What’s Nexxt? – #SHRM17

Yeaterday, of at the SHRM Annual Conference and Exposition, Beyond (The Career Network) unveiled its new brand, platform and vision for the future of talent acquisition which is based on nearly 20 years of feedback and ongoing innovation. Nexxt, as it’s been re-named, is being rolled out as a full-service recruiting platform for companies and agencies that can provide a targeted method of sourcing the best people from a broader talent pool.

“We’ve taken nearly two decades of employment expertise and created the most advanced, targeted recruitment marketing platform available in our industry today,” said Rich Milgram, founder and CEO of Nexxt. “With Nexxt’s innovative suite of products and services, recruiters can take a more proactive approach to hiring. It’s time to recruit like a marketer and that starts with building diverse campaigns that reach the right people, in the right places, at the right times.”

Combining predictive technology with multi-channel marketing, Nexxt aims to help organizations reduce the time that jobs remain open, while also effectively reaching passive candidates. As announced during the launch, Nexxt offers niche targeting, candidate retargeting (to help employers extend the reach of their brand and career opportunities), and “campaign building.”

Interested in learning more? Companies and agencies can visit hiring.nexxt.com and job seekers can visit www.nexxt.com.


The Unofficial (and totally non-scientific) History of HR Blogging

I’ve been gearing up for the 10 year anniversary celebration of the Carnival of HR and, as we all know, I enjoy nothing more than a good party! The Carnival was started in 2007 by Suzanne Lucas (@RealEvilHRLady) who passed the reins over to Alison Green (@AskAManager) in 2008 before everything was handed off to Shauna Moerke-Griffis (@HR_Minion) in 2009; in January 2016 Shauna passed on the stewardship to me…and that means I get to plan the festivities!

So over the weekend I tossed a query out on Facebook to assist me in building the timeline of HR blogging. Who was first? Who wrote what…and where? Has Laurie always been blogging or does it just seem like that? Was there chocolate involved? Who brought the wine? And/or the G&Ts for our friends in the UK?

There was lots of reminiscing about which HR bloggers were the entre-drugs (my phrase) into HR blog reading; Kris Dunn, Laurie Ruettimann, Neil Morrison, Lance Haun, Ann Bares (and the crew at Compensation Cafe), ERE and Recruiting Blogs made many a list.  And, since this is my space, let me add some of my early blogging faves:  Trish McFarlane, Jessica Miller-Merrell, Steve Boese, Ben Eubanks, Bill Boorman, Sharlyn Lauby, Paul Hebert and Mike VanDervort.

Just the tip of the iceberg.

The Original Gangstas


Most everyone agrees that the Godfather of HR blogging was (and remains) John Sumser. John started Interbiznet in 1993, that, according to Inc. was … “a self-proclaimed Web hub for on-line recruiting… an easy-to-navigate site that, in addition to rating the top job-listing sites, also provides regular newsletters about recruiting on-line.” John, of course, remains at the forefront with HRExaminer (plus all the other things he does).



Early 1990’s – Bill Vick starts doing recorded telephone interviews

1994 – a few words from Gerry Crispin: “the first person I ever encountered ‘writing’ on the web about HR was John Sullivan who was driving academics crazy. He was using Cornell’s HR Listservs (which by the way were all managed by a grad/new professor name of Boudreau). John totally pissed off the academics who dominated in those days – which is how I tracked John down.”

1996 (May) – SHRM registers SHRM.org

1996 – CollegeRecruiter is registered by Steven Rothberg

1996 – Gerry Crispin (and Career XRoads) starts an email newsletter

1997 – Debbie McGrath registers HR.com; the deal included a case of Canadian Beer

1998 – David Manaster starts ERE (which, of course, was called “Electronic Recruiting Exchange”)

1998 – Kevin Wheeler writes his first blog post for ERE (and then began his regular column)

1998 – Barb Ling writes the book “The Internet Recruiting Edge” which leads to this August 1, 1998 article in Inc. entitled“What’s Hot: On-Line Recruiting” featuring this classic line: “…there are anywhere from 250,000 to 1 million World Wide Web sites that list job openings. That’s pretty daunting.”

