The recruitment landscape has evolved rapidly in recent years. The process of attracting and hiring the talent that business needs has become ever more complex and multi-layered. Digital tools have enabled quicker and simpler applications – no longer dependant on time or location – and greatly increased the number of connections every job seeker has, putting them closer to recruiters and target companies. This raises applicant expectations for the recruitment process with new tools and technology speeding up the matching and selection.
Organisations can now be bolder and more targeted with their recruitment marketing, whilst the greater reach and visibility of information has created more transparency around the recruitment process. A company’s culture is exposed and this is becoming a selling point for potential employees. We now have access to a wider and more relevant range of data that helps to drive many hiring decisions. Many more recruiters work in-house, either as part of a broader HR team or closely aligned with it. Their major targets are to reduce both the time to hire and cost per hire which, given the increase in application numbers and selection tools, could help to create an instantaneous ‘swipe right, swipe left’ culture for CV matching.
So how has this impacted talent acquisition and what are the implications for the future?
We are all connected. Whether its through social networks, business relationships or previous interactions, there’s a likelihood that every business is already connected in some way to everyone they may ever need to hire. They have the networks and connections of current employees, alumni (a significant source of hire in the US) and their networks, suppliers and collaborators and their networks. There are also customers and clients, fans of the company Facebook page and followers of the company Twitter account. Previous job applicants who weren’t the right fit at the time may now have gained the necessary skills and experience.
The key is to understand these connections – where they are, their strength and relevance – how best to manage and leverage them, and assess cultural fit. This will require content to be produced – market intelligence and insights, product developments, ways to showcase the employee experience – and used by a recruitment team that understands marketing and the importance of culture.
The power of referrals is now better understood by organisations. There are platforms to help employees manage and keep in touch with their wider connections. Professional services firms offer large cash bonuses to their employees who can attract top talent to the firm from their own networks, whilst also finding ways to reward their internal influencers. For connections and networks to deliver real value then reputation and trust need to become part of the currency of recruiting, a form of ‘peer capital’. This will include recommendations from trusted sources and, for those who worked flexibly or across companies, a validated portfolio of projects and achievements.
Certification and validation have long been part of the service offering from third-party recruiters who, by using judgment and intuition, have selected the talent most suitable for the needs of their clients. However the make-up of the talent supply chain is fast changing as technology finds a new area to disrupt. For example, there are now apps connecting those looking for flexible work with companies who have on-demand staffing needs shaped by seasonal peaks and troughs. By matching on skills, availability and location this kind of hiring removes the need for interviewing – especially as the workers are pre-screened and checked. Meanwhile in Australia KPMG have a portal matching staff that have downtime between assignments with clients who need short term or interim accountancy help.
If talent is coming from a variety of sources, it is also being engaged in different ways. Whether as freelancers, flexible workers, or assignment and project collaborators, the talent pool is no longer just about current and future permanent employees, but reflects the wide range of skills, knowledge and expertise that can be called on at any time to supplement the capabilities of the current workforce. Many potential recruits coming across the radar of hiring companies may well have had a rich and varied mix of projects and assignments, not always gained from a permanent role.
Again it will be reputation and credible recommendations that recruiters will look for. Roles are evolving faster than many companies can develop their people – many of the positions to be filled in 2020 almost certainly don’t exist at present – so the ability to call on specialist skills at any time will be a crucial part of the recruiter’s toolkit for coping with urgent requirements. And in the evolving talent ecosystem that I’ve described the connections and knowledge networks of collaborators and freelancers are as important as everyone else’s. They are likely to be moving in and out of different organisations, building their capabilities, and will have worked with a wide range of talent.
Most of these shifts require a different approach to talent management so it’s no surprise to find that HR process is already evolving. Responsibility for personal, skill and career development now rests firmly with the individual employee and not the company or HR department. Performance and career management are no longer dealt with in annual appraisals nor based on school report style ratings; instead the current approach is for continuous dialogue between employee and manager, with flexible and transparent goals. At the same time development increasingly comes laterally through a range of projects and secondments, rather than through linear promotion. For staffing in 2020 this is likely to have created a blend of honed and skilled sector specialists alongside a broader range of multi-industry generalists.
In the future we will all be recruiters, and all be part of the solution. Our networks and spheres of influence will help attract new people and go some way to defining our importance to the organisation. The employment experience will be visible to outsiders through our personal experiences and how we share them. The organisation may ‘loan us’ to clients or collaborators who need short term help. And ultimately, we will be the ones responsible for developing our skills, increasing our knowledge base and acquiring and building on new experiences.
(This post was originally featured in a 2015 White Paper jointly produced by HR Zone and Cornerstone On Demand titled ‘Talent 2020 – What is the Future Talent Landscape’. You can download it here and read the other contributions from Rob Briner, Doug Shaw and Dr Tom Calvard)