The Future Of Recruiting, Part 6: Recruiters Will Change

This is the final installment in a six-part series on the future of recruiting. In the first five parts of this series, I looked at how the recruiting department, the Internet, corporate websites and recruiting metrics all will change in the future. In this last part, I will explore how the people that manage and do recruiting will change as well. The Director of Recruiting Will Become the Chief Talent Officer At the present time, much as they do for many other functions, organizations often select or promote a recruiter with either the most tenure or success on the job to lead the recruitment function. But in the future, more and more senior human resource executives will realize that recruiting encompasses many of the skills that sales and marketing professionals have for years honed as a science, and they’ll begin to evaluate candidates based on their plan and strategy for the recruiting function versus their past experience. Candidates will be asked to assess the current processes and systems and to provide a set of goals (and a plan for each) for what they’ll do with the recruiting function during their first year. The format of their plan should resemble a marketing and sales strategic plan. The director of recruiting in the future will have broader responsibilities than they presently do, and as a result, their title will shift to that of chief talent officer. In this new role, the chief talent officer will take on responsibility for integrating other important but currently independent functions that impact recruiting, including retention, orientation, and workforce planning. The chief talent officer will also become responsible for forecasting workforce needs, building and managing the employment brand, and the internal redeployment of talent to the “right job.” Their final, but perhaps most important, responsibility will be to calculate and demonstrate the dollar impact of great recruiting, retention, branding, orientation and workforce planning on the business. The pedigree for chief talent officer candidates will change to include significant experience in marketing, product branding, and profit/loss line functions. In addition, these candidates will have to demonstrate knowledge pertaining to the leading-edge uses of technology in recruitment and an aptitude to remain current on this subject. This new breed of chief talent officer will be an extremely aggressive individual with a high degree of self-confidence and boldness. Rather than looking at recruiting as a stepping stone to a much broader role, the primary goal of the CTO will instead be to become the very best in recruiting, retention, branding, and workforce planning. They will have little desire to move up in the HR structure or to serve in non-recruitment-related areas of HR. Recruiters Will Change Dramatically In the past, it was quite common for organizations to hire individuals with no interest or training to become a career recruiter into the recruitment function as an entry point into the human resource department. The predominate form of learning for such individuals was on the job and largely focused on the administrative side of recruitment. In the future, this will change dramatically. In order to become a recruiter, individuals will have to be certified much like a CPA does in accounting. The certification will focus not only on the traditional areas of recruiting but also on marketing strategy, sales strategy, brand development, metrics, and even competitive intelligence. As recruiting becomes more of a marketing, branding, and sales function, the duties and responsibilities of a recruiter will shift dramatically. Most administration, requisition processing, resume sorting, and even candidate screening will be removed from the direct responsibility of the recruiter and automated using new technology. Elements of traditional recruiting that will remain include sourcing, candidate management, and closing and selling. Responsibilities of “The Recruiter of the Future” Some of the responsibilities and skills of future recruiters will include:

    1. Branding and image building. Everything will start with branding, because branding alone has the unique ability to build a steady pipeline of top quality candidates over a long period time. Because leading recruiters understand the importance of branding, they will emphasize the use of referral programs, “great place to work” ranking programs, speaking at public events, and PR to help build the firm’s image. They will speak at public events and on college campuses where there is a high probability that the audience will contain potential candidates. They will encourage every employee to spread the word through viral marketing. They will educate and encourage employees to talk to people everywhere about the company and its excellent management and people practices ó especially on airplanes, on rental car shuttles and at professional events.


