What’s Hot for 2010

spotlight_4Every year I try and predict what trends and topics will dominate our thinking, conversations, and technology in the coming year. Last year my three predictions were pretty much on target: Simplicity in sourcing, the rise of social networks, and internal redeployment. I am not sure how much redeployment actually took place, but it must have been significant as key positions remained filled even when external hiring was slow.

Sourcing remains a topic that I am interested in. It seems to me that the need to conduct in-depth Internet searches and apply Boolean logic to searches is no longer relevant in the majority of cases. Cold calling and other traditional methods of locating people will never go away, but are less significant. Two occurrences have changed the game. The first is social networks whose mass adoption, personalization, and ease of use have put them first in the sourcer’s toolkit. Second, jobs are being redefined and replaced with an emphasis on broader skills and on the ability of candiates to take on a variety of roles. This opens the door to more candidates, except in narrow technical areas where specific skills and training are required. A third minor factor is the recession and the short-term surplus of candidates. This will evaporate as Baby Boomers retire and more people start to work for themselves, but this will be an evolution over the next five years.

I don’t need to comment too much on the importance of social networks. This past year has proved their efficacy as sourcing tools as well as sales tools to motivate and engage candidates. What is going to change this year is the emergence of proprietary networks for specific industries or even for specific organizations, if they are large and employ a lot of people. The Facebook’s and LinkedIn’s will face competition, in a way, from networks that are designed for a specific type of person, role, industry, or geography. These more general networks are already offering this, in a way, through interest groups and pages for specific organizations.

As I wrote last year, I think that over time candidates will find that they are better treated and more completely able to present themselves via social networks than they can with a resume. This is huge as candidate dissatisfaction with recruiting and employee dissatisfaction with employers is at an all-time peak. Social networking offers some hope as a way to alleviate some of this.

The emerging trends I see for 2010:

Non-Traditional Employment

We are going to see a steady and continuing rise in temporary, part-time, contract, and consulting work. This will replace a large portion of traditional employment over this year and continue on for the foreseeable future. Employers are and will remain reluctant to hire regular employees given the economy, the constantly-changing consumer and marketplace, as well as new government regulations. I believe that new labor laws, more enforcement, and higher costs for health and disability will also pressure employers to hire people as temporaries or contractors.

This is in line, as well, with worker sentiment. Recent Conference Board research shows a record level of job dissatisfaction among current workers, with a significant number of Gen Y saying they are highly dissatisfied. More young people are opting to downsize their lives and find ways to earn a living on their own. They offer a variety of skills from programming, writing, tutoring, teaching, or doing manual labor on a part-time or temporary basis.

I predict no upsurge in regular employment. There will be hiring, but primarily for critical positions and to protect intellectual property.

Mobility Plus

We are living in a time when where we work is no longer the most important consideration. Again, young people are leading the way in demanding the opportunity to work wherever, whenever, and however they want. The most leading-edge organizations are adapting to this and allowing lots of flexibility in employment terms. These firms will prosper.

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But this trend means recruiting will have to go virtual and recruiters, as I have said many times before, will need to become skilled at video interviewing, online testing, and the other components of a complete virtual recruiting process. Hiring managers may never meet face-to-face with a candidate, and once hired, the employee may work alone in some remote place with no face-to-face contact with any other employee. Others may work in small clusters located regionally, and others may choose to work this way on a part-time basis. The key will be flexibility in everything.

Visa issues will become less important because people can work from their home country. Travel is cheap and fast and, while security may be an issue, people are more mobile than ever. If there is a need to meet, it can happen easily. This mobility may make a temporary or part-time workforce even more attractive as that will eliminate the complex issues of health coverage and other benefits for a distributed workforce.

As mobile phones get even more connected to the Internet and offer more capabilities, work can take place literally anywhere: in airplanes, cars, or trains, and at all times and places. The concept of work being something done at a specific place is ending.

