Jan 3, 2011
This article is part of a series called News & Trends.

John Smith began 2010 with the hope that hiring would ramp up slowly over the year and that he would be able to re-establish his crackerjack sourcing team that was eliminated in 2009. He believed that sourcing passive candidates off the Internet would provide enough candidates, with very little need for job postings or agency involvement.

Instead, he found that hiring in some niche areas greatly exceeded his expectations, but that overall, hiring was slow. The slew of candidates just applying for anything grew all year, swamping his team’s ability to evaluate and respond to each candidate. But at the same time, the candidates he desperately needed were not among them. Internet searching turned up a few candidates, as did employee referrals, but there were many unfilled requisitions as 2010 came to a close.

As he crafted his plans for 2011, he pondered the use of social media, which they had only dabbled in and not very successfully in 2010, and well as whether he really needed his sourcing team — at least as it had been designed with a heavy emphasis on Internet sourcing of passive candidates.

If this story rings true to you, here are some ideas on what 2011 may bring. And, some strategies that be effective as we continue to evolve sophisticated sourcing methods and better online tools.

Hiring Situation

There will be no hiring boom or any return to the pre-2009 years. 2011 will be another year where demand for highly experienced and skilled technical experts will continue to grow, as will the need for people with global experience. Demand will drive more global recruiting efforts, and more work will move to wherever the skills are. This means that knowing how to recruit in Central Europe, India, China, and Brazil will outstrip most organizations’ capabilities. It will drive the need to set up remote sourcing teams or find people locally who can source in those countries and regions.

Mid-level hiring will remain slow, and there will be few additions to support or administrative staff. Much of this hiring will be outsourced to RPOs and agencies that specialize in specific areas. The demand for workers with minimal skills will shrink even further as technology replaces them. Many organizations have already replaced receptionists with automated sign-in systems and automatic call systems. Accounting and bookkeeping systems are using OCR to automatically input receipts and other data into their systems.

The bottom line is clear: recruiting internally will be focused on hard-to-fill, business-critical positions, and if the internal function cannot meet the needs, external agencies and RPOs will be called in.


RPO will continue to grow as a service with more sophisticated approaches and more technology. Some firms will focus on specific regions or on functional verticals. These RPOs will invest the time and conduct research that will help them build large communities of candidates with narrow, deep expertise. They will do this cheaper and better than a corporate recruiter can because of dedicated resources and investment in technology. Corporate recruiting functions need to build better ways to assess RPO firms, establish firm performance criteria, and negotiate contracts based on how well your needs are met, rather than on cost.

Talent Management

I have long advocated that every organization should increase its focus on developing a holistic and integrated approach to talent. That will begin to happen in earnest this year. Every major survey, including those from Pricewaterhouse Coopers and the Boston Consulting Group, indicate that CEOs are now relentlessly focused on getting better people in their organizations are are willing to put the resources in place to make it happen.

Critical positions need to be clearly identified, and there should be a plan as to how those positions will be filled. The plans should rely on a mixture of internal promotions/transfer as well as external placement. Development should be a key component and lead to a percentage of positions being filled by newly trained internal candidates. Entry-level hiring can feed this pool, as long as development and assessment are in place. Rigorous performance assessment in real time as well as feedback to recruiting on success traits are also important parts of a successful talent management plan.

Employment Brand

Building a believable and vigorous brand will consume more time and resources than it did in 2010. A recruiting website will be much less critical, although still important, to success. It will be more important to use a variety of marketing tools, including targeted marketing, Twitter, and Facebook, as well as LinkedIn, to interest more people in learning about your organization and opportunities.

Global brand building will be essential for firms looking for global talent. Qualified people in many countries identify closely with the brand of the firm they work for. If your firm has no brand, is not well known, and does have an attractive product/service offering,recruiting will be very difficult, given the competition. That is why the focus should be on identifying your uniqueness and on developing a marketing campaign to emphasize it and use it to find key talent.

Internal Sourcing Teams

Internal sourcing teams will morph from a focus on Internet search, which will remain a small part of the process, to a major focus on social media. The purpose of the sourcing team will be to ensure a supply of interested people who can be turned into candidates by a combination of skilled recruiter involvement and sophisticated marketing tools. These teams will be small, technically highly skilled, and capable of being community managers, marketers, and expert in identifying and assessing key candidates virtually.

Social Media

In every way, the backbone of the recruiting function will be its ability to use social media — the tools that connect and engage millions of potential candidates. Their success will be in how effective they are in convincing people to take part in the sub-communities that they create for their firms. This will require a strategy that has been carefully thought out and is revisited constantly and updated as its effectiveness is evaluated.

Whether they use Facebook, Hyves, LinkedIn, or another community is immaterial. What matters is that the community they choose attracts the kind of people they need. New smaller specialist communities may arise over the next year, and staying abreast of these, or even creating them, may make the difference between success and failure.

In light of this, John may want to rethink his priorities and spend time to really strategize about what the needs of this organization will be and where he needs to put his resources.

In many ways 2011 will look a lot like 2010 but with more focus on implementing the initiatives that were started in 2010 and in being realistic about the use of RPO, outsourcing, and the need to focus on critical positions.

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