Low Employment Is Good For Strategic Staffing

Aug 12, 2002

As the economic forces of the new millennium continue to take shape, large companies are revising corporate staffing department budgets with a view towards cutting costs and realigning goals. The overheated “find talent anywhere” environment of recent years has reversed. Corporate staffing departments have less job positions open, and more candidates applying for them. For many organizations hiring new employees has lost its priority-one status. Without the pressure from high-volume hiring needs, recruiting staff has been cut ó in some organizations severely. Yet regardless of the economic climate, the goal for corporations remains the same: employ the highest quality talent, those who best fit a job position and are the strongest performers. As is standard for all business processes, a quality staffing process should be accomplished quickly, efficiently, and at the lowest cost. Let’s focus on one of the cost factors ó candidate database development ó and look at it in terms of demand and supply. Demand/Supply Equation Costs may be lowered in a number of ways. Creating a strategy for lowering costs while achieving corporate staffing goals requires knowledge, data, and vision. One way to reduce cost is to diminish the need for product or services. Another way is to increase efficiency in dealing with supply. In staffing this can translate into low demand for new hires. But low demand does not equal no demand. Although down from peak levels of a few years ago, there are still many positions open. iLogos Research found 75,000 positions listed on the corporate Careers sites of Fortune 500 companies in a survey detailed in the report, “Where The Jobs Are.” In fact, that survey found that Fortune 500 companies posted an average of 184 jobs on the corporate site. Now let’s take a look at supply, specifically the quantity of jobseekers on the Internet. The Pew Internet Project found that 52 million Americans have looked online for information about jobs (a more than 60% jump in the number of online job hunters from March 2000), and more than four million do so on a typical day. This is high volume and indicates a growing supply. Challenge Managing this candidate volume presents a significant challenge for corporate staffing to provide quality services to hiring managers and meet corporate goals. Ongoing communication with job seekers is important to sustain strong and positive employer branding. Also, we can see from this data that large corporations have ongoing hiring needs which are of interest and accessible online by an unprecedented number of job seekers. Quality candidates need to be identified and cultivated. This again pressures the corporate staffing department. Where then is the opportunity? Opportunity The opportunity exists today for large corporations to optimize the staffing process and build a large database of quality potential employees very cheaply. Companies utilizing the corporate careers site for job posting are already leveraging a low-cost/high-exposure media. Those companies can post any number of job positions without incurring incremental additional costs. At times of high demand (i.e. high number of job positions), candidates are more difficult to find and sourcing costs are high. At present, with the supply of candidates high because of both the economic climate and enthusiastic adoption of the Internet for job seeking, sourcing costs can be reduced. This is the opportunity for large corporations to build dynamic proprietary candidate databases at significantly reduced cost. Corporate staffing departments without robust systems in place are burdened by low headcount with high workload, and are struggling to perform as an efficient business unit for the corporation. But corporations with systems to handle the volume are well positioned not only to meet the needs of the company today, but also to reduce costs in future budgets by developing an in-house candidate database at low cost, to draw on whenever needed. Strategic staffing is about managing a skills inventory efficiently to match the demand with the best quality supply, while maintaining a favorable relationship with the market to support good branding. It should not be an urgent transactional activity, functioning reactively simply to address demand. Strategic staffing is instead a quality-centric approach that builds towards an important outcome. Today, the economy gives corporations a wonderful opportunity to proactively pursue one strategic result-ownership of a large, quality candidate database-at low cost.