Fewer Recruiters: More RPOs

I see the need for far fewer recruiters as the number of employees continues to drop and there is more focus on part-time and temporary workers. The recruiters who remain will be highly skilled in using social networks, in living and working virtually, in influencing and selling, and in learning their trade more thoroughly than ever. As I wrote a few weeks ago, the internal recruiters who survive will have to have the skills of successful third-party recruiters, plus more.

There will also be a steady rise in recruiting firms who can fill all the hiring needs of an organization. The so-called one-stop-shop will become more popular to fill the needs for temporary and part-time workers. These recruitment process outsourcing centers will reduce the need for internal recruiters. And, the successful RPOs will heavily use technology to reduce their need for recruiters and keep costs low. Perhaps a fourth trend should be the rise of recruiting technology that will really improve recruiting. But I still believe that technology is only a tool that well-trained and seasoned recruiters can employ to handle more open positions, do more with less, and lower costs.

Let’s see how I do this year and let me wish you all a very happy and a prosperous new year!

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.


20 Comments on “What’s Hot for 2010

  1. Kevin,

    Sounds like what you’re saying is inside recruiters would be best served working for an RPO for efficiency and cost cutting reasons and 3rd party recruiters should have trouble as there’ll be few permanent full time positions.
    We’ll need a small fraction of recruiters we once did.

    I’m not disagreeing with your assessment and appreciate your good wishes for the year, but by the sounding of your piece there’ll be fewer of us recruiters around and less prosperity for those who are.

    As a 3rd party recruiter my lifeblood today are tough to fill ‘purple squirrel” jobs finding passive invisible candidates companies can’t find. I understand my belt will likely discover additional notches.

    Thanks for your insights.


  2. Kevin, couldn’t agree with you more regarding non-traditional employment, it is a trend that has been evident for the last decade without much attention. When I first started working as an advisor contingent labor averaged between 3-7% of the workforce on average depending on industry. Today the average is 4x that!

    The interesting thing is that many recruiting function leaders have no interest in strategically managing a contingent labor function. I was chatting with one director just before the holidays that could not wait to outsource “vendor administration” as contingent labor utilization was going to exceed 30% in her organization in 2010. Her perspective was limited solely to administration and the complexities of managing a multitude of vendors, not on the agility that could be achieved my managing a more flexible workforce or the assessment possibilities such a model could enable.

    The trend shows no sign of slowing down, and while political pressure and enhanced enforcement may be barriers to wide spread adoption, leading global organizations will either do it anyway or move the jobs to a location where they can.

    Serious thought leadership is needed in both organizations and government to modernize an extremely antiquated labor infrastructure.

  3. Kevin – I agree and wanted to add to this “The recruiters who remain will be highly skilled in using social networks, in living and working virtually, in influencing and selling, and in learning their trade more thoroughly than ever.” I would add that we recruiters really need to learn the business and provide a strong point of view on why our candidates would match the business and the needs of the business leaders. Constantly showing our value. Great insights.

  4. Sorry, Kevin, I think you missed some critical marks here.

    First, the only way you’re going to hire a top-third person is through increased contact with a recruiter, not less. You might hire an average or below average person who has the qualifications, but certainly not someone who’s looking for a career, rather than a lateral transfer. This takes a lot of hand holding by recruiters. RPOs can’t do this unless they hire more and stronger recruiters who can work closely with their hiring managers.

    In fact, I’ve seen a major trend for companies to increase the number of their internal recruiters to get away from the average/below average quality problems they’ve experienced.

    When you look at implementing a “raising the talent bar” strategy, you’re predictions don’t ring true. If anything they’ll only lower the bar.

  5. I think this is a great article…in a dialogue provoking way. I think you might be doing a disservice to sourcing and recruiters with your comment “..the need to conduct in-depth Internet searches and apply Boolean logic to searches is no longer relevant in the majority of cases….” Sure it is! The internet is a venue where money and user generated content reign supreme – a true sourcing skillset allows recruiting pro’s to cut through the volume online and find the talent they need. To turn over stones their competitor’s are missing.

