The phrase ‘Consumerization of HR’ has been doing the rounds for some time now. Jeanne C. Meister, an HR expert, who says she coined the term, explains that it “refers to how companies are creating a social, mobile and consumer-type experiences for employees inside the company... How HR professionals (are) leveraging consumer technologies inside the organization: videos for conducting an interview, apps for applying for a job, and tools for giving and receiving feedback on performance.” This phenomenon shouldn’t really come as a surprise, for our lifestyles are increasingly going down this road, and it was just a matter of time before consumerization and technology became essential concepts in HR as well. The scope of this article is limited to what this means at the recruitment stage, what could be the possible impacts, and how organisations should be readying themselves.
What is consumerization of recruitment?
Simply put, talent is now being catered to by organisations, as if they were consumers. That means a personalised, relevant and sustained dialogue between the recruiter and the candidate, which in effect changes the very concept of recruitment, wherein a readily available pool of talent waits in the pipeline, instead of the need-based search for a single candidate to fill a specific position. The focus shifts from merely recruiting, to positioning the self as a valuable employer, and building a longer relationship with a pool of talent ready to make their next move in career, and acting like a talent advisor if needed.
Consumerization of recruitment embraces the fact that it is a candidate-driven job market, and in order to attract the top talent and one needs to offer more than a hefty pay or handsome perks to win an edge over the competition. This means that the concept of ‘Employee Experience’ is now at the core of several HR functions, recruitment included. Furthermore, communication with the said talent is taking a personalised route, as opposed to traditional job listings and platforms. Thus, consumerization of recruitment means that companies now develop and execute a strategy which is part-recruitment and part-employer branding in nature, and by doing so, create a value proposition for potential candidates, recruit them, and retain them. An integral part of this concept is the use of digital technologies, especially accessible through a mobile, to facilitate ease of communication. For the HR, the challenge becomes to convey the core values and expectations of an organisation, through a new medium, and to a new audience.
What’s in store?
The biggest change that will seamlessly integrate in the recruitment process is the new objective of creating a one employer brand which facilitates a desirable candidate experience for potential, current, and former employees, and also customers if possible. This in effect means that overarching changes are slowly establishing themselves as the new norm. One, marketing and recruitment will work closer than ever before. A genius pioneer example of this trend is the GE marketing campaign last year, and the trend is likely to intensify. The communication of a consistent brand, not only for advertising and marketing purposes, but recruiting purposes as well, will give a push to ‘recruitment marketing’. Furthermore, the networks of social media of current employees will be leveraged better, by turning them into ‘Brand Advocates’, which will not only help in business, but also boost up recruitment drives. Gamification, another buzzword in the HR industry, is already making inroads in the recruitment process, and is likely to increase as several gamification programmes are giving great results.
Social media will become even more important, not only to communicate with the talent, but also to screen them, and personalise the said communication further. Furthermore, reaching out to potential employees via these platforms, even if they haven't applied actively, directly takes a leaf from the consumer-first concept, wherein a company promotes itself to individuals. To achieve this, several organizations might develop capability through exclusive platforms – most likely mobile apps – that will not only serve as direct points of communication in openings and simplify the application and candidate evaluation process, but allow for constant and consistent engagement with the user, much like a consumer.
What must you prepare for?
The biggest realisation that is creeping in, in the community at large is that, all of this is happening now, and we're no longer talking about a distant future. Thus, early adopters are likely to amass greater benefits, and laggards are likely to suffer. What must you do to stay agile? First off you need to relook your traditional talent acquisition strategies, and modify them to include employer branding goals. Second, use the new media effectively, and not only because it is being used by everyone. Technology and digitization can greatly help you with your goals, provided you understand how to use them efficiently.
Which brings us to the next step, of assessing skills and competencies of your employees, understanding and gaining control of technology that is used to acquire talent. The knowledge gathered here must be used to not only train your HR team in new skills, but also create new positions if necessary. This realignment, is necessary, for going forward, brand building, digital marketing, social media and data analysis will all intersect with recruitment at some level to successfully reinforce and communicate the organization’s core values and engage with potential talent, and retain existing talent.
The recruitment process is undergoing an end-to-end change, and while embracing this change might seem like an option, with time, it will become a necessity. With this embrace will come the acknowledgment (and execution on the lines) of the fact that a candidate is as good as the consumer, and hence, their experience matters as much. Personalised and relevant communication – internal and external – along with constant engagement via channels where potential candidates are present will increasingly be at the core of any recruitment efforts from now on. The only way to be prepared is to be agile today, and assess and adapt accordingly. If you are able to project yourself as a proactive employer, willing to know more about your employees, and work towards creating an enjoyable employee experience, you will have the edge. The cookie-cutter approach for talent acquisition has one foot out the door, but the question is, if you are ready for what comes next?