Recruiting in Mid-2002: Part 2

Last week I discussed a number of trends that I see emerging as we move into this year. This week I will touch on the remaining trends as listed in the table below.

What’s In What’s Not
Referrals/networking Job fairs/cold calling
In-house recruiters Contract recruiters
Outsource the non-essential Outsource everything or nothing
Talent strategies Workforce planning
Online screening & assessment Lengthy interview process
Talent pools Resume databases
Experienced hires College hires
Performance Management Retention
Quality of Hire Speed of Hire

Many of you agreed with me on the trends that I wrote about last week, but others weren’t so certain. Those from search firms and agencies did not agree that in-house recruiting would become important and effective enough to threaten them. Most said something to the effect of, “I’ve seen this before. The knee-jerk response to a slowdown is to lay off the contractors, cut back on agencies, and rely on internal resources. But when things get hot they’ll come screaming back to us for help.” I had tried to carefully point out that two things are occurring that may change this picture:

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  1. Many companies are completely outsourcing a large percentage, if not all, of their recruiting. This is new ó especially in the technical and professional recruiting arenas ó as most companies in the past have chosen to keep these in-house. But this trend should be a positive to the search world, as it will let them transform themselves into full-service providers of talent to these companies. It’s a good thing for the agency world, even though it’s a different role than most of them have played over the past 20 years.
  2. Technology has made it much easier for an internal recruiter to handle larger numbers of positions than ever before. Granted, most companies have little idea how to effectively use this technology, but more are learning how every month. I do believe that the heydays of search firms are over ó at least as it was before. However, the new opportunities are vast.

Online Screening One of the ways that firms can leverage technology is to use it to screen candidates before they are ever presented to a recruiter. Take a look at the Chili’s Grill & Bar online interview website, set up by the innovative Dallas-based Brinker International Group. Here you will find the first use I have seen of interactive, online interviewing, powered by software developed by Behavior Description Technologies. The Boston Consulting Group is also using interactive case studies to analyze potential hires before any face-to-face interviewing. The trend is surely toward using screening and assessment tools to limit the number of candidates a recruiter has to deal with while providing the candidate with immediate feedback and a more positive experience than the usual black hole. Talent Pools The use of these screening tools, combined with email and other Internet-based communication tools will allow organizations to develop pools of candidates who are screened and qualified for a variety of positions in the firm. This is quite different from a static database of resumes. A resume is a snapshot of a person at a point in time and is out of date quickly. It rarely represents the “real” person or gives a good summary of the person’s qualities or skills. Interactive assessments, web-based profilers, and the interactive interviewing tools I mentioned above, on the other hand, provide a living picture of a person and their abilities and experience. By establishing two-way communication recruiters and candidates can stay in touch as needed. These pools, already being set up via software such as that provided by and others, will eliminate the traditional resume collection process. Experienced Hires vs. College Hires Because of the economic downturn and the focus on productivity and meeting short-term needs ó and partly because of a lack of foresight on the part of employers ó the market for college students is down considerably this year. Of course, accountants and engineers are doing fairly well, but other majors are suffering. Experienced candidates have not been in a stronger position in a long time. But even they are suffering from the lack of consideration that occurs when recruiters are swamped with paper and have not built the front-end screening systems that would solve many of their problems. Performance Management Eventually we will see the merger of systems into data warehouses, where the information in the HRIS system, the payroll and technical systems, and the applicant tacking systems will merge. This will allow us to see if a candidate has ever applied or worked in your company before, how they performed, how people with similar backgrounds have performed in your company, and whether or not a person with the profile of the candidate has generally been successful or not. As farfetched as this may sound, it is being done with your customer base every day using technology that falls under the CRM (Customer Relationship Management) umbrella. This technology is migrating rapidly to the recruiting world. Once here ó and a number of firms have some sort of CRM system in place for recruiting already ó these systems will make performance potential a part of the hiring decision process. Quality of Hire All of this leads us to the question of fulfilling the ultimate recruiting objective: finding the highest quality candidate possible. While we all seek it, few of us can define or even articulately talk about what a high-quality candidate would have to have done to fall into that category. The software mentioned above is not science fiction. It’s not even all that complex. What we are really talking about is combining what we already know so that we can make better decisions without needing to go though a long trial-and-error period of interviewing and probationary work experience. This is what firms such as,,, Behavior Description Technologies, and many others are doing today: they are building the software engines that will power the recruiter of tomorrow. As I have said so many times, neither recruiters nor the search firm are going away. They are evolving and changing. The ones that adapt the quickest will survive and will reap large rewards. The rest will disappear. It is really your choice as to which you will choose to be.

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, 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


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