5 Predictions for Recruitment 2012

I was just reviewing the predictions I made for 2011 written at roughly this time a year ago. Much of what I thought would happen unfolded as expected, except for talent management. I had thought there would more focus on integrating the employee development and recruitment functions, and more internal hiring. I still think that’s on tap for this year. I was on target regarding hiring: There was no great uptick in the volume of hiring, and unemployment remained static. And I was on target with predicting that social media would be core to recruiting success and that RPOs would thrive.

Over the past two years, the way we think about work has changed. Perhaps accelerated by the recession, there is more focus now on finding satisfying and rewarding work than on just finding a job that pays the most.

More people are thinking about finding something interesting, challenging, and perhaps even fun to do that provides enough income. The key words here are interesting/challenging and enough. Fewer expect to get rich and there is less focus on the money. There is more focus on lifestyle, flexibility, free time to pursue other learning or hobbies or sports, and less interest in family. I’ll do more columns on these trends soon, but partly because of them here are the major changes that I see happening this year.

Internal Recruiting Goes Mainstream

Perhaps one of the most significant trends will be a greater focus on finding current employees to fill existing jobs. Rather than continue time-consuming and expensive external searches, more hiring managers will opt to go with an almost-ready internal candidate who is a good cultural fit and is willing to learn fast. Although hiring managers may push back at this, management will encourage it, and the increasing difficulty in finding and recruiting top talent will help accelerate the trend.

Over the next few years there will be a move to enlarge the skills of current employees so they can be moved around to different functions as demand fluctuates. Employee development will morph from delivering training, to providing accelerated apprenticeships, developing simulations, and finding ways to encourage informal and on-the-job learning.

Recruiters should focus on encouraging hiring managers to look at these internal employees, encourage them to hire internally, and develop better internal talent communities to expose hiring managers to talented employees and employees to opportunities.

Social Goes Mobile

When recruiting does look externally, more of it will happen on mobile devices. The explosion of Android and iPhone apps means fewer potential candidates will be using traditional computers.

Clearly candidates with technical edge and savvy — the ones you are probably the most interested in hiring — will be spending most of their time on smart phones, iPads, and other tablets. If you have not developed specific recruiting apps that take advantage of these mobile platforms, you will be at a disadvantage as we roll into the middle of 2012.

More applicant tracking systems are now capable of using a social profile rather than a resume, and as most candidates already have such a profile it only makes sense that they use it to apply for a position.

Everything from branding to screening to even doing interviews is moving to mobile platforms and using such things as simulations, video, and chat. Twitter, Google, Facebook, and other major players will introduce more mobile apps and functionality during this year.

By the end of 2012, the traditional career site will be mostly obsolete. If it exists at all will be little more than the place where the candidate makes the formal application. Smart firms will make everything they do mobile-friendly and compatible and encourage candidates to interact more with hiring managers, other employees, and even alumni in online forums, chat rooms, Twitter chats, and via video, Skype, and other similar media.

Just-in-time Sourcing and Recruiting

Sourcing has already moved from searching static databases to using social media, and this trend will continue to grow. Rather than build proprietary databases or talent pools, recruiters can participate in and look for potential candidates in many different online forums and communities. As almost all professionals have an online presence, whether in LinkedIn or Facebook or elsewhere, and as many are also likely participating in Twitter chats, Facebook conversations, and so on. Searching for talented people is getting easier each month.

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A recruiter can find an interesting potential candidate, start a conversation, provide the candidate with a variety of information sources about the organization and position, and even direct the candidate to screening apps and apps that allow the candidate to apply.

Recruiters can also use their network of current employees, alumni, friends, and colleagues to crowdsource good candidates and leverage referrals.

Entire recruiting campaigns can be run in a matter of days or weeks by using referrals, crowdsourcing, social media, mobile technologies, and by rethinking the recruitment process. Through streamlining, simplification and by getting hiring managers more involved, candidates can be found, screened, assessed, and hired in days.

Continued Rise of Contingent Workers

The use of contractors, part-time employees, and consultants has soared during the recession. And it will continue to grow for two reasons: the first is that it provides employers with the flexibility they seek to manage costs and headcount easily and much more cheaply than by frequent layoffs. Second, many people are finding that contingent employment suits their lifestyle and interests well. They can plan other activities around their work schedules, they can budget according to the amount of time they are willing to work, and they get variety in the kind of work they do and who they work for.

It will be hard to return to the model of employment where just about everyone is a regular employee. Strategies changes frequently, world events and business cycles make it necessary to adjust priorities more often than ever before, and people are less and less willing to commit to a long-term employment arrangement that is uncertain and stressful.

The Beginning of Applied Analytics

Look for more vendors to offer analytical software specifically for human resources and recruiting. We will begin to see how various independent events have an effect on the quality of hire by tapping into data hidden away in their ATS and HRIS systems. They will begin to seriously track and use data to decide the best sources of candidates, what key traits lead to retention and on-the-job success, and where they can reduce costs or efforts and still get good results.

All in all, the economy and the election will dominate this year and, as a result, this should be a year of modest employment growth, a focus on hiring returning military veterans, and even more growth in outsourcing volume recruiting and hard-to-fill positions to RPOs.

