Friday, May 20, 2005

Future of Recruiting

Best practices, strategy, key metrics, end result, objectives, key learnings….bla, bla, bla. Do you hear these terms often? If you haven’t then you probably don’t work in corporate America. How does this relate to the future of recruiting? It doesn’t. That’s the point. Sometimes the vocabulary that’s used to show our business smarts halts us from advancing the field.

I recently had the opportunity to facilitate a discussion with top-recruiting professionals from several world-class organizations. The discussion was supposed to be focused on best practices. Before we got into it I had made a decision not to go the route of best practices. Think about it. If we want to advance the field we have to do more than refine practices that haven’t changed for the past 100 years.

I pushed the group to go beyond everything we know and think about what they would do differently if resources and money were not an issue. To think about some of the changes we are seeing globally and what we should do now to address these. We put the business jargon aside and the conversation started to get interesting. Here are the “top 5” ideas this group discussed. Do them now if you dare.


1. Hire an on-line media expert. Let’s face it, the media landscape is changing dramatically. Part of our function is to disseminate the company brand to candidates. If we can’t master the new media then we will not have the ability to convey the brand to our target audience. Blogs, broadband, advanced search, wireless—these are all realities now. We need experts to get the word out on these various platforms and portals. We need the ability to target candidates using any device on any platform at anyplace during anytime!

2. Applicant Tracking Systems Move to Candidate Tracking Systems. Think about this. It’s ludicrous that we think in terms of applicant tracking. Applicants imply they are already in our system and are interested. We all know the majority of what we do is to go out and find the candidate. So why not have a system that goes beyond tracking what comes in. We need a system that reaches out and grabs the candidate.

Why don’t ATS’s implement a sales approach? Let’s say you research a competitor of yours. You find a name on their website and call them. They say no but call me back in a month. Your system should have a sales methodology that allows you to track, monitor and close on a lead even if it takes years to get them!

3. Bigger is Better? It’s amazing that we are still running recruiting departments like we are in the industrial revolution. We ALWAYS hear that we don’t have the right candidates at the right time in the right place. Okay-maybe not always but you catch the drift. Take my organization for example. We are a 600 person PR agency and we have a research team that supports our main operational function. This is a team of 30 people. Our recruiting team has 8 people supporting the same group. 30 people providing research and 8 people providing talent. Research is predictable. Talent is fluid, moving, changing, deciding, contemplating, and emotional. Does this make sense?

Knowing that talent is, and will increasingly be, the differentiator of business in the future, why, why, why do recruiting functions continue to operate on the notion of more for less. Technology may help offset this but it’s not going to close the deal on an executive candidate with three offers on the table. Technology isn’t going to help someone decide whether or not to relocate his or her family across the country. We got to go beyond building staffing teams on a bulimic model.

4. Build a Global Network. It’s obvious that not all companies have operations in other parts of the world but eventually this may be a reality for even mid and small size businesses. With the labor shortages imminent and the globalization coming to a head we discussed building a global network of recruiters. Find out how recruiting is done is various parts of the world, who is doing it, and start building relationships with them. When the time comes to start recruiting in these areas you will be one step ahead of the rest. Third world countries, like China, are doubling and tripling the amount of PhD’s they are churning out of their educational system. These PhD’s may not be at the same standard as US degrees yet but having numbers of PhD’s is good and we need to be prepared to tap into these candidate pools.

5. Corporations build Universities. There were a number of healthcare and mechanical trade recruiters at our discussion that said there is a major shortage of people in these areas. Both industries pay well but you don’t have many people entering the workforce and there are many capable people out there that just don’t have the technical training or skills. These are industries that are contemplating how to build their future workforce outside of the standard educational system. Other industries already get this. There was a recruitment representative from one of the Big 5 consulting firms that said they do this now. They have an internal university to churns out top consultants. Why aren’t other industries like the trades and healthcare following suit?

It’s not enough to look at best practices in HR and recruitment. We need to go beyond this and look at completely changing the —(sorry, used corporate jargon again). Let me state it differently. We need to not let past behaviors alone be the guild for our future. The industry needs to be flipped on its head and pushed into the new millennium. Cheers to all the brave recruiting professionals out there that are bold enough to take on the challenges ahead.

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