The Disruptors: Fundamental Changes in Recruiting You Need to Put on Your Radar Screen

To stay on the forefront of recruiting, you might want to read the October 2006 edition of Business 2.0. The cover story pretty much tells it all: The Next Disruptors: They’re Gunning for Google. And Skype. And Citibank, Ford, Oracle and AT&T. Meet 11 Companies Whose Breakthroughs Will Change Everything.

While none of them relate directly to recruiting, many of these breakthroughs will change how you find and hire people over the next two to three years. Those of you who are early adopters will find some great candidates if you create the bandwagon everyone will soon jump on.

Based on these disruptors and their progeny, here’s what I forecast will happen:

  1. Job boards and the concept of posting ads will become irrelevant.
  2. Candidate-tracking systems as they exist today will become extinct. Their replacements will actually help companies hire and retain better people and be far easier to use.
  3. New screening technology will allow companies to separate the best from the rest based on performance, not qualifications, and push these candidates directly to the hiring manager without recruiters being involved.
  4. Job aggregators and employee referral systems will increase in importance in the short term, but become old school within three to five years. Just-in-time referral systems and new customer-relationship management technology will allow top people to connect directly to hiring managers.
  5. Companies will discontinue the use of any process that promotes the building of public networks of potential candidates. Check now to see whether any of your sourcing vendors use your company’s job ads to attract candidates who are available for other companies to use.
  6. Companies will use state-of-the-art search engine optimization techniques as the de facto standard for how candidates find your opportunities, eliminating all of the middlemen.
  7. Companies will only consider outsourcing the whole recruiting function using RPOs when they see hiring average people as an improvement.
  8. Lawyers and comp and benefits will no longer drive hiring strategy.
  9. Corporate recruiters will become more important, but more specialized by process and function. (Here’s an article describing the positions on the recruiting team of the future.) As part of this, hiring third-party recruiters for corporate positions will turn out to be the wrong decision, since the independent, Lone Ranger commission agency model will no longer be appropriate for corporate recruiting.
  10. Workforce planning, scalable hiring processes, and hiring managers handling most of their hiring personally will become standard operating procedure within five years.
  11. Super-creative, consumer-based marketing and advertising using video and graphics will replace traditional recruitment advertising and will drive top people directly to your career opportunities. video ads will be commonplace within the year, but will soon be pushed to potential candidates.
  12. State-of-the-art technology will become so user friendly that it will induce and allow top performers to stay in touch directly with the hiring managers at your company.
  13. Third-party recruiters will continue to thrive, as workforce mobility continues to break down the barriers for your top people to leave your company and find better jobs elsewhere.
  14. “Continuous rehiring” will become the order of the day, as companies realize they can’t continue to turn over their workforce. Instead of hiring from the outside, companies will promote internal opportunities and growth opportunities to all of their employees. This will be the key to regaining employee loyalty and increasing a company’s competitive position.

The common theme for many of these prognostications is disintermediation (i.e., removing the middleman, shortening the supply chain, or buying wholesale). For example, if a candidate can go directly to your website to find a job, why do you need a job board?

Worse, at a job board a candidate can find other competing jobs. Now take this one step further: if search-engine technology can be designed to ensure that only top people get sent directly to the manager (and managers know how to assess and attract), companies wouldn’t need the same type of recruiters.

Here are a few points from The Next Disruptors article that provide some credence to these predictions:

  1. allows users to create customizable start pages that have millions of users based on a different model for advertising. Here’s an Alexa comparison of Netvibes vs. Monster that pretty much tells the whole story. With Netvibes, you can create your own splash page for groups of jobs using your company’s existing advertising and drive candidates directly to your open spots. Here’s not such a new idea: use your current company’s marketing and advertising campaigns instead of separate recruitment advertising to find people. (I saw a half-page LA Times Google ad like this on October 3, 2006.)
  2. Coghead allows a company to create customized business applications on the fly. For example, if you don’t like the performance of your applicant-tracking system, you can create a new one this afternoon.
  3. uses a powerful underlying database that can feed information to a variety of higher-level applications. Now all you need to do to create a powerful pipeline and CRM campaign is dump all of your resumes into Salesforce this week and overlay this with their new campaign manager app. I suspect your applicant-tracking system won’t be able to respond as quickly. Better yet, soon you’ll be able to combine some of the Coghead applications you’re developing using your Salesforce database to develop even more advanced campaigns and sophisticated reporting and analysis.
  4. Bluelithium allows you to push targeted ads directly to interested customers in a more refined way than buying keywords. Pretty soon, you be able to push a creative video-based job ad directly to passive candidates who are searching for something other than jobs. Using your new Coghead app running on Salesforce, you’ll be able to drive these people to one of the Netvibes portals created by your hiring managers.
  5. NanoLife Sciences is developing a product that enables protons to stick only to cancer cells, allowing for their precise elimination without damaging healthy cells. This has nothing to do with recruiting (other than describing disintermediation in a different way). It seems like an appropriate metaphor for what is happening in the world of hiring, which includes bringing the best candidates directly into contact with the hiring manager and eliminating the 90% yield loss (i.e., good people not seeing your ad or opting out for some reason along the way).

