Tag Archives: Technology

Vendors: Why Your Customers Hate You

Last week I was talking with a friend who is the Director of HR for an eleven million dollar company. They are trying to find an applicant tracking system to replace their current solution, and he asked me for some advice on where to start his search. He spent several hours looking around the web, scouring Google, and checking in with friends (hence the call to me). After all of that searching, all he had was a headache from the various frustrations he met during his search. While the experiment is quite informal, I think it’s an interesting peek into the mind of your average customer.

Why he’s changing platforms

He has been really happy with the applicant tracking system his company is using, but they have slowly started “premiumizing” the basic features he has come to rely on to get his daily work done. Bit by bit it was an acceptable nuisance because the basic price fit his budget and it was a tool the company had used for three years successfully.

We all know the truth, though. Businesses change. Products change. That’s part of life.

However, the new pricing model is built not on how much the system is used from a recruiting standpoint (number of applicants, job postings, recruiters, etc.), but on how many employees the company has. My friend is having trouble making sense of why that is the driving factor of the price when it isn’t relevant to the duties of a recruiter.

To be blunt, he feels slighted by the company that he has put his credibility on the line for, because he now has to request additional funds to purchase another system, train hiring managers to use it, and find out how to import legacy data into the platform.

I’m certain the new prices are going to fit some customers well, but it isn’t something that he can fit into his budget, so he’s on the hunt.

Lack of pricing information

Like pretty much every business decision, one of the initial hurdles is budget-based. In other words, can we afford it? However, even a simple question like that is virtually impossible to answer in a cursory review of some of the applicant tracking websites out there. Here are some of the questions that surfaced:

  • So how is this pricing model determined again?
  • How much will it actually cost? Is there a setup fee? What’s the annual cost? Is there a discount?
  • The website says “free trial,” but I have to give them a credit card number to test it out—I don’t know if I trust them enough to give them that information just yet.

Lack of feature description

The next priority is feature set. Will this do what we need it to do?

  • The website doesn’t have any screenshots. I need to see the user interface to see if it’s going to be intuitive for the recruiting team, hiring managers, and candidates.
  • It lists a key feature I need, but it doesn’t tell me what tiers the feature is available for.
  • I’d really like to see a demo or video tutorial, but all of that stuff is locked behind a sales rep. I don’t want to get on someone’s telemarketing list—I just want to look at the application.

Do your potential customers a favor

Have someone who is unfamiliar with your product visit your site and the sites of two or three of your competitors. They need to be looking for standard information: pricing, features, etc.

Without prompting or leading them, allow them to try and see how quickly they can find the information they are seeking and track how long it takes to do that.

If they have trouble finding the information, then a change might be necessary. Don’t do it for me–do it for your customers.

Republic Wireless: I’m a Convert

Today I’m doing the raving fan thing and bragging on my new cell provider. I love these guys and have been recommending them to people around me for weeks!

I just passed one month with Republic Wireless, and I’m definitely a convert. When I left Pinnacle to join the Brandon Hall Group recently I had to transition to a new phone. My wife was with Verizon and I was with T-Mobile for work, and I knew two things:

  1. T-Mobile coverage is awful where I live
  2. Verizon is entirely republic wireless logotoo expensive

So I started looking at other providers and found Republic Wireless.

The company offers an amazing price (my plan is $25/mo), unlimited talk/text/data, and the service is pretty darn good where I live/work. Win-win-win!

How it works

  • Republic uses the Sprint network to provide cell coverage, but you never actually interact with Sprint. It’s seamless.
  • The phones Republic offers are hybrid phones: they can use wifi for texts and calls. That allows them to keep costs down.
  • No contracts or bait and switch pricing. The phone is yours.
  • They have 4 simple to understand plans. No tricky options or other gimmicks.
  • You buy a phone. You pick a plan. You smile as you cut off your gigantic cell phone bill.