    I think it’s naive for any of us to think that social networking will be the ultimate answer, at least not in 2010. There’s a lot of buy-in, and plenty of early adopters in the recruiting world. But we need more talent to come to the table, so I see cold calling, sourcing and traditional networking and recruiting methods still being part of a recruiting departments talent acquisition strategy.

    We’d be naive to rest on our laurels and say there’s less jobs, plenty of people, the boomers are walking out of the workforce so all I have to do is type in “java developer” in Google and the right candidate will magically appear. Or run an ad I’ll magically find the right candidate. Or hope that I’ve done enough networking that if I put out a call they will fall in my lap. I don’t think any recruiters job has become that easy. Not yet.

    Best wishes in the new year…..

  6. Kelly,

    Thanks for the thoughtful comment. I think that intensive Internet searching, for most internal recruiters, is a sign of their failure to develop a community of potential candidates. If the position is a unique or one-of-a-kind search, they should probably use a third party recruiter. For volume and routine hiring there should be no need to use anything beyond a network of potential candidates whether proprietary or not.

    Building that community is what a recruiter’s job is all about – not running searches or becoming a computer nerd.

    I do agree that social networking is not the ultimate answer and probably never will be. It is another tool that, along with Internet search, should be used when appropriate.

    The real problem for most recruiters is knowing which tools to use and when to use them. Tools don’t fail – people do.

  7. Ah…interesting. But maybe what we need is a meet in the middle kind of approach. I come from the corporate background where a knowledgeable recruiter (i.e. capable of weeding through the blarney online to find the talent they need) could save a company big bucks on TPR fees. And posting fees. Because they do just that, when req’s are low, they find and connect with those people they know they’ll need in the future. Whether they upload them to their ATS or connect with them in a networking forum is their choice. And some search savvy is necessary, cause it’s a big world. Otherwise we don’t create the reach we need, nor stay competitive. And the reality is, we just came out of a recession, and if not in HR, I expect that CFO’s will be pushing back and asking why are we paying these fees? Hopefully they’ve been asking that already. And I don’t fear for the TPR, because I have seen HR departments so reliant on TPR’s for placement that Recruiters were eliminated and now Hiring Managers put their searches in the TPR’s hands. It can be anyone’s game.

    I do believe that HR Professionals for 2010 and beyond have to be extremely skilled and multi-tasking wunderkinds, and I think if they fit sourcing into 15 minutes of their day and use some of the amazing tools available (particularly those that are free), they can be at the top of their game. Those that can be masters of it all are going to be the game changers of the next decade.

    And I do say all of this with the utmost respect- like I said – you’ve started a great dialogue.

  8. as long as my coffee is hot in 2010 i’ll be happy ;p
    lol, jk around…. how come there is zero mention of Twitter here Kevin? i enjoy it as a source-of-hire / brand tool.


  9. Hey Kevin, Great article.I have always been a follower of your articles and views – appreciate them.

    Your comment about sourcing seems like echoing John Summers views sometimes back regarding Is Sourcing Dead which sparkled few discussions. I am a corporate sourcer myself and totally disagrees to your point. Sourcing is a specialist activity. It’s not just about booleans and search engines – it’s more than that. It’s your attitude, strategy, market knowledge, passion and out of box thinking which if being coupled with great tools can deliver GREAT results. Yes, Social Networking, tools and information overflow has eased up sourcing a bit; but getting the information at right time, right place and right person is more important. That’s where specialist sourcing plays an enormous part.

    Specially your comment about using third party recruiters – I totally disagrees. That’s where sourcing adds up more value. I work in corporate recruitment department where my biggest SLA and KPI is to minimize vendor hiring – why? Because if they can find it – so can we. If right guys are out there – it just need some thinking to get them; from whatever ways. And Sourcing is not about being a NERD – it’s about waring a thinking hat. That’s what I love about sourcing. There is not definite ways to do sourcing. You have all the weapons and you have to figure out how to use them. That’s a challenge. I agree that recruiters may not have that much time – but that’s where creating a separate sourcing layer adds value. If information is out there – that’s a challenge to get it. What if it would not have been there in first place – then what would have happen to sourcing.

