Talent Acquisition is in a State of Flux

Navigating the Talent Acquisition Roller Coaster: Adapting to Changing Market Dynamics in 2024

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Apr 1, 2024

Talent Acquisition is changing as the economy cycles between boom and bust; TA professionals are the lead of the cycle. In 2022, companies couldn’t hire recruiters fast enough. By May of 2023, tech companies were laying off recruiters at a greater rate than other employees. This number doesn’t appear to have improved much for TA professionals.

With recruiters (and their adjacent Human Resources team members) out of work, companies are necessarily restructuring their operations. What does that look like from a TA perspective?

Managers doing more hiring.

Even in a slow hiring market, companies still hire new candidates. Some of this burden has fallen to managers. Theresa, who asked that I not use her last name as she’s not authorized to speak on behalf of her company, saw retail organizations dividing all HR functions to the managers and another small company outsourcing essential HR functions to a PEO while managers had to do their own hiring.

Of course, this places burdens on managers that they may not be prepared to take on. Theresa added, “I think the biggest thing you lost is expertise. Finance and other departments don’t always know about EEO or other best practices specific to employment laws.” There are tremendous legal regulations in hiring and HR functions without an expert leading them. Companies take a legal risk when removing subject matter experts from these roles.

Companies should be concerned when their hiring model puts managers on the front lines. While they are the ultimate decision-makers, even with an entire Talent Acquisition team behind them, managers need the training to use best hiring practices and comply with federal and state legislation. Most managers don’t hire often, so they will need repeated training.

Gigging internally

Susan Gatti, Managing Partner of Disruptive Spark Firm, says she sees a big change in TA departments. She said, “The concept of Gigging is emerging in this sector. Think of it as an internal marketplace where employees are not ‘in jobs’ but act more like internal freelancers and bid on projects based on skill, competency, experience, and desired visibility.” Her agile view of TA allows for more flexibility within a business, and she sees this happening within businesses. Susan says it gives recruiters an agency feel without having to go out and build their own agencies.

Of course, flexibility within a company can be another name for supporting many aspects of the business instead of specializing in one area. This would benefit smaller businesses more than large ones, which can support multiple TA professionals.

More recruiters needed
The tech companies laid off more HR and HR adjacent employees, including recruiters, than others. The assumption was that these areas needed to be more staffed, with fewer jobs to fill and fewer employees. However, a January Harris Poll found that 92 percent of hiring managers expect to face challenges in 2024. Some of these expected challenges are:

  • 53 percent expect to have trouble finding qualified candidates
  • 20 percent expect increased competition in the job market
  • 27 percent expect that the talent pool will not match the job vacancies

The @RandomRecruiter tweeted in regards to this survey:

This is definitely interesting to see.

Although we’re in an employer’s market, most hiring managers expect to experience bottlenecks in filling their roles this year.

At the end of the day, the market doesn’t lie. The longer your role is open, the more it’s telling you to adjust expectations.

Another recruiter, who asked to remain anonymous, said that she struggles to get passive candidates to engage. People are less willing to even look at leaving their current jobs. This matches the Harris poll results, as removing passive candidates from the mix would increase the problems in all these areas. Additionally, 42 percent of managers said they currently had positions open that they could not fill. While many say it’s an employers’ market, it’s clearly not entirely an employers’ market.

And, of course, if a position is difficult to fill, then that’s not an employer’s market for that position, even if it is overall.

This theory is backed up by Financial Tech Recruiter and Interview Coach Jennifer Widerberg, who shared a screenshot of the difference between what candidates see and what recruiters see on LinkedIn.

Because the applicant can see that many people have applied, it gives the impression that all recruiters have to do these days is take their pick of candidates. Plus, if decision-makers are also seeing the outside (jobseeker) numbers and not what the recruiters view, it stands to reason they won’t spend or adjust budget money for costly recruiters while candidates just pour in. Talent Acquisition is in flux. Still, moving to a more manager-based hiring system or using flexible in-house TA consultants is less anti-candidate than it appears to be.

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