Emerging Talent Acquisition Trends for 2010: Are You Ready For a Roller Coaster? (Part I of III)

Jan 4, 2010
This article is part of a series called News & Trends.

crystal_ballAs we begin a new business year in 2010, if you are the slightest bit strategic, it is important to look back, analyze the trends, make a few assumptions, and begin planning ahead. Will the same issues that plagued your organization in 2009 wreak havoc in 2010? Will issues your organization has postponed addressing finally reach the point where they can no longer be ignored? Will unprecedented innovation in technologies impacting recruiting finally deliver on the value propositions long extolled by the vendor community? Will the global economy become more stable or more volatile, and how will those changes impact the labor market? These are all questions that strategic recruiting leaders and practitioners need to be contemplating and adjusting practices to deal with.

Unfortunately, I am forecasting that 2010 will be a year with at least as much turmoil as 2009, but one that will present thought-leading organizations with major opportunities. Many forecasters are predicting that 2010 will be the year social media gains a major footing in the enterprise, and that social media will help drive better ideation and execution throughout every function, but that perspective is too narrow. In 2010, the pace of literally everything will continue to increase, leading to 12 months of insane competition, endless labor churn, and boundless opportunity.

Top 2010 Recruiting Highlights

A year from now, if you were to look back and analyze the headlines of recruiting articles, blogs, and consulting guidance, I predict the following topics will dominate the content collective:

  1. Churn: Just as seen in 2009, 2010 will be a year in which organizations both grow and contract simultaneously. Business leaders will become more adept at making surgical labor cuts and investing in labor that brings new capabilities to the table. It will be part of a multi-pronged approach that ultimately improves the agility of the organization.
  2. Contingent labor: The writing has been on the wall for some time, but not everybody wants to read it! Volatile market conditions, radical competition, and rapid innovation dictate that organizations be able to flex their labor usage frequently, something traditional employees do not make possible. To further enable agility, 2010 will be the year that even those organizations that have resisted using contingent labor increase it by double-digit rates.
  3. Show me the money: I have been predicting this trend for over a decade, but sadly few HR leaders get the point. The requests — scratch that, demands — from senior leaders to demonstrate strategic thinking and impact are present in the boardroom, and 2010 will be the year they trickle out despite efforts by HR leadership to ignore them. Providing tactical functional analytics will no longer cut it. Recruiting leaders will need to step forward and prove business impact presented in Dollars, Euros, or Yen.
  4. The return of the War: If you’re involved in global talent acquisition, you already know that despite a global economic downturn, the war for talent never really ended. The truth is that top talent will always be in the minority regardless of market conditions, and that sought-after minority populations have power. Candidate centricity will prove a key battle concept in 2010.
  5. Direct sourcing: At the start of this century, direct sourcing efforts contributed less than 5% of the candidates who were ultimately hired, but as a source, direct sourcing has grown year after year. 2010 will be the year that direct sourcing efforts on average produce 1:5 hires, and begin to challenge employee referral programs as the dominate source in leading organizations (although in many strategic talent organizations you could argue that ERPs are actually distributed direct sourcing systems.) The challenge moving forward isn’t finding people –that’s too easy — the real challenge is sorting, categorizing, contacting, and convincing the right talent that you are relevant to their wants and needs.
  6. Jugaad is required: The continuous emphasis on innovation in business will spill over into talent acquisition. In 2010 you will see more and more organizations tap strategic leaders from sales, marketing, and operations groups to lead staffing initiatives. They will continue to adapt proven business tools and approaches not developed for/by recruiters for recruiting, without significant resources or budget.
  7. Negative employer branding: Whether organizations acknowledge it or not, social media is a force that will impact them for better or for worse. 2010 will be a year in which employees, past and present, really start to influence how organizations are perceived by being more vocal about their experiences. As more and more online communities expose their content to search engines, transparency will abound. Is your glass house shatterproof?
  8. Tool obsolescence: Not surprisingly, a large number of tools in the typical recruiter’s tool basket are obsolete and have been for years. Recruiting leaders and practitioners locked in a transactional mindset haven’t been paying much attention to new technologies both inside and outside the recruiting industry that apply to recruiting, and as a result are using tools that are profoundly inefficient. 2010 will be a year in which progressive organizations make such leaps and bounds with new technology that less-progressive organizations will not be able to ignore them. As a result, more tools than ever will push toward retirement.
  9. Obsolete talent: Antiquated approaches to training and development coupled with general apathy by the vast majority of the labor force when it comes to keeping skills and knowledge current will lead to staggering levels of labor obsolescence. Jobs will abound, but talent suitable for them will be in short supply. As a result, more and more organizations will be forced to pursue workforce decentralization via remote workers, outsourcing, and offshoring.
  10. Retention: Numerous employee surveys indicate that given a stable opportunity, a majority of employees today would jump ship. While the surveys likely exaggerate the percentage of the labor market who can and will make a move, the truth is that some top talent will do so and that the vast majority of organizations are not prepared to mitigate risks caused by rapid and significant turnover. As an ugly turnover tsunami is just around the corner, what’s your plan?

While this list of topics that will dominate recruiting thoughts and actions in 2010 seems overwhelming negative, the reality is that every situation presents two sides: one positive, one negative. Each of these trends to come presents unbelievable opportunity to those recruiting leaders brave enough to break rank and step forward to challenge the status quo.

To learn more about these trends, the factors driving them, and action steps to take, stay tuned for parts II and III of this series. Part II will address trends related to labor churn and monetizing recruiting impact, while part III will focus on the rising war for talent and emerging tools.

This article is part of a series called News & Trends.
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