The end of the year is nearing. That always calls for reflections on the year that just passed, and like any Jason Statham movie it has been been action packed and with a narrative containing equal amounts of nail biting challenges, and triumphs that make you wanna punch holes in the air.
If you have 7 minutes, please read on.
Bumpy ride ahead
A few key employees had their last days at Graduateland this year, and naturally as a small and well-knit team this posed some challenges – how to not lose momentum, how to transfer their insights and competencies to the existing team, how to not let the organisation suffer from bad morale, and ultimately how to find replacements.
Also changes in management on the very top level (new CEO, from one co-founder to another, and new CTO, from co-founder to first employee) were events in 2015 that had to be coped with, and we yet again had to ensure that momentum was not lost, and that the organisation (and investors) perceived it as positive things.
Events like these naturally make the cold sweat run down every company founder’s back. It’s impossible to predict how the organisation will be able to absorb the news, and it’s impossible to predict how quickly you can regain previous strength. Of course you can chose to view it as the glass half full, but to safeguard against risk you have to consider the worst.
But events like these also pose the opportunity to break with old habits, and challenge what was the de facto way of doing things. If you want to jump a curve on your company’s trajectory it may be just what you need.
The helicopter view
Realising that you have come to a crossroad forces you to rise to your helicopter view, concretize your visions, and make decisions. And the decisions you make on a vision level make the tasks of identifying strategies more straightforward. You figure out what to do, and you can prioritise accordingly.
At Graduateland we now have three fundamental pillars, which support our overall vision of building a successful career network that kickstarts great careers; the Product Pillar, the Distribution Pillar, and the Business Pillar. These would have made sense to have had the last five years but they have just now been made explicit in the organisation because we found ourselves at one the aforementioned crossroads.
We use these pillars to group the key activities we do, and we can therefore easier get an overview of our overall performance. For the Graduateland team members it has also become obvious how everyone’s roles depend on each other. Creating a nice product is only satisfying if we distribute it efficiently, generating a healthy revenue is only possible if the product delivers value to its users, we can only spend money on paid marketing (and on salaries) if the product converts visitors to paying customers, or if the sales team fine tune their pitches, and build sound customer relationships and so on.
In conclusion, the last 12 months have thrown many obstacles in our direction, but we have managed to dodge and duck, and come out on the other side stronger than ever. And not just that – we have actually redesigned and rebuilt our entire product (not only for users, but also for employers and universities), we have initiated a structured SEO strategy, which drives traffic from all over the world, and our business side has hit all the sales targets that had been set up.
All this with a team where the average seniority is just over a year. No bumps in the road what so ever.
I have to admit it’s pretty awesome being the captain of such a crew. All sails are set, and the wind is in our back. There is nothing but blue ocean ahead.
Blue ocean, you say… isn’t that when your company is operating in a space with low competition? (Read the book Blue Ocean Strategy for more info about this concept).
Yes, that’s what blue ocean means. But notice the ‘ahead’. That allows me to consult my crystal ball, and imagine what will happen in the upcoming year. That’s also something the end of the year encourages you to do.
Therefore – let me paint the picture of Graduateland anno 2016, and take you by the hand for a stroll into the blue ocean of permission recruitment.
Graduateland’s Permission Recruitment
As described in a previous blog post, permission recruitment is the communication between candidate and company that both parties appreciate, anticipate, find relevant and personal. Like with traditional marketing, that to a large extent has moved from communication that interrupts the audience (popups, spam mail, print ads in magazines) to more targeted and often relevant content (influencer marketing, targeted Facebook ads, content marketing) we want to transfer those concepts to recruitment.
Recruitment should not be pushed from employer to candidate unless it satisfies certain criteria; it should be relevant for the respective recipient, and the candidate should welcome it (relevant + anticipated = appreciated) And then we’ll enable the personal stuff via our product.
We spent 2015 building the skeleton, the next to-do’s on the product roadmap are the flesh and intestines (okay, a bit gross metaphor), and the permission recruitment will be the stuff that floats through the veins. This will be the pulse that is the blue ocean of online recruitment.
Engagement in the Graduateland universe will undergo some substantial upgrades. In no way neglecting what we currently have – it’s a beautifully designed job portal with great content in the shape of jobs, employer profiles, and articles – but what jumps curves in recruitment is the interaction with the opposing party.
Bridging the gap between company and job seeker (and by vice versa) will challenge the conventional way of recruitment. As it is now, recruitment of students and graduates is channeled through the traditional job post. The company writes a job description, the candidate applies with a cover letter and a CV, and rarely any other communication happens. There is one shot, and this determines whether the candidate is invited for an interview.
There is definitely room for improvement. If you want to date someone you don’t just send your proposal, and lean back and wait, do you? No, you try and build a relationship, try to uncover whether there is a mutual interest, and then you make your move.
Let’s imagine for a moment…
At Graduateland we want to enable job seekers to communicate directly with the company of their dreams. We want to let candidates know about the company via enthusiastic blog posts written by current employees, and we want candidates to be able to know whether the company can live up to the expectations of the ambitious youth that we have today.
At the same time, employers should be able to build relationships with an audience of university talent, on a more personal level than merely sending out their job posts with a request to apply.
I imagine the Graduateland of 2016 will facilitate these types of communication.
I imagine that employers will be able to build talent pipelines with candidates that are relevant, and that the dialogue will be initiated prior to the upload of the specific job that the user ultimately will be considered for.
These talent pools will be set up so that employers can define who should be in what group (imagine your well-organised folders in your Dropbox), enabling them to communicate according to target group.
When communication will be targeted it will be relevant and appreciated. When communication can only happen if it fits with the candidate’s preferences it will be anticipated.
This is permission recruitment and if employers chose to take it serious it will be personal and meaningful.
This will be the most efficient recruitment I can imagine.
When job seekers browse prospective employers they might chose to interact with a number of them, either follow them, show their interest, request to become part of a talent pool, or submit an unsolicited application. This will notify the employer about a potential candidate, and a dialogue can be initiated.
The touch points should be much more than just the application of a job. Imagine you have employers on one side of a river, and candidates on the other side, and that there is only one bridge – the job application.
Graduateland is in the business of building bridges – we’ll build bridges that enable dialogue via something as oldschool as an internal inbox system, invitations to career events, company presentations, or case competitions, questions and answers on the employer’s company page, and just the general possibility to stay updated on either the company or the candidate.
Increasing transparency will enable everybody to make better choices, which will result in more relevant and efficient recruitment. Everybody wins.
So why is this blue ocean? Because as far as I’m concerned nobody does this. There are throngs of online recruitment services out there, but truly bringing the two main parties together is a nut that still has not been cracked. There are no services that have the pulse that we’re aiming at.
I’m truly excited about what 2016 will bring, and as any business owner the holidays are a paradoxical time when you both have to enjoy some much needed time off, but also accept that the pace of your business goes down a notch.
However, it’s also a time to gather your thoughts and put pen to paper. Therefore the time to finally write this blog post.
I’m looking forward to invite you into the future of recruitment.
See you on Graduateland.