Upcoming Innovations in Recruiting

Rules That Drive Innovation

If recruiting doesn't want to be the slowest car in a fast-moving train of innovation, it must adopt a series of "innovation rules" to live by. They include:

  • Don't be complacent. Never be satisfied with the status quo, because any competitive advantage you might have will soon be gone.
  • Continuous improvement. Develop programs and practices with a continuous improvement component, so that innovation comes continually.
  • Be paranoid. Assume that your competitors are catching you or even exceeding you in innovative recruiting practices. Assume that, when you can't see what they are doing, that they are actually ahead of you.
  • Benchmark. Continually benchmark to identify your competitors' and other top firms' best practices in recruiting. In addition, look beyond recruiting to marketing, sales, branding, and PR practices that can be transferred into recruiting.
  • Efficiency isn't enough. Quantum changes in the way you act are required in order to obtain innovation and quantum improvement in your results.

The Time to Innovate in Recruiting Is Now

Now that the downturn in the economy is over and the "war for talent" is returning, recruiting departments around the globe are restructuring, rebuilding, and focusing on developing new innovative practices.

Because of my extensive contacts and advising work in the industry, I have been able to compile a list of innovative practices and new innovations planned by major Fortune 500 firms. By providing you with my list of current and developing innovations in recruiting, I hope to supply you with some ideas about where your recruiting function needs to be if you expect to remain competitive. There is no room for the complacent. Innovate, or be prepared to lose the coming retention and recruiting war.

"You cannot create a high return on investment doing what others are already doing… Innovation is the sole way to survive."  — Henri Termeer, CEO, Genzyme Corporation

It's always important for recruiting to continually improve and to be prepared to take the next step. Is your organization ready to take the next innovative step in recruiting and talent management? If so, here are some of the most innovative practices that are currently being used (or are being developed) at leading edge Fortune 500 firms.

Upcoming Innovations in Recruiting Strategies

  1. Jobs, managers and business units will be prioritized in order to maximize the impact on the business (given the limited resources in recruiting). In addition, a focus on high impact "magnet" and "game changer" hires.
  2. Competitive-intelligence gathering will be added to the goals of corporate recruiting.
  3. All HR functions that are involved with any aspect of the recruiting process will be integrated through common metrics and rewards.
  4. There will be a heavy focus on utilizing the "retired workforce" as contingency workers. In conjunction with that trend, there will be a renewed focus on hiring contingent workers during high growth periods in order to provide flexibility when the downturn occurs.
  5. Additional income will be generated by making recruiting a profit center and selling surplus candidates to non-competitors.
  6. Strategies will be shifted so that most recruiting for key positions begins before the need rather than just responding to recent openings.
  7. Strategies and processes will be developed specifically to target the candidates with the highest potential success rate and to actively discourage the large volume of unwanted and unqualified candidates that typically flood the recruiting process.
  8. Managers will take more ownership and a greater role in recruiting, as more accurate ROI calculations demonstrate the critical impact of recruiting on their business success.

Upcoming Innovations in Sourcing

  1. A laser focus on passives will help attract currently employed top performers (i.e. passive candidates). A specialized team will focus exclusively on passive candidates.
  2. Working with the marketing department, recruiters will utilize "niche" marketing tools, like consumer research data and demographic tools, in order to identify potential candidates from consumer and credit databases. This approach will be especially effective in the important area of diversity recruiting.
  3. A major emphasis on recruiting at industry and functional events, trade shows, seminars, and professional association meetings.
  4. Job descriptions will be rewritten from a marketing perspective and including elements that match a typical candidate's job acceptance criteria.
  5. The references of successful candidates will be utilized as a source for new high-quality candidates.
  6. "Name generation" firms and direct sourcing will see a rapid increase in utilization from the numerous corporate managers and recruiters that are good at selling, but not identifying, prospective candidates.
  7. The ability of most workers to "work remotely" in any country around the world means that the potential pool of candidates will expand greatly and that a recruiter's tools and skills will need to reach any country around the world.
  8. There will be a renewed focus on rehiring top performing employees that left the firm ("boomerangs").