1999 – a newsletter of sourcing tips is distributed called “The Sourceror’s Apprentice” (as remembered by Jim Stroud) (extra points if anyone remembers the author?)

The Young Turks

Young Turk (n), 1. Young progressive or insurgent member of an institution, movement, or political party. 2. Young person who rebels against authority or societal expectations

2000 – Louise Triance launches UK Recruiter on October 18th – the newsletter has been sent fortnightly ever since! #Props

2001 – Bonni Lile Titgemeyer starts the Employment Opportunities List

2002 – Jim Stroud begins blogging

2002/03 – Heather Hamilton launches a company blog with Microsoft

2004 – launch of RecruitingBlogs by Jason Davis; later there’s a launch of Recruitingblogswap.com for content sharing

2004 – Animal and Anthony Meaney begins Canadian Headhunter in 2004. Animal, of course, was all over radio even then!

2004 – Laurie Ruettimann starts blogging “anonymously” (and went public in August 2007)

2004 – Joel Cheesman / Cheezhead (which runs until 2009)

2004 – Steve Levy writes the first post at Recruiting Inferno (November 16th) – The Case for Character

2005 – Paul DeBettignes begins blogging

2005 – Travis Sinquefield launches his blog “Disorganized Behavior”

2005 – (circa) – Steve Toft (@FlipChartRick) begins blogging

2006 – Peter Gold launches HireStrategies

2006 – Paul Hebert writes his first post as “Incentive intelligence”

2006 – Michael Haberman launches HR Observations

2006 – Peggy McKee – gives us Medical Sales Recruiter blog

The Golden Age (2007 – 20013/ish)

A golden age is a period in a field of endeavor when great tasks were accomplished. The term originated from early Greek and Roman poets, who used it to refer to a time when mankind lived in a better time and was pure. (wikipedia)

Here’s where things picked up and there are, literally, too many to name them all. I, in a very unscientific manner, am choosing 2007 – 2013 as the Golden Age. Why? I guess because I saw people starting blogs for their love of writing or eagerness to have a conversation with the world. Beginning in 2013 (ish) <unscientific…remember??> it appeared it was more about content-machines designed to drive eyeballs to company websites, and, the individuals who did want to start a blog on their own began to do so to “build a brand.” (I am not even kidding when I tell you that here in the year 2017 I have recently had one HR practitioner say to me “I think I need to start a blog to establish my brand.” FFS).

2007 – Jon Ingham – launches Strategic HCM (July)

2007 – Jessica Miller-Merrell launches Blogging4Jobs in September (recently relaunched as Workology)

2007 – Mike Vandervort gives us the HumanRaceHorses blog (he published 1.530 posts before ending new content on the site in 2014)

2008 – Steve Boese kicks off the HR Technology blog


And hundreds of new HR blogs hit the interwebs. Hundreds. (The HRSchoolhouse was launched in 2010; I, myself, was not immune).

This was also the time of #HRHappyHour and #DrivethruHR.

Fistful of Talent was running strong and we saw the surge of other multi-contributor blogs like Performance I Create, Recruiting Daily <everything old is new again from the Recruiting Blogs family>, and TLNT and the other sites under the ERE family.


Whew.  Quite a trip down memory lane!  I didn’t name-check loads of people; I know. Who do we need to add? Hit me up in the comments and let’s expand the list.

And don’t forget to watch for the SPECIAL 10 year anniversary edition  (February 21st) of the Carnival of HR when we celebrate all things HR blogging!


Set it and Forget It: Cooking With HR Technology

Image: Kitchen Timer by Sambla Billån

I’ve recently found myself in numerous conversations with HR professionals and recruiters about striking the balance between effective use of HR technology and still maintaining a human touch in the processes that impact candidates, applicants and employees.

It’s a real problem in search of solutions.

Those solutions range from dialing back our reliance on the technology we implemented with much fanfare and excitement, scheduling ‘moments’ of human interaction and embedding them within a given process, or fully re-engineering the actual tools themselves.

