The Future Of Recruiting Is An Internal Talent Consulting Group, As Technology Handles Daily Recruiting Tasks

As seen on ERE Media (May 8, 2017).

8 Things To Do When You Want Recruiting To Be More Strategic

The march of technology is already underway in recruiting. And that means that most day-to-day recruiting activities will become transactions, and that means that most sourcing, job matching, and candidate assessment will be taken over by technology and algorithms.

Many will fight the transition, but once technology dominates, recruiting leaders will have two choices. The first is to fade into oblivion, while the second more palatable one is to raise our game up a level. It’s quite common for other business functions that have their transactions automated to try to become more strategic by shifting to a higher level of work. And in recruiting that means we will transition into an internal talent consulting group that offers mostly strategic services. This internal Strategic Talent Consulting Group would provide advice to executives on long-term and proactive actions that would make a firm’s workforce more productive and innovative.

The Top 8 Strategic Talent Opportunities

The Strategic Talent Consulting Group will focus on forward-looking talent opportunities

Currently, almost everything that we do in recruiting is reactive. We spend most of our time as order takers who act only when a requisition is issued. However, any business function that wants to become more strategic already knows that strategic functions go beyond taking orders, and they proactively seek out forward-looking and “big picture” opportunities. As a result, some of the advice that will be offered to business executives in the talent area include things that are seldom actually implemented in today’s recruiting function.

  1. Identify “talent opportunity firms” — in a volatile business world, it makes sense to target firms that have great employees but that are, unfortunately, going through some turmoil. During business downturns, layoffs, and budget cuts, it makes perfect sense to cherry pick the very best talent. You need to identify the firms and the talent early on so that you can build a recruiting relationship before they enter the job search mode.
  2. Build a talent pipeline — rather than searching in a panic for talent to fill an immediate job opening, recruiting consultants will work with senior managers to ensure that a sufficient number of candidates are identified and pre-assessed over time, so there is sufficient time to sell them on your company.
  3. Advice on where the work should be placed — a strategic recruiting function would advise firms on the ideal locations to place facilities, based on the availability of talent with the right skills. By placing talent availability, skills, and costs in the equation, new facilities will be assured of a long-term supply of reasonably priced talent.
  4. When should work be done by humans or robots? — in the coming years, there will be more options for both hardware and software to take over human work. So in order to be strategic and neutral, consultants will need to be able to provide data-driven advice on when humans or robots are best able to do the work.
  5. Adopt extended recruiting approaches — recruiting searches usually last only as long as a requisition. However, there are cases where a firm should never give up on recruiting a critical individual. They should place a long-term “tractor beam” to slowly draw the individual into the firm. Using this approach, a strategic recruiting function would proactively identify these “most-wanted” and then start building a relationship with any high-value icons long before any requisition was issued. And they would continue “selling” the target for years if necessary until they were eventually hired. Obviously, when a talent consultant finds that a highly desirable recruiting target is suddenly available, they would alert the hiring manager about the talent opportunity. This more strategic longer-term continuous recruiting effort that transcends requisitions is representative of the future of recruiting.
  6. Identify your firm’s “farm teams” — one of the most effective long-term hiring strategies is to identify the firms in your industry that excel at finding and developing talent. These farm teams are usually a level or two below your firm in your industry so that individuals working there are from the very beginning interested in moving up to a firm at your level. By tracking their new hires, you can build a relationship and effectively poach when they have enough experience to join your organization.
  7. Help executives understand the importance of timing in recruiting — in most organizations managers hire whenever they are given a budget. A superior approach is to have consultants advise senior managers on the times when the supply of top talent is high and the competition for it is low. Consultants can also advise managers as to when your competitors are not hiring in each of the job families that you’re trying to fill.
  8. Workforce planning needs to be used for decision-making — everyone talks about the need for workforce planning, but the reality is that few actually use it to make recruiting decisions. With a data-driven approach, consultants can advise senior managers on when they can expect talent surpluses and shortages. As a result, managers might do some early hiring during the time periods when the supply exceeds the demand for talent.

Final Thoughts

It’s hard for any organization to shift from the reactive to the proactive, but if you want to be strategic, you really don’t have a choice. And with the push of technology to take over most of what current recruiters do, recruiting leaders will be forced by circumstances to change. However, the shift to becoming an effective internal consulting group will be difficult because that will require significant data, workforce planning, and consulting skills, often not present among today’s recruiters. So if I expected to have a long-term future in recruiting, I would begin personally working on those three critical skill areas.


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About Dr John Sullivan

Dr John Sullivan is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high business impact; strategic Talent Management solutions to large corporations.

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