  1. Sourcing expertise. The recruiters of the future will be experts on which sources work and which don’t. They will numerically track the effectiveness of each sourcing tool and source they utilize. Because of this sourcing knowledge, they will focus on employed top performers as the primary target. Advanced Internet searches will become the sources that produce the highest quality candidates and hires.
  2. Utilization of market research tools. The recruiters of the future will be market research experts. They will conduct surveys and hold focus groups (or have others do this for them) in order to identify what top candidates’ decision criteria are and what top candidates expect in a job. They will identify the criteria that potential candidates have for deciding which jobs and firms to apply at, as well as their “offer acceptance” criteria. These market-research-based recruiters will know much more about the top candidates than what’s in their resume, including what frustrates them in their current job, who influences their job acceptance decisions, and their compensation minimums. Finally, they will use their market research skills and tools in order to identify why offers were accepted and why some were rejected in order to improve the overall acceptance rate.
  3. Prioritization of jobs. Recruiters of the future will prioritize their efforts, and vary their time and resource allocation, based on the position’s potential business impact. They will spend a majority of their time on recruiting for positions designated as “key or mission-critical,” and less than 10% of their time on the bottom 25% low priority positions.
  4. Technology expertise. Future recruiters will be experts in the use of technology in all aspects of recruiting. They will be familiar with the applicant tracking system, but they will be equally familiar with data mining techniques, the use of robots, and the most advanced Internet search tools. They will regularly hit candidate’s personal home pages as well as technical or functional chat rooms. Over 50% of their sourcing will utilize the Internet.
  5. Effective candidate sorting and screening. Recruiters of the future will continually track and test the effectiveness of each of their sorting and screening tools. They will then increase or decrease their usage based on the tools ability to sort and screen out all but the top candidates. These recruiters will have the capability of “remote assessment” ó rather than relying exclusively on interviews, they will routinely give candidates real problems (or simulations) to solve.
  6. Competitive intelligence. Great recruiters view recruiting as a competitive game. The new breed of recruiters will view competitive intelligence and gathering best practices in recruiting as key elements of their job as a recruiter. They will be constantly seeking information about the recruiting practices and the top talent at their competitors. They will do side-by-side competitive analysis in order to compare what their firm does in recruiting directly to what the competitor does, with the goal of maintaining a significant competitive advantage in each important area of recruiting. They will also be able to successfully forecast and identify upcoming recruiting opportunities as a result of changes and business downturns at competitors.
  7. Continuous improvement. In the future, rather than being satisfied with the status quo, recruiters will continually experiment with new tools and approaches. They will then measure the effectiveness of the new tools and quickly inform their colleagues about the ones that work and the ones that don’t.
  8. Great recruiter network. Recruiters of the future will continually seek out and learn from the very best recruiters in their industry. In order to continually maintain their effectiveness, they will also have a learning network that includes some of the best thought leaders in recruiting, branding, marketing, and sales.
  9. Knowledge of strategy and the industry. In addition to being experts on recruiting, retention, and workforce planning, future recruiters will also know the elements of the company’s business strategies. They will be able to identify the top business issues, the top selling products, the chief competitors, and the best competitors to “poach” from.
  10. Encouragement of referrals. In the future, every recruiter will realize that employee referrals not only produce the greatest quality hires but also reduce the recruiting workload by converting each employee into a recruiter. As a result, smart recruiters will continually educate managers and employees on the importance of referrals and on how to identify potential referrals. Because they also understand the importance of the rapid internal movement of talent, these recruiters will work with managers and employees to increase the internal movement of top employees.
  11. Retention expertise. Because future recruiters will be aware of the futility of hiring employees and then quickly seeing them go out the back door, they will accept partial responsibility (along with the manager) for ensuring that new hires stay on the job. In addition to tracking the retention rate of their new hires, recruiters will also educate managers about the most effective retention approaches for each new hire.
  12. Providing advice to managers. In addition to doing their “regular” job, in the future recruiters will take on the added role of informing and educating hiring managers on the importance and economic value of great recruiting. It will become standard procedure for recruiters to have calculated the economic value of hiring and retaining top performers (compared to the average), the cost of a bad hire, the cost of turnover, and the cost of a vacancy in a key position. As a result of their advice, managers will spend more time and resources on recruiting and retention, therefore lessening the burden on individual recruiters.
  13. Global reach. All recruiters will soon realize that their role is to identify and attract the best talent no matter where it is on the planet. They will be constantly identifying effective tools and strategies for true global recruiting. They will also learn about the regional differences in recruiting and retention in all key business areas around the globe. In short, a majority of the searches in the future will be global searches.

Conclusion In this extensive series, I have highlighted the many changes that will occur in recruiting during the next decade. Some people argue, justifiably so, that many of these things are already done in the top five recruiting organizations. A few argue that recruiting has not changed and will not change because managers, recruiters, and vendors in recruiting are highly resistant to change. Not surprisingly, I also agree with that statement ó and it would be correct if it were not for the dramatic changes that have already occurred in other business functions like supply chain, CRM, and manufacturing that were formally classified as administrative or overhead functions. These functions have successfully shifted from “overhead” to profit centers, and CEOs and CFOs will now expect the same from all HR functions. Since nearly half of the variable budgets of most corporations are spent on people costs, CEOs and CFOs will no longer tolerate HR or recruiting as a backwater function. Recruiting will change and become more businesslike, or it will cease to exist because it will be replaced by outsourcing vendors that long ago made the transition from recruiting administration to recruiting as a “marketing and sales” function. For those currently in recruiting the choice is clear. The tsunami of change is coming. You can begin today to get ahead of the wave, or sit back and be pushed aside by the flood of change that is coming to recruiting. It’s time to take notice; the future may already be here!

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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