The Future of Internet Recruiting

Because I am a professor (and don’t really “work”), I have lots of time to study and forecast the future. As a vendor, candidate, or recruiter, it’s vital to “look up” once and awhile and see where the world of e-recruiting is going, what will thrive and what will wither. If you have been following trends in the leading business magazines you can easily see that the world of business and technology is currently changing at the fastest rate in history. Will recruiting be immune to this dramatic rate of change? The answer, of course, is no! The changes that will occur in e-recruiting will not be subtle. When asked about the future of e-recruiting, this is what I predict. Do you agree or disagree? 1. Shifts In Traditional “Job Boards” A shift to searching for passives, not actives. Most people placing resumes on the current job boards are “actively” seeking employment. However the most desirable candidates are currently employed top performers who are much less likely to post their resume on a large job board. Job boards and e-services will have to be able to demonstrate the percentage of “passives” and top performers in their databases. Also as a result, information only “learning sites” will be become popular tools in drawing employed top performers “close to” the jobs site. Focus on quality, not volume. Currently little effort is made to show the quality of the applicants on a job board. As recruiters become more sophisticated, they will demand a smaller volume of resumes and a higher quality of candidate. Because online recruiting automatically generates easily usable recruiting data, recruiting will shift from being “an art” toward a more “scientific model” where data and proof replace “hunches” and traditional practices. Only the Internet services that provide a feedback loop (demonstrating the performance of the person after they are hired) will survive. Proof they work. Most e-recruiting services offer promises and exciting technology. As users become more sophisticated they will demand hard data proving that the service results in fast, high-quality, and low-cost hires. As more data is collected on which elements of the Web (job boards, niche sites, personal web sites, listservers or chatrooms) produce the most top performers, low-quality sites will wither. Search engines will replace many job boards. Job boards make it easy for managers and recruiters to find a large number of candidates all in one place. But often they are little more than online resume books. As robotic internet search engines become more sophisticated and easier to use, continuous 24/7 searches (using search engines) will yield more targeted, current and higher quality candidates that most job boards can. As managers get more skilled at using search engines, they will create their own customized candidate pools. A shift from large sites toward niche sites. Specialized sites that focus exclusively on high-quality recruits will become the norm. Employee referral, corporate alumni, university alumni and “smart” tools that “learn,” like PureCarbon, will increase in importance. The primary users will be managers. Currently most Internet recruiting is done by recruiters and HR people. However, as companies become more geographically dispersed, firms will find that responsibility for most corporate recruiting will need to shift closer to the customer (to the line manager). As the Internet becomes easier to use, managers learn that they can easily do their own recruiting and they will supersede HR people as the chief customers for online services. With managers as their customers, vendors must focus on speed, ease-of-use, and competitive advantage, while legal and equity issues will decrease in importance. A more global focus.Currently most job boards are U.S.-focused, while most of the talent in the world resides outside the United States. As technology allows more workers to work “at home” for companies that are located in other countries, the importance of global “remote” recruiting will increase. Exclusive availability. Firms gain no competitive advantage using most the recruiting services and job boards because their use is unrestricted and thus competitors have the same access as you do. Optional agreements limiting access to a select few firms in an industry will soon become available 2. Shifts In Other E-Recruiting Services And ToolsExecutive search will be done primarily through the Internet. Executive search firms have been slow in realizing that executives and top-level professionals are easy to find on the internet. As executive search professionals become more internet savvy they will find that more than 50 percent of executive search can be done over the Internet because the internet is a superior finding, communications and selling tool. Finding is easy, convincing is the challenge. As more and more individuals around the world begin to utilize the Internet, finding individuals and developing a “who’s who” database that would include all “potential candidates” will become increasingly easy. As more association membership lists, conference attendance lists and internet “Yellow Pages” go online, finding candidates will become increasingly easy. The difficult are part will shift towards convincing them to apply and selling them on saying “yes to a job offer. Resumes will fade as important screening tools. Currently resumes are the “currency” of recruiting. As more individuals develop their own personal websites containing actual samples of their work (in personal portfolios) fewer recruiters will rely on resumes that are often inaccurate and out of date when they are found on job boards. Fast and easy “profilers” (a few job specific questions) will replace resumes altogether for high demand jobs and people New technologies will emerge. When the Web becomes faster and access becomes more universal, the use of currently available tools like online assessment, online job simulations, video interviewing, instant reference checks and cultural “fit” assessment will become more universal. New communications technologies (instant messaging, cell phone e-mail) and “push” strategies will allow firms and recruiters to build ongoing relationships with potential recruits long before any specific position opening occurs. Keyword searches will be replaced by sophisticated fuzzy searches. Most internet search engines (and resume sorting engines) rely on keywords to find their targets. As sophisticated “fuzzy logic” search engines become more sophisticated, the currently high “error rate” will decrease dramatically. 3. Changes In e-Recruiting Strategies And Philosophies Firms will bid for talent. It is already possible for individuals to place themselves “up for bid” on several Internet sites. As workers get bored or disenchanted with their current job, they will easily be able to enter the free (bid) market in search of new opportunities. In addition, recruiters will no longer be able to “fool” applicants with “low offers,” as the public bid process will make the value of any worker easy to ascertain. Branding replaces the short term approach. In addition to filling today’s “reqs” firms must also simultaneously work on developing a longer-term “great place to work” brand strategy. The employment “brand” strategy is designed to build the image of the firm to such a point that all of the top performers will automatically put our firm on their “short list”. By utilizing PR and “employer of choice” advertising on the Web, a firm can not only assure a steady pipeline of applicants, but they can also help to sell its firms product and help to build customer relationships. From mass marketing to personalized marketing. The recent shift in power from companies to candidates has led to the “free agent” attitude among workers. This individual power will mean that recruiting strategies will need to shift towards a “market research model” so that firms can identify the unique needs and expectations of every applicant. Online market research tools and technology will allow recruiters and managers to “personalize and mass customize” their recruiting strategies and tools to the unique needs of any business unit or region. Online customer satisfaction and candidate feedback tools will allow recruiters to constantly adjust their approach in order to improve our recruiting success. Relationship recruiting will replace “coincidence” recruiting. Most hiring currently relies on the “coincidence” that the top candidates are coincidentally available on the same days we have a job opening! As workforce planning models become more sophisticated and as they integrate with external databases, firms will be able to more accurately forecast their hiring needs. Better forecasting will allow the recruiting model to shift from one where we “react” to a newly opened requisition to a more strategic approach where we continually source and then hire the best people whenever they become available. Face-to-face recruiting will diminish. The growing use of ATMs and the Internet has dramatically reduced the need for face-to-face banking and financial transactions. In a similar vein, the growth of email, the Internet and other technologies will allow us to find, assess, and “sell” candidates around the world without actually meeting them face-to-face. As more and more employees and independent contractors work out of their home it will be possible for top firms to “cherry pick” the best talent from any region around the world. Individuals will be able to live in any country or place they choose and still work for a firm that may be located on a different continent.

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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