Recruiting Dropped From Second To Eighth On HR’s Priority List – So Focus On Increasing Your Job Security

With this painfully low priority ranking now is the time to build your job security as a recruiter

Yes, after years of literally being number 1 or 2 on the list of CEO/executive concerns. It’s now, unfortunately, true that a recent survey revealed that HR leaders have dropped recruiting down to a painfully low number eight. On their list of HR priorities for 2023 (retention remains at #1). And this lower priority, along with the current and upcoming waves of dramatic cost reductions and cuts in recruiting. It should be obvious to everyone in senior management, HR, and to all recruiters. This new low priority will mean that the recruiting function will soon face traumatic resource and recruiter headcount reductions.

So with these looming cutbacks in mind. I am providing this latest update of my ongoing “How to increase your job security as a recruiter” action checklist. Along with it, I am suggesting that now is the opportune time for the smartest individual recruiters to become somewhat selfish. And to begin strengthening their image, recruiting capabilities, and results. So that when the inevitable recruiting cutbacks come to your organization. Your job will be more secure because you have already been recognized by the head of recruiting as “an essential recruiter.” There are three distinct action areas in which an individual recruiter can earn the right to be the last recruiter standing.

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Action Area #1 – Show That You Are Currently A Top-Performing Recruiter

It makes sense to bolster your own personal internal brand. And to increase the visibility of your results with both powerful hiring managers and the head of recruiting. So that when budgets and recruiters are cut, your job will be secure because you have already been labeled and recognized as essential.” The top nine proactive action steps that will best help you to become labeled as a top-performing recruiter are listed in this next section. The most impactful actions are listed first.

  • Demonstrate that you are an expert in data-driven recruiting – as I made clear in my recent article on how to become a data-driven individual recruiter. The best way to produce superior recruiting results and guarantee job security is to shift to a data-driven recruiting approach. This is especially important now when recruiting as a profession is already transitioning into a data-driven model. Your value and your contribution will be much higher. Because this data-driven approach has proven that it produces superior recruiting results. In addition, if you know more than anyone else in the areas of predictive and prescriptive analytics/metrics. This will also provide your recruiting function with a competitive advantage over your competitors.
  • Also show you are a TA technology expert – at this point, almost everyone in Talent Acquisition (TA) has acknowledged the increasing importance of technology in recruiting. So, be forward-focused, and show that you are prepared for this inevitable transition by becoming the chief technology advocate among all of the company’s recruiters. And as part of that role, also show that you know how to demonstrate the business case for buying recruiting technology. As well as how to select the best technologies and vendors. Next, demonstrate that you are willing to take the lead in the initial implementation and the operational aspects of maintaining recruiting’s new technologies. Lastly, showcase how you can quickly and proactively learn everything about new technologies because you have an extensive network of technology experts.
  • Demonstrate that you produce the highest quality of hire – literally nothing is more important in a recruiter’s results than hiring candidates in critical jobs that soon become top performers in the job (a.k.a. – quality of hire). Start by showing that you produce the highest-performing hires in jobs where on-the-job performance is already quantified (e.g., sales, customer service, business development, and collections). Also, show that many of your top-performing hires are diverse and stay with your organization much longer than the average new hire.
  • Show that you are in demand among hiring managers – next, demonstrate your value by showing that you are among “the most requested recruiters” by powerful hiring managers. In addition, show that you have the highest hiring manager satisfaction scores and candidate experience ratings.
  • Show that you excel in hiring for the most difficult jobs – during down business times, the department’s focus will likely be on hiring for critical hard-to-fill jobs. So demonstrate that you excel in hiring in the most critical job categories. Which usually include global hires, innovators, diverse candidates, executive recruits, and those with exceptional financial capabilities. Also, show that you have the capability of hiring in your critical technical areas, including machine learning, cybersecurity, and quantum computing. Finally, demonstrate your flexibility because you can recruit across a wide spectrum of jobs in your company’s high-growth business units (that won’t likely be included in any hiring freezes).
  • Demonstrate that you use advanced recruiting tools/approaches – show you have unique capabilities in all advanced areas of recruiting, including building talent pipelines and talent communities. And advanced social media marketing, employee referrals, candidate selling techniques, and candidate experience approaches that are so advanced your other recruiters regularly copy them. 
  • Show them you always hit your individual KPIs show recruiting decision-makers that you regularly rank among the highest in meeting your numbers in critical performance measurement areas. The most critical KPIs often include time to fill, meeting hiring deadlines, quality of hire, diversity hiring, and having the lowest percentage of unfilled requisitions.
  • Show that you carry an exceptional requisition load – because next year, everyone’s recruiter workload will be much higher. Demonstrate that you have consistently carried an exceptionally high requisition load. Also, show recruiting leaders that you have been “the go-to person” whenever serious strategic recruiting problems have arisen.
  • Additional performance factors that will help to make you “a keeper” – being acknowledged externally in professional associations and magazines as a highly visible expert in recruiting will improve your job security. Getting promoted to a leadership position will also help to improve your job security because leaders are often the last to go. Especially if they run important subprograms like employee referrals, boomerang rehiring, talent communities, and employer branding. Finally, make it clear that you would be willing to shift to a contract recruiting position because that flexibility will also make it easier for management to retain you after permanent recruiter headcount has been cut to the bone.

