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On October 18, 2017, in HRExaminer, by Maren Hogan

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The last few articles I have written on HRExaminer have circled around the topic of Artificial Intelligence (AI). When I began writing for HRExaminer, I was told to “bring the recruiting sizzle,” so for this article that I’m writing from the road I thought I would focus on the trends I am seeing and hearing at conferences as people gather over boxed lunches at noon or cocktails at, erm…4 or so.

In my experience, what I see and hear at conferences (more regional than national if I am honest) starts to trickle into the actual practitioner world about 8-10 months later. But, rather than returning home from a conference to launch a new initiative, HR pros and recruiters find themselves having to wait impatiently to try new ideas due to budget constraints and the often frustrating pace of internal change management. 

The Trend: Bots can source and schedule faster than you can.

The Reality: Bots can source and schedule faster than you can. But, people are more likely to get tripped up when bots are in charge of who gets into the candidate funnel in the first place. I can’t help but wonder if we are throwing the baby out with the bathwater when we rely on the speed of bots to thin the herd for us. Side note: Gartner predicts that by 2020, the average person will have more conversations with bots than with their spouse!

Maren Hogan, contributing member HRExaminer.com Editorial Advisory Board

Maren Hogan, contributing member HRExaminer.com Editorial Advisory Board

My Prediction: Mostly, we’re going to use bots because they’re cheaper. My hope is it’ll be primarily for service and ushering candidates through a difficult process (raise your hand if you have Taleo!). If we continue to rely on bots to cut out candidates who don’t “fit culturally,” we may have a slew of lawsuits on our hands. (Most AI minds agree that bias CAN be programmed in, particularly if it learns from recruiter behavior.)

The Trend: Campus and Alumni networks to help your company better reach students via employee referral, mentoring and more.

The Reality: I am all for paying back the place from whence you came. Companies like WayUp, Facebook Alumni Groups, and Homi all promise to connect those who graduated with those about to graduate. While this is a wonderful way to keep the streams from your feeder schools fresh and dynamic, it can also create a “same as me” culture. In one conference, I spoke to a woman who got an earful from her engineering team after when confronted with a problem, every member of the team came up with the exact same answer. Why? They were all sourced and recruited from an alumni network or feeder school.

My Prediction: I would absolutely love to see alternative educational avenues explored. From technical schools and coding camps to lateral reskilling and internal training, recruiters and corporations have more options than they’d need…if they were willing to explore “alt” talent. In reality, I think many companies will see a dearth of innovative thinking before resorting to this option. Companies are, by their nature, risk-averse, so convincing them to explore what they believe to be a non-proven talent source will be a tough sell.

The Trend: LinkedIn is Social Media, which is why the numbers show social media is the highest source of hire.

The Reality: LinkedIn is not a social medium. It has aspects that are social, but it is more of a job board than a social network. If you want to get technical, it’s a professional network. There’s nothing at ALL wrong with using LinkedIn but TBH, it gives young recruiters the wrong idea you know? Let’s just all agree that social media is one thing but if you pay for it, it’s not technically social media. It’s SOCIAL ADS.

My Prediction: No one will listen to me because I have been saying this for at least seven years and no one appears to care. However, I do believe with the MSFT acquisition of LinkedIn that people will begin to move closer to my corner of the boat.

The Trend: Candidate personas don’t work because they’re marketing-based and recruitment isn’t marketing. Like maybe it was marketing last year but this year, it’s definitely its own thing.

The Reality: I’ve met very few industries with as big an identity issue as recruiting. For years, recruiters touted themselves as marketers, branding specialists fancied themselves hiring experts, and all of us were scrambling to figure out how to use the same tools. Either way, personas (a pet subject of mine) have recently come under fire as, among other things, a potential conveyor of bias, a pointless tool that doesn’t help in hiring, and even a hyped up version of demographics. Recruiters and HR Pros just getting into building personas for their job families and urgent or evergreen requirements are finding themselves discouraged from taking the time to build these.

My Prediction: Recruiters are not special snowflakes. They have to reach prospects, candidates, PEOPLE….like anyone else. When anyone sits down to design a product, they have the potential user in mind. When a UX expert builds out a digital journey on a website, she has a PERSON in mind. When a designer creates a garment, he has a person in mind. When a salesperson goes out to sell a car, he has a person in mind. Each of these people understands that without a persona, we’d be selling minivans to college students, silk kimonos to line cooks, and need 27 clicks on various, rainbow-colored CTAs to find the information we’re looking for on a website. Of course, you need a flipping persona! How else are you going to design the job ad, get the information you need from your hiring manager, match a skilled worker to the team who needs that skill, design an interview and onboarding experience, and equip your hiring manager for the training and goals experience? The answer is, without a persona, YOU CANNOT.

The Trend: Conference hopping is making it impossible for people to do their jobs.

The Reality: There are a LOT of conferences, it’s true. But the way we work is also changing. Heck, spending on cloud HR software is growing faster than spending on installed or on-premise systems. This year, cloud solutions will make up more than 50% of all HR technology spending. As I write this in a room full of recruiters and HR pros, I can see one woman signing a payroll PDF on her phone, another person is taking notes on a split screen iPad, and of course, I am writing this article.

My Prediction: If one-feature products continue to attract millions of dollars in funding then of course conference bubbles won’t stop. In fact, they will continue to grow. At least three people I met at a conference have started conference franchises of their own. While I recognize there are some superfluous parts of conferences (the parties, the swag, the occasionally stale talk topics), I also recognize what conferences offer that nothing else does (not webinars or online courses or ebooks). It’s connection. Connection with people who get the issues you’re grappling with, who understand why candidates frustrate you, why hiring managers can be so elusive and who are just as scared as you are that some AI robot is going to take your job. Connecting with colleagues is so important that the appetite for conferences is nearly endless.

Of course, all these are just that…trends being discussed at conferences. Only time will tell if my predictions come true or if reality changes. What trends are you seeing? Is there any trend or topic that irritates you? Why?

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