Springing Forward: Thoughts on IAMPHENOM 2020

Phenom People, a global HR technology company, recently hosted its third annual talent experience conference in Philadelphia, PA. Outside the venue, there were signs of change and growth that constantly reminded me that springtime is just around the corner; trees were budding, flowers were blooming, and birds were chirping.

Inside the venue, there was a similar sense of excitement and forward movement. With its purpose “to help a billion people find the right job,” Phenom has been on an upward spiral since it was founded nine years ago.

This year, Phenom hosted over 1,000 CHROs, talent leaders, and HR practitioners, which was double the number of attendees from last year. And its growth extends beyond the conference, with a $30 million boost from its latest venture capital round earlier this year, it recently hired around 250 employees increasing its workforce to just over 500 across the United States, the United Kingdom, Israel, India, and the Netherlands.

For Phenom, it all comes down to Talent Experience Management (TXM) with a focus to simplify, personalize, and scale four types of experiences (see Figure 1):

  • CX: Candidate Experience – includes touchpoints during the recruitment process
  • EX: Employee Experience –facilitates access to career paths and development opportunities
  • RX: Recruiter Experience – offers tools to recognize and engage potential candidates
  • MX: Manager Experience – provides visibility into relevant talent information and analytics
Figure 1: Phenom’s Opening Keynote by CEO and Co-Founder, Mahe Bayireddi

Now let’s dive more deeply into the four product announcements that Phenom shared at the conference:

  • Phenom Gigs
  • 1-to-1 Personalization
  • Frontline Hiring Manager
  • Phenom Scheduling

Phenom Gigs

Phenom Gigs is an internal talent marketplace (see screenshot in Figure 2).

Figure 2: Screenshot of Phenom Gigs

It uses artificial intelligence (AI) to match short-term projects to internal employees. This is Phenom’s answer to the subject of skilling (also known as re-skilling or up-skilling), and of course to other large players with similar offerings. It looks like Phenom Gigs benefits both managers by suggesting a potential resource to fill a project need, and their direct reports by linking them to projects to further expand their knowledge and skills.

Phenom Gigs reminds me of some of the common themes we heard in our learning tech ecosystems study on the importance of providing employees with choices to learn and develop that focus on building relevant skills. But like in other talent marketplaces, the sophistication of its AI capabilities – and the opportunity to develop lagging skills – remains to be seen.

I am particularly excited to see that Phenom is helping organizations think differently about their talent. Phenom Gigs offers them another way to fill project needs without having to look outside the organization. It also sends a compelling message to internal employees that the organization cares about their growth and development by providing them with learning opportunities.

1-to-1 Personalization

1-to-1 Personalization provides personalized recommendations to candidates on relevant jobs, benefits, and perks based on their unique profile and interests (see Figure 3).

Figure 3: Screenshot of Phenom’s 1-to-1 Personalization

Phenom calls this a “true” AI-based personalization because it delivers an individualized career site experience, which may be the first time a candidate encounters an organization’s brand. In our recent report on employee experience, we mentioned that employee experience is based on “employees’ collective perceptions of their ongoing interactions with the organization.”

Phenom recognizes that employees’ journey begins when they are candidates, which impacts their experience with the organization from the get-go. By personalizing recommendations to candidates, it gives potential future employees opportunities they may not have found or considered on their own. Like Steve Jobs used to say, “…people don’t know what they want until you show it to them,” and Phenom seems to be taking this to heart.

In my opinion, this feature is not only beneficial to organizations, but to candidates as well. Most of us have searched for a job at some point in our lives, and know how cumbersome the process can be at times. So any feature that promises to ease the pain associated with searching and applying to a job, may go a long way in providing a good first impression for candidates. As customers leverage this new feature, I’m curious to find out how many candidate leads get converted to actual hires because they found the job recommendations truly personalized to their background, interests, and needs.

Frontline Hiring Manager

Frontline Hiring Manager provides recruiters and frontline hiring managers at retail or franchise locations with access to Phenom TXM (see Figure 4).

Figure 4: Screenshot of Phenom’s Frontline Hiring Manager

Recruiters and frontline hiring managers can manage their own jobs, pipelines, and candidates. It also provides large organizations with a consistent brand messaging across locations. It basically streamlines the recruiting and hiring process at the local level.

This approach to empower managers aligns nicely with the tendency of forward-thinking organizations to foster a positive employee experience. I believe that granting TXM access to frontline hiring managers will enable them to make quick and efficient decisions. I can see how this particular feature can be attractive to those on the frontlines, especially in industries with a higher than average turnover rate and numerous positions to fill. It basically takes the middle-person out of the equation.

Though I wonder if frontline hiring managers may find it tedious as it is one more thing to add to their “to-do list.” So I look forward to seeing how many organizations use this feature, the overall adoption rate by frontline managers, and if there is a significant reduction in the time-to-hire of frontline workers.

Phenom Scheduling

Phenom Scheduling is a recruiter-initiated scheduling feature that is integrated with calendars and preferences (see Figure 5).

Figure 5: Screenshot of Phenom Scheduling

We all know how frustrating back and forth emails can be when trying to schedule a meeting. Phenom Scheduling allows candidates to self-select available time slots to schedule interviews. It integrates with most calendar systems: Google, Outlook, Microsoft Exchange, Office 365, and iCloud.

This seems like a commonsense offering to add to recruiting software. But you may be surprised to learn how many organizations and recruiters still use a standard way of scheduling interviews, and how much time and energy they waste in the process. So what seems like a simple recruiting feature can go a long way in providing a more positive candidate experience and recruiter experience in the often long recruitment journey.

In my opinion and to wrap this up, three overall themes stand-out from this year’s conference:

  • A focus on simple, yet meaningful features
  • An interest in scaling such features to key stakeholders during the talent acquisition process
  • A targeted effort to enable access to relevant information and empower decision-making

So with Phenom’s recent announcements, it looks like our clocks are not the only ones springing forward.

This blog is based on my attendance at IAMPHENOM 2020 on March 3-5. Phenom People paid for my airplane ticket and hotel room at the event. This blog represents my opinions and no one at Phenom reviewed or approved this content.

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