13 Trends In Corporate Recruiting for 2009

A significant part of my work involves giving presentations around the world on the hottest recruiting topics. It is an aspect of my work that I truly enjoy because it affords me an opportunity to continuously learn about where our profession is headed.

Through speaking, I not only help companies understand the latest recruiting trends, but I also learn from hundreds of professionals about what they see as hot topics, emerging trends, and how they are approaching them. I wanted to take this opportunity to share my thoughts on what recruiting trends will top the agendas of Global 500 recruiting managers in the next 12 to 18 months based on my interaction with more than 300 organizations around the globe this year.

The Latest Trends in Corporate Recruiting

Based on conversations with recruiting leaders, questions asked during seminars, advisory requests, and best-practice research, expect to see an increased emphasis in:

  • Upgrading employment branding. Nothing is hotter around the globe in recruiting than employment branding. Firms throughout Asia, in particular, are increasingly adopting employment branding as a wildly important activity for 2009. The success of Google, a firm that has built the world’s strongest employment brand over an amazing five-year period, has led others to focus on this impactful long-term strategy. Key focus areas include increasing media coverage, increasing visibility online, building your “green” brand, and countering your “negative” employment brand. Firms to watch: Facebook, Google, Yum Brands, Tata, E&Y, Enterprise, U.S. Army, and Sodexo.
  • Reinvigorating referral programs. Despite the growth of career-related Internet sites, the highest volume and quality candidates still come from well-designed employee referral programs. While heavy adoption was initially hampered by cultural issues around the world, today such programs are proving highly effective everywhere. Key focus areas include proactively approaching key employees for referrals (program targeting), leverage non-employee referrals, making reward systems more comprehensive, immediate, and visible, and last but not least, helping employees leverage social media to restore relationships, make new relationships, and build stronger relationships. Firms to watch: AmTrust Bank, Edward Jones, Whirlpool, and Amazon.com.
  • Renewing the focus on quality of hire. As a result of strong research by organizations like staffing.org, recruiting leadership has begun to refocus its efforts on identifying factors that increase the quality or the on-the-job performance of new hires. Key focus areas include improved quality of hire metrics, calculating the performance differential between average and quality hires, and identifying sources that produce high-quality hires. Firms to watch: Aimco and Wipro.
  • Reinforcing the business case for recruiting. As budgets tighten and slow economic growth continues, recruiting budgets will face constant constraints. Instead of whining, many leading talent organizations are seizing the opportunity to reposition themselves as non-transactional organizations. When the focus in recruiting is placed on non-transactional, more systemic issues, such organizations can work with the CFO and risk management to demonstrate the importance of supporting recruiting even during times of reduced hiring volume. The key focus areas include predictive modeling, dollarizing recruiting results, and showing the dollar impact of vacancies in revenue generating positions. Firms to watch: Aimco, DFS, Wipro, and Google.

  • Utilizing social networks. Although using social networks as a recruiting source has been a well-discussed concept for a while, few firms have found productive ways to truly leverage social media sites. However, as new approaches are developed that more accurately align with the paradigm of social media audiences, recruiting on social networks will become more mainstream. Focus areas include encouraging your employees to be more visible online and using networks to identify innovators. Key networking sites include Facebook (global), MySpace (global), Friendster (global), LinkedIn (global), Twitter (U.S.), Multiply (Asia), Mixi (Japan), Cyworld (Korea), and Xiaonei (China). Firms to watch: E&Y, Zappos, CIA, Yum Brands, Google, and Facebook.
  • Utilizing video. While it may be hard for some to fathom, 1:1 and 1:many video has become a very popular communication medium, surpassing all other forms of Internet traffic. Second only to employee referrals, the most impactful tool for effectively demonstrating the excitement and passion at a firm is online video. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then moving pictures demonstrating what it’s like to work at your firm would have to be “priceless.” Focus areas include posting on video-sharing sites such as YouTube (global), Youku.com (China), and sharing employee-generated “unscripted” videos on your corporate site. Firms to watch: Deloitte, Microsoft, and Google.
  • Upgrading succession planning. A common practice becomes much more critical as global growth and large-scale retirement loom on the horizon. Focus areas include replacing retirees, improved succession planning metrics, adding external candidates to your plan, and fast-track leadership development. Firms to watch: Intuit, Eli Lilly, Deloitte, and TVA.
  • Using employee blogs for recruiting. A practice that is finally beginning to enter the mainstream is employee blogging to support recruiting efforts. The very best firms use blogs not just to spread their message but also to answer questions and to make their company appear more “real” and approachable. Key focus areas include blogs by employees other than recruiters and micro-blogs. Firms to watch: Microsoft, Google, and Sun.
  • Using mobile-phone recruiting. As mobile phones with amazing features spread throughout the population, recruiting managers are beginning to realize that they can be a powerful recruiting media. Key focus areas include text messaging, mobile video, and mobile-accessible corporate careers sites. Firms to watch: Google and nearly any firm in Asia!
  • Revitalizing corporate jobs page. Recruiting managers are beginning to understand that pitifully dull and dated websites drive away innovators. Focus areas include providing personalized information to the visitor, Flash video integration, blogs, podcasts, and virtual Q&As. Firms to watch: Microsoft, Google, and Deloitte.
  • Using a CRM model for hiring. I’ve been touting the values of the CRM (customer relationship management) model for years. More firms are beginning to understand the value of improving the experience at each “touch point” with the candidate. Key focus areas include relationship recruiting, automated applicant profiling, automated event calendaring, and robust lifecycle metrics. Firms to watch: U.S. Army, GlaxoSmithKline, and E&Y.
  • Hiring innovators. Rapid product copying and the high visibility of innovative firms like Apple and Google are forcing recruiting managers to modify recruiting processes in order to successfully recruit innovators and game changers. Key focus areas include relationship recruiting, pre-need hiring, and tolerant/inclusive screening and interviewing processes. Firms to watch: IBM and Google.
  • Recruiting globally. Recruiting managers are beginning to learn how to differentiate multi-national recruiting from true global recruiting. Key focus areas include global sourcing, globalized websites, and globalized employer referral programs. Firms to watch: Infosys and IBM.

