What’s Happening To The War For Talent?

Oct 17, 2008
This article is part of a series called News & Trends.

The war for talent isn’t over, but the world’s economic woes are turning it into more of a series of skirmishes than hot battle.

“Recruiting is not going away,” said Zach Thomas, senior analyst with Forrester Research. But it is shifting focus to retention and internal recruiting.

He joined other industry analysts at a panel at HR Tech Thursday to discuss “Today’s Technology Trends and Predictions.” None of the four went so far as to declare the war over, but each in their own way suggested that the mass exodus of Baby Boomers from the workplace may not be quite so mass as we’ve been hearing.

With 401(k)s tanking and housing prices dropping, boomers who had been counting on both for their retirement may well delay their departure. That likelihood prompted Naomi Lee Bloom, managing partner of Bloom & Wallace, to predict multi-generational workforces that will require companies to make accommodation for different work styles, habits, and especially individual interests.

Lisa Rowan, a program director at IDC, said recession or no recession, certain jobs and jobs in some industries, healthcare, and IT for instance, will continue to be difficult to fill. “In a downturn, there is always opportunity (for workers).”

Still on the subject of the economy, there will be an impact on companies, but just what it will be, no one could or would say. Instead, they counseled HR to prepare for the worst by identifying high performers a company would want to retain under any condition, focus on cost savings, and show business value.

What was curious about the financial discussion was that just before the panel got underway, a straw poll of the audience found 66 percent of the HR professionals said the economy had no effect on their buying plans, while 69 percent said it no impact on consulting and systems integration agreements or system upgrades.

In other areas, panelists said:

  • Web 2.0 and social components are over-hyped (in the words of Jim Holincheck, a managing VP at Gartner);
  • Buyers and vendors are moving toward suite solutions and away from component buying, though some vendors are achieving that by partnering;
  • SaaS is here to stay, at least for the forseeable future, and that is true for complete systems and not just recruiting.

On The Show Floor

Seems there’s a little discrepancy over just how the financial climate affected attendance at HR Tech. Wednesday, show manager Fred Kurst estimated attendance at around 2,000, not including exhibitors. Now we hear that number may have been more of a guesstimate and that registrations fell off as rapidly as the Dow did a few weeks ago. Even so, vendors, who almost always grumble about the cost and the conference attendance, told us they were at least happy about the latter.

eQuest (profile; site) was rightly displaying its award as a top HR product for its eQuest Prophesy. The just released tool can now track source of hires with a high degree of accuracy by extracting hiring data from the ATS. eQuest, you may know, negotiates job posting contracts for its clients, distributes the listing, tracks the source of candidates, and makes recommendations for future buys based on the metrics it generates. Now, Prophesy can track those inbound applicants through to the hiring process and report back not only what job board produces the most applicants, but the most hires. It also can connect the dots back to individual recruiters.

Zapoint, making its first appearance at HR Tech, attracted a fair amount of notice and not just because of the Smart Car it had parked on the show floor. The new company is a talent platform that takes inputs from multiple sources to generate a picture of individual readiness for promotion or internal movement. It removes from the equation such things as a supervisor’s rating of a subordinate’s readiness, relying instead on objective criteria such as performance scores, experience, and resume. The starting point and key data is the resume, CEO Chris Twyman told us.

Coming from the opposite point of view is HRMC (profile; site) whose CEO and founder, Ron Selewach, said resumes are just so much marketing material. His Acclaim system analyzes and rates job applicants based on their responses by voice, Web, or a combination to competency and behavioral questions. It’s all done by computer, which can politely reject a job-seeker or rapidly elevate them to hot prospect category.

The JobApp Network does the same thing for hourly workers, except it goes a step further and can actually hire the candidate without recruiter or hiring manager