    I can’t stop echoing – SOURCING WILL NEVER BE DEAD!!! It will look much nicer in coming days….. Rock On!!!

  10. Kevin,
    I think you’re underestimating the important of human capital data now, and most certianly in the future.

    I disagree with your assessment that the need to ”apply Boolean logic to searches is no longer relevant in the majority of cases.” I find it interesting that last year you wrote an article in May of 2009 in which you stated that data mining is an advanced skill/value that can facilitate recruiting success, and data mining was on the same level as relationship building (which I do agree with).

    Relationships and recruiting go hand and hand – there’s nothing new to discover here, whether the relationships are built in person, over the phone, or through online social networking.

    The next frontier in recruiting lies in the effective information management – ATS/CRM solutions, the Internet, resume databases, social networks and whatever comes next.

    The ability to quickly and effectively extract value out of information systems containing human capital data enables a recruiter to be more productive – to do more of what most people consider to be “real recruiting.” Quite simply, the more qualified candidates you can identify, the more qualified candidates you can contact, engage, attract and recruit – with or without pre-existing relationships.

    Here’s my full take on the future of recruiting:

    With regard to 3rd party firms and RPO’s – if corporate recruiting teams could achieve or exceed the same level of results (quality and speed of identification/hire) as 3rd party firms and RPO’s, why would they need 3rd party firms and RPO’s?

    The real question is why aren’t many internal recruiting teams capable of meeting or exceeding the results achieved by external recruiting teams?

    And exactly HOW do you think RPO’s find and produce their candidates so quickly? It isn’t through proactively building traditional candidate pipelines – it’s through the effective use of large sources of deep human capital data, including their client’s own ATS in most cases!

  11. Glen,

    I don’t think we really disagree about much. Maybe my statement about boolean search was a bit strong, but I think the jist of it is correct.

    I am a HUGE advocate, as you point out, of data mining and data evaluation and every recruiter needs to be better at doing that, as I wrote in the article you refer to. But HR data and data mining, to me, are very different from doing searches for candidates. I also do not think that sourcing and search will disappear; just that they are better skills for a few specialists than for every recruiter.

    Recruiters are still first and foremost sales people and should be focused on building relationships and seling and closing candidates.

    Thanks for your thoughtful comments.

  12. Good stuff Kevin – I made some comments on our blog, and will be doing the same with other predictions of 2010 – as well as my own. I am going to take a look at John Sullivan’s next and then a few others.

    But in short (grabbed from the blog) :

    * Employment will become more project oriented. Assignments will be shorter, and that will increase retention and allow for rotation of younger talent. This may drive an increased need for recruiters to experts in talent management and internal mobility.

    * Mobility will continue with mixed results. New Tools will come, virtual or not, and will be used. Their effectiveness, like always, will be brand and talent pool dependent. Try new stuff, innovate, fail, and try again.

    * RPO will not increase, but companies will increase outsourcing of services before and after typical RPO activity. Don’t be shocked when your RPO comes out with its onboarding service. The use of recruiters (in the classic 20 – 35% fee sense or internal corporate recruiter) will continue to fluctuate. Those who perform that work really well will survive, and those that do not will simply suffer or skate on by as usual.

    Check out the long version on


    Thanks Kevin for putting this out there – good discussion for sure.

  13. I’m not sure I agree with all the predictions for 2010- although I hope I am wrong! Consulting work with visa issues which still dominate one of the top issues for USCIS to deal with is another challenge in itself. With heavy restrictions on consultants and contract workers, I’m not sure how realistic this will become. RPO’s are outdated- many of them don’t provide the accuracy and efficiency that is much sought for by their clients. Moreover, securing company information is still another challenge with many RPO’s taking on multiple clients within the same industry. Couldn’t agree with you more on mobility and the use of social media as a tool!

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