On the Floor at SHRM Las Vegas: What Vendors are Saying and Doing

There’s always a lot going on in the Exhibit Hall at the SHRM Annual Conference. Here’s so me of what I heard, saw, and found talking to sellers of human resources products Monday at SHRM 2011 in Las Vegas.

Peoplefluent’s iPad products for managers and HR

Peopleclick, now Peoplefluent, is releasing a set of iPad-friendly products for managers, executives, and HR professionals, a product line it calls a “truly natural, social, and emotional experience.” In other words, boomerang CEO Charles Jones tells me, these apps are fun. A description of the products are available online. Several of the company’s customers, such as Citrix, tested the product, and I’ve taken a look at them.

Fun is right. Imagine a baseball card but much more dimensional: that’s what you find about an employee using the new iPad program. Swipe a person’s photo and it calls up data like whether they’re a “flight risk”; their potential; or the impact of them leaving. You can sort, too – if you want to show all the profiles of your high-turnover-risk employees, for example.

The product isn’t really out until September. That’s roughly when Halogen will sell its new applicant tracking system, unveiled today, and perhaps ready before its Atlanta user conference this fall. Halogen’s known for performance management, but has been building out (organically, unlike many competitors, which have been growing through acquisition) a suite of services like onboarding, learning, compensation, and succession planning. The recruiting system is available next month, but a video explaining it is up now. Current performance management customers will likely get it free over the next year.

Glassdoor getting traction on employer job pages

Looking back over the last year, I said last summer that Glassdoor started selling pages for employers to play up their workplaces and their jobs, pages, going for around $500 – $800 per month. CEO Robert Hohman tells me Glassdoor now has 200 clients paying for pages.

I also said that Glassdoor, a year ago, had 2 million to 3 million visitors per month, growing 15-20 percent monthly. Half the users had zero to five years’ experience. Now, it has 5 million unique visitors a month, still young, many very educated, with about 90 percent graduated college and 27 percent having postgraduate degrees.

Monday I asked Hohman how employers have time to manage the growing number of sites that involve employer branding pages — Facebook, their career site, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and so on. He said it’s a legitimate question, but that his pages don’t take a ton of time, and partly involve just pulling in information from elsewhere.

Hohman was actually one of the people who started Expedia in the mid-1990s. He thought he was building a huge e-commerce site, a place for transactions, but later realized he was creating a transparency site, a place where people felt good about knowing what hotels in their destination of choice were going for, removing the shopping mystery, frustration, and the necessity of calling one by one. That transparency, he says, is the gist behind Glassdoor.

Keep your eyes open for about a month from now, when Hohman says “you’ll see us move more aggressively into social media.”

CareerArc making its move

Speaking of aggressive movers: If you haven’t heard of the CareerArc Group, you’re not alone, but don’t think that means it’s a low-profile outfit. Its internships.com site was involved in the Charlie Sheen intern posting, which was a traffic bonanza. It later bought Tweetmyjobs. It also has CareerAmp, which competes in the Branchout/BeKnown find-an-employee-through-Facebook genre. CareerAmp is pulling jobs from the CareerArc system, as opposed to just jobs in general, which it automatically checks every two hours to make sure there aren’t any dead links.

CareerArc CEO Robin D. Richards has built and sold five companies before going into online recruiting technology, a field he felt hadn’t changed much in the last decade and a half. He’s invested $20 million in CareerArc, and he says it’s paying off.

“Our business is going crazy,” he says. In about a week, it’ll release an iPhone/Droid application, about 18 months in the making, that’ll use augmented reality to show what jobs are available to someone as they walk down the street. Walk your dog up to the local Petco, and as you near the Petco it’ll list the open jobs at that organization. Same goes for Starbucks or the National Security Agency, with the latter admittedly an unlikely place to stroll with Fido.

Looking globally

Alexander Mann Solutions, a recruiting outsourcer and consulting company, says AsiaPac is “huge,” and Martin Cerullo, a key managing director at the firm, recently relocated from London to Hong Kong. Brazil is an increasingly strong market — “the India of Latin America,” says Alexander Mann’s Lisa Chartier.

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Many companies tell me that Europe is, uh, mature, as in, not so hot. Though Taleo’s James Harvey, for one, notes that the “lifetime employment contract is breaking down” in Europe, the free agent market growing and talent moving more fluidly.

Saba, a company that makes technology used to manage training, has opened up a sales office in China, and says Latin America is hot.

For Adecco, Brazil, India, and China are strong. In the U.S., engineering, healthcare, finance, and sales positions are a hotspot. Joyce Russell, the president of Adecco Staffing USA says she is “pretty fired up” about this whole SHRM show so far. People aren’t just coming by her booth asking about buying Adecco services. They’re putting in orders right here and now.

Russell says more than any time in decades, she’s being asked strategic questions. Normally the “s word” would induce vomiting in this author, but Russell gave two great examples.

One’s a company who called her because it’s having trouble finding enough machinists in Illinois. In about 24 hours, she got back to them with a labor market analysis showing they may want to look at putting a plant in South Carolina.

Another example is a call center company, calling her to see where they should locate a call center, based on the available population. She’s getting back to them soon. Strategic indeed.

And one more thing …

My colleague Lance Haun reports that Lexis/Nexis’ employee screening division’s demoed their mobile product they released while at conference. It allows their customers to track the status of and communicate with candidates in the screening process while on the go. The application is web based instead of app based (making it compatible with most modern smartphones) and they are working on making it compatible with older devices as well.

Lance says, “I’ll be interested in seeing how current customers use the tool and if it catches on. I know many people are leery about using a mobile app with background screening.”