3 Trends That Impact Recruiting

crl_mastheadIn addition to a shortage of talent, Microsoft E&D has identified three trends that impact recruiting and have caused us to see a new way of looking at recruiting solutions.

  1. Technology seems to be in beta
  2. The Internet has turned from informational to social
  3. People (customers) are in power

In the April Journal of Corporate Recruiting Leadership, I’m going into more detail about this. But for the abridged version, let me say that technology is changing at a mind-numbing pace. An interesting phenomenon is that solutions are being released in beta, as opposed to waiting for the final version of a product. In beta, the solutions are continually improved until another better solution is developed. And then the cycle continues as the new solution is offered in beta release.

At Microsoft E&D, we began a three-year program with a hypothesis that we could use technology to enhance the human touch and create a better experience for prospects and candidates. We found a vendor partner that offered a potential solution, but we understood we were in uncharted territory and needed to be nimble with respect to change.

In the second year of the project, we switched vendor partners because a broader and more powerful solution became available. Fortunately our new vendor partner was nimble and flexible because our solution in year three is very different than in year two. And I do not expect to have a final version of this vendor’s solution because year four will offer some exciting new opportunities. The truth is that we do not know what we don’t know. When we shifted vendor partners two years ago, we did not realize that a different situation existed until it was introduced to us. I am not certain we even had the words to ask for that solution. I suspect technology solutions are going to appear next year that not imagined today—and they will be released in beta.

The Internet has made a well-chronicled transition from being a place to obtain information to a place to engage in social activities. The places people gather are called Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. People are aligning socially with their interests and share publically their personal information. Information that used to only be obtainable by the black ops researchers and sourcers is available to all with some Internet research. Each of these virtual gathering places has rules of engagement, and community members are expected to respect them. If the migration of people to the virtual social sites continues, most of the target audience that we need to reach out to will be online and visible.

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Looking at recruiting in the 21st century requires an understanding of how the traditional components of recruiting have changed. Sometimes I think that if we had a new pair of glasses, then change would be easier. We tend to see things though our old glasses. The frames fit our face well and feel familiar and comfortable. The lens may be scratched, but if we hold our eyes just right, we miss the flaw in our vision. But the new glasses offer a challenge: what if things are not as they appear? What if the clarity in our vision makes us uncomfortable? What if we see we have been wrong and made mistakes? What if? What if? What if?

I invite you to put on a new pair of glasses and view recruiting. You will see a bit of old school — some major influences and a number of components that make up recruiting in the 21st century. These glasses can correct our vision to clearly see the recruiting opportunities.

Marvin Smith is veteran talent acquisition practitioner who focuses on strategic talent sourcing, talent community building, social recruiting, employment branding, and the use of technology to drive talent identification and engagement strategies. He has been on teams that were at the forefront of resurgence of talent sourcing as a strategic weapon in talent acquisition. These teams piloted groundbreaking programs (ERE-Media-award-winning) work that used business intelligence, data, and technology to segment the target talent audiences and build talent pipelines and communities. His current role is a strategic talent sourcing consultant with Lockheed Martin, where he is responsible for talent pipeline building for critical skills talent; project management of a RMP (recruitment marketing platform); and driving corporate-wide, talent community initiatives. Previously, he served as senior research recruiter on an internal executive recruiting team with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; a strategic sourcing program manager with Blackberry (Research In Motion); and a talent sourcer/program manager for Microsoft. He is a writer and speaker on the topics of talent communities, strategic talent sourcing, Moneyball sourcing, and talent acquisition strategies. You can follow his blog or join a community that he created on talent community development or follow him on Twitter.