Some Final Thoughts on Our Recent Survey

There is renewed interest in talent this month. Old and new clients are asking for help in implementing more comprehensive talent programs that focus not only on recruiting, but also on development, succession planning, and performance management. Suddenly the role of the successful recruiter looks a lot different than it did last year when we were all ?reactors? and just trying to fill slots as fast as we could. Recruiters are being retained and promoted almost in direct proportion to the amount of additional value they add beyond sourcing and hiring. The survey that I conducted in December was full of great insight into what you are all thinking and doing, and many of you are well aware of this change. Last week I highlighted four findings from the survey, and I follow up this week with a final three that are more focused on how to add value than they are just descriptive of what you are doing. Finding #5: There is a moderate concern about talent shortages. While it is hard to see right now, there are huge shortages of the kinds of people that will make a strategic difference to our employers. For example, there is a significant lack of physicians and nurses, experienced computer and network engineers, research scientists, and biotech workers, as well as welders, automotive body/collision repair works, and wireless networking and service technicians of all types. There are also shortages of teachers (California needs to hire thousands, for example) and home healthcare workers. The government is also ramping its hiring in the wake of September 11 and as many government employees approach retirement. While some of us who are focused on the dot-com and high-tech industries see plenty, others see famine – and famine is likely to be characteristic of the future. Yet, when asked whether you are concerned about a talent shortage over the next two years, only 45% said you were either somewhat or very concerned. Another 36% were not very concerned at all! You should probably be more worried than you may know, as the U.S. has an aging population with more than 40% of current workers headed toward retirement in the next 10 years. Young people have very different attitudes toward work, being more inclined to work fewer hours and balance their work and personal lives. This means we will need more people to do the same work being done today by overachieving baby boomers and ambitious Gen Xers. Having world-class sourcing strategies, an overall talent strategy for your organization, and an active internal retention and promotion practice will be essential to survival. Finding #6: Applicant Tracking Systems. While 75% of you have an ATS in place, no single ATS stands out as a winner. In fact, over 23 different systems were mentioned by name, and over 59% of you said you would not be upgrading or buying a system this year. I believe that the core capability of these systems – collecting candidate data, storing that data, and making it accessible to you by keyword and other searching techniques – has become a commodity business. Virtually all systems do these functions in a similar way, with little to make one more valuable than another. Variations are mainly in screen design and interface, reporting, and in search methods. They also add very little value. Cost and time savings are probably offset by the cost of the system itself, its maintenance, the need to regularly upgrade the system and the need for training. Many organizations do not use even half the capabilities these systems have because of lack of need, awareness, or training. For large firms, it is very likely that Peoplesoft, SAP and other HRIS/ERP systems will eventually incorporate most if not all the functionality of these stand-alone systems. So where is it going? The move has to be to whatever really adds front-end value. Tools that just make your job (supposedly) easier but do not add to the bottom line can never survive the long haul. CRM-like systems that focus on candidate relationship creation and management are the tools that will give you competitive advantage. Imagine a tool that finds a candidate for you, introduces the candidate to your organization, markets to the candidate over a period of time, reminds the candidate about your firm, and provides you and your managers just-in-time information about who has the skills you are looking for. These are the systems that already exist in the products offered by companies like* and Recruitsoft. And these are the only type of tools you should be looking at in the future. Finding #7: Measuring what you do it still an issue. Most of you measure something. Whether or not it?s worth measuring is the big question, and what you do about the measure is even a bigger one. For example, more than 64% of you say that candidate satisfaction is an issue for your company, yet most of the time you are only measuring the satisfaction of those you actually hired. What might be more meaningful is to measure those who turned your offers down or who did not continue to pursue a position after the initial contact. There might be some clues in their response as to how you could make major improvements. Cost per hire came out number one as usual, although and many others, including myself, feel that this is a meaningless figure. See my column Let the Numbers Help You from last April for a full explanation of why. The only really important metrics are how fast you can put an ?A? player into a job. It?s really all about having the right person for the right job ready all the time. That takes a talent strategy, a front-end focused recruiting system, and a damn persuasive attitude with senior management. Next week more about talent strategies. *Disclaimer: I am a member of the advisory board for

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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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