This Is the Year of Reinvention In Staffing & Recruitment

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May 8, 2018

On a windy and rainy day in April, I took my kids to downtown Salt Lake City, to take in the Leonardo Museum, named for the famed inventor, scientist, painter, and one of the greatest minds of the Renaissance, Leonardo Da Vinci. He was truly a remarkable man who constantly explored his world, built new and exciting inventions, and changed the world. A quote attributed to him says: “It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.”

You can view the description of the museum here. As we explored this great gem of a proverbial time machine that took us back to Leonardo’s world of exploration, tinkering, science, and engineering, we came across a curious exhibit where volunteers worked in a “mad science” lab of sorts. They put on white lab coats and invited children, adults, the young, and the experienced to step up and try some science experiments (that’s the picture I am including with this article).

As we experimented, explored, and tinkered with various exhibits, and tried out displays where we could draw, paint, and see the world in a different way, I was amazed at the modern-day applications to our recruiting world, right now, where we must constantly reinvent ourselves. This reinvention is happening at both macro and micro levels. Before I transition into the meat of my article, I’ll share a couple of other quotes by some great inventors: Steve Jobs and Thomas Edison:

I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways it won’t work. — Thomas Edison

I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The Light Bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps. — Thomas Edison

Invention is 1 percent inspiration, and 99 percent perspiration. — Thomas Edison

Creativity is just connecting things. — Steve Jobs

Let’s go invent tomorrow, rather than worrying about what happened yesterday.  — Steve Jobs

And finally:

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.  Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.  Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary. –Steve Jobs

What do all these quotes have in common? Well they are talking about 1. Persistence, 2. Clarity of Purpose, 3. Reinvention, 4. Finding your purpose within said reinvention.

These truly successful innovators, disruptors, and focused entrepreneurs all had similar traits in common. They also saw the importance of constant renewal, constant focused change. They also applied themselves and were always learning. They didn’t stop the reinvention process when something went wrong, when things weren’t working. Instead, they re-doubled their efforts, finding new ways of overcoming obstacles which in turn gave them insights into problems that they invented solutions to solve. Just think for a moment if these three hadn’t continued on when they felt discouraged, and when life threw them challenges, etc. As a recruiter, it will be reinvention that is going to create the lasting outcomes you need to succeed, grow, and obtain an edge in this new talent war.

The Importance of Reinvention — A Business Case

A few points, statistics, and realities will prove the necessity of reinvention in today’s labor market.  Recruiters of all kinds and all levels are reinventing are becoming inventors of sorts of new processes, new technologies, new means to get to the goal, work with hiring managers, candidates, and the businesses staffing professionals they serve.

This article by Reuters addressed the fact that jobless claims were at a 45-year low — the lowest since 1973. In another article by MarketWatch — the number of job openings surged to a record 6.3 million with an unemployment rate at a 17-year low of 4 percent. In many states including my own in Utah it is 3.1 percent. Indeed via its blog reported some interesting findings as well in a post put out on January 25:

  • In spite of job growth, wages remain flat.
  • Just 19 percent of workers in the survey (based on a sample of 1,024 professionals) were satisfied with their pay.
  • 54 percent of those who responded would change jobs for better pay.
  • 41 percent of women are willing to ask for a raise, compared to 54 percent of men.
  • 68 percent of those surveyed would consider benefits instead of pay increases.

The art of negotiation is becoming even more important as time goes on. What’s more, alternate benefits, flexible working arrangements, perks, understanding of advancement, focus on the big picture, etc. are all becoming more important. With some creativity, firms can become better and enhance their ability to attract and retain new workers.

Another trend to watch is the departure of the Baby Boomer generation and the increase in millennials entering the workforce. In reports: 1 & 2 issued by the U.S. Census Bureau — the expected population of those 65 and older is expected to double by 2050. Further dependency ratios will also increase — meaning workers supporting those over 65 and over will also have more dependents to assist and care for. As these Baby Boomers retire, the impact of their leaving the workforce will be felt. This will mean more loss of knowledge and an increased need for succession planning and career paths in organizations.

Another demographic trend will be the increase in diversity, and the rise of the millennial generation. Millennials will make up 34 percent of the workforce in 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Millennial workers will need to be understood, treated with respect, and given opportunities to grow into leadership roles of their peers. Succession planning will become even more critical.

As to technology, look at some of the changes in recent years: LinkedIn acquired by Microsoft after LinkedIn purchased Connectifier, SAP in 2011 acquiring SuccessFactors, Oracle acquired Taleo, the launch of Google Hire, Facebook, Indeed acquiring SimplyHired, and the list goes on and on and on. Monster got purchased by Randstad and Careerbuilder purchased by Apollo Global Management, which holds a majority share in the company.

TechTarget highlighted the growth of the ATS market with $2.5 billion in spending, a 6 percent increase over 2016 from 2015. With further changes and consolidations, not to mention changes in the marketplace, reinvention will need to be front and center. One need only look to what is happening to the world of Chrome extensions/plug-in options for sourcing and the tightening of LinkedIn’s terms of service.

The rise of laws like GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) — which regulates privacy — and the Facebook data controversy also mean talent acquisition will need to continue to reinvent itself.

The business case for reinvention is becoming increasingly clear.

