How Technology Can — And Can’t — Get You Through a Disruptive Labor Market

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Aug 8, 2022
This article is part of a series called Techsploration.

If you’re a talent acquisition leader, a recruiter, or just a casual observer, you’ve probably noticed things have been a little weird lately with the economy. If you’re having a hard time figuring it out, there’s no need to fret. Professionals who are paid to study and interpret economic data can’t even tell you what exactly is going on.

That may be a little too macroeconomic for recruiting leaders. What we can do is focus on the latest results from the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (or JOLTS) from June, which has a more immediate impact on talent acquisition departments. In spite of economic headwinds and a high degree of uncertainty, there are still nearly two jobs for every unemployed person. That’s down from the highs of this spring — but only by a little. 

People are still willing to leave their job for a new opportunity, at least for now. But that could all change very quickly. Nobody has a crystal ball but you can prepare for uncertainty and disruption, and technology can play an important role. But it can’t do everything. 

What Can Technology Help With

Organizations should be looking at agile technologies and tools that help them take more initiative in the hiring process, adjust strategies in real-time, and make the most efficient use of resources. 

Sourcing and outbound recruiting. Regardless of what CNBC or The Wall Street Journal tells you about the state of the market, everyone in recruiting knows how difficult it is to hire talent. Posting a job can work, but relying on it for all of your candidates when there are still so many jobs open doesn’t work. 

Outbound recruiting strategies and active sourcing — with major assistance from technologies that help you search, filter, connect, and engage with key talent — is one way to be less dependent on passive recruiting and job posts. 

Maybe more importantly, actively reaching out to candidates can be turned on and off quickly, or can be pivoted as the situation changes.

Communication and collaboration tools. In less chaotic times, communication, collaboration, and planning come easier. Change moves more slowly, and between regular meeting cadences and communication tools like Microsoft Teams, you can capture what’s going on. 

Turn up the disruption and communication and collaboration can suffer as everyone scrambles. Times of high amounts of change are an opportunity to lean into communication, plan work so that effort isn’t wasted, and iterate with collaboration tools that allow easy access for everyone — especially asynchronously. While not recruiting-specific, these technologies can keep a talent acquisition team performing at a high level through the stress of changing priorities.

Talent rediscovery and internal mobility. Talent rediscovery tools that help you search and enrich the data already in your ATS have been around for a few years now. Especially paired with an outbound recruiting approach, this can be a very efficient way to find talent that you’ve already connected with. 

Internal mobility technologies can do a similar thing for employees you’ve actually hired. Being able to leverage the skills of the people already in your ATS or organization means some of the most expensive costs involved in hiring (candidate acquisition) are cut significantly.

What Can’t Technology Help With

Technology can help drive better efficiency and collaboration with more control, but it can’t do everything for talent acquisition teams. 

Replacing your recruiters. In the Covid-driven recession of 2020, recruiters were hastily shown the door as many organizations stopped hiring completely. What happened when these same companies started trying to rapidly ramp back up their operations? They wasted months backfilling recruiter roles and suffering from poor staffing levels. 

It’s tempting to think that technology can help you replicate the efforts of recruiters, but more often than not, it’s a partnership between a recruiter and the technologies at their disposal. The most important part isn’t the technology; it’s the person who knows what to do with it and how to make it work for the organization.

Creating a great candidate experience. We are entering a very different hiring environment where people, not technology, need to connect as soon as possible in the process. Where technology can assist, like a sensible user experience and working the way it’s supposed to…well, those are table stakes at this point. However, the way it can really help with great candidate experience is by disappearing into the background and thereby helping humans connect with one another in an efficient, but humane, way. 

Ultimately, recruiting is never an easy ride, but 2022 is bound to be one of the more challenging years. Regardless of what happens with all of the economic uncertainty, it pays to prepare and make the most of the technology you have in place today. 

This article is part of a series called Techsploration.
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