I’ve had these discussions at various events and gatherings (conferences, meet ups, cocktails at the close of the day, meetings at coffee shops) with HR Leaders and HR Generalists, VPs of Talent Acquisition, Recruiting Coordinators, HR Benefits Coordinators and HR Assistants. Also, hovering, silently (or not so silently) on the sidelines for a few of these chats, have been the HR technology developers, founders, marketers, and sales business development guys. To the surprise of no one, the tech guys believe the way to bring in the human touch is to layer on more technology. Chat bots and/or AI anyone?

Are the bots coming? Undoubtedly. But while some get positively giddy at the thought and the implications for their HR or TA team, I hope to resist our HR robot overlords as long as possible.

Oh sure, the necessity for machine intervention in a large enterprise makes sense; if you’re an HR shop dealing with tens of thousands of employees or a TA team handling tens of thousands of applicants per year, the amount of labor hours needed to handle that volume requires systems chugging away behind the scenes to manage the data, the flow and the processes. And, of course, not every employee wants to pick up the phone and talk to the HR Care Specialist (with a condescending attitude) sitting in her cubicle in the Acme Corporation’s Employee Care Shared Service Center (service hours 8 AM ET to 7 PM ET).  In many instances, employees do, indeed, want to self-solve and self-serve.

Yet…there’s also a deep down realization from more and more HR practitioners and recruiters that perhaps, just perhaps, we have started to over engineer our core HR services and processes. To wit:

  • Joe Candidate lands on company career site and, heeding a well placed “Call to Action,” signs up for a Talent Network/Talent Community/Job Notification email blast
  • Joe gets regular emails of “Jobs of Interest!!” and eventually applies for REQ 23-456-2016
  • Over the next week or so, Joe receives emails (programmed, of course, to go out during business hours so as to appear as if a human being is typing them from their keyboard in real time!) apprising him of where he is in the hiring process
  • Joe is invited to complete an online assessment
  • Joe, apparently having passed the assessment, is invited to complete a video interview
  • Joe is sent a link to read employee testimonials and view company produced (Employer Branding!!) content including “A Day in the Life” and “A View Inside Our Offices”
  • Joe continues to receive emails at well-timed intervals
  • Joe has yet to hear the real live human voice of a recruiter, recruiting coordinator or the hiring manager

Now I’m the first to admit that in organizations having voluminous applicant activity, this sort of thing is not only a blessed thing but also, if anyone is to make any headway, a necessity. Bear in mind as well that it’s been about 10 years since I worked for a large enterprise with 3,000+ open requisitions; I myself managed 150+ open reqs (don’t even ask) and would have loved a bit more snap, sizzle and automation in our processes. But…

…we’ve become so damn enamored of this sort of thing that we layer on new bells and whistles and work tirelessly to get our systems to talk to each other so we can set them up and keep our hands off the part of the process that drew most of us to this profession in the first place…talking to people. Human to human.

And this is not just on the recruiting side of the people business, although that’s where we tend to focus the conversation and energy. I’ve also seen this play out in the absolutely most mind-numbingly boring side of human resources…employee benefits. Many a US organization just went through the annual open enrollment period and, undoubtedly, relied on System A (online benefit administrator) to pull data feeds from System B (HRIS) while simultaneously interfacing with Systems C, D and E (benefit providers) all while employees, lost in the labyrinth of confusion, were provided with nothing more than an 800 number, a website, and a generic benefits@ABCCompany email address that is unattended and rarely monitored.

Where’s the human? Why do we consider this movement to a “set it and forget it” mindset to be evolutionary? The use of technology should enhance and amplify that which we can do as humans – not merely serve to replace it.

How, as we move into the future of HR, do we best balance high tech while ensuring we’re still high touch?

I’m not sure I have the answer.



HR and the Digital Bubble

old-typewriterI’m looking forward to attending the HR Technology Conference & Exposition (##HRTechConf) next week where, once again, I’ll be a member of the HR Tech Insiders team. This post, Digital Readiness and Matters of HR, originally appeared on the #HRTechConf site.

