What’s Going On in the Corporate Staffing World? Results of Our Recent Survey

Two weeks ago I presented a survey to compare how things are looking in the staffing world today versus 18 months ago. While there weren’t too many major changes, some of the changes that I did observe are a bit disappointing. This time we had 15% fewer responses than we had to the survey in April of 2002. This is understandable given the smaller pool of recruiters that’s out there. Approximately 64% of you work in corporations, non-profit agencies, or for a government department. We excluded all third-party staffing agency or independent recruiter responses from these results. I will report on what they had to say in another column. I am always looking for trends, for emerging practices that may go unnoticed in the daily routine. Back in May of 2002 I wrote a column which included the table below of what is “in” and what is “out” in recruiting. I used this survey to see if I was right or wrong in what I perceived as trends back then:

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What’s In What’s Not
Referrals/networking Job fairs/cold calling
In-house recruiters Contract recruiters
Outsource the non-essential Outsource everything or nothing
Talent strategies Workforce planning
Online screening & assessment Lengthy interview process
Talent pools Resume databases
Experienced hires College hires
Performance Management Retention
Quality of Hire Speed of Hire

The first question on the survey asked what you considered to be the most effective sourcing method for professional hires. The results were in line with what I had seen in the previous survey and what I indicated was “in” in the table above. Employee referral was still the number-one response, but with a downward trend. What is gaining rapidly appears to be the use of networking, which had a 3% increase, and the use of corporate websites, which had a huge 9% increase. The use of job boards dropped 5% and the use of job fairs went to zero. It seems clear from the survey, and from my conversations with recruiters, that networking, referrals, and relationship building via the corporate website are the sources that will dominate 21st century recruiting. I predict that job boards will evolve to be primarily sources of candidates for mass hiring (if that ever happens again), and for niche and specialty jobs. We also asked what sources you relied on for diversity recruiting. Here things are more traditional, and I am not sure why. Job fairs still accounted for 6% of all diversity sourcing. This is down by 5% from the previous survey, but still a significant amount. Maybe diverse candidates are more likely to go to job fairs, or maybe the people who sponsor these haven’t got the word that they are not a very effective or efficient source. Also the use of job boards rose almost 5% as a source of diversity candidates. As I mentioned above, job boards will probably remain good sources for niche candidates or those with a particular skill or attribute. Job boards may remain a good way to find diverse candidates, especially if those candidates are aware of these boards and take advantage if them. But some of the responses were disappointing. When we asked how you respond to candidates who send their resume to your website, an increasing number of you said you do not respond at all. This went from 12% to over 15%! Even for those who do respond, there was a decrease of 2% for those who send a personalized response of some sort and a slight increase in those who send a standard, boilerplate type of email response. The time to respond has also changed significantly. Most of those who respond at all do so within 72 hours, which is good. However, a significant portion of you (14%) take the full 72 hours to respond. It was clear from these questions and several others that we are not doing much to be responsive to candidates or to personalize the experience a candidate has with us. Response time is a key indicator to a candidate of urgency and importance and as these times creep up, the sense of importance and interest wane. There is also a bit of a paradox here. While we are using the corporate website more than ever to source candidates, we are not responding to them quickly or in a personal way, even though technology makes that fairly easy to do these days. Also disappointing was that over one-third of you do NOT have a talent pool. This figure has actually increased by 4% since April of 2002. This was very disappointing to me, as I am a strong advocate of building robust talent pools. I am convinced that once hiring starts in earnest again (and it will), those who have these pools will be far ahead in the hiring wars. In fact, those without pools may find themselves in serious trouble, trying to source top quality candidates who will demand a fast and personal engagement with the organization. Trying to quickly build a talent pool is bit like deciding to get married this month when you haven’t even been dating. It takes time to build a relationship. We used this definition of a talent pool: A pre-screened, at least partially qualified, group of potential employees who have expressed interest in your organization but who are currently not being actively considered or recruited for a position by your organization. We then asked you if your organization currently has a “talent pool” resource or database. More recruiters are using the web and working a network to find good candidates. If this were combined with an increasing use of talent pools, I would feel that we had made solid progress over the past 18 months. Next week I will look at how many requisitions you are handling these days, examine how you are organized and what metrics you are reporting. Again, you will find this a mixed report with some encouraging signs, but still many areas to work on.

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 ERE.net, 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 kwheeler@futureoftalent.org.

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