Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Job Searching 101

Wow. Its been a while since I've been job searching. Mailing resumes is (thankfully) so passe!

Over the last two weeks, I've been submitting resumes in my quest to find a position that is a perfect mesh of technology planning, project management and innovation. I am somewhat surprised by the number of positions that have intereted me. I'll be even more surprised when one of them shows some interest in me!

The one critique I have of many of the HR departments is that they're using out of the box web applications to manage the application process. I understand that they offer a valuable tool to track applicatants, resumes and all of the information that goes along with them, they're incredibly cumbersome to navigate from an applicant's point of view. This is a sad fact given that most companies should want to put their best face forward when it comes to recruiting new talent. After all, the application stage is the first interaction may future employees may have with their organziation. What does it say about an organization when their application process is annoying or even downright frustrating? Its certainly caused me to rethink whether or not to even apply to some of these organizations.

Its very clear that there are niche vendors who supply the vast majority of these job websites. What's interesting is that given the relative lack of competition, there's very little innovation in these application. For the most part, HR departments haven't even branded their site with their own corporate identity. In this day and age...that's surprising.

Even those organizations that have taken the initiative to use some of the customization offered by these application fail when it comes to wording questions in a way that is both clear and concise. I can't believe how many times I've had to re-read questions to ensure that I wasn't responding with an incorrect answer - and I have a law degree! Maybe it's all part of ploy to see if I'm really paying attention, but after creating thirty or so profiles on these sites, it's become more of a hassle than anything else.

Taleo (http://www.taleo.com) seems to have a clear majority of companies on board with their talent management application. What strikes me as interesting is that they don't offer any way for applicants to export or share their profile information from one company with any of the other companies also using their software. It makes a very clear statement about who the user is that these application were designed for - the companies, not the applicants.

While I understand the economics of that decision, the companies, after all, are the ones footing the bill. I am disappointed that they haven't also realized that there's so much room for improvement in the service their providing. And possibly a secondary revenue stream as well. As an applicant, if I could pay $25 for a years subscription and have my information automatically shared with other companies that are using Taleo's application, I'd do it.

I'm also amazed at the number of organizations that do not have customizable RSS feeds for positions. Or even any RSS feed for the job openings. C'mon...do you really think that making me visit your site on a daily basis and driving up your unique page views is going to generate revenue for your organization? Last I knew, HR departments weren't generating revenue on ad sales. Make you postings available in multiple formats so users can decide which format works best for them. Its going to benefit the company by helping ensure that they're disseminating their openings better and should help them connect with qualified applicants better as well.

Its very clear that technology adoption proceeds at varied paces, even across companies that are technology-centric. It makes a SaaS solution such as Salesforce all the more attractive to companies. One instance of Salesforce can replace all of these out-of-the-box applications and significantly reduce operating costs associated with have 10-12 applications that each perform one job well by replacing them with one application that does all of their jobs well. Its clear that companies that aren't looking at Salesforce's functionality and business model with envy simply have their heads in the sand.