I’m an HR practitioner with technology needs (and dreams) for my organization. So next week, as I’m wandering the Expo Hall or chatting it up at an after-hours social event, I’ll be seeking information about innovative technology and finding out what problems the solution providers tell me they can solve.

But, and this is a big piece of what I try to accomplish each year, I’ll also aim to educate the vendors. I’ll make sure to share some real-world day-to-day true stories from the world of human resources with the sales guys, developers, and start up CEOs as we nibble on a canapé and sip a craft cocktail. I’ll explain to them what, precisely, HR professionals struggle with on a regular basis. I’ll show them pictures of the stacks of paper waiting to be filed (I literally have done this; find me and I’ll show you the picture on my phone) by my HR team.  Yup; HR is not all glamorous and sexy despite what many seem to think. (note: I even made myself laugh with that one).

I think these are important conversations to have. I’ve found that over the numerous years I’ve been chatting with tech creators they tend to develop and market their technology solutions from within a bubble; a bubble that encases San Francisco, NYC, London, Austin or whatever other ‘tech’ city in which they launched their startup.

Many of these guys and gals seem to think that every workforce is like theirs: a bunch of people sitting around using updated devices, hanging out on Slack and collaborating, working from home, and completing one-click pulse surveys to track their own engagement. Whenever I tell people that lots of HR teams are (believe it or not!) still sending and receiving faxes and posting paper notices on bulletin boards, they think I’m making it up.

I am not making it up.

There are challenges faced by numerous HR professionals (far more than the purveyors of products realize) who employ blue-collar (ugh how I hate that term), service, and entry-level workers.  Millions of people are employed in these jobs and millions more apply for these jobs; the wheels of commerce pivot on these jobs.  Yet many of these individuals are not, in 2016, in a state of digital readiness.

I interact with these candidates, job seekers, and employees every day.  They don’t have email addresses, they don’t have a computer at home or have broadband access, and, while they may have a smartphone, it’s primarily used for text messaging, taking pictures, chatting on Facebook, and playing Candy Crush.

That is real.

For many years we’ve talked about the “digital divide” which was our way of discussing access to digital technologies. While that is still part of the conversation, there is heightened awareness, as in this excellent article from the Pew Research Center, about the “digital readiness gap” – specifically how it relates to readiness for online learning.

Pew provides this operational definition of digital readiness:

  • Digital skills, that is, the skills necessary to initiate an online session, surf the internet and share content online.
  • Trust, that is, people’s beliefs about their capacity to determine the trustworthiness of information online and safeguard personal information.
  • These two factors express themselves in the third dimension of digital readiness, namely use – the degree to which people use digital tools in the course of carrying out online tasks.

There are employees and candidates who are unable to navigate using a keyboard and a mouse. There are candidates who don’t want to enter their social security number into your online reference checking system because they don’t trust your ability to safeguard their data (heck – they don’t even know you yet!). There are individuals who are unable to navigate to a website unless you specifically tell them “OK; now that I’ve gotten you to the internet you can type h-t-t-p…..”.  And this is not an age/generational thing in my experience; so don’t even go there.

The Pew study classified 5 distinct groups of users:

  • Digitally Ready (17% of adults) – confident in their online skill and have technology assets
  • Cautious Clickers (31%) – confident in their digital skills, nearly 90% have home broadband or a smartphone
  • The Reluctant (33%) – below average confidence with computers and electronic devices, relatively low levels of internet use for learning purposes
  • Traditional Learners (5%) – active learners but don’t use technology to do so, 74% of them need help getting new devices to work, and 90% say they worry about trust factors with online information
  • The Unprepared (14% of adults) – not confident in their digital skills, low level of tech assets.(this group is considered the most digitally wary as they rank low in all measures of skills, trust, and use).

I found this data fascinating – and realistic.

I dare say that many of the people I will speak to next week at the #HRTechConf will have the belief that all end-users are Digitally Ready and/or Cautious Clickers. Many of us out in the world of day-to-day human resources however have workforces and candidate pools made up of The Reluctant, Traditional Learners and The Unprepared.

