Emerging Talent Acquisition Trends for 2010: Are You Ready For a Roller Coaster? (Part I of III)

crystal_ballAs we begin a new business year in 2010, if you are the slightest bit strategic, it is important to look back, analyze the trends, make a few assumptions, and begin planning ahead. Will the same issues that plagued your organization in 2009 wreak havoc in 2010? Will issues your organization has postponed addressing finally reach the point where they can no longer be ignored? Will unprecedented innovation in technologies impacting recruiting finally deliver on the value propositions long extolled by the vendor community? Will the global economy become more stable or more volatile, and how will those changes impact the labor market? These are all questions that strategic recruiting leaders and practitioners need to be contemplating and adjusting practices to deal with.

Unfortunately, I am forecasting that 2010 will be a year with at least as much turmoil as 2009, but one that will present thought-leading organizations with major opportunities. Many forecasters are predicting that 2010 will be the year social media gains a major footing in the enterprise, and that social media will help drive better ideation and execution throughout every function, but that perspective is too narrow. In 2010, the pace of literally everything will continue to increase, leading to 12 months of insane competition, endless labor churn, and boundless opportunity.

Top 2010 Recruiting Highlights

A year from now, if you were to look back and analyze the headlines of recruiting articles, blogs, and consulting guidance, I predict the following topics will dominate the content collective:

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  1. Churn: Just as seen in 2009, 2010 will be a year in which organizations both grow and contract simultaneously. Business leaders will become more adept at making surgical labor cuts and investing in labor that brings new capabilities to the table. It will be part of a multi-pronged approach that ultimately improves the agility of the organization.
  2. Contingent labor: The writing has been on the wall for some time, but not everybody wants to read it! Volatile market conditions, radical competition, and rapid innovation dictate that organizations be able to flex their labor usage frequently, something traditional employees do not make possible. To further enable agility, 2010 will be the year that even those organizations that have resisted using contingent labor increase it by double-digit rates.
  3. Show me the money: I have been predicting this trend for over a decade, but sadly few HR leaders get the point. The requests — scratch that, demands — from senior leaders to demonstrate strategic thinking and impact are present in the boardroom, and 2010 will be the year they trickle out despite efforts by HR leadership to ignore them. Providing tactical functional analytics will no longer cut it. Recruiting leaders will need to step forward and prove business impact presented in Dollars, Euros, or Yen.
  4. The return of the War: If you’re involved in global talent acquisition, you already know that despite a global economic downturn, the war for talent never really ended. The truth is that top talent will always be in the minority regardless of market conditions, and that sought-after minority populations have power. Candidate centricity will prove a key battle concept in 2010.
  5. Direct sourcing: At the start of this century, direct sourcing efforts contributed less than 5% of the candidates who were ultimately hired, but as a source, direct sourcing has grown year after year. 2010 will be the year that direct sourcing efforts on average produce 1:5 hires, and begin to challenge employee referral programs as the dominate source in leading organizations (although in many strategic talent organizations you could argue that ERPs are actually distributed direct sourcing systems.) The challenge moving forward isn’t finding people –that’s too easy — the real challenge is sorting, categorizing, contacting, and convincing the right talent that you are relevant to their wants and needs.
  6. Jugaad is required: The continuous emphasis on innovation in business will spill over into talent acquisition. In 2010 you will see more and more organizations tap strategic leaders from sales, marketing, and operations groups to lead staffing initiatives. They will continue to adapt proven business tools and approaches not developed for/by recruiters for recruiting, without significant resources or budget.
  7. Negative employer branding: Whether organizations acknowledge it or not, social media is a force that will impact them for better or for worse. 2010 will be a year in which employees, past and present, really start to influence how organizations are perceived by being more vocal about their experiences. As more and more online communities expose their content to search engines, transparency will abound. Is your glass house shatterproof?
  8. Tool obsolescence: Not surprisingly, a large number of tools in the typical recruiter’s tool basket are obsolete and have been for years. Recruiting leaders and practitioners locked in a transactional mindset haven’t been paying much attention to new technologies both inside and outside the recruiting industry that apply to recruiting, and as a result are using tools that are profoundly inefficient. 2010 will be a year in which progressive organizations make such leaps and bounds with new technology that less-progressive organizations will not be able to ignore them. As a result, more tools than ever will push toward retirement.
  9. Obsolete talent: Antiquated approaches to training and development coupled with general apathy by the vast majority of the labor force when it comes to keeping skills and knowledge current will lead to staggering levels of labor obsolescence. Jobs will abound, but talent suitable for them will be in short supply. As a result, more and more organizations will be forced to pursue workforce decentralization via remote workers, outsourcing, and offshoring.
  10. Retention: Numerous employee surveys indicate that given a stable opportunity, a majority of employees today would jump ship. While the surveys likely exaggerate the percentage of the labor market who can and will make a move, the truth is that some top talent will do so and that the vast majority of organizations are not prepared to mitigate risks caused by rapid and significant turnover. As an ugly turnover tsunami is just around the corner, what’s your plan?

