Back to the Future: Recruiting Circa 2020

As I ponder the future of where our industry is headed, I’m reminded of Geoffrey Moore’s technology adoption curve, from his fine book, Crossing the Chasm. It describes how users (aka “buyers”) of technology follow a predictable adoption rate, generally based on their comfort with the technology and their ability to implement change.

It’s not surprising that technology, especially the use of advanced business networking tools, in combination with state-of-art Internet marketing techniques, is fundamentally changing the face of recruiting as we once knew it. What is surprising though is that most major U.S. corporations are still moving too slowly to take full advantage of these important changes. In some cases, companies are moving fast enough, but are misapplying the technology, and not getting its full benefits. Worst of all, though, are the large number of companies that are actually fighting the technology, or are oblivious to the potential positive impact of these changes.

Much of this resistance or misapplication can be attributed to both the vendor and the customer. On the vendor side it’s a lack of understanding of their clients’ real recruiting challenges, pressured by the need to sell product in order to reach Moore’s Early Majority group. On the customer side, much of the misapplication is due to being peer pressured into buying something that has some value, but not being able to fully use it properly.

With this adoption rate concept as a backdrop, below are my current predictions for recruiting circa 2020. As a party elder who has been through 3-5 of these technological transformations, I’d urge everyone to be an early-adopter, despite the skepticism you have. The first 25% always have the most success, and then diminishing returns set in. But being first is not enough. Proper implementation is the key. Without the proper implementation, the technology won’t get you there, regardless of how fast you adopt.

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While some of the following points are broad projections, most are reasonable extrapolations of current trends. (Sign-up now for a webcast we’re holding on this important topic on July 14th.)

The Future of Recruiting 2015-2020 — Seven Major Trends to Consider

  1. Category-based hiring will replace individual job requisitions. Rather than drive candidates to individual requisitions, jobs will be posted by groups or projects (i.e., sales, engineering, operations, product launch, etc.) regardless of level. From these “hubs” candidates will be automatically matched with potential opportunities that best meet their capabilities and interests. Specific requisitions will be written after a candidate is selected. The legal issues associated with this shift are now being identified and addressed.
  2. Intelligent profile matching will augment SEO. Currently the big winners are those that can get their postings to the top of a job search using search engine optimization techniques. Creative postings emphasizing career messaging do even better, if they’re easily found. While jobs are now pushed to candidates that match normalized titles, there’s more that can be done here. In the next few years candidates will be able to use Google to map their resume and automatically match this with the best career opportunities across multiple variables, including track record, depth of skills, and personal requirements, among others.
  3. Candidates will be hired based on their ability to perform rather than on their absolute level of skills and experience. Current requisition-based hiring is fundamentally flawed. For one thing, having or not having the skills and experiences described, predicts neither success or failure. Worse, top people, even those with the skills and experience described, won’t apply since they’re looking for career moves, not lateral transfers. Job profiles that define successful performance rather than list skills and experiences can eliminate this problem. Here’s a video you can watch to quickly gain a sense of how to convert jobs into careers right now.
  4. Integrated workforce planning will drive the recruiting and hiring process. Workforce plans will be automatically generated during the business planning process and updated constantly based on actual operating performance. These plans will generate job requirements by category and automatically match the best prospects in a company’s internal and extended talent network 3-6 months ahead of time to begin a customized CRM campaign.
  5. 360° talent networking will become the primary external candidate sourcing process. As everyone in the workforce becomes connected by one degree of separation with everyone else, it will be easy to instantly match potential prospects with open opportunities. Dynamic talent communities will allow companies to focus their sourcing and recruiting efforts on pre-qualified prospects. The result: maximize quality of hire, minimize cost, and move to a just-in-time hiring environment that best balances candidate supply with demand. Implementing PERP (proactive ERP) programs is the first step in this movement.
  6. The hiring manager self-serve recruiting model will change the role of corporate recruiting. As search and automated matching tools become more prevalent, hiring managers will be able to personally handle the bulk of their own recruiting efforts. This will change the role of the corporate recruiter and the corporate recruiting department. As part of this, tools and training will be pushed to hiring managers to enable them to define the work, conduct the assessment, recruit the candidate, and negotiate an offer.
  7. Work will be customized to meet individual and demographic needs. As matching technology improves, it will be easier to accommodate the job and career needs of a demographically changing workforce. Emphasis on project-based work will allow for more contingent workers, with career-based opportunities provided to those with the potential and desire to grow with, and lead, the company.
  8. The underlying architecture of the ATS will need to be altered to address these changes. Unless these changes are supported by the ATS vendors, progress will be painful. In this case, some new type of ATS vendor could emerge to claim the lead role, possibly Jobs2Web, LinkedIn, Salesforce, Avature, Infusionsoft, or maybe even Facebook. Prospect management is rapidly changing the face of recruiting, and whoever does this best could also become No. 1 on the ATS side.

While these predictions are somewhat speculative, current technologies and trends suggest that something comparable is more likely to occur than not. The key is for company leaders to assess the validity of the ongoing trends, quickly identify potential problems and roadblocks within their own organizations, take immediate action to address critical issues, and begin pilot programs to assess the value of different approaches. The future of hiring is just around the next corner. You’ll have a chance to see it more closely in a webcast we’re holding on July 14th.

