Web technology and the way it is used has certainly evolved over the last few years, and each evolution has brought about new tools and techniques relevant to recruiters. These evolutions have popularly been called Web 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0 in the media.
First there was Web 1.0
Although never really used to describe the web at the time, this is the term now used for basic websites that provide a limited or static user experience. This term would be used to describe the simple "shop front" websites of the past. Of course e-commerce was the main area of explosion that saw the web first used in a commercial manner. This then evolved to include sites such as ebay for online auctioning. It also included the first wave of Job Boards such as Monster and Hot Jobs.
Then there was Web 2.0
As technology evolved, websites were able to provide a richer and more interactive user experience. Web 2.0 has been used to describe this web phenomenon. Examples include social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace, which allowed users to create their own profiles, share files and interact with each other on a larger scale. YouTube allowed people to publish their own media content, blogging enabled the average net user to become a home journalist and Wikipedia has enabled the net community to develop the most comprehensive encyclopaedia ever created.
On a more technical level, the technology that provides the back bone to many websites in this era enabled web pages to update content more smoothly and without refreshing pages. In summary, if Web 2.0 has stood for anything it is the creation and sharing of information delivered via the web.
Where are we now... Web 3.0?
Web 3.0 is by no means a comprehensive or indeed final definition, and is currently used to include future evolution as well. In many ways it is really a marketing term like Web 2.0 was, rather than any specific technology and can mean different things to different organisations. Many of the ideas and technologies have been around since Web 1.0 but are now becoming more prevalent. Technology has now moved on enough to provide a much richer user experience with entire software applications capable of running online. The term Web 3.0 really describes the current evolutionary stage of the web and takes on many forms, from artificially intelligent applications predicting future trends to innovative web services with profitable business models, and entire 3 dimensional virtual worlds that allow people to interact with each such as the game Second Life.
The one main concept with Web 3.0 is "the data web" or "semantic web", which in principle involves making structured data available on the Internet. Existing web pages are designed to be read by humans not machines i.e. a human can search the web for a digital camera that is cheap and offers certain features, whereas a computer would struggle to do this. As technology evolves however, an intelligent piece of software (or spider) will be able to perform these tasks for you. RSS feeds and data sharing will also continue to evolve and play a major part, as will recent concepts such as micro blogging i.e. blogging from your mobile phone. You may take a picture on holiday which will automatically be uploaded to your blog and be GPS (global positioning) tagged so you know where you were when you took it.
Business applications which previously needed to be 'purchased and installed' can now, be easily accessed through your web browser. Essentially, more and more niche web services are emerging that can all share and access a central pool or "cloud" of data. This has largely been facilitated with web standards such as XML and in particular HR-XML for the recruitment industry.
What does this mean for HR and recruitment?
Some web based software and recruitment systems have already made use of Web 3.0 concepts but as this evolutionary stage develops, the web based systems will be perfectly poised to make use of and link dynamically with new services. It takes a web system which is flexible and reactive to be able to take advantage of new trends and utilise new technologies.
Web based systems can also form a solid basis to help implement and deliver new features, i.e. allowing access via mobile devices or creating web services that share and distribute data. eploy®, for example has been built right from the start as a true browser system and is already making use of many of these concepts. As eploy® provides a central recruitment system, it essentially brings all parties involved in the recruitment process together by allowing them to perform their individual tasks from their own part of the recruitment process.
By creating a central career portal, organisations can provide a variety of niche web services to coordinate the different users involved in the recruitment process. For example, candidates can make use of online registration (as they have for many years now) and applying for jobs. But this is now evolving further with candidates having access to resources such as diaries to arrange their own interview times, being able to track the status of their application, have access to timesheets, recruitment resources and advice. They can also be psychometrically tested during their application process. Hiring managers can now have access to create new requirements and participate in the short listing process. Agencies that form part of a PSL can also have access to submit candidates and manage contract and temporary workers. This is a great example of how Web 3.0 concepts can really help coordinate the various parties involved.
The Mobile Web
Recent advancements in handset design and web technology have increased the use of mobile phones and devices to access the web. This enables both candidates and hiring managers to have access to these services from any location. This is becoming especially popular with candidates accessing special mobile pages to search and apply for jobs, or simply register their interest with a particular company.
RSS feeds enable you to keep passive candidates aware of job opportunities, while automated SMS services facilitate a range of pro-active communications including text registrations and interview reminders for example.
eploy® also integrates with a multitude of other Web Services to provide an even richer user experience, such as Job Boards, Social Networking Sites and CV Libraries, giving users the ability to post jobs out to the net instantly and have access to hundreds of thousands of CVs. This demonstrates how Web 3.0 has enabled different web services to coordinate and make use of each other's functionality.