Candidates are consumers?

evolution of the consumer

It has now been a year since I started in my role with RoboRecruiter, and what a year it has been. I will be writing more about my first year — as well as RoboRecruiter’s first year of operating in the UK and Europe.

In my life before RoboRecruiter, I spent almost 15 years working in Recruitment and Staffing businesses, from agency recruiter, RPO/MSP provider to heading up business improvement.

If I could highlight one trend that I have seen throughout my career, it is this:

Recruiters treat candidates as if they are a subset of the public, that they behave totally differently to almost every other person out there.

Well, recruiters, I have a little secret to tell you. Candidates are just like you and me. In fact, they could be (or have been) you and me. They shop on Amazon and go to the supermarket (or get home delivery, whatever works). They eat in restaurants, have families, use mobile phones and sleep around 8 hours a day.

I say this because when I think back on some of the projects I have worked on that affect candidates, I always get the same feedback from recruiters. Whether that be implementing online timesheets back in 2008 (“oh no, our candidates won’t like that — they prefer paper timesheets that they can fax”) or talking to recruiters about chatbots in 2018 (“isn’t this just for millennials? My candidates won’t use a chatbot.”) the feedback is the same.

Even though there is a huge trend towards a different way of doing things across the entire world, some recruiters’ candidates will not be part of that trend because they are special and they are not like the general public. Luckily, this is a mindset that we are starting to see less and less of.

I say that it is time we start thinking about candidates as the people they are — consumers of our services as a recruiter. They have chosen to find their next role with you, just as they have chosen to shop at a specific supermarket, or eaten at a restaurant of their choice. Why? Because they have noticed you offering something different, they have been recommended, they may have come back to you after using you in the past or they have seen a role that you are advertising that interests them. God forbid they might have even been a client of yours in the past!!

Let’s get this straight. Candidates are consumers.

Let’s even get with the times and start a hashtag or three — #recruitment2consumers #r2c #candidatesareconsumerstoo

Why does this topic interest me now more than ever?

Now that I am wrapped up in all things RoboRecruiter, I have spent the last year immersing myself in the world of chatbots. Call it what you wish — conversational computing, conversational recruitment, messaging, chatbots etc. To me, it is absolutely fascinating. However, the one thing that leaps out at me is just how far behind we are as an industry.

Earlier in 2018, at Facebook’s F8 conference, David Marcus (Vice President of Messaging Products at Facebook), showed a slide that contained the logos and names of the growing set of partners that have integrated with Facebook Messenger. Newer startups like Smooch, Conversable and iAdvize stood alongside publicly listed technology companies including Oracle, Salesforce, and Zendesk.

He unveiled some stunning statistics too: To date, there are over 300,000 active bots on Messenger, and over 8 billion messages are exchanged between people and businesses each month; that’s 4x the number of messages exchanged since 2017.

In fact, in 2015, Chris Messina (previously of Uber and Google), first termed the phrase “conversational commerce” after noticing a trend in technology companies such as Facebook, to pivot (or acquire) towards the messaging and communication space. He followed it up with a prediction that 2016 would be the year that conversational commerce would be the dominant trend of consumer computing apps.

Going back to Facebook’s slides from earlier this year shows us how right he was.

In 2016, messaging apps surpassed social network apps in terms of monthly active users.

As consumers, we use messenger apps and chatbots every day to interact with our banks, our supermarkets, mobile phone providers and our friends and families. Yet, when talking about using chatbots to communicate with our candidates, some recruiters still act like this is some futuristic gobbledegook that will never take off because “OUR CANDIDATES ARE DIFFERENT”.

I’m thankful that there are some fantastic recruiters at some great companies that are seeing this now. They are embracing this trend in technology. They are the recruiters and organisations that will survive the impending AI-pocolypse* that recruitment doomsdayers are warning about. These recruiters and companies can see that our industry is a couple of years and are working fast to catch up.

*note — this is sci-fi and there is no AI-pocolypse about to happen.

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