Coupled with the above, available search-engine optimization techniques are rapidly changing the way candidates look for jobs. Many candidates now use basic search engines, bypassing the job boards, to find jobs and wind up on aggregators like Indeed, Jobster, and SimplyHired. For the short term, make sure you post your ads so that they’re found through these sites. But this is only short term.

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New search-engine techniques are being developed by Doug Berg and others that will allow your candidates to find your jobs directly on your career site just by starting at Google, MSN, or Yahoo!. In a few years, even this will change. Using some of the disruptors described above and some new ones being developed, top passive and active candidates will be able to stay in constant contact with your hiring managers, ready to jump when the right opportunity becomes available.

To see if you are behind the times and really need to worry about any of these things, here are some quick tests you can perform:

  1. Google one of your jobs, putting in standard keywords most candidates would use, add the word “jobs” and the location. If your job doesn’t show up on the first page, you’re not seeing all of the people you could be. You’ll need to reverse engineer your jobs and redesign the format of your web page to get them to appear.
  2. Look at one of your job descriptions on your website. Now look at the URL tied to the job. If it doesn’t contain the keywords from the search you just put into Google, you’re missing out on some great people who can’t find this job using currently available search technology.
  3. Now read the same job description from the perspective of a top person who has multiple opportunities. Does it have a compelling message and irresistible title? If not, top people who are finding your jobs are not applying. (FYI: if you’re not tracking these opt-out rates, you’re in the Stone Age regarding recruiting metrics.)

So where does your company stand on the recruiting-in-the-future timeline? Are you getting better at embracing the new approaches, or are you fighting progress? Forget the excuses. Don’t let the lawyers, the corporate police, IT, the comp and benefits department, or some bureaucrat drive your hiring strategy.

There are some great new technologies being developed that will allow hiring managers and top candidates to communicate directly, but you must first eliminate all of the superficial barriers and unnecessary middlemen.

The worst barrier of them all, and the easiest to change, is the continued and pervasive use of boring job descriptions that describe qualifications rather than opportunities and challenges. Here’s an article on how to write compelling ads that attract top people. Even with all of the new emerging technologies that will soon be pushing your jobs directly to the perfect passive candidates, it really won’t matter if the job is dull and identical to everyone else’s.

Lou Adler is the CEO and founder of The Adler Group – a training and search firm helping companies implement Performance-based Hiring℠. Adler is the author of the Amazon top-10 best-seller, Hire With Your Head (John Wiley & Sons, 3rd Edition, 2007). His most recent book has just been published, The Essential Guide for Hiring & Getting Hired (Workbench, 2013). He is also the author of the award-winning Nightingale-Conant audio program, Talent Rules! Using Performance-based Hiring to Build Great Teams (2007).


7 Comments on “The Disruptors: Fundamental Changes in Recruiting You Need to Put on Your Radar Screen

  1. Lou- I can’t figure out how you got to 10- I looked at the 14, 8, and 3 ideas……

    There are some interesting items in there, but you have a better chance of building a house in an afternoon than you do a full scale ATS solution.

    Salesforce moving into our space may say something about underserved SFA needs in corporate recruiting.

    We might just have to move in on their selling space with some recruiting technology !

  2. I was hoping to stop at 10 but somehow got carried away.

    It’s also hard for me to believe the Coghead capability, so in this case, I’m just reporting. It seems that have a way to combine blocks of applications on top of a database to create new apps, so maybe it’s not as far-fetched as it seems. I’m in total agreement with your SFA assessment.



  3. Lou,
    You missed one. has a matching (Resume & Job Order) capability that can screen on any criteria the company sets up. In a Beta for a well known search engine company the ‘funnel’ produced these results:

    #2- Job boards that are better integrated with ‘matching’ services that do not only allow candidates to match their resume to jobs posted and ‘push out’ a typically not very accurate response profile of jobs listed, but an introverted ‘push’ that matches the clients job orders to match the candidates skills posted on the career boards (as well as candidate resumes that they have accumulated on their own hosted web sites) and providing a list of ‘matches’ so that instead of wading through 1,000’s of resumes with hundreds of staff, their recruiting staff could be 4-5 times more productive (looking at a summary list of the top candidates in the particular ‘bandwidth’ 90-100% ‘fit’, 80-89% ‘fit’ etc. ) so that one recruiter could work on 3-5 job title postings per day/week based on the amount of candidates the ‘match’ produced (instead of wading through 1,000’s like they do now to try to manually/mentally make a ‘match’ based on their experience or knowledge of the title/role which may or may not ‘match’ the picture the hiring manager has for the same role (So communication can be administered more quickly and a new ‘understanding’ profile/criteria can be put in to more quickly ‘drill down’ the requirements and improve process (from 45 days beta efforts to >30 days (27-29 average) times as well). SimplyHired type job orders and job descriptions that take on a Google ADSense capability ad to the precision.

