It was the repetition that got to me, like a writer pointing out the obvious over and over to ensure you didn’t miss the point. And yet, someone always misjudged the distance, overcompensating reach and step and stumbling over the crevice, feet landing askew on the platform, unsure of going left or right, staring at the arrows, advertisements and descriptive signs along the wall expecting some hieroglyphic combination to illuminate the way, like airport runways at night emerging from the fog.
Don’t. Miss. The point. The voice calmed me every time. Sometimes a man, sometimes a woman, but always that reassuring British accent. It gave me that tingling inside my skull I always get when something fascinates me, when my mindful presence is hyper-aware, as if the secrets of the universe skimmed across my frontal lobes like flat rocks over a pond.
“Mind the gap.”
And there I was minding the gap between the train and platform in Holborn Station via the Tube, visiting London and our BraveNewTalent offices for the first time last week, a jet-lagged American already missing his family living vicariously through a Nick Hornby and Ben Folds collaboration.
“Maybe that’s how books get written, maybe that’s why songs get sung, maybe we owe the unlucky ones…”
Never quite acclimating to the new sleep cycle, which meant I slept like shit, there were still two gaps I minded during my time in London. The two appeared at Bill Boorman’s always fabulous TruLondon unconference I attended and participated in (unconference meaning that each session is a facilitated discussion where everyone is encouraged to participate). Those were the gaps between what job applicants minimally expect from job-seeker technology and interested prospective employers, and what interested prospective employers and job-seeker tech actually delivers, that are still significant. Closing, but significant.
First, I participated on a Kelly Services UK panel on the candidate experience facilitated by Leigh Carpenter, who happens to be driving the Candidate Experience Awards in the UK (which is a good thing — the US CandEs are inspiring change). But ECOM Digital Founder Keith Robinson’s slightly cynical economic take on why the candidate experience isn’t taken that seriously by business leadership, and that’s because the business case hasn’t been made. The return hasn’t matriculated and then articulated in the way that leadership needs to see.
If a large global company hires 5,000 FT, PT and/or contractors per year, but they receive 10 times as many job applicants, maybe more, what’s the return on improving the recruiting process for the 45K? The excess applicants aren’t getting the jobs, so does not doing anything, not even acknowledging every single person who applied, really impact the bottom line? Sure, the democratization of social transparency has shone more light on companies that screw the candidate (and employee) but how much does that really impact brand, attracting the right talent and skills, retention and revenue? How truly significant is it?
It’s still too early to tell and the better business case has yet to be made.
Same with job-seeker technology. I then facilitated a TruLondon session about “emerging technologies” shortly after the candidate experience panel, and so I kept the theme on emerging tech that helps the job seeker. The companies that are developing cool job search technologies are really still building better black-hole waiting rooms from hell to trap applicants in. Maybe I’m being too hard on them, because there are millions hired every year who have traversed the highways and byways of back-end tracking systems to then actually reappear all aglow in the front end and land “plop” in a seat in an office or at home, working.
Then again, the hiring companies are paying the money for these cool tools. Applicants, however, are not. That’s the business reality of job search. And two downturns into this new millennium, no one’s going to be paying for any direct job-seeking tools beyond career management folks who help them prep their resumes, cover letters, and their elevator pitches. No, most of the job-seeking tools available to job seekers are free, as they should be, in markets bullish or bearish. Every single recruiting technology I’ve seen since the rise of the ATS has been about getting to the short list of supposedly qualified candidates quicker, faster, and better, not about getting them to the job quicker, faster, and better. Applicant-to-job matching algorithms have certainly improved, and job seekers can sign up for a myriad of new services, for free, that claim to get them to the right job quicker, and to introduce them to networks of networks of networks—a referral free-for-all. I write more about this and more in my new book coming out in November from Apress titled Tech Job Hunt Handbook.
Yes, that was a plug, not a gap. I made sure you didn’t miss it.
Then at the end of the week when I was in Amsterdam for HR Tech Europe (a post to come), I talked with a smart prospect and previous client about the benefits of creating and maintaining talent communities from the entire organization’s ecosystem of applicants, employees and alumni, emphasizing continuous community engagement and development around professionally relevant content to help discover their workforce of tomorrow, improving the overall experience for applicants and hopefully retention, productivity and cultural unity for new and current employees alike.
“Brilliant, but what about our job openings? Where do we post those?”