Human Resources Drives Technology Innovation

by Sharlyn Lauby on March 11, 2012

(Editor’s Note: Today’s interview is sponsored by iCIMS, a leading provider of innovative Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) talent acquisition solutions. iCIMS is an Inc. 500 and Software Satisfaction honoree focused on solving corporate business issues through the implementation of easy-to-use, scalable solutions that are backed by award-winning customer service.)

I’ve had some challenging HR roles in my career but one of the most challenging was leading human resources for a company that provides HR services. I don’t mean this is in a bad way. But think about it, there’s no question about the recruiting, recruiter, social media, social recruiting, software, icims, ROIproduct/service you’re going to use. If it’s good enough to sell to others, then it’s perfect to use in your own company.

This is exactly why I wanted to interview Ron Kasner, chief corporate development officer at iCIMS. In his role, he leads the iCIMS Talent Department and has responsibility for corporate strategy and development, business process improvement, and legal affairs. What better person to give us the inside scoop about iCIMS and their recruiting marketing solution.

People often don’t realize when you work in human resources for a company that provides products/services to the HR community, you wear two hats: first, you’re performing the actual function but next, you’re a user of whatever product/service your company provides. It’s not the typical HR role. Because I’ve been in a similar situation, I can’t resist asking…What’s it like being an HR pro in an HR company?

Being an HR Pro at an HR company has its advantages. We task all of our HR staff to become ‘super users’ of our product. As such, we have been able to drive our HR program by knowing all of the ins and outs of the system – including reporting on campaign results in order to improve metrics. This has ultimately led to a more solid recruitment program. 

Also, utilizing the system in our day to day allows us to better inform candidates of their job role. Being able to explain to them the system they will be working with directly (whether it be for a technical, customer support, or marketing position) helps to better prepare them for their new role. In turn, it helps us drive higher-quality hires. 

Further, it’s interesting because as HR professionals within an HR company, we end up being one (of many) driving forces of technological innovations within the Talent Platform. Which for any good technology – HR should be the soundboard for potential functionality. If HR can’t easily leverage the software for a better recruitment process, it’s not worth building. We end up becoming the ‘test bed’ for potential functionality within the recruiting space, which is exciting and fun. For example – here at iCIMS we are trying something new for our university recruiting campaigns – configured career portals dedicated to each university. We are expecting to see an increase in our talent pool from this.  We will definitely keep you posted. 

Probably one of the best things about being an HR Pro at an HR company is that we have access to dozens of industry professionals at all time – iCIMS’ Client Relationship Directors and Implementation Managers. These individuals come from HR and technology backgrounds and are assigned to our clients as part of the initial implementation or our ongoing relationship management. Our HR department can leverage their knowledge to drive our recruitment program, so we can see better results.

Let’s talk HR pro to HR pro. As the Chief Corporate Development Officer managing the Talent Department at iCIMS, there’s no question about what ATS and Recruitment Marketing Solution you’re going to use. But would you tell us the top 2-3 things you especially like about the platform? You know, the stuff we might not see in a sales demo.

The iCIMS Talent Platform does wonders to automate our HR program, but I suppose you would see that in the demo. One thing that you wouldn’t see is the platform’s ability to ‘build our talent community’. What do I mean by this? On a user level, we are able to source top talent through our employee’s networks and therefore are able to grow our own recruiting, talent, talent management, icims, softwaretalent pool. We can essentially build up our passive and active candidate database, so we can better market to top talent in the HR software space – reducing the amount of time it takes for us to find and hire candidates. 

Recruiting via social networks has been talked about for quite some time. Some might say the conversation is a bit saturated right now. In your experience, why should companies pay attention to social recruiting?

As much as the ‘conversation’ about social recruiting has become oversaturated, the utilization of it is still in its fairly early stages.  When it comes to social recruiting, we see four different areas at different stages of maturity:

  1. Posting to social media sites in a similar way we post to traditional job boards: This is becoming more common.
  2. Leveraging social media resumes to source individual candidates: This too is becoming more common.
  3. Social employee networks: This is something that is fairly early in its adoption, and a key component of our Recruitment Marketing solution.  More than a third of our hires come from employee referrals. Beyond using social media sites to get jobs to active job seekers, iCIMS uses the technology we sell to the market to leverage employee referrals through social networks. Ultimately this helps us move away from blasting jobs in a shotgun approach and utilize more targeted job communications to “best fits” within an employee’s social graphs. 
  4. Talent communities:  This too is something that is fairly early in its adoption, and a key component of our Talent Acquisition Platform that we use internally as well.  By connecting with passive candidates, rather than just applicants, we will be able to source a broader talent community interested in iCIMS.  Moreover, through our system’s  CRM capabilities, we can communicate the culture, values, and benefits of iCIMS –not only keeping prospects warm, but getting them excited for when a good position opens up that matches their background and experience.

I hear that iCIMS has created a strong employee referral rate (over 40%) using a blend of your ATS and Recruitment Marketing Solution.  Can you share how you’ve been able to create such a winning combination?

Yes, that is true, we have been able to improve our employee referral rate by providing the right incentives easily. Automation has been essential in enabling us to reach that 40% employee referral rate.

How do we automate this process? We make it easy for iCIMS employees to share open positions through our employee referral portal and job posting on an employee’s social media site via our Recruitment Marketing Solution. Beyond automation we also provide the right incentives to promote employee referrals.

More importantly, it is iCIMS’ strong company culture that drives our employee referral rate. In other words, we have about 200 iCIMS ambassadors eager to spread the news about open requisitions to all of their networks. In fact, iCIMS was recently named one of the 2012 Best Places to Work in New Jersey – which is solely based off of employee feedback. If we did not have this, we would not see the success we have seen to date.

One of the most challenging aspects to social media is being able to quantitatively measure outcomes. I know from my recruiting days how important yield ratios were when discussing recruiting strategy with senior leadership. What kinds of metrics have you been able to track using the Recruitment Marketing Solution?

Our HR department is very much driven by metrics. We measure all of our processes through the report function in the iCIMS Talent Platform where we have direct insight into our successes and challenges, and how we can improve. 

One of the most important metrics that we measure is our Return-on-Investment (ROI). We have been able to increase our ROI by automating manual tasks to get in front of more people, faster. For example – anyone can post jobs out to traditional job boards or social media sites such as Twitter or Facebook. But the truth of the matter is the recruiter has to go to each individual site every time he or she has a new post. That process is automated with our Talent Platform which frees up recruiters to screen more candidates – better recruiter productivity means greater ROI. 

Moreover, through our Recruitment Marketing Solution, with a click of a button we are able to show more open positions on more social media connections at no additional cost. Once connected with us, we then leverage our communication tool to market to all of those potential candidates. Our time to hire decreases and our workforce quality increases! With automation, we’ve been able to actualize a higher ROI. 

As we strive to further develop our recruitment marketing strategy, we expect to build our talent community, target more individuals, and enjoy  an increase in applicant volume and quality. This will enable us to hire top talent in less time, all within our own talent acquisition system.

I want to thank Ron and his team for sharing their successes with the iCIMS Recruitment Marketing Solution. If you would like to learn more, click here to watch an online demo.  You can also connect with iCIMS via Facebook and follow them on Twitter.

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