My favorite features

  • The Moto X is an excellent phone. Easily the best phone I’ve ever owned.
  • Change plans up to twice a month with no penalties. For instance, while at the SHRM conference in Orlando I was able to upgrade to the 4G plan to ensure I had the best/fastest service possible. Now that I’m home I changed it back to my regular 3G plan. I’ll be charged the 4G rate only for the days I had the service active.
  • Wifi calling! I work a few days a week from a small office near my home. Signal is spotty in the building, but I’ve held calls on wifi up to 30 minutes without issue.
  • My wife has the less expensive Moto G and likes it. She is more of a casual user, so we settled on that one and dropped her old $100 a month plan for the $25 Republic option.

As I said, I’m a convert and would encourage you to check them out if you are paying an arm and a leg for your cell service. Any questions? :-)

Hey, We’re High Tech, Too!

When I tell people I work in Huntsville, I usually get a glassy-eyed stare in return. I mean, really, I work in Alabama. How great could that really be, right? Cotton fields… Relatively low population density… Who cares? :-)

madison countyThe other day I ran across this study and wanted to share. Just click on the image to view it larger. The gist of it is that the top three fastest growing technology jobs areas are all centered right in Silicon Valley. No big surprise, right? But number four on the list is my own hometown of Huntsville! Pretty cool to see.

With the concentration of NASA, Redstone Arsenal, and the various other government contracting firms in the area, we are not what people think about when they think of Alabama.

In a 2011 study, Huntsville came in as the “4th geekiest city in the US” based on the number of math/science-based jobs and the average educational level of the people in the city.

What’s the point?

I’m using a familiar place to illustrate the example, but I get a few key lessons from this kind of thing.

  1. Don’t assume you know everything about a place unless you’re familiar with it. I live just outside Huntsville and didn’t even know this stuff until recently. 
  2. Know the place you’re recruiting for, because it helps when you have to relocate someone to the local area. Some people are drawn to cities with more people, others prefer a more rural existence (rural recruiting), and some don’t much care either way. 
  3. Now I have an idea of why it’s hard to find good engineering talent when we have openings. Lots of competition!

Have you ever been surprised by a place you had to recruit for?

5 IFTTT Recipes for Recruiters

There are new tools released every day that make our lives more complex, but I’ve been looking at IFTTT lately, and it’s all about making life simpler.

IFTTT stands for “if this, then that.” It’s an online tool that looks for an “if” and then takes a “then” action. The most common examples you might be familiar with are Outlook inbox rules. For example, IF that creepy coworker sends an email to you, THEN it gets marked as “trash.” Or IF your boss sends you an email, THEN your rule marks it with a flag to follow up.

IFTTT does that on a bigger scale. For instance, it can monitor your email account. If you receive an email with an attachment, it can automatically download the attachment to your Dropbox folder to save it.

Or even simpler-you can set it to monitor the weather and send you a text message if it is raining/snowing so you don’t forget your umbrella. Or maybe you get an email from your best friend, and it sends you a text message alert as a heads up. There are hundreds of ideas for rules (or “recipes,” as they like to call them), and the only limit is your imagination.

iftttHere are 5 IFTTT recipes I think recruiters could use

  1. share relevant blog feeds on Linkedin using a Feedly category (link)
  2. send yourself an email whenever someone posts a job or resume on Craigslist (link)
  3. dictate a voice memo and email transcription and mp3 file to yourself (link)
  4. use Google calendar to schedule content for your recruiting/careers page on Facebook (link)
  5. send a text message that calls your phone (for those times when you’re stuck with that candidate who just won’t stop talking despite all of your nonverbal cues) (link)

More ideas for IFTTT recipes from around the Web

Technology-Easier Than It Looks

Technology... Could it really be this easy?Recently I was working with a friend to figure out an easy (free) way for her to create a place for her coworkers to share documents and connect with each other from remote locations. The half an hour we spent setting up the site showed me just how easy it is to collaborate with coworkers using free and readily available tools.

There really isn\’t any reason not to do it, but you\’ll still get some pushback in several ways.

