Toward a New Beginning

We are well into the new year now, and incontrovertibly into the new millennium. Things are looking a little brighter from my window on the world. Unemployment is stable?? which is better than worse, but not as good as better?? and many indicators point to the beginnings of a recovery. Those of us who have survived so far are, I hope, wiser and more focused than ever on the edge?? on that fine line between what has been and what will be. One of the ways to stay balanced at the edge is to have good information. As I promised a few weeks ago, I have been analyzing the survey results that you responded to last December. This data is very revealing, and shows that we are definitely moving into new territory. I have highlighted some of the results and discuss them below. Finding #1. The Internet and employee referrals are the top two sources of candidates. Over 48% of you said that the Internet is the most commonly used sourcing method. This included the use of job boards, resume search, job posting, and keyword searches. The good side of this is that we are finally making use of the incredible power found in the online world. The bad side is that everyone is using the Internet, and searching has already become less useful and more difficult. Candidates are well aware that having their resume online is a plus, and they also know how to write them to ensure they get “found” and delivered to you. I am quite sure that within a few more months almost all resumes will be found by online searching, and the advantages early adopters of the techniques have enjoyed over the past four years will be gone. Even now with a larger number of unemployed looking for work, the resume volume on job sites has risen and the number returned from even simple searches is huge. Without filters and other screening tools, the “raw” power of the Internet provides too much information. What we now need is Internet-based screening tools. Employee referral has been a sort of Holy Grail for recruiters for years now. Program after program has been developed to encourage and reward referral. And this has been a good trend for the most part. There are downsides to employee referral programs, though. I think that firms should target somewhere between 30% and 50% of their hires from employee referrals and get the rest from other sources. The reasons? People tend to refer people who are like themselves. They refer friends and people they know socially, because these people are believed to exhibit behaviors and beliefs that “fit” your organization. There is nothing at all wrong with this, but too many people who think and act the same can lead to group think and poor decision-making. It also limits the diversity that can be recruited, unless you already have a very diverse culture and workforce. Finding #2. The use of screening tools is high and poised for growth. Over 57% of you said that you are currently using some sort of screening tools. The breakdown was 27% using online tools and 21% using paper and pencil tools. Another 24% use both. And, even more encouraging, over 39% of you said you are planning to use screening tools this year. This is a strong and positive trend, because these tools will be the primary way to reduce the huge number of resumes and applicants that result from online searching and from the corporate website. Our recent survey on screening and assessment also shows the growing awareness that there needs to be ways to reduce and sort applicants against criteria and competencies that are important to your organization. The hardest part is deciding what those criteria and competencies ought to be. Fortunately, many firms are now working on these and on getting hiring managers to focus on what makes a good performer, so that other good performers can be recruited. A growing number of the more respected firms are adopting screening tools and are finding they result in people who stay longer and have higher productivity. These facts will propel the use of the tools forward. Finding #3: Branding is a big deal, as is the corporate recruiting website. This finding warmed my heart! About 60% of you said that you have a branding effort underway and that you have had one going for the whole of last year. This is a BIG deal, as branding your company is the only way to let potential applicants know what you are, what you do, and why they might want to work there. While we are in a momentary lull in needing to attract people, within six months or less you will once again find yourself competing, globally, for the best talent. Without a recruiting brand, you will be in bad shape. A recruiting website, which over 59% of you report being important to your recruiting success, is a part of branding. A series of advertisements, a marketing campaign, brochures, flyers, or whatever should all drive candidates to your website. And, if this website contains the online screening tools we discussed above, you have the start of a powerful front-end system to bring the best people to your attention. Finding #4: Most of you don’t have a talent strategy. The most disappointing finding, for me, was that only 44% of you have a talent strategy. Some of you report having one in development, but many didn’t even know what one was. I believe that, increasingly, a manager’s job is to anticipate need and always have or always know where to get a person to do whatever needs to be done. This means having thought out where this person will come from, and it means collaborating with the recruiters and other HR people to make sure there is no large time gap between need and fulfillment. Whenever something needs to be done, the manager and the recruiter should have talent ready to be put into action. That, in a nutshell, is what I mean by having a talent strategy. I will focus an upcoming article on talent strategies, because having one will be the only way for your organization to ensure it has the best people in an increasingly complex, competitive and global hiring market. Next week, I will continue analyzing the results of this survey and explore where we may be going next. But I think we should all get ready for another ride UP the roller coaster, as we hit the bottom a month or so ago.

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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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