In Re-imagine, Tom Peters’ new book, he applauds my insight into the future of HR. The article he used as a blueprint for some of his own projections of the future of business was entitled, “A Walk Through 21st-Century HR.” His comments on that article stirred me to outline here what my own research, company visits, and extensive benchmarking indicate is “the future of recruiting.” This article is not written for those who believe (or secretly hope) that recruiting will never change. Instead, it’s written for those (very few) with who have the vision and determination to conclude that HR recruiting, as a function, must and will change. I hope you will use this article as a guide to how you need to be thinking and where you need to be heading as a talent manager. The future of recruiting is much different from what we do today. Just as computers and the web changed the way that many of us look for products, or even read articles like this one, a rapidly changing business world and new technologies will change the world of recruiting so that it will not be even recognizable to veterans in the field. Although we know that years from now recruiting will be quite different than it is today, the future of recruiting itself is actually relatively predictable, because most of the tools and strategies that will be used will be borrowed from other business processes that are already in existence. In short, it will not be new ideas that transform recruiting; instead it will be well-proven practices from more advanced business functions and processes that will be transferred into recruiting. Here are a few of the important trends that will impact the future of recruiting. Size of the Department The recruiting department of the future will be less than one third the size of most departments now. Reductions will occur for a variety of reasons. One is because worldwide databases (similar to current credit databases) that include every professional on the planet will make finding candidates easy so sourcing will require fewer staff. Further reductions in staff will come from the fact that managers will be able to do most recruiting themselves, using simple, wizard-driven, “expert” recruiting systems that will be available on their laptops. The next reduction in staff size will be because all candidate evaluations (including interviews) will be done online, through web-based tools. The final reductions in staff size will come from the elimination of paperwork and administration, since all recruiting administration processes will be online and self-service driven. The recruiting staff that remains will be comprised of forecasters and consultants who provide advice to managers only on the most difficult hiring situations. The Importance of Recruiting Although the size of the recruiting department will shrink, it’s overall importance to the business will actually increase. This increased stature will come from work with CFOs that will demonstrate that recruiting (coupled with retention) has the highest economic impact of any business function. Of course, this is a well-known fact already in the sports and entertainment industries. But for some reason, recruiting directors have failed to make the business case within their own corporations. Proof That Recruiting Systems Work Most recruiting processes and services are currently assessed on cost. Like all other business functions, recruiting managers will eventually be forced into shifting from hunches to fact-based decisions. They will demand hard data that proves which tools, sources, and processes produce fast, high-quality, low-cost hires. In addition to the current use of metrics related to recruiting cost effectiveness, recruiting managers will require that ROI and business impacts (in dollars) be routinely calculated. In short, recruiting will run like a metrics-driven business process, just as supply chain and CRM are today. Search Engines Will Make Most Job Boards Obsolete Job boards today make it easy for managers and recruiters to find a large number of candidates all in one place. But they are often little more than online resume books. As robotic Internet search engines become more sophisticated and easier to use, corporations will operate continuous 24/7 searches that will yield more targeted, more current, and higher quality candidates from every part of the web. These “smart” search engines will learn from their mistakes and successes. In addition, when pre-identified candidates who meet their criteria become available, managers will be instantly notified, even if they have no current openings. As managers become more skilled at using search technology, they will be able to supplement this robotic search with a search of a worldwide database that will include all professionals. These combined tools will allow managers to instantly create candidate pools. The Primary Users of Recruiting Tools Will Be Managers Currently, most recruiting is done by recruiters and HR people. But as companies become more geographically dispersed, firms will find that responsibility for most corporate recruiting will need to shift closer to the customer (incidentally, this is true in all business functions). As recruiting tools become easier to use, managers will eventually learn that they can easily do their own recruiting. Managers will supersede HR people as the chief customers for online and technology-driven recruiting services. With managers as their customers, recruiting systems will need to shift their focus toward speed, ease of use, and providing a competitive advantage. A Complete Global Focus Most recruiting done by American corporations is focused on the domestic market, while most of any large firm’s sales and manufacturing occur outside the U.S. As more people realize this, managers will become aware that most of the world’s talent also resides outside the United States. This business shift will force managers to rethink where they place their jobs. This shift in management thinking, along with advances in technology and communication, will allow more workers to work “at home” for companies that are physically located in other countries. These combined changes will make it an absolute requirement that all recruiting be global. Next week, in Part 2 of this series, I’ll look at more of the trends that will shape the future of recruiting.