I have been at two recent events, one in the U.S. and one in New Zealand, that have underlined what many of us have been saying for some time. The roles of third-party recruiters, job boards and other groups are changing. Services and ideas are blending and recombining in ways that were hard to imagine even a few months ago. Over the past few years an evolution has taken place. It’s very difficult as an independent external recruiter to provide high quality candidates for clients you do not know well or do not have a special relationship with. As a result, large firms have forged alliances with a few third-party firms and have limited their use of agencies to these preferred vendors. At first, the motive was to reduce the number of external providers and bring simplicity to a process that was confusing and expensive. But over time, the preferred vendors have gotten to know the company and its needs quite well and can be counted on to present excellent people consistently. In order to do this well, the agencies have been forced to use more extensive screening and to get to know the hiring managers and the company better. This reinforces the relationship and, in some cases, has led to firms using fewer internal recruiters. Internal recruiting departments have had to change as well. For many their new role may be managing the external third-party vendors and acting as liaison between the agencies and the hiring managers. The new skills recruiters have had to acquire include project management, vendor relations, contract negotiation and so on. Job boards, too, are evolving. Monster recently announced MonsterLearning, a service that lets job seekers locate and sign up for online courses in a wide variety of areas. This is only the beginning. Job boards will increasingly add more value for both the recruiter and the candidate. Recruiters can take advantage of online applicant tracking systems tied to the job board and they can benefit from screening tools that some job boards are building in (or will be soon) to their sites. Candidates get job advice, information about the companies that are advertising jobs and can sign up for additional training online. All of a sudden it is getting very hard to tell when a third party agency or advertising agency has stopped and a job board has begun, when an e-learning provider has suddenly become a job board, or when a third party recruiting agency becomes a job board or a training company or all of these. Monster.com now offers relocation services through Monstermoving and even helps free agents find jobs through Monster Talentmarket. Take a look at Guru.com, for example. It offers free agents everything from job listings to the opportunity to purchase insurance and sign up for training. Other job boards such as eLance.com, eWork, and FreeAgent all offer a variety of services that even a year ago would not have been considered part of an ordinary job board. Websites not directly related to recruiting are also competing as job boards. Salary.com, for example, which has a huge job board, has also become a popular destination for candidates and corporations. As I wrote in my article two weeks ago, there is a growing convergence between ideas and services. Job boards cannot survive if they only act as classified ads trying to passively match people and jobs. They need to use the Internet’s interactivity to add more value and provide active job matching through screening and profiling. They need to market to candidates and provide them with information and advice and extended services. Likewise, the recruiting agency is rapidly becoming a talent agency characterized by its ability to more effectively provide qualified candidates who are closely matched to the corporate culture and to a particular hiring manager’s needs. They also need to nurture candidates and provide education and counseling where appropriate. All of this requires out-of-the-box thinking, new skills development and an open mind. To move toward the unknown future also requires courage and the ability to change course, adapt and adopt new ideas on a continuous basis. AUTHOR’S NOTE: I was in New Zealand last week when the tragedy in New York unfolded so dramatically before our eyes. This is the curse and the benefit of the telecommunication systems we now have. Even a few years ago, we would have had the insulation of time and the interpretation of reporters to dull our anguish. Today we experience events just as if we were there, thanks to our ubiquitous television and broadcasting capabilities. Even in New Zealand, the unfolding of events was the most surreal and hard to believe event of my life. Every person I met in New Zealand was greatly affected. I will always remember their concern and caring attitudes. Their thoughts and prayers, as well as mine, are with all those affected by this unspeakably evil event. BUT, it is our duty as citizens not to let this act of terrorism win by changing our way of life. Terrorism wins when we limit what we do because of fear, when we decide not to fly to that meeting or conference, when we decide not to buy that product or when we cancel that weekend trip to New York City. These acts of fear cause economic loss and make our enemies smile. This is, after all, just what they wanted! Brave citizens will move on with life and get back to doing whatever they need to do to keep our economy strong and our spirits high. As Franklin D. Roosevelt once said in another troubled time: “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”
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