It’s a conversation we need to have moving forward yet I also think there are two immediate action items:

  • It’s the responsibility of HR professionals to assist in moving people to digital readiness
  • It’s the responsibility of solution providers to seek a clear understanding of the entire labor market/workforce and, let me be frank, to minimize their condescension when talking about those who are not digitally ready.

It matters for HR.


Make sure to follow the hashtag #HRTechConf for all the news and announcements from Chicago. Still haven’t registered? Use Promo Code SCHOOL16 for a $200.00 discount off the current HR Tech rate.  Or, if you just want to spend some time in the Expo Hall, use the Promo Code EXPO75 to get a “One Day Expo Pass” for only $75 (this offer expires 10/1/16!)


Time for an Upgrade – the HR Technology Experience

coin-laundry-coin-slot-1-1I’m always somewhat amused when a new iPhone (or pick your device) comes out. As soon as the iPhone7 went on sale on September 16th my Facebook timeline was filled with status updates of “I’ve ordered mine!” and “my phone should be shipped by xx date!” The memes quickly followed. Headphone jacks? Anyone?

Pundits and bloggers in the tech world weighed in on the standard upgraded features any new release is expected to give us…thinner, faster, more battery life….you know the drill. (note: while the Schooling household phones are eligible for upgrade, we have, thus far, postponed any activity).

The fanfare. The lines at the stores. The delayed shipment dates. I have yet to speak with anyone in person about their new gadget; therefore I have zero insight on individual satisfaction levels.

It did get me thinking though, as I get ready to head off to the HR Technology Conference & Exposition (#HRTechConf) next week, about the ‘upgrade’ experience for the users of HR technology. And I mean all the users; HR staff and administrators, employees, managers, and candidates. What do they expect from a new system launch or upgrade? When we, as HR practitioners, select a new solution and subsequently go through the planning and implementation phase (whether that be a few months or a few years) are we really looking at the end result through the eyes of our users? The final, full-on, ‘let’s make this go-live” end result?

Quite often I think the answer is no.

When we’re working through the project, as we’re building codes and tables, and when we find ourselves knuckle-deep in migrating data from potentially disparate systems, we tend to focus on our back-end/HR-back-of-house improvements. It’s top of mind, naturally, for us to get excited about how the solution is improving our HR day-to-day; ease of use, reporting, and data integrity come to mind. Move me from four systems (with dozens hundreds of spreadsheet thrown in) that can’t talk-to-each-other to a platform with full connectivity and integration and I’m a happy HR gal. Right?

Oh sure, we may give cursory thought to our end-users, especially as we begin the communication phase and gear up for user adoption. “How we will get our team members to not only use this platform but also love this platform?” we ask ourselves. Well…hopefully we’re asking that question.

But I think the work around user adoption requires a couple key elements we, in HR, often neglect to think about:

  • Our users (employees, applicants, managers) want to replicate the type of experience they have with technology outside-of-work, and
  • Our users want access to all the features

At the end of the day our users aren’t comparing this “new” solution we roll out from the human resources department to the previous solution we’ve provided for them. “Hey wow! We now have electronic workflow approval to sign off on training requests!” (said no manager ever). Rather they’re comparing what we’re giving them to their personal experience and the expectations they have for interacting with technology outside-of-work.

Our average candidate, meanwhile, wonders “If I can apply for a mortgage with one click why in the hell can’t I apply for this damn job with one click?”

What do our system users want?

They want simple sign on, ease of use, instant upgrades and the ability to self-solve. They want to reset their own password and recover their own user ID and sign-in. They want, when they click on an embedded “how to video” link, to be able to watch the training video apparently embedded within.

Our fellow HR users (you know – the people on your HR team?) want access to report writing capabilities, our managers want access to the full manager self-service functionality, and our applicants want to be able to change or update their log-in information without having to track down a phone number in order to place a call (a phone call!) to the HR Department. (note: you may scoff; you mean to tell me HR teams buy these solutions and then keep these basic features turned-off? Yes; that’s exactly what I’m telling you).

Think about it…if you bought a new iPhone7 would you be satisfied with something sort-of easy to use? Somewhat useful? With partial functionality?

I didn’t think so. That’s the headphone jack of HR.


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