Lou Adler is the CEO and founder of The Adler Group – a training and search firm helping companies implement Performance-based Hiring℠. Adler is the author of the Amazon top-10 best-seller, Hire With Your Head (John Wiley & Sons, 3rd Edition, 2007). His most recent book has just been published, The Essential Guide for Hiring & Getting Hired (Workbench, 2013). He is also the author of the award-winning Nightingale-Conant audio program, Talent Rules! Using Performance-based Hiring to Build Great Teams (2007).


8 Comments on “Back to the Future: Recruiting Circa 2020

  1. In Lou we Trust. These predictions are cutting edge and you are giving folks fair warning of the change that has already started to come.

    These are also some great observations about the state of today’s recruiting team. With so many new recruiting tools and recruitment marketing channels, we see folks making purchases but still struggling with implementation or even selecting the right tool.

    Recruiters are being challenged on many fronts and there will be interesting times ahead. Thanks Lou.

  2. Fascinating subject Lou!

    A challenge to your #1 – I don’t see hubs developing because I suspect what will happen is something more like personalized search. You won’t need to choose a “hub” or look at a hub because you’ll only see job opportunities that fit your personal profile, which will be tied to your social workplace portability.

    #3 is very interesting, it’s an obvious direction, but my main question is “how do you see that happening?” “How will we be able to determine a candidate’s ability to perform?”

    Question on #5 – “As everyone in the workforce becomes connected by one degree of separation with everyone else, it will be easy to instantly match potential prospects with open opportunities.” When everyone is 1 degree of separation away it’s almost as good as being completely separated…what I mean by this is one suddenly becomes overwhelmed with complexity. When I’ve got 500 contacts I can know quite accurately who those people are, where they’d fit, etc. but when I’ve got 7 billion contacts I don’t know the first thing about most of them. How do you see handling that complexity?

  3. Seeing the big shifts in any endeavor may require more art than science. But then, science (and technology) tend to create more big shifts than anything else.

    Lou’s Seven Trends are plausible but I think they miss the Big Scientific contribution – the big shift. Ultimately, to hire is to predict performance. Science has given us the knowledge of performance predictors for every job in detail and technology now enables us to act on that knowledge for all jobs, at scale and at affordable cost. That will fundamentally change recruitment.

    The best practices of (mostly) large companies using validated assessments to very successfully predict performance will become – are becoming – available to all organizations. Jobs and people can be profiled – are being profiled – in performance-predicting fashion. Analytics applied to hiring works. The resume will fade – is fading – as will the classic job requisition. In their place will be relevant performance-predicting assessment, fit for each job and person.

    Complexity, as Michael observes, poses a challenge. But technology today and as developing can handle complexity if we apply the scientific and statistical principles proven to work to predict performance. We already crunch vast quantities of numbers to scientifically match people and jobs; we can as necessary expand that by orders of magnitude.

  4. The interesting question is what the changing role of humans is as technology is implemented to address issues of complexity. We’re very rapidly reaching (and have already passed in many areas) the point where computational intelligence is necessary to calculate correlation, patterns, projections, relationships, etc. whose complexity far surpasses anything humans can manage. In such an environment what role will people play? How will it affect the role of a hiring manager or department manager when computer software can calculate far more quickly and far mor accurately whether a particular candidate will thrive in a given position than they ever can? Does it mean the end of reviewing resumes, conducting interviews and reference checks?

    What will the role of people be in HR and recruiting 10 years from now?

  5. The automatic matching of all available jobs with all available people based on dozens of variables seems like a plausible possibility in the next 10 years. This approach would maximize total workforce productivity and personal job satisfaction. The roll of the recruiter and hiring manager would certainly change as a result.

    However, I’ll leave the building of this road map and technology to folks like Doug Berg at Jobs2Web, among other visionaries like him.

  6. I get the comments on assessment but I think a big shift is happening before you even have a chance to assess someone’s fit, skills, experience, etc. The first step is them showing interest in your company and that’s the idea behind the “hubs” or what we call “portals” that sell the company and who’s primary goal is to convert the prospect into a lead (we have several F500 customers with multiple portals for lead capture). If someone’s interested, they can “drop off” as much or as little information as they’d like in a matter of seconds. Over time, you can then leverage technology to engage them (CRM) to build a deeper profile in your CRM. At some point, that engagement would likely include assessment. And this might all happen before they’ve even seen a requisition at the company. It really begs the question “when is the right time to put a job/req in front of someone?” I’d argue that it’s much later in the process than it certainly is today.

    I’ve been traveling the country this year talking about this with customers and presented the “CRM Methodology in Recruiting” presentation at our user conference in March with Craig Campbell from Dolby Labs. Reception has been outstanding but the first thing everyone says to me is “what about compliance?”. So Lou, I’d be really interested to hear what’s happening in this area as today it seems it has everyone a little fearful (and hence the reason why a big part of recruiting is dispositioning – mostly unqualified – applicants.

  7. Moral: Let’s not become fleas in a bottle – unless we already are.

    The story: in the beginning fleas can jump 20″ or so high, unless you put them in a 5″ jar with a lid on top. After 20 minutes or so, the fleas get tired of bumping their heads on the top, and “learn” to jump only 4.9″. When you take the top off of the jar, none can out, since getting out is beyond their current ability.

    Thinking out of the box first requires an understanding of the box we’re in. The government is one such box. I guess we’ll just have to get the law changed to stop tracking people by requisition and start tracking people in the pool. As long as the number of who get hired compared to those in the pool and compared to the population at large doesn’t cause adverse impact, I suspect the law could be changed. In fact, I suspect it could be changed even more quickly if it could be shown that the approach increases diversity and protected class hiring.

    Unless we’re all fleas.

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