Everyone Wants to Feel Special

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Nov 5, 2020

Everyone wants to feel special or so it seems.  The Amazon’s of commerce has created a model of consumerism that is contagious.  The experience feels personal like they know us.   They are like friendly experts suggesting what we might like to purchase next.  It’s almost like they read our minds.  We have come to expect that type of experience from the products and services that we purchase.  What about talent consumerism, is TA (talent acquisition) following the path of the consumer?

As we enter the third decade of the digital era, there has been a marked move from the company or brand era to the customer era.  In TA (talent acquisition) terminology, we have moved from the organization being the center of the equation to the job prospect or candidate being the object of our affection.  The target talent or talent consumer has forced organizations to adjust to this new reality.  The challenge of this new reality is that it continues to evolve.

KennedyFitch, a consulting firm, uses three words to describe the HR transformation; consumerized, personalized, and individualized.  These 3 adjectives are great descriptions of the changing expectations of the job prospect or candidate over the digital era.  It is extremely interesting with we think in terms of Web 1.0, Web 2.0, and Web 3.0 as labels for consumerized, personalized, and individualized.  As the chart below illustrates each Web era had certain elements that inform where we are today.

Web 1.0 was really TA’s first iteration of the talent consumer.  It was a time that the internet was front and center in the talent job search era.  It was Google’s rise to power.  Google became the center of the job search.  While newspaper ads were converted to online ads, the real change was the DIY (do-it-yourself) approach by the job seekers.  The power of the Google search engine allowed a job seeker to research an organization of interest.  Yelp and similar products provided feedback on restaurants, services, and products.

Likewise, the talent consumer sought out the opinion of others that have previously applied with an organization.  That began a trust crisis; job seekers trusted the opinions of other job seekers more that they trusted the voice of the brand itself.  One last element needs discussing, the prospect/candidate journey.  As the target talent audiences became more involved in the various social platforms, TA was forced to attempt to connect with the target audiences on each of those platforms.  Social recruiting was born.  Talk about shaking things up.

Web 2.0 continued the rise of the talent consumer as the center of attention.  TA professions tossed around the idea of WIIFM (what’s in it for me) as the basic method of framing a conversation with target talent.  In other words, if the brand did not quickly connect with its target talent audience regarding it relevance to them, the brand would lose the audience’s attention/interest.  During this time, we saw the increased importance of TA providing a great DX (digital experience) to the job prospect/candidate.   Included in the DX is the type of information about the brand that the job prospect/candidate desired.

Instead of reading the self-promoting corporate messages, the target talent turned to Glassdoor and other sites to read about “the real version of the brand.”  It was during this era that the CX (candidate experience) became an important tool for organizations.  The Talent Board and their CandE Awards cast a spotlight on the fact that it really matters how we treat job prospects/candidates.  A final lesson of this era was that the talent consumer was looking for a relationship with a brand, not a passing transaction.

Web 3.0 has ushered in hyper-personalization to fulfill that expectation.  This new consumerism makes us feel; well, almost human.  The commerce consumer is looking to establish trust by engaging in the human to product/service experience.  Web 3.0 has also brought with it, a new type of machine.  These cyber machines enhance the consumer’s purchase process.  Instead of having a static page of FAQ’s, the frequency ask questions are answered in real-time by engaging with animated and the always cute cyber bot.

What about personalized and individualized talent engagement?  Where is the talent consumerism model?  The studies from The Talent Board’s CandE surveys suggest that talent has the expectation of experiences similar to consumers.  Company review sites like Glassdoor documents the expectations of the talent consumer for transparency, and the value placed on recommendations and opinions of others.

Talent acquisition is slowly adding Web 3.0 technologies to their tech stacks.  The tension between legacy systems, compliance, and shortages of key talent types have created a challenging state.  That data, combined with review site feedback (think Glassdoor) documents the expectation and the need for a “talent consumerism.”

In other words, the talent consumer shares the same expectation transparency, conversations with real people, and a human-like experience.  Like their consumer counterpart, the talent consumer is willing to accept some technology in the process if it answers their questions and moves a process forward.  Consequently, the almost human element of the prospect/candidate experience is lacking.  What is really lacking is human2human talent engagement.

If you are in talent acquisition, the era of Web 3.0 brings with it the need for human2human talent engagement.  If you are honest with yourself, you’ve known this was coming.  No surprises.  You’ve been avoiding this for a long time.  Yet, all the signs have been there.  The candidate experience movement.  The glassdoor-type review sites.  The success of talent pipeline approaches.  But the final step remains.  The step to fully embrace the target talent as individuals.

Why wait?  It takes a commitment.  It takes more time.  You will have to say “no” quite often; actually 99% of the time.  Toughen up.  You can no longer avoid being the purveyor of bad news.  And most of all, people are messy.  They have hopes, dreams, and aspirations for their careers.  And while you fulfill the ambitions of a few, you will dash the dreams of the majority.

That said, there is a special respect for TA professions that speak the truth.  The key to human2human engagement is to take that final step to become available to the critical talent segments that will make a difference to your organization.


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