The latest edition of Israel's largest recruiting conference didn't disappoint.
Special thanks to HRD CEO Yakov Rozen for his personal invitation to the conference, which took place on Tuesday Feb. 18th, 2014.
I've blogged about HRD's Kenes Giyus before. It's the biggest and best gathering of Israeli recruiters and HR pros with over 400 attendees from across the country. It's a full day of keynotes and workshops, personal networking and sponsor pitches, special guests from abroad and great local food, and I already look forward to returning next year.
After a full day at the event, here's what's hot in Israeli recruiting this year and what it means for you.
More and more recruiting practices that have become popular in the States are being adopted here as well, and not just by local branches of US-based corporations like Google or Coca Cola. You might even go as far as saying that the conference is an easy way to make sure all the locals are on the same page about what's happening abroad.
Job seeker takeaway: all the more reason to do your homework about what works for a given company. For example, while companies may expect you to have a LinkedIn profile nowadays, the way you describe your achievements could be Israeli-style bullet points.
It's been a few years since the Israeli government recognized the need for special programs (Hebrew) to encourage hiring from populations that historically have a low workforce participation rate (Arabs, Ultra-Orthodox Jews, people with disabilities and single parents) or that otherwise need a leg up (new immigrants, Ethiopians, people in the periphery).
How to hire and succeed with these populations has been a regular topic at the Kenes Giyus in the past. Although it wasn't this year, it was heavily discussed in the informal networking sessions, which was good to hear.
Job seeker takeaway: if you're a member of one of these populations, seek out the extra help and support you have coming to you. For example, I met with a rep. from conference sponsor Tech-Career, a non-profit ‘Technology Training Center for Ethiopian Israelis.'
Social media recruiting
Covered by a few speakers at the event, recruiting via LinkedIn and Facebook in particular has gone mainstream in Israel. Companies are learning that each network has its recruiting advantages and disadvantages. LinkedIn has become a regular hangout for many recruiters, just like abroad, while LinkedIn Groups and Facebook Pages make it easy and cheap to spread job openings quickly while responding to candidate questions.
Job seeker takeaway: have a strong LinkedIn profile and meet recruiters where they hangout. Be active in company LinkedIn groups and/or Facebook pages where relevant.
Whether it was from relevant sponsors on stage or from HR reps in conversation, the companies who are actively using friend referral programs (called חבר מביא חבר or ‘friend-brings-a-friend') internally were only too happy to rave about lower recruiting costs and faster hires. Although far from being a new concept in Israel, you can sense that a big push has happened because a number of Israeli startups have created software that makes these programs more fun and interactive, ‘gamifying' them.
Job seeker takeaway: one interesting insight from on stage was that %40 of their referral hires were via former employees who left the company but remained in their refer-a-friend program. And former employees are usually more willing to talk freely about a company since they have little to lose now that they're on the outside. So, seek out former employees when targeting companies; they can pass on your CV and advise you about getting hired there.
Diversification of recruiting sources
In the not-too-distant past, depending on the industry and role, jobs were often filled through connections, job boards and placement agencies or headhunters. Those are all still being used, but now you also have sourcing, social media, refer-a-friend programs, and more. The leading companies have figured out which techniques work best for each type of employee and are using more sophisticated, combined strategies for their hiring needs.
Job seeker takeaway: again, do your homework. Learn which media a company used to find a hire similar to you, and then aim for it.
I wonder how many placement agencies have closed in the past few years. There used to be so many. Now they appear overpriced and inconsistent. The ones who will survive are the top performers and the most specialized, as companies are learning cheaper and seemingly better ways of finding good candidates while keeping everything internal.
Job seeker takeaway: unless a given placement agency is clearly still succeeding in your industry, don't waste your time.
Local recruiting software
Actually, ATSes (Applicant Tracking Systems) are still very popular among larger HR departments. But after speaking with reps from two of the leading providers, they clearly need to modernize. They both confirmed that their systems' strengths are in scanning resume texts and extracting keyword phrases, which is what ATSes have been doing for years. Yet, both still can't handle pictures, multimedia, QR codes or links, nor can they scan information from people's LinkedIn profiles or personal websites. In other words, they're not providing recruiters with complete information about candidates and their abilities.
Job seeker takeaway: if you research a company well enough, you may be able to find them on a list of clients for a given ATS company. If that's the case, you could take the time to read up on the ATS to understand whether your CV may have any issues being scanned, but it would just be easier to play it safe by only submitting one page CVs, text only, in Word or PDF format.
Up and coming
Employer branding & employee brand ambassadors
After so many great stories of what it's like to work there, Google seems to attract more wannabe employees than anyone. This strong employer branding is something that few Israeli companies do well (Intel Israel is one of the few) and you can expect to see more companies get into the game. One of the best ways to do that is for a company to get all its employees to act as brand ambassadors, attracting candidates with the supposed quality of the hiring company and its staff.
Job seeker takeaway: it's hard to be an authentic brand ambassador if you hate working for your company. I would hope that companies aiming to make their employees such ambassadors would also be companies that do what they can to make their employees happy i.e. they're great places to work. With that in mind, target companies who are clearly making efforts to build their employer brand.
Competition to hire the best is fierce and getting more so. Companies have started to realize that they need to take a long term view by networking with potential candidates before hiring them. And a great way to do that is to host online meeting places around company-relevant professions and topics, building communities of people that the company can get familiar with. Such talent communities – a Facebook page, a discussion forum, a company blog – let participants build their personal brands in the eyes of the company while letting the company build its employer brand in the eyes of all the participants.
Job seeker takeaway: whether you're employed or not, if there's a company you might want to work for eventually, take a few minutes to see if they're building any talent communities and if so, make it a habit to be a regular visitor and contributor.
When HRD's CEO Yakov Rozen asked the audience to raise their hands if their websites were mobile-optimized, only about 15 people responded out of 400(!). Yet, a long scan of the room revealed that most people seemed to have smartphones (and were checking them regularly, as you can see here at right). With that discrepancy, it was easy for him to justify why companies have a lot to do if they want to attract the best candidates moving forward. If you want people to apply, make it as easy as possible- something they can do from anywhere, asap.
Job seeker takeaway: 6 Reasons You Need A Smartphone To Job Search