Upcoming Innovations in Employee Referrals

  1. There will be an emphasis on proactive referrals, where top performers are approached directly for names.
  2. Firms will use search software (e.g. ActiveNet) to search their internal email and document databases for employees that have relationships with targeted individuals or firms.
  3. Referrals will be expanded to non-employees, former employees, and even candidates.
  4. Referral parties will be held on site in order to sell the very best on your firm's jobs and your company
  5. The focus of referral programs will be shifted toward diversity recruiting.

Upcoming Innovations in Employment Branding

  1. Recruiters will work with their company's product branding department to develop a joint strategy for building the employment brand to create a long-term stream of candidates.
  2. Recruiting will work with PR to increase the exposure of the firm's managers and management practices in order to develop a "well-managed firm" image.
  3. Companies will place a premium on getting listed on best-place-to-work lists — not just in the U.S., but around the world.
  4. There will be an increase in the use of employment brand building TV ads as well as company-focused TV shows (the Apprentice, Airline, Caesars) to build a company's employment brand.

Upcoming Innovations in Candidate Assessment and Interviewing

  1. Recruiting departments will begin a shift to a customer relationship management (CRM) model, in order to build continuous relationships with top candidates.
  2. Enhancing the candidate's experience, in order to avoid the negative impacts on your image that result from poor candidate treatment and a lack of responsiveness, will become a top priority as the power shifts to the candidates.
  3. Firms will develop a "candidate bill of rights" to ensure that candidates are treated like customers rather than commodities.
  4. Firms will employ online assessments of a candidate's "soft" competencies using validated soft skills tests.
  5. Online simulations and contests will be used to assess a candidate's technical skills.
  6. Companies will use permanent hiring and/or closing teams that possess the necessary experience and skills to dramatically improve candidate acceptance rates.
  7. Video-conference interviews will be accepted as the standard process for interviewing all but finalist candidates. Although video interviews are not new, they will soon make a permanent comeback.

Upcoming Innovations in Technology and Corporate Websites

  1. Using Google-type searches, recruiters will identify potential passive candidates without posted resumes and also gather background information that can be used to qualify them as a potential candidate.
  2. Managers will take more ownership and a greater role in recruiting because of new technologies that provide managers with laptop access to recruiting information and tools.
  3. Corporate career websites will have the ability to "morph," so that the information provided to different candidates changes to fit their unique needs.
  4. Firms will identify and link to the learning sites that the best candidates visit on a regular basis to improve their job knowledge. By linking to these learning sites, companies can identify and attract the most desirable candidates who are continually learning.
  5. Candidates will be able to visit a password-protected corporate website that will allow them to track their progress during the selection process.
  6. The online self scheduling of candidate interviews will become standard practice.
  7. The same search engines tools and strategies that are effective for external hires will also be applied internally to speed up the internal placement and redeployment of your employees. By identifying talent and moving people faster internally, you will be able to dramatically reduce retention problems while simultaneously increasing productivity by ensuring that the right workers are in the right job.
  8. Soon more sophisticated fuzzy logic systems will, once you identify your skills and interests, select an initial job automatically and then "find" other "similar jobs" using the same process that Amazon.com currently utilizes to refer other relevant books to clients. This smart system will allow candidates to search for jobs without knowing the precise title or having to search through each of the individual geographic location sub-pages.

Upcoming Innovations in Candidate Closing

  1. Exploding offers that reward candidates for fast decision-making will become common.
  2. Tailoring a candidate's offer to ensure that it directly meets the candidate's job acceptance criteria will become the norm.
  3. Surveying candidates who rejected an offer three months later will become, in order to identify the "real" reasons that they rejected your offer.
  4. Peer interviews will be utilized to better sell the candidate.

