloud-recruiting/). The idea is based on Google’s philosophy of “the power of free”, which is the notion that free content is a powerful way to enhance online experiences. In the case of recruiting the idea is to offer free, value added content to passive job seekers, and that this in turn is helps to cultivate relationships with a better class of candidates. Weddle sums it up this way:

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

 (again, see http://employerblog.recruitingnevada.com/2008/02/28/cloud-recruiting/)

Regarding the first point, the idea is to establish a many (candidates) to one (recruiter) relationship that takes advantage of the utility of the Internet, and does so in a way to offers free access to information and tools that passive job seekers will find useful. The second point refers to the fact that cultivating relationships in more traditional ways can be very resource consuming, and that providing this kind of content can be an effective way of dealing with that obstacle.

So my first question here may seem a bit tongue-in-cheek, but what exactly is the cloud? If we take a very generic (but therefore more applicable) sense of the term “cloud” into consideration, we assume that it refers to a collection of resources that provide a service or resource of some kind. In computing, the term has been applied to a number of different technologies, such as platform as a service (and other XaaS’s) as well as business applications. The metaphor is based on the Internet as a cloud, which leaves the phrase “cloud recruiting” with a significant element of ambiguity: is the pool of candidates (and how we access/build relationships with them) the cloud, or is the pool of free resources offered by hypothetical sites the cloud (like the kind recommended by Weddle)?

If we stick with Google’s “power of free” philosophy, it would seem that the correct way to look at it is the latter of the two. If enough recruiters adopt this approach (or maybe one agency with the proper resources), then candidates have a cloud from which to draw resources for their career goals. But if we reverse the point of view, we might be tempted to think that the cloud is the pool of potential candidates. I think that the first is the stronger reading and closer to the spirit of Google’s philosophy, and more importantly, it is a better war to harness the power of its approach.

In my next post, I will take a look at how some recruiters have adopted the view that the cloud is something that they make use of, instead of the candidates. And as you might suspect, I think that this is the wrong way to think about “cloud recruiting”.

-Chuck

Linux People (cont’d)

August 19, 2009

So here are the relevant tech’s: linux, Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), Apache, Tomcat, Nagios, Postfix, .war files, LAMP, Bash, Perl, Ruby, Oracle and MySQL. 

With this many terms, what’s a good strategy? There are ‘hacks’ of sorts that would allow one to search through social networking sites like LinkedIn through Google (ways that get you around the search result limit if you don’t have a premium account). But that still leaves you with a cold calling situation.

My thinking is that the best way to present the position when coming in cold is to really drill down in terms of the job responsibilities and present actual job tasks in technical terms to a) present a clearer and therefore more engaging picture of the position, b) allow potential candidates to judge their fit/match for the position c) let it stand out from other listings for the same position d) present the position as a more challenging role (and hopefully therefore more interesting).

I realize that developing a network is the ideal solution here, but again the question is more a matter of what do you do when you do not have that luxury.