    ? 12,500 resumes received on their web site
    ? 2,500 candidates (80% Reduction – 20% ‘top performers)
    ? 73 candidates identified (3% top performers ‘fit’)
    ? 15 second round interviews (.0012 % ‘fit’)
    ? 2 Hired so far in week 3
    ? ========================================================
    ? 45 day + recruiting/interviewing/hiring cycle reduced to >30 days (27-29) average
    ? Reduced recruiter head count by 1/3
    ? Made current recruiters 4-5 times more productive
    ? How long do you think it takes 3, 5,?? Recruiters to get through this many resumes before they identify a ?candidate?, contact them, and BEGIN a 45 day PLUS Interviewing/Hiring process?

    With a $34B market in recruiting ATS/Software and systems there is a huge TIME and PRODUCTIVITY Advantage to getting the right people quickly and stopping the 95% of ‘sorting’ (The Huma Capatilast Blog) that is a time wasting effort. This changes the Job board sales model and recruiting paradigm qucikly and efficiently (Pour in resumes and BAKE) type model that allows efficiency gains Ten Fold. For $3500 a seat you eliminate 30% of internal staff or make them 1000% more effective.

  4. Lou –

    I like the inflational aspect (10= 14, 8 & 3), and I got to #8 or 9 and figured I better throw in the towell, only to find out (#13) that I don’t have to yet. Is this the enigma of the conundrum, or visa versa?

  5. Lou, kudos to you as I believe this is your best work ever. Couple of points. I do believe the concept of job boards will go away but not the job posting ads and here is what I mean. Job boards use a traditional pull style in that they put up mass marketing and advertising and pull people through a landing page and or home page branding themselves. This concept will go away but the actual job posting won?t. You always need a starting point with a candidate to gain traction show them something and gain their attention so thus I don? t think this will be replaced.

    As far as #6 we are the only company that holds a patent on this process and we scale globally. So we are proof that companies and clients are already moving in this direction and currently utilizing the technology. Feel fee to click on this zip link to unzip our video demonstration and how our Push Posting works. Push Posting demonstration

    ?New search-engine techniques are being developed by Doug Berg and others that will allow your candidates to find your jobs directly on your career site just by starting at Google, MSN, or Yahoo!. In a few years, even this will change?

    Lou, I completely disagree with this statement?see above….read the rest of my post at

  6. All good inputs – thanks. To some degree there’s a great deal of speculation involved, but I just got back from HR Tech and much of the ‘predictions’ are becoming reality. Stay tuned and keep your ideas coming.

  7. Hi, Lou:

    I won’t claim to have digested the whole article, but this one caught my eye.

    You’ve left out a step.

    Before companies can get to ‘State of the Art’ SEO techniques, they have to START USING SEO at any level.

    If I see one more Flash site, where all the jobs are presented by Javascript pop-up windows, a site where all the ‘text’ is part of an IMAGE, making it invisible to a search engine, a jobs page with a title of ‘page’, well, you get my drift.

    5 years is not enough to achieve that goal, IMHO. Why?

    First, and foremost, companies go to outside designers, or use internal staff, who do not understand SEO. Web designers are interested in the visual appearance of the site, SEO is concerned with how a search engine spider or bot sees the code. Those views are 180 degrees opposite each other.

    So, a company has to decide up front to integrate SEO into the design of a website. It is really, really hard to retrofit SEO to an existing site. Then, they either have to use the SEO firm’s designers, if they have them, or get their designers to truly sign on the project. THAT is not easy.

    Finally, SEO, while not quite as arcane as we who do it would like everyone to think, is an art, not an exact science. It is also a continuing effort, not a one time expense. Worst of all is the fact that too many SEO firms are using outdated models…….

    Ok, I’m putting my soapbox away.

    I’d be happy to discuss SEO with anyone offline.


    Jon Williamson IT Manager, Webmaster, Candidate Recruiting

    Williamson Employment Services, Inc.
    213 Hilltop Rd.
    St. Joseph, MI 49085

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    My Main Phone: 269-353-4735
    Corporate Office: 269-983-0142 or 800-226-6801
    Skype: williamson_jon

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