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Action Area #2 – Demonstrate That You Will Continue To Grow During The Next Generation Of Recruiting

You can make yourself even more essential if you can demonstrate to your recruiting leaders that you will continue to grow and excel in the emerging areas of next-generation recruiting. Some proactive action steps that will show that you are prepared for the future include:

  • Demonstrating that you are an expert in making a business case – in tough economic times, recruiting budgets are inevitably cut. So you can increase your value if you can help recruiting leaders maintain their current budget amounts by helping leaders to quantify the business impacts of their recruiting (in dollars). Your business and financial knowledge can help your recruiting leaders to make a compelling ROI case in several important areas, including maintaining a strong recruiter bench, purchasing new technology, and continuing to “cherry picking” valuable candidates in targeted areas, even during a hiring freeze. 
  • Become a robotics expert – throughout the next few years, there will be an increasing number of opportunities to replace human employees with robotics or software. And if your organization has a people-first philosophy. Both recruiting and HR will need expertise and persuasive arguments to determine which jobs should or should not still be done by human employees.
  • Continue to be a rapid learner – because recruiting will continue to change rapidly. A critical success factor for recruiters that want to remain in this function is being a self-directed rapid learner. And you should also be able to show your leaders that you have helped other recruiters by sharing what you’ve learned. That learning should be focused on benchmarking the best current practices at the top-performing recruiting functions as well as knowing the “next practices” that are emerging at the most admired firms (i.e., Google, Deloitte, and Amazon). 

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Action area #3 – If You Decide To Move Completely Out Of Recruiting, Here Are Some Historical Options

Just in case you must move completely out of recruiting. Here are some historical internal and external job options that other recruiters have previously moved into.

  • In the past, recruiters have often moved into these internal jobs the most common within the company job movement for ex-recruiters have been in customer relations, business development, account management, and sales. And if you’re good at analytics, there are plenty of openings in that area on the business side. Still, others have moved into administrative jobs working under the managers that they successfully recruited for.
  • Moving into an HR job at your current company won’t be easy – because almost all areas of HR will also be subject to extreme budget cuts, even if you have strong relationships with those that work in HR. Transferring into this broader function will be extremely difficult because it will also have almost no openings. So if you expect to move into HR, you should make the move long before layoffs and budget cuts occur there also. The most likely areas where recruiters have the best chance of breaking into HR include the retention of “key employees,” effective workforce planning, and internal movement. There may also be positions for those that can create an effective plan for “exploding out-of-the-blocks” immediately after your business growth restarts. Finally, if you are an expert in data and metrics, you might be able to transfer to a similar role developing those metric approaches for the entire HR function.
  • Or try recruiting in a growth industry – it’s important to note that even during a broad business downturn. There will still be few companies in growth industries that will continue to maintain a robust recruiting function. Those best growth industries often include healthcare, cybersecurity, Biomed, AI, and emerging technologies. Also, target continuous growth firms like Amazon, Google, and Apple, who will still likely need recruiters even when most firms won’t.
  • In the past, recruiters have often moved into these external jobs the most common external options for ex-recruiters have been in customer service, sales or sales training jobs, business development, project management, and going back to school. While others have in the past, been forced to become realtors, car salespeople, or Uber drivers. Today, recruiters who have successfully influenced hiring managers and candidates may be able to make a living as online influencers.
If you only do one thing – privately approach your recruiting manager and tell them that you want to increase your impacts. While at the same time enhancing your job security as a recruiter. Ask them for their help by having them first informally list the critical recruiting areas that you clearly already excel in. And then to list the recruiting areas where you could easily increase your strategic impacts. Then jointly put together a plan that would both help them by increasing their business impacts. While at the same time increasing your own job security.

Final Thoughts

Because reductions in recruiting staffing levels are likely to occur at least once during any steep economic downturn, it makes sense for individual recruiters that are concerned about their job security to continually prepare for these recruiter reductions. Because once recruiter layoffs begin. It may already be too late to take the necessary actions that will build your individual brand. To the point where you will be the last recruiter to be released. 

Author’s Note 

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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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