Kevin Wheeler is a globally known speaker, author, futurist, and consultant in talent management, human capital acquisition and learning & development. He has founded a number of organizations including the Future of Talent Institute, Global Learning Resources, Inc. and the Australasian Talent Conference, Ltd. He hosts Future of Talent Retreats in the U.S., Europe, and Australia. He writes frequently on LinkedIn, is a columnist for ERE.net, keynotes, and speaks at conferences and events globally, and advises firms on talent strategy. He has authored two books and hundreds of articles and white papers. He has a new book on recruiting that will be out in late summer of 2016. Prior to his current work, he had a 20+year corporate career in several San Francisco area tech and financial service firms. He has also been on the faculty of San Francisco State University and the University of San Francisco. He can be reached at kwheeler@futureoftalent.org.


14 Comments on “5 Predictions for Recruitment 2012

  1. It is surprising for me to find so many simmilarities to what i am thinking about the mentioned trends. On my blog i have recently written about Progressive indicators and how they will be important in the coming future.

    And I still publish a lot on flexibility subject. I think this trend will grow bigger soon.
    It is interesting that I am making my predictions for European context, while you are, as far as I understand, on USA. Ii looks like this trends are universal 🙂

  2. Nice stuff Kevin. The tipping point in my opinion for the move to internal over external was 2 years ago during the recession. The % of openings that competitive firms filled using internal movement and promotion spiked from an average of 30% the previous decade to nearly 50%. I doubt it will get higher but agree that it likely won’t go down anytime soon for many of the reasons you point out.

  3. Well, predictions are dangerous. At least half the time they are wrong.

    I own an employment assistance service; basically I job seek for the job seekers. Last week I had got 2 people hired (Software Marketing Manager and Tech Architect/Analyst). How? Optimizing their resumes for job boards to generate more recruiter inquiries then refocus, create employer profiles, etc. Social media only cam into play AFTER the employer interviewed the candidate. No social media sourcing whatsoever. I have another customer who refuses to use any social media. Why? She wants to get a security clearance and fears her s.m. information getting in the way. Another candidate: recruiter BEGGED her to apply for a job as a Web Content Manager after finding her resume on a job board database.

  4. I have been a recruiter now for almost 20 years and started my own company, Clark Executive Search, in 1997. Every year I read the predictions that some new technology( faxes, Internet, email, online job boards) would be putting recruiters out of business. Yet, here I still am doing pretty much exactly what I have been doing for years. Yes,I have a web site and,yes, I blog weekly now. I am on Twitter, LinkedIn , Google +, and Facebook. But I really don’t think anything in the way of new business has come from social media and the Internet. I get a few calls for a search by flakey fringe companies that I would nerver work for. My business remans with my old trusted clients, who also know and trust me. Who in their right mind would hire a recruitment firm based on a web page? We almost always get new work by recommendations or the old way of peddling a great candidate to companies. I maintain the social network because everyone says I simply must and I figure I need to stay with the times. But again I haven’t gotten but one search from a company that found me online. As for recruiting candidates, I work in a very senior level area and my candidates are not on twitter or Facebook. They are on LinkedIn though.Still I don’t see myself finding my candidates in chat rooms or the like.
    I agree with the author that hiring internal candidates makes economic sense for companies, but only to a point. Companies need new blood. They need the fresh ideas and yes,ideas that workers bring from their competitors. So I think there will always be a need for outside talent and for the executive recruiters who find this talent.

  5. Ellen Clark’s experience seems the most realistic regarding social media and recruiting that I’ve read here. I’ll even go one step further: what is needed is LESS innovation, not more innovation. Case in point: this morning I just applied to a job for a very talented young professional for a Social Media Specialist job. So, CareerBuilder sends me a competitive summary: 642 applicants! I don’t care whether you use a job board or a social media, with this level of competition, no one wins. It gridlocks the system. Or, quite frankly, it is discriminatory because not all these candidates have a fair shot at the job. Many times what happens is the employer can’t make up her mind and no one gets hired. That’s what innovation has given us.

    Randall Scasny
    FS5 Consulting

  6. Hmmm. ISTM that until companies and recruiters work to understand and work with/around the biases that the candidates and hiring managers (and everybody) else work under, technical improvements will not make qualitative improvements in hiring.


  7. Very interesting idea about applied analytics. The others, not so much. My opinion on each:

    1. Internal Recruiting Goes Mainstream – This has been happening for years, so it would be truly surprising if this did not happen.

    2. Social Goes Mobile – Agreed that this trend will continue, but probably not as quickly as outlined. Definitely no specific magic date of “mid-2012.”

    3. Just-in-time Sourcing and Recruiting – This is particularly true in the consulting field. Nothing super-new for 2012, but definitely a trend.

    4. Continued Rise of Contingent Workers – Always in a down economy and increasingly true over the past 15 years.

    5. The Beginning of Applied Analytics – Absolutely the most interesting trend to watch of those noted. The overflow of data requires a lot of energy to boil down to something useful. Automation of this process holds tremendous promise!

    Jason Sanders
    Ivy Exec

  8. “The Beginning of Applied Analytics”- Can someone elaborate what this is? It sounds like data-mining to me.



  9. Nice post Kevin!

    I was especially pleased to see Just-In-Time sourcing and recruiting on the list. While some people claim they have already been doing it, I don’t believe most have actually applied Lean principles to their sourcing and recruiting processes. I know of a few that have, and I think more will follow suit.

    I was excited but not surprised to see your reference to analytics, and I agree that this is THE next big thing in recruitment – a real game changer!

    If you’re looking for a little more info on how analytics can be applied to recruitment, I suggest you read this article on Big Data, Data Science and Moneyball Recruiting:


  10. Looking inside to fullfil a task…Absolutely. But it can be that people are asked to fulfill two jobs at a time.

    The general trend of more satisfaction and less money is a good sign. The problem I see locally is however a steady decline of salaries…

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