Why It’s a Great Time to Be in the Talent Business

Screen Shot 2013-04-24 at 4.10.05 PMAccording to PwC’s 15th Annual Global CEO Survey 2012, talent acquisition and retention are top priorities for companies worldwide. That doesn’t surprise me, and I doubt it surprises you either. It’s a great time to be in the talent business.

What does surprise me though is that despite talent being a top priority, most recruiting products don’t work very well.

That’s because most were designed more than a decade ago for decision makers — not you, the user — and haven’t evolved much since.

Now for the good news: things are changing. Consider the case of iPhone vs. Blackberry. In 2007, BlackBerry was the go-to device for professionals. Then Apple built a smartphone that was easier to use — the iPhone. Meanwhile, Blackberry remained laser-focused on decision-maker priorities: scalability, security, and administrative control. iPhone adoption steadily increased as a result. Eventually, people started bringing iPhones to work, but were frustrated that they couldn’t access their corporate email. Fast forward to today: iPhones are increasingly common in corporate America and are supported by many IT departments.

This is a prime example of a fundamental shift in behavior: the consumerization of the enterprise.

At the risk of stating the obvious, the users of enterprise products are people like you and me, not enterprises. We use devices and apps like the iPhone, Gmail, and Facebook … and we expect the ones we use at work to be equal to, if not better than, the ones we use at home.

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Consumerization means putting the user’s priorities first. Instead of striving for security, scalability, and administrative control alone, you focus on the principles that drive great consumer-product design:

  • Simplify — Hide complexity while retaining power
  • Recommend — Surface relevant information based on preferences and usage
  • Automate — Eliminate repetitive tasks that feel like work
  • Socialize — Build on the user’s network and the user’s company’s network

When will the talent-acquisition industry have its iPhone moment? Soon! Recruiters are starting to demand more from the products they use, and savvy vendors are stepping up with products that are easier to use and more powerful. That means spending less time sourcing and more time engaging with candidates in more meaningful ways.

Here are three things recruiters should do now to take full advantage of the consumerization of the enterprise:

  1. Be more demanding. Expect more from the products you use and the vendors who develop them. Ask yourself: Do your vendors specialize in enterprise software only, or do they develop consumer products as well? Companies that understand consumers and put the user first will be the long-term winners in the enterprise.
  2. Be technophiles, not technophobes. Embrace and experiment with new products to identify the ones that are a pleasure to use and increase your productivity.
  3. Be creative — As phases of the recruiting workflow become automated, recruiters who thrive will distinguish themselves by engaging candidates in more meaningful ways. Analyze the capabilities of your products and identify the new ways in which they can help you more meaningfully engage the right candidates at the right time with the right messages.

Now more than ever before companies realize that talent is their greatest competitive differentiator and recruiters are gaining access to easier to use and more powerful products. Like I said, it’s a great time to be in the talent business.

Parker Barrile is senior director, product management at LinkedIn, responsible for leading the product team for Talent Solutions, LinkedIn's largest and fastest-growing business. He is based in Mountain View, California.


6 Comments on “Why It’s a Great Time to Be in the Talent Business

  1. While this is true, it felt a bit like a commercial for LinkedIn. I would have liked to see some discussion of the market realities that make this a good time to “be in the talent business…”

  2. Clearly a bit of a commercial for LinkedIn but that is OK. People who work for a company write for that company and if we are to get purview and perspective, we need to take from the article what we can and leave the rest as a bit biased and self serving. (Really, there is nothing wrong with this to my way of thinking)

    I would like to read more of Mr. Barrile’s thoughts and perspective from his vantage point on the inside. I think it will have real value.

    I find this to be a very good article and I happen to be a fan of most things LinkedIn. This article makes one very important point. It is indeed, a great time to be in the talent biz.

  3. @ Parker:
    SELF PROMOTER! That means that Gregory, Howard, Stephen (and Todd and John Z) get to try your paid LI products, if they’re not already. (https://staging.ere.net/2013/03/28/not-yet-video-interviewing-now-you-have-no-excuse/)

    “Why It’s a Great Time to Be in the Talent Business” If by “great time” do you mean inflation-adjusted wages/hourly rates that are lower than the Pre-Dotcom Mid-’90s and continuing shortages of high-level recruiting positions? Yes indeed “it IS a great time to be in the talent business”.

    “Be more demanding” Good idea. Let’s start with Linked In:
    1) Stop raising your prices so much.
    2) Start giving us many more InMails- with LI Recruiter(IMSM: $8,200.00/yr for a single seat) we should be able to send an unlimited number.
    3) Send out the following email (at least three times) to all LI members:
    “Effective July 1, 2013, all Profile messages which currently say ‘Are Open to Job or Career Opportunities’ will now be ‘Are Not Open to Job or Career Opportunities’- you will have to ‘opt in’ to be ‘open’ as opposed to the current situation where it is ‘opt out’ to NOT ‘be open’. Furthermore, you will need to ‘opt in’ every 30 days, or it will automatically revert to ‘Are Not Open to Job or Career Opportunities’. This way our valued recruiter customers will not waste their time on the vast majority of theoretically ‘semi-active’ potential candidates who have simply neglected to change their settings.”

    If LI does not do these things, we will do NOTHING until someone cracks your near-monopoly- YOU can be the next Microsoft to someone’s Google.

    Keith Halperin

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