Other Trends to Observe

Although these trends aren’t red-hot, they are emerging areas where a few firms have taken the lead and have produced noticeable results. These are certainly not going to become mainstream for most firms during the next year, but if you are an innovator, keep a close watch:

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  • Virtual-reality recruiting on SecondLife
  • Video games as recruiting tools
  • Online assessment tools
  • Using contests to identify internal and external prospects
  • Simulations for candidate assessment
  • Inclusive recruiting (replacing diversity recruiting)
  • Remote interviewing
  • Remote college recruiting
  • A renewed focus on internal redeployment
  • Boomerangs (bringing back key ex-employees)
  • Recruiting at professional events
  • Using credit card/sales leads to find prospects
  • Using analytics and modeling to predict future workforce needs
  • A new focus on the use of contingent workers in the weak economy
  • “Remote” college recruiting
  • A focus on contingent hiring
  • Improving on-boarding to build the employment brand
  • Reality TV shows as a recruiting and branding mechanism

Not-So-Hot Areas

Here are some areas that vendors and consultants talk a lot about, but in many cases, there is little innovation to report:

  • Outsourcing recruiting processes. Protecting your own recruiters makes this option less attractive as budgets get tight.
  • Video resumes. It’s still hard to get managers to view them.
  • Competency modeling. Too time-consuming to undertake during tough times.
  • Large job boards. Always mediocre, and their value is shrinking.
  • Retention. In a tight economy, only the very best will consider leaving.
  • Speed of hire. As unemployment rises, there is less pressure to make rapid hiring decisions.

Final Thoughts

These are just my thoughts. If you have identified any additional trends, let me know (johns@sfsu.edu) or post them on the ERE forum.

Dr. John Sullivan, professor, author, corporate speaker, and advisor, is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high-business-impact talent management solutions.

He’s a prolific author with over 900 articles and 10 books covering all areas of talent management. He has written over a dozen white papers, conducted over 50 webinars, dozens of workshops, and he has been featured in over 35 videos. He is an engaging corporate speaker who has excited audiences at over 300 corporations/ organizations in 30 countries on all six continents. His ideas have appeared in every major business source including the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, BusinessWeek, Fast Company, CFO, Inc., NY Times, SmartMoney, USA Today, HBR, and the Financial Times. In addition, he writes for the WSJ Experts column. He has been interviewed on CNN and the CBS and ABC nightly news, NPR, as well many local TV and radio outlets. Fast Company called him the "Michael Jordan of Hiring," Staffing.org called him “the father of HR metrics,” and SHRM called him “One of the industry's most respected strategists." He was selected among HR’s “Top 10 Leading Thinkers” and he was ranked No. 8 among the top 25 online influencers in talent management. He served as the Chief Talent Officer of Agilent Technologies, the HP spinoff with 43,000 employees, and he was the CEO of the Business Development Center, a minority business consulting firm in Bakersfield, California. He is currently a Professor of Management at San Francisco State (1982 – present). His articles can be found all over the Internet and on his popular website www.drjohnsullivan.com and on staging.ere.net. He lives in Pacifica, California.



19 Comments on “13 Trends In Corporate Recruiting for 2009

  1. I agree that social networks will become an integral part of every company’s recruiting efforts in the near future. After all, recruiting is about people, and social networks provide a good way to connect people together. The most obvious example is to leverage social networks to learn more about job applicants, and right now you can use Spokeo People Search to accomplish that task.

  2. Hello John, an interesting article. You missed out my firm from the emerging social network sites to aid recruitment. http://www.simska.com is a UK site that allows firms to subscribe to a social network site to manage their network of freelance contractors. This helps them attract tried and trusted contractors back to their firm when they are needed again without having to go through recruitment agencies.

  3. Hi John,

    I enjoyed reading your trends article, which shows exciting times ahead for those businesses that are embracing innovation and making a real commitment to new attraction and retention initiatives.

