Chris Brablc is marketing manager for SmashFly Technologies, a Boston developer of human resources software. "We like to say we’re recruiting meets marketing," he says. We recently spoke with Brablc about everything from big data in HR to diversity in IT.

What are some HR processes you think could be automated better? And on the flip side, some people say that HR is getting too automated, to the extent that someone with perfect experience can end up getting rejected because they don't happen to hit the right keyword in their application and the system spits them out. What advice do you give to companies looking to hire technical people to ensure they get the skills they need without eliminating perfectly reasonable options?

Technology will help facilitate any strategy you’re doing. But the strategy comes first. You have to understand how you want to interact with candidates. Then finding the technology that will help you do that and will measure those processes becomes really important.

The organizations that find true value in automation are making sure their jobs are promoted to the right channels. When a new job requisition comes along, you automatically have that job for that discipline go out to certain channels they have already pre-identified. Knowing what types of candidates you’re looking to attract and distributing intelligently to sites they use is a good way to save recruiters time, instead of actually posting to all these sites. You can look at candidates and better screen all those candidates and find the best one.

You can also use a CRM system to inform candidates for future communications. Every month you’re going back to these candidates, letting them know about opportunities and events in the company so they know about it. Also, having that system in place means you can make sure communications are happening readily and consistently across the board.

You can’t automate everything, especially from a recruiting standpoint. You need one-on-one interaction. Automation should help you get to that goal, but it won’t totally fulfill everything you do for that function. For a lot of clients — especially for technical talent — the skills are so diverse that screening those people and evaluating them is a little tougher.

Companies are starting to build pipelines proactively before they hire those positions. Whenever they’re posting jobs, they capture people with those technical skills and put them into the pipeline with CRM so they engage with those folks and collect more information. So when the next job comes in, they have a new recruiting channel. It's through that process of consistently and proactively working with hard to fill positions that you provide value in terms of capturing more information.

How important is diversity in IT, and what are some good ways for improving it?

Diversity, in general, is good for the organization. Organizations are always looking for ways to attract more diverse candidates in all disciplines. Specifically in IT, especially with technical talent, the hardest and most hard-fought battle they have is attracting that talent. The big thing with that is making sure you really throw out a big web when you’re attracting talent. Make sure you’re having interactions with a wide range of people, learn more about them, create better relationships, and let them know the opportunities you’re looking for. Once you do that, it’s all about making sure you’re not only following compliance guidelines, but also able to attract and go through the people you’re engaged with, to ensure diversity is happening.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of hiring internally, externally, and overseas?

The most important thing is having a strategy in place, and understanding where all your assets are — who are the high achievers currently in the company — and understanding that from a pipelining perspective. What’s the next step for them? Cool companies are already doing that in the HR space.

Once you understand that, it’s about sourcing those candidates internally, promoting those jobs internally, and getting that going. The big advantage there is that those employees know the organization, they already have contacts. When problems arise, or they need to leverage assets, they know who to go to. If you’re promoting from within, it will most likely lead to happier employees, with capabilities to move up in the organization. The disadvantage is you get the groupthink scenario. You want new blood in an organization. There's only a limited supply of people internally to recruit to maintain the business going forward.

The biggest advantage in hiring externally is making sure you can bring in new skills, new mindsets, new experiences into the organization and leverage them in different ways once they’re in the organization doing work for you. The biggest disadvantage is having to onboard and get them up to speed, but in general there's a few more not good fits when you do hires that way. It's a necessary animal.

For overseas hiring, the big thing to understand is that it's a much different animal than hiring in the US. There are a lot of localized regions and different customs. It's not as simple as posting to a few boards. A lot of organizations are having good luck with regionalized teams in those areas who know the customs and how to find jobs. There's a learning curve of figuring out how to recruit in those regions and bring them in to the organization.

The big thing overall is making sure you’re measuring everything you’re doing and attracting these folks and bringing them into the organization. Take a step back and say, for everyone we hired or moved to a new position, what has the success been of that employee? What tools and channels are we using to attract these folks? How have we been spending our money and what has the success been? Understand all the levers you’re pulling from a requisition standpoint and be able to repeat them and hopefully improve.

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