While this list of topics that will dominate recruiting thoughts and actions in 2010 seems overwhelming negative, the reality is that every situation presents two sides: one positive, one negative. Each of these trends to come presents unbelievable opportunity to those recruiting leaders brave enough to break rank and step forward to challenge the status quo.

To learn more about these trends, the factors driving them, and action steps to take, stay tuned for parts II and III of this series. Part II will address trends related to labor churn and monetizing recruiting impact, while part III will focus on the rising war for talent and emerging tools.

Dr. John Sullivan, professor, author, corporate speaker, and advisor, is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high-business-impact talent management solutions.

He’s a prolific author with over 900 articles and 10 books covering all areas of talent management. He has written over a dozen white papers, conducted over 50 webinars, dozens of workshops, and he has been featured in over 35 videos. He is an engaging corporate speaker who has excited audiences at over 300 corporations/ organizations in 30 countries on all six continents. His ideas have appeared in every major business source including the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, BusinessWeek, Fast Company, CFO, Inc., NY Times, SmartMoney, USA Today, HBR, and the Financial Times. In addition, he writes for the WSJ Experts column. He has been interviewed on CNN and the CBS and ABC nightly news, NPR, as well many local TV and radio outlets. Fast Company called him the "Michael Jordan of Hiring," Staffing.org called him “the father of HR metrics,” and SHRM called him “One of the industry's most respected strategists." He was selected among HR’s “Top 10 Leading Thinkers” and he was ranked No. 8 among the top 25 online influencers in talent management. He served as the Chief Talent Officer of Agilent Technologies, the HP spinoff with 43,000 employees, and he was the CEO of the Business Development Center, a minority business consulting firm in Bakersfield, California. He is currently a Professor of Management at San Francisco State (1982 – present). His articles can be found all over the Internet and on his popular website www.drjohnsullivan.com and on staging.ere.net. He lives in Pacifica, California.



9 Comments on “Emerging Talent Acquisition Trends for 2010: Are You Ready For a Roller Coaster? (Part I of III)

  1. As employees become more influential in employer branding (point #7), there is a great opportunity for organizations to utilize one of their most valuable assets to improve their recruiting success. Employees are ready, willing, and able to give expert insight about their experiences within the context of the broader organization. The internet provides a low-cost and efficient method for employees throughout the organization to connect with prospective candidates. While the information shared will not always be positive, most candidates recognize that there are pros/cons to joining any organization. It’s better for candidates to have their concerns/questions addressed upfront than for them to experience disappointment when their expectations do not match reality.

  2. Thank you John. You are my hero.

    Here’s my hope in 2010 that HR and/or the CFO will begin to measure Sourcing effectiveness differently. They could start by defining recruiter/sourcer roles better. They could begin to measure sourcing’s impact by the economic value make by top hires which directly affect the top line AND bottom Line. They could measure on quality instead of quantity. They’d look at the real cost of RPO or offshore and see if it really did work.

    Great sourcers who make game changer hires that increase revenue or cripple a company’s competitor(s) are still perceived as less valuable than average recruiters who make high volume, “low” skill set hires. In a lot of corporate recruiting, HR and Accounting are still measuring sourcers and recruiters on hires, cost per hire (recruiter salary/hires = CPH) – not on Top and Bottom Line impact. I think a takeaway from 2009 is go to the companies that ‘get’ Sourcing and Recruiting isn’t a post and pray function. And take the game changers with you on your way out!

  3. Dr Sullivan: Thanks so much for your insight..

    I enjoyed these two the best.

    “The return of the War”: The use of the word “war” is appropriate.

    “Show me the Money”: Staffing/3rd party search industry model works (which is quietly being adopted by forward thinking HR EXECS/Leaders-but most won’t admit it and giving it fancy terms like “lean/six sigma recruiting”), much like professional-sports… If you don’t produce, you dont have a job.