    I am pleased to see that smart businesses are realizing that a transactional approach offers little value, as for too long so many businesses have and continue to hire in such an outdated fashion.

    I would however like to see more transparency and sharing of relevant information by businesses with potential applicants, as this so often is missing. Most of the focus around new initiatives is on finding out more information about the applicant yet still delivering very little upfront to the applicant, which I believe is a fundamental problem, particularly when trying to attract passive talent at the higher end of the market.

    This is something Six Figures, http://www.sixfigures.com.au is looking to address with a premium job site that is geared around delivering high salary earners the information they need, about the business, the job, leadership, team, culture and so on in order to make a decision or to be tempted to make the decision to apply.

    The talent is indeed out there, we just need to work harder to attract top talent and consider what information and experience they want, rather than what we want to tell or deliver. The power shift from employer to job seeker has begun!

  4. Video and mobile video I think will be some of the top ways recruiters can easily and cost effectivly touch a large pool of candidates. We have started using video as a recruiting tool and it has worked out well. Here is a current video we are looking for a Recruiter in LA, CA


  5. Dr. Sullivan,
    One interesting trend you will see take hold in the second half of 2008 and catch fire in 2009 is “Collaboration”. (www.allianceq.com)
    The concept of Corporate America collaborating to collectively solve its recruiting problems touches on some of your top trends, most significantly;
    Branding: “countering your “negative” employment brand” – the first experience many people have with our employment brands is when they apply for a job. 98% of these people don’t get hired and a large portion is treated in a manner not becoming our brands. The Members of AllianceQ have solved that problem and begun to build the world’s largest, perpetually growing, organically diverse database in the world.
    When you speak of “innovators” the brands you see on AllianceQ are collaborating to de-fragment the terribly fragmented world of online recruiting. The effect this will have is to free the capacity of recruiting departments, allowing them to accomplish goals like relationship recruiting, reinforcing the business case for recruiting and focusing on succession planning and other strategic initiatives.
    I’d be curious to know what your thoughts are on this strategy and am available for a conversation anytime!

    Phil Haynes
    Managing Director

  6. John:

    I read this article with a keen interest. I would like to re-enforce some of the strategies you have suggested on the article.

    My company has been discussing about various approaches to hire employees. We have used Employee referrals, Social networking tools, job portals and other media to attract candidates.

    In the last eight months we have put together good metrics to find out the best sources to hire top performing employees. Based on the statistics we gathered; we discovered that 56.62% of our employees have come through Employee referrals thanks to our company’s aggressive employee referrals programs and retention policies. Employee referral is also one of the best sources to find good quality hires.

    We also found that none of our top performing employees have left us in the last 8 months. As far as the average and poor performers are concerned, we have customized training programs to give them every opportunity to improve on their skills. Through our quarterly certification programs, we’ve noticed that our employees are continuously learning and improving on their skills. This clearly reflects on our recent client relationship surveys. Our scores on these surveys have been consistently averaging between 8 and 9 out of 10.

    I did notice that you added Outsourcing Recruiting Processes under the “Not so Hot Trends” for 2009. I agree with you to a certain extent. Outsourcing recruiting processes to local companies under a typical “pay for placement” model may not appear “Hot” in the current market scenario. However, outsourcing recruiting functions to offshore recruiting firms could be the next big thing in corporate recruiting. This is probably a new concept for many and I would like to take this opportunity to introduce it to the ERE members.

    Offshore recruiting firms provide a range of services. Internet-based sourcing and/or candidate screening services can free up to 50 percent of corporate recruiters’ time. The offshore sourcers and recruiters work as “assistants” to the corporate recruiters and typically provide support for the most critical and time sensitive job openings. The offshore team performs the time-consuming tasks and leaves the highest-value, highest-touch tasks to the corporate in-house recruiters. As a result, corporate recruiters can close up to 50 percent more job openings, focus on complex tasks requiring the greatest skill, provide a more positive experience for candidates, and delight their hiring managers through presenting higher quality candidates.
    Full lifecycle recruiting allows corporate recruiting departments to outsource recruiting functions that do not require in-person interactions. Tasks can include sourcing, candidate interviewing and qualification, negotiating pay rates, administering online tests, and conducting background and reference checks.

    In terms of cost-benefits too offshore recruiting can be a good proposition as the average cost per hire works out to be $1500 to $3000!

    Daniel Rogers
    Senior Internal Recruiter
    91-20-25387050 Ext 301(Work)
    91-98230-88778 (Cell)
    Recruiting Done Right from Start to Finish

    About iPlace USA
    iPlace USA, is a global recruiting company with headquarters in Virginia, USA and international recruiting center in Pune, Maharashtra, India. We provide professionally managed sourcing and recruiting services for American companies from our facility in Pune. More and more corporate recruiting departments in the US are working with offshore firms to increase the productivity of their recruiting operations and to lower costs.
    iPlace has implemented the best attributes of Indian and American sourcing and recruiting processes to ensure consistent high quality, speed, and professionalism.

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