December 29, 2011

Recruiting Tech: 5 Game Changers for 2012

Football Game ChangersNo one knows what 2012 will bring us, but we do know that the landscape of recruiting technology is changing rapidly. Improving employment, cash rich software companies, and a frothy outlook for social media could make for a dramatic year.

Here are 5 events that would shake up the recruiting tech industry and even further, disrupt large economic models and industries.

  1. Someone buys Monster. Monster is, well, a monster. It’s the largest player in the job board space and the most highly visited, if you ignore aggregators such as Indeed.com. But its stock got crushed this year, opening the possibility for a major company to take a stake or buy it out. An event such as a private equity investment would probably be a quiet affair. However, any powerful web or software company such as Google, Facebook, or Microsoft, all flush with cash, could purchase the company to compete with LinkedIn in professional and employment networking and capture an enormous volume of consumer traffic. The impact of this event would affect not only the recruitment and employment market, but also the broad behavior of consumers on the web.
  2. Online Resumes go Viral. Since job boards started, resumes have typically been housed in private databases that recruiters pay to access. Traditional job boards such as Careerbuilder and Monster store resumes behind these firewalls, offering resume licensing on a subscription basis. Social networking through sites like LinkedIn changed the game, allowing profiles to be viewed and searchable online. Continuing this trend, Indeed.com, the massive job aggregator, launched free resume posting and search this year. New sites such as About.me, Curv, and VisualCV (recently acquired by Talent Technology) are popping up and getting traction. So far, the only site to have mastered free online “resumes” is LinkedIn, fresh off a spectacular IPO this year. However, notice that we’re writing “resumes” and not just resumes. LinkedIn gained traction because your profile isn’t necessarily a resume. If one player definitively wins the true “only-one purpose” online resume, it will reshape online traffic and revenues in a major way.
  3. Facebook Jobs. This year, there was a tremendous amount of investment and innovation in socially-enabled job distribution and networking technology. Many technology companies were funded and started on the basis of leveraging the power of Facebook. Companies approached Facebook jobs through many different avenues, such as social distribution, recruitment ads, Facebook Page optimization, and building talent communities. Companies such as Branchout and Monster’s Beknown competed to be the go-to Facebook job search application. As of the end of 2011, the job search service on Facebook is still highly fractured. We’ll have to recognize the game changer as either one application emerging as the ultimate winner OR Facebook itself launching a native job board or job search service.
  4. LinkedIn goes Enterprise. Or have they already? LinkedIn is fast becoming the hub of enterprise identity, as it relates to employment. This year, LinkedIn announced two different initiatives that further divide it from the consumer driven Facebook model. They first launched the LinkedIn apply button, which allows candidates to communicate their LinkedIn profile as an application into a company that uses the service. This helps cement LinkedIn data as the de-facto corporate identity system and further propels its use as an online resume by consumers. Additionally, in 2012, LinkedIn will launch Talent Pipeline to carry LinkedIn directly into the enterprise recruiting technology market. Most believe LinkedIn’s natural competitor to be Facebook, but this could be quite far from the truth. If LinkedIn conquers the enterprise recruiting technology through organic growth or by a strategic investment or partnership (such as through a company like Taleo), it would radically transform the market.
  5. A Big Bet on Human Capital. Recently SAP acquired SuccessFactors in a deal worth $3.4 bllion. The agreement not only opened up new cloud based service offerings to the legacy software giant, but also placed a sizeable bet on the strategic importance of enterprise talent management. Salesforce moved in parallel by buying Rypple, a provider of human capital management solutions. The software giants are placing a clear value on enterprise level employee management services. Further acquisitions are both likely and could be transformative. Any of the leading software players like Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, HP, CA, etc… could move into the talent management and recruitment space easily through acquisition. Let’s call this move as marked not just by a big bet on human capital software, but rather the merging of the human capital management function into the broader enterprise software space. Further consolidation could pull talent management out of the HR silo and integrate it into the normal enterprise workflow and supply chain.

We’ll keep watching the recruiting tech space, but as we do, it seems like we now have a lot of company. No one can tell what will happen in the industry, but one thing is for certain: recruiting and talent technology is moving off the bench and into the game.

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Marie is a writer for Recruiter.com covering career advice, recruitment topics, and HR issues. She has an educational background in languages and literature as well as corporate experience in Human Resources.