Well it’s over – summer, that is – and time for serious thoughts again. Whether the stock market is on the rebound or the economy is on the mend remains to be seen, but one thing is certain: e-recruiting is on the rise. A July article from IDC forecasts that the worldwide e-recruiting market will exceed $13 billion in 2005, and every recruiter sees how e-recruiting has slowly, but inexorably, encroached on more and more parts of the recruiting cycle. It is impossible today not to incorporate the Internet into your recruiting efforts. Over the past six months or so, I have noticed several things occurring, which I believe are trends that will continue to unfold and evolve into the 21st century recruiting model. The first of these is the linkage of systems, the second is the increasing collaboration between old foes, and third is the convergence of functions and roles. Let’s look at each of these. Linkages The first trend is to the creation of linkages between what we use to think of as disparate systems. One year ago, Hire.com* was virtually the only player in the Internet-based talent relationship management (TRM) space, the first to promote email communication with candidates, and the first to advocate the development of an online talent community and web-based screening. RecruitSoft now has TRM capability and screening, as do PeopleClick, Hire Systems and others. As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and what Hire pioneered others are now seeing as valuable. Conversely, Hire has recently added a back-end applicant tracking toolkit to its system to broaden its usefulness and attractiveness. Many software companies are forging linkages to provide screening, communications, database administration and contact management. Alliances and partnerships are common. PeopleSoft and SAP are working to develop integrated e-recruiting solutions linked to their HRIS tools. Look for a strong movement toward single solution systems and many more linkages between providers. Collaboration The Internet has also made collaboration a necessity. Hiring managers, recruiters, candidates and current employees are all working more closely together than ever to identify, attract, and retain good employees. A few months ago it was pretty common (and completely expected) for a hiring manager to “throw a req over the wall” to a recruiter whom she barely knew and expect good candidates to follow. Now, a good hiring manager may have already searched the Internet for possible candidates or asked her employees for referrals. She may present a short list to the recruiter for follow up and screening or may merge her search results with those of the recruiter’s to ferret out the best candidates. Employees are getting into the act through referral programs that encourage them to act as recruiters and influence friends to consider positions in their organizations. Candidates who have been identified as exceptional may be presented numerous possible positions and allowed to “shop” for the one they feel fits them best. This may involve talking to many hiring managers and spending considerable time in selecting their ideal position. Most of this did not happen before the Internet opened up the communication and information channels on both sides. Candidates now have more complete information about organizations and jobs than they have ever had, and recruiters and hiring managers can get exposure and identify more candidates than ever before. You will find that collaboration such as this – not competition – marks 21st century e-recruiting. Convergence The third trend is a move toward convergence, or the blurring of boundaries and distinctions that used to be so clear. It is harder and harder to separate the impacts and responsibilities of third-party agencies, internal recruiters, job boards, and Internet search. Each helps the other and none of them can work independently and be as effective as they can be as a team. It is likely that the person a third party presents may already be in the corporate database or be on a job board or be easily found by means of email communication. At first some of us thought that the Internet might eliminate recruiters or reduce the need for third-party search firms altogether. After all, if an internal recruiter can find the same person on the Internet, why pay an agency? But what has happened is almost the opposite. The third party can act as a neutral negotiator over the details of the job or advise the candidate on negotiating strategy. The real synergy comes when the parties converge and work toward a common goal of getting the best person in the right job. We still have issues over how we distribute costs and profits and – in short – what the business model will look like as this convergence continues. We know that recruiters, when coupled with the Internet, are more powerful than ever. The tools for communicating with candidates, for screening them and keeping them interested in our organizations are only useful when orchestrated by a master recruiter. And while the pressure grows to overcome the increasing skills shortages that organizations face, fill key positions with exceptional people and keep transaction costs lower; it will be a simple survival strategy to use linked tools, collaborate with everyone and embrace the convergence of many different people and roles. *Full disclosure: I am a member of Hire.com’s advisory board.
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