Upcoming Innovations in College Recruiting

  1. There will be shift away from physically visiting schools, towards remote college recruiting where candidates are identified and assessed using technology and the Internet.
  2. There will be an increased use of online contests to attract and assess potential hires.
  3. There will be an increased use of metrics in order to demonstrate when and where college hiring has a positive ROI.
  4. Firms will look at "non-name" schools as a primary source for candidates.

Upcoming Innovations in Orientation

  1. Firms will convert orientation into a "new hire experience" in order to minimize a new hires "time to minimum expected productivity"
  2. Remote orientation using Internet video technology will make individualized orientation possible at anytime.
  3. Firms will require recruiters to follow up with new hires for six months after their start date in order to improve new hire retention rates.
  4. Firms will ask new hires during orientation which sales points worked and which didn't in attracting them and convincing them to accept the job.

Upcoming Innovations in Metrics

  1. All recruiting metrics will be converted into "dollar impacts" and ROI, because both are easily understood and compared. An additional emphasis will be placed on demonstrating the correlation between great recruiting and an individual manager's success in producing business results in order to motivate managers to pay attention to recruiting. Metrics will also be used to correlate effective recruiting with an increase in the company's stock price.
  2. Metrics will dominate as recruiting functions shift towards a "Moneyball" approach to recruiting.
  3. "Quality of hire" (on-the-job performance of new hires) will emerge as dominant among all recruiting metrics.
  4. There will be a focus on identifying the sourcing channels that produce new hires with the highest on-the-job performance and retention rates.
  5. Both candidate and manager satisfaction will be periodically measured in order to continually improve the candidate experience and the offer acceptance rate.
  6. An overall "recruiting index" will be utilized in order to easily make performance comparisons between managers and business units.
  7. Metrics will be used to alert managers of upcoming problems and opportunities in recruiting and retention.

Upcoming Innovations in Recruiting Processes and Structure

  1. Individual managers will be measured and rewarded based on their recruiting and retention performance.
  2. Competitive analysis and side-by-side comparisons of your practices compared to your talent competitors' practices will be used in order to develop and maintain a competitive advantage.
  3. Firms will add a required element to the recruiting process to capture the candidate's job acceptance criteria early in the recruiting process.
  4. Service level agreements will become the norm in order to ensure that both managers and recruiting know and do their part.
  5. Six Sigma tools will be used to identify errors, and "feedback loops" will be used to continually improve the recruiting process.
  6. More sales, marketing and "headhunter type" people will be hired into recruiting.
  7. There will be a "loosening up" the recruiting process to allow more innovative and creative candidates to pass through.
  8. Recruiters and recruiting resources will be utilized internally in order to speed up the internal movement and redeployment of high potential and under-utilized employees.
  9. There will be a shift away from the traditional reporting relationship to HR; instead, recruiting will report directly to talent management, marketing or potentially even becoming an independent function.
  10. Recruiting budgets will be initially allocated and later tracked to ensure that rewards, recruiter time, and budget allocations match the targeted goals of the department and the prioritized jobs and business units the department has decided to focus on (to ensure that the goals get translated into practice).
  11. Internal recruiters will receive bonuses (as they do in executive search firms) based on placements and quality of hire statistics.
  12. Hiring speed and having a one-day hiring capability will become essential in order to get top candidates during periods of low unemployment.
  13. Recruiting and recruiters will be dispersed around the world in order to ensure a 24/7 service and a global hiring capability.
  14. There will be an increased emphasis on accurately "forecasting" upcoming labor shortages and surpluses around the world using data mining and regression analysis.

Hot Trends in Recruiting That Will Fade in the Near Future

  • The use of social networks in recruiting
  • The thought that applicant tracking systems will make a quantum impact on an individual firm's recruiting results
  • Outsourcing exempt and professional recruiting
  • The popularity of large Internet job boards


I hope you found these innovations in recruiting both interesting and helpful in developing your future approach to recruiting. It is important to remind you that although at the present time these are relatively unique practices, you should expect them to become commonplace in the next few years.

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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