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Down At SXSW: Recruiter Report

I spent five days at SXSWi last week, hanging out with recruiters and staffing types curious about the old and new ways of leveraging technology to hire.

It would be a shame not to mention #TNL (Talent Net Live) Craig Fisher's recruiting unconference that kicked off the trip, as it got me thinking about recruiting uses from geo-location to databases.  He shared a google search that was crazy the other day.  A search on Foursquare check-ins at corporate headquarters to determine which users were on the service, and where you might meet them or contact them. 

It's serious high-level stuff, and something you should be reading about.

Monster also had an interesting presence, with a large board proclaiming "Find a manager who will let you expense SXSW."  This, along with the Hiring Hub, gave SXSW attendees the ability to be recruited live and onsite by companies looking to hire.  Sure, it's a little underhanded to recruit employees from employers who paid to send those employees to SXSW, but the pitch is an effective one.  You can't keep your employees from attending local events, and what if recruiters started attending, offering a similar technology that allowed people to confidentially interview?  More on that later.

Now, I'm a Sendouts user, but I saw TempWorks there, and it was curious to see a recruiting technology firm that wanted to see the latest and greatest.  In fact, if nothing else, seeing which companies sent people was a checkmark on how seriously they take innovation.  It's not that sending someone to SXSWi makes you innovate, it's that anyone who goes is willing to invest a substantial amount of money and time to see what they can take from the interactive world and apply to recruiting. 

Some very big companies were there talking about their employment strategies, and the danger for recruiters is just how cutting edge they are.  From building talent communities, to applying graphical interfaces to social network analysis, to mobile resume farms, the ideas were truly groundbreaking.  For a long time, individual recruiters led the way in social media.  Today, it is big companies with big budgets that are leading the way in adoption, and I'm not just talking about LinkedIn.

It's never been my thing to talk about the death of recruiting as an industry, if for no other reason, the the structural mechanics of a staffing firm provide a difference maker to corporate HR.  And while SHRM and others are taking strides, the vast majority of HR is already overburdened and can't take on new tasks.

With that said...What is coming... is a rude awakening to firms that work with big companies who are more advanced in candidate selection and engagement.  It's long been a headhunter trope that we're better than internal divisions because we have to work harder for our money and are rewarded by success.  It's going to be quite a psychic shock when internal recruiters generate better results by working smarter. 

Seven years ago, I started blogging about recruiting.  Not long after, I hooked up with Jason and Animal and Anthony on  While we were alternately praised and attacked for looking at the future of recruiting, it's clear that the change coming was a big one.  For those who were at SXSW, what they saw was not some new breakout technology, but instead the interconnected world of the future, where massives amount of information were translated instantly among huge populations, inside and outside the conference.

Welcome to the new world.