Technology and Relationships: From Face-to-Face to Cyberspace

Redefine your career site in five steps Several years ago, I wrote an article discussing Kevin Kelly's book, New Rules for the New Economy.

Kelly was the editor of Business 2.0 magazine and still plays a major role in Wired magazine. Kelly believes that networks are the key to 21st century business. Technology is the means by which these networks are put together and it is through them that relationships form. In fact, these networks create relationships.

It is interesting to think that the reason social networks have grown so much over the past five years is because of the fundamental technology that makes them possible: the Internet.

Technology in the 21st century is not just a tool to manage information; rather it is a tool to create and channel relationships between people, between businesses, and between employees.

What is hard for most of us to grasp is that relationships don't have to be face-to-face. What is happening is that relationships are moving to cyberspace. Whether we are using chat rooms, email, instant messaging, social networking tools, or some other media, we are creating or maintaining a relationship.

Most young people are quite comfortable talking with strangers in chat rooms and by email. The best recruiting sites are most likely to be interactive and focus on relationship-building.

Successful and truly value-added uses of recruiting technology have almost nothing to do with information storage, sorting, searching, or retrieval. Instead, the real value lies in using the technology to facilitate communication with prospective candidates, to educate, sell and screen them, and to build global networks of contacts and prospects.

Ideally, a prospective candidate finds your website and is enticed by interactive content and exciting design. This encourages her to explore what various jobs might be like. She watches a day-in-the-life video, takes a video virtual tour of your site, hears the head of R&D talk about new products, and has an opportunity to take a short, fun quiz on how well she fits into your culture.

Perhaps your site will let her define a dream job and then find the position closest to that in your firm. All of this will be personalized and easy to navigate.

If the candidate finds nothing of interest, she will be given an opportunity to remain connected with your organization by joining your social network, perhaps created with a tool such as Ning. The social network will offer a newsletter, chat rooms, and the ability to email you or others in the firm.

If the candidate is interested, software tools will begin to evaluate her for the position. It might begin by asking a few simple questions about the candidate, questions you might ask in a telephone screen. Depending on those answers, it would move on to more sophisticated and complex questions.

Throughout this process, there has been no face-to-face or voice-to-voice contact with the candidate, although these options could be made available easily. What is defining here is that the candidate is no longer passive but is being invited to participate and interact with your site. The candidate is placed in control of what she sees and where she goes and what she chooses or does not choose to do.

A recruiting site that is fully in the 21st century will have most of what I have described as well as many other tools and functions to enhance networking and relationship-building.

Here are five fresh ideas to use today:

  • Write job descriptions for individuals, not categories or types of people. There really aren't any programmers, but rather individuals who can write C++ code, or some other code, for a particular application at a certain speed and level of complexity. The job descriptions should generate some excitement and jump out at the right candidate. They should also be easily emailed or referred to others because one of the growing ways to find people is by referrals from others. If I see a job described that fits someone I know, I am likely to let them know about it if it is easy to do so.
  • Create blogging opportunities, which are powerful ways to keep prospective candidates engaged. Even though blogging has been around for years, only a handful of recruiting sites have a blog aimed at candidates. The most well-known is Heather Hamilton's at Microsoft. Most of us have let legal issues and the difficulty to overcome internal bureaucratic processes stifle the use of this potentially excellent communication and relationship-building tool.
  • Build chat rooms into sites so that candidates and recruiters can have ongoing discussions. Recruiters should spend more time building traffic in the chat rooms by offering seminars on what the company does, profiling various jobs by having someone who does that job answer questions in the chat room.
  • Use online seminars or webinars to build traffic and create learning opportunities. There are a number of webinar firms that offer inexpensive software that you could harness for this purpose.
  • Generate excitement through contests and games. People respond to trivia games, contests, and online surveys. They like the instant feedback and the ability to do something rather than just read. These contests are also a way to get people to return frequently to your site. Each time they return is another opportunity to recruit them, or at least to have a conversation with them and keep them excited about your organization.
The takeaway point here is that rather than inhibit relationships, well-defined technology facilitates the creation of relationships. Whether we like it or not, technology will define and enable all the recruiting that takes place in the 21st century.

By Kevin Wheeler, reprinted with the permission of Electronic Recruiting Exchange
 BlackDog Recruiting Software Inc.
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