The Video-Enabled Talent Scout

Aberdeen’s August 2009 research “Talent Acquisition Strategies 2009” found that the top strategy organizations are pursuing in the area of recruiting today is to proactively build and expand a candidate pipeline regardless of current hiring needs.

Given the continuing pressure many organizations are facing to locate key skills in a tightening labor market, top-performing companies are leveraging new solutions to augment their traditional recruiting strategies. One method delivering positive results for organizations is the emerging field of video-enabled talent acquisition. Organizations that are seeking to make better hiring decisions by more efficiently enabling collaboration among all stakeholders in the hiring process are moving beyond mere Web-conferencing and video conferencing, and making video-enabled interviewing an integrated part of their talent acquisition strategy, and are having a real impact on recruiting costs and candidate quality.

The New Wave of Talent Acquisition Tools

The war for talent is not over, despite the huge spike in individuals looking for work over the last four to six quarters. Organizations are still facing a very competitive marketplace for top talent and key skills, and are simultaneously facing ever-increasing budget pressure to deliver this key talent with less spend.

As a result of these pressures, organizations are looking for better and more targeted weapons to add to their talent acquisition arsenal. One of the areas experiencing rapid growth is the use of Web 2.0 tools throughout the talent management life-cycle, but in recruiting in particular.

Between 2008 and 2009, the use of Web 2.0 tools for recruiting has more than doubled, and it’s the area where these tools are seeing the greatest level of adoption. As society at large becomes more comfortable with new ways of remote connecting via video and text delivered to their personal computers and mobile devices, top organizations are seeing the benefits of remotely connecting and collaborating with potential employees using these new tools and leveraging them to benefit the organization and the candidates.

Video Collaboration Takes Center Stage

As firms seek to maximize their reach into an increasingly geographically dispersed talent pool, the importance of visual communication has increased. Not only are organizations looking at the possibility of hiring individuals from other geographic locations who will relocate for a job assignment, hiring managers also may indeed be managing their new hires remotely. In both of these circumstances, the use of video collaboration not only promotes teamwork and accelerates problem-solving processes, but also aids in reducing the need for travel costs and travel time associated with face-to-face, in-person meetings. True video-enabled talent acquisition becomes a record of specific candidate data points that not only demonstrate a candidate’s skill, but provide them with a sense of the hiring company and become part of a collaborative feedback process that is key to hiring decisions.

Also, many of the most desirable candidates are already employed. A video tool that allows them to complete some or all of the interview process using synchronous or asynchronous video technology without having to miss work can be an attractive proposition that lowers the barrier to contact with these key candidates.

By expanding their talent search, increasing their pool of viable and qualified candidates, and improving their knowledge of the candidate’s fit within the organization, Best-in-Class organizations were able to use video to improve their strategic talent acquisition process.

In the August 2009 report “Enterprise Video Collaboration,” the top strategy used by Best-in-Class organizations to achieve a defined ROI was to increase video collaboration with external contacts. By expanding the use of videoconferencing from a tool used for internal corporate conferencing to an enabler for outbound communications and interviews, companies were able to radically expand the value of video by reaching out to business partners, potential customers and potential employees.

In comparison, companies that struggled to demonstrate ROI from their video solutions were still working on developing a corporate culture to use video collaboration throughout the enterprise. Although video has traditionally been considered to be a complex technology, the ease of use has improved exponentially as video equipment has become readily available on a mainstream basis. With these improvements, video tools are now readily available to end users, and the network effects of adoption provide benefits to the organization. Best-in-Class companies have progressed from the organizational challenge of adopting video to the need to extend this adoption to interact with the outside world.

The value of video in remote talent acquisition comes from the added communications provided through visual cues such as eye contact, body language, and the alignment of physical action with audio to provide more immersive remote communications. Particularly for new hires that may be managed remotely, these types of clues as to how they will respond to situations using remote collaboration may be crucial to the hiring decision. This immersiveness is vital for understanding the applicant’s potential alignment with corporate culture and specific job responsibilities.

Best-in-Class companies for video collaboration that have integrated videoconferencing into their remote talent acquisition operations have seen improvements in first-year retention rate, length of strategic talent search, and total cost per hire compared to their colleagues. All of these metrics demonstrate that even if a standard video solution will help improve talent acquisition, the investment in a Best-in-Class video solution can provide additional benefits both to the bottom line cost structure of talent acquisition and to the continuity and retention of talent.

This improvement has come from the Best-in-Class adoption of embracing video as a value-added channel for communicating with external locations and potential employees, providing video access to all employees involved in a hiring process and not only to privileged employees, and integrating video with content management and enterprise applications to create a multi-dimensional collaborative tool between the company and potential employees.

‘Enabled’ Is the Operative Word

Video-enabled talent acquisition is a powerful tool for recruiting, but the second half of that equation is as important as the first. Although video is an exciting and intriguing new technology medium, it’s just as important to think about how this tool fits within the broader talent acquisition strategy of your organization. In the August study “Talent Acquisition Strategies 2009,” several key enablers were found that distinguished Best-in-Class performance.

It is not enough to simply use video or Web conferencing technology to conduct an interview. True video-enabled talent acquisition must be synchronized with the forward-looking strategy of the organization, supported by company executives, and designed to target the top sources of candidates while providing hiring managers a voice in the process. Solutions that allow interviews to be indexed, tagged with manager feedback, and integrated with a broader talent acquisition strategy, including tools like an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) or candidate relationship management solution, will have the greatest correlation to top recruiting results.

Bringing the Brand to Life

The concept of “fit” is a powerful one when it comes to recruiting, and building a talent pipeline. No matter what other skills, behavioral or psychometric assessments and testing your organization may use, most hiring managers agree that there is no substitute for that intangible ingredient of “fit” or chemistry that becomes apparent when you meet a candidate face to face, and when they can really get a sense of the culture of the organization they will be working in. The most important use of Web 2.0 tools in recruiting cited by respondents to the June “Web 2.0 in Talent Management” study was giving potential candidates a sense of your organizational culture. However, in the interests of saving money and managerial time, this is often one of the later steps in a hiring process.

According to Aberdeen’s April 2009 research report “Employer Branding: How to Grow, Measure and Manage Your Company’s Perception,” the brand that attracts talent is deeply rooted in the experiences and attitudes of current employees. Aligning internal and external brand messaging is one of the keys to addressing the internal and external talent challenges organizations are facing. The use of online career portals that include features like the ability to show video from current or past employees, or messages from recruiters, hiring managers and senior executives were the top enabler to employer branding. Incorporating recorded video with a live video interview is one way organizations can bring their brand to life and help ensure that the fit is there from both sides. First-year retention is an appropriate proxy for this intangible of fit, and we have clearly seen that organizations making the best use of video-enabled talent acquisition are achieving far superior results in this realm than all others. Organizations utilizing any social networking technologies specifically for recruiting efforts, whether video or text-based, are seeing impressive year-over-year improvements in critical hiring metrics as well.

Just adopting video-enabled talent acquisition tools is not the sole answer to improving key talent acquisition metrics. However, when these tools are adopted as part of a cohesive recruiting strategy, they can greatly improve key results and metrics that your organization uses to judge the efficacy and success of its talent acquisition efforts.

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Hyoun Park is a research analyst in telecom and unified communications at Aberdeen Group. Mollie Lombardi is a research analyst in human capital management at Aberdeen Group.

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