The Power of Reinvention — 5 Tips

What follows are five tips for reinvention in this evolving talent acquisition marketplace.

Tip #1. Build your network ahead of openings being needed. With the tightening of the labor market, a skills gap, changes in your workforce dynamics and demographics, the rise of new realities for attracting and retaining talent, the time is now to reinvent how you approach your recruitment strategy. It can’t be reactive anymore, it must be proactive by it’s very nature.  Professional associations, diversity organizations, alumni groups, college recruiting, tech recruiting, et al all require your attention, your investment of a human to human engagement strategy, a harnessed social media approach, and mastery of engagement in a new pivotal way.  I addressed this very topic here and here.  Your constant reinvention from a reactive to a proactive state is going to become even more necessary with the trends and realities of the workforce. A proactive sourcing approach will pay dividends over time.

Tip #2. Test Technology, Always. The marketplace demands reinvention, testing, and tinkering, just like Leonardo Da Vinci, Thomas Edison, and Steve Jobs. Read their works, their insights, and autobiographies. Reinvention in business and true disruptive entrepreneurship is the adoption and harnessing of technology. Artificial Intelligence: do we fear it, or will we embrace it?  Anoop Gupta CEO of Seekout.IO shared this article from Michael Jordan, an engineer/computing professor. It sums up where artificial intelligence is headed and dispels some of the myths behind it.

Part of reinvention to me is testing and applying new tech tools, reading about them, reviewing, and trying them. I suppose it is the sourcer in me to try and break something, and rebuild it. Re: your ATS, your CRM, and other tools, what is working? What is not? What adds to your efficiency?  What social media tools and aggregators are you using? What is giving you the best traction for applies, clicks, and quality candidates prospect leads?

Tip #3. Find new ways of approaching and building relationships with people. The reality of this new market in this talent-acquisition landscape is quite simply: be human. With all the shiny objects, bells, and whistles and tools at our disposal, there is one tool that is building relationships better than ever before in a marketplace with a lot of noise: the phone. Go back to basics. We need to learn how to approach people. The art of the talent-acquisition deal is being in contact with people, helping them, paying it forward, treating our message to them with respect, and building rapport and common ground. Applying Dale Carnegie principles and analyzing my approach has helped me reinvent myself.

Part of being in touch with reinvention has to do with associating. Join organizations like the Association of Talent Acquisition Professionals to find common ground, to build understanding, and find the way forward. Reinvention is being part of an organization where though leadership isn’t just a buzzword; it is in it’s very application a reinvention all its own. That’s why I get out and try to attend a professional conference at least every six months. Can’t make a recruiting conference?  Well — get in your local community and help build a talent-acquisition association of your peers.

Get a certification, any certification. It doesn’t matter what it is. Attend webinars, attend events. Get out and associate, and build friendships and alliances with other like-minded talent-acquisition professionals. Share your knowledge and give back. There is a Karma factor that emerges when you help others. There are candidates who will be forever grateful for your help, and others that will remember your efforts to build community. I have seen this myself and know the power association brings. Add value to local professional associations and pay it forward to candidates struggling to land their dream role.

Be approachable. One of the best articles that all recruiters should read is by Blake Thiess — read that here. We can all indeed be more visible as a force for good. The human element in a tightening labor market as you reinvent yourself to increase the candidate experience will help your offer/acceptance ratio grow. There is power as well in increasing strong relationships with hiring managers. You can be human in that relationship and become a powerful consultant who will enable trust to be won, and satisfaction gained within that service relationship. Focus on diversity for the right reasons, not just to fill a quota. Every interaction done with the right purpose will enable you to close and build the way forward to a world-class talent acquisition organization.

Tip #4. Reinvent your talent-acquisition process. Every day you schedule interviews, screen, and source candidates, build rapport, sell, negotiate, and close. What pain is there in the process? Ask key questions that help you uncover the broken areas of your business. Identify the areas you are below the curve and help find directions that can lead to better outcomes.  Reinventing a process takes time and commitment. It takes persistence. It takes every ounce of courage you may possess.

Tip #5. Recruit with a Purpose. Persistence is a mindset and a mojo. Recruiting with a purpose means having a mission statement, a strategic guideline, a reason for being in the staffing profession in the first place. The other day I sat down and wrote down my mission statement and vision statements. After sitting back, it made me realize my deeper professional recruiting purpose, and put me on target to maintain my momentum. I felt a focused renewal of energy — recruitment isn’t just a profession, it is a calling, a professional passion. If you don’t know what that passion is, well put pen to paper and write about it. As you type a few words and think about what led you into the profession, whether by accident, choice, or being voluntold — recruiting has many rewards and options for success. Once you have full vision of why you love staffing, what excites and motivates you, your recruiting venture will be that much more powerful, and your conviction about why you go to recruit every day will be clear as day and your conviction, excitement will increase.

Reinvention. Reinvent yourself daily, monthly, annually. It’s a principle of constant improvement, Kaizen at it’s best. I hope we can all reinvent ourselves in 2018 as this year continues. It is indeed the year for reinvention of your staffing approach. If you do it right, your success in a wide variety of circumstances will then be realized. Just like in a mad science lab, you have to tinker, explore, reinvent, change, and disrupt at times to get to powerful reinvention in talent acquisition.

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