    Thanks again, Brian-

  4. Enjoyed reading these insights. I really think employer branding is going to be huge, especially with more and more people becoming more comfortable with social networking sites. Hopefully not too comfortable. I think social networking is a great way to build relationships, but like you said could also hurt the user. This year I think a lot of people are going to re-think how they use social media. Looking forward to parts II and III.

  5. I agree with Omowale’s comment in regards to social media tools and employer branding on #7. Having been a vocal positive advocate for my previous employer online, who have since decided they did not want or need me this christmas, possesses a problem for them because of the following I created. Because a company brand can completely and quickly decline in this age of social media given the right circumstances it is important now for companies to treat existing employees and existing fairly. Too much can go wrong in too little, as witnessed by the effects of mass negative twitter exchanges etc.

  6. Thank you foryour column, Dr. Sullivan. Are these based on opinions or facts, and whose opinions or facts? I’d like to repeat my opinions and add to what I said in November in Raghav’s column (https://staging.ere.net/2009/11/19/the-new-new-thing/):

    1) CHURN: Corporate churn is good for recruiters- it increases job security.

    2) CONTINGENT LABOR: Benies get more expensive for employers and they become increasingly “gun-shy”. Nothing really new here.

    3) SHOW ME THE MONEY: I said this a few days ago- if you want to try and be a jumped up bean counter/clerk with a fancy title, be my guest and good luck to you.

    4) RETURN OF THE WAR: A relatively small number of positions (We never seem to talk about sourcing nurses here.) and superstars always in demand. Coming up with effective new ways to get them is a great way for recruiting process consultants and recruiters to make money. The key word here is “effective”.

    5) DIRECT SOURCING: Why does anyone consider this a meaningful topic of general discussion anymore? When you can hire high-quality sourcers (both telephone and internet) for around $10/hr, why do WE need to *know how to do it better? Are we that broke that we can’t afford it, do we plan on competing in the marketplace against low-wage sourcers, or is there a belief that the small numbers of high-level “Osama in a Cave- Type” searches are enough to keep a substantial number of Western sourcers working at a middle-class level of income?

    *As opposed to knowing how it’s done.

    6) JUGAAD (an improvised or jury-rigged solution; inventiveness, ingenuity, cleverness): If I understand this properly, since we don’t have enough resources in recruiting, we’ll get executives from other areas to show us how to do it effectively “on the cheap”. Can we try that in THEIR areas?

    7) NEGATIVE EMPLOYMENT BRANDING: Traditional corporate branding is obsolete- it’s in the hands of the employees and candidates through sites like Glassdoor
    (http://www.glassdoor.com/survey/start_input.htm?showSurvey=REVIEWS). Treat your employees
    and your applicants decently, and hope for the best; you can’t rely on your marketing drones and shills as much anymore

    8) TOOL OBSOLESCENCE: Tools to do what? IMHO, tools should help us to eliminate, automate, or outsource routine, low-touch, low value-add components of the recruiting process to allow recruiters to concentrate on creative, high-touch, high value-add processes. They should relieve us of unpleasant tasks as opposed to allowing us to do more of them.

    9)OBSOLETE TALENT: Aka, “we pay you too much”. No surprises here. Why don’t we start outsourcing some of our CXO positions to China- their companies are doing great and I bet they make a lot less than ours do!

    10) RETENTION: As mentioned in 1), churn is good for recruiters and retention is bad- it gives us less work to do.

    11) APPLICANT EXPERIENCES: If you/your recruiters are too busy, hire a Virtual Assistant for $12/DAY to make sure that all applicants’ experiences are professional, if not pleasant. If your company isn’t prepared to pay someone less than the cleaning staff earns to make sure they leave a good impression with applicants, then THEY REALLY DON’T CARE, and the word will get out (see above).

    12) SOCIAL MEDIA: There are only 24 hours in a day- what’s the best use of your time? Do YOU need to find new ways of getting hold of people? (See above.) How about doing recruiting activities that can’t be eliminated, automated, or outsourced? How about becoming a “Solution Recruiter” who enables the client’s work to be done, and not just a peddler of walking, talking widgets for sale or rent? How about working to develop tested, verifiable Generally Accepted Recruiting Principles (GARPs) which really work, and aren’t just what someone like me SAYS they are so they can make some ill-earned lucre? My suspicion: the latter options require a lot of hard work, requiring rational thought and soul-searching, while hearing about the ”the new new thing” doesn’t.

    Once again, Dr. Sullivan, I really appreciate your columns-
    they make me think!


    Keith “Lots of Opinions and Some Facts, Too” Halperin

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