Too Technical

With thirty minutes of training, I can get someone up and running with a basic understanding of a WordPress (my preferred web software) site. And that\’s for the administrator. Users can usually handle the interface with relatively few problems. These things have been developed by people much smarter than me to be used by people who are beginners in the technology area.

Too Expensive

In the aforementioned solution, I incorporated two tools that I also personally use on a daily basis: WordPress and Gmail. These two highly capable pieces of software come at the steep price of zero, and they\’re not alone. With the extensive availability of free options, there are more useful tools than ever available at no cost (and little risk).

Too Time-Consuming

I\’ll admit that I\’m a geek. But like I said before, I can teach someone the basics of one of these things in under an hour. If you invest that time block in learning to use a new technology instead of chatting at the water cooler, you might be surprised at how much benefit you get from the experience.

You have to be willing to learn.

As you can see, it\’s really not too difficult to handle. You have to be willing to learn, but if you are, I\’m sure there\’s someone around you who can teach you the basics of one of these tools. And if there\’s not someone nearby, there’s no harm in trying to go it alone. I\’ve done some of my best learning by trying and failing half a dozen times, and that type of experience leaves you with a better understanding overall, too. And if worse comes to worse, just let me know if I can help in some way.

Are you one of those people who has one of these three issues with technology?

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Why You Need HRevolution

Check out the quotes below. All of them have come from conversations I’ve had recently with HR professionals in my local area.

  • I’d love to learn more about social media and technology, but I’m just too swamped at work.
  • We’ve wanted to start a blog for some time now, but we just weren’t sure how to get started.
  • There is so much communication lacking in our organization. Nobody knows what the heck is going on.

Technology is changing our lives. It can make you more productive, effective, and intelligent–if you are willing and able to use it.

Want to learn how? Sign up to attend the HRevolution event now!

Having trouble communicating across a far-flung organization? There’s something for that. Difficulties with people sending mass emails to those who really don’t even need to see them? There’s something for that. Want to get out of your little box and actually interact with the employees under you? Yes, there’s something for that, too. But if you spend all of your time just trying to stay afloat in the paperwork and policy manuals, you’ll never be able to break the cycle. I guess you’re just stuck, right?

Not really. That’s why you (and so many others in your exact same situation) need HRevolution. It’s going to be fun. It’s going to be a learning experience. It’s going to be a networking event on steroids.

You need an HRevolution.

You need an HRevolution.

Squeeze the Network

When I have a tough question that can’t be answered by someone nearby, I turn to my network, and it’s come through for me so many times. Technology increases the size of that network tenfold.

Thrive on Challenge

If you start delving into technology and social media, the rest of your HR department might think you’re a bit crazy. Don’t try to convert them all at once. Pick one person who is most favorable to technology use and help him/her with a problem by using technology or social media. Focus on turning that one person into a champion for your cause, and they will go out and promote the idea for you!

In that vein, I’ve been working closely with a coworker on a few projects. When he learned of the pending HRevolution, he was ecstatic. Want the input of someone from outside the organizing committee? Here’s what he had to say:

I am looking forward to attending the HRevolution conference. There is great benefit to exploring social media, blogging and the value it can add to our organizations. I believe that HRevolution will help bring focus to like-minded HR professionals that are looking to modernize their organizations and potentially revolutionize their HR departments.


Reignite that Spark

I talk to a lot of HR professionals. Many are burned out and tired of the “same old thing.” While not all have turned into curmudgeons yet, there are quite a few who need a spark of creativity. They need someone to push them to grow continually. Maybe it’s you? If so, there’s no better cure than learning new and exciting ways to accomplish your goals.

What if your company had a tool that let it communicate with its employees? And what if they got to communicate back? What if you want to get your own voice out there, but you don’t know how to start your own website or don’t have time to figure out how to set up a blog? Sound interesting? Want to know more?

Then take a stand. Let your voice be heard. Join the HRevolution.

HRevolution logo (and the flattering quote) courtesy of Allen Robinson (@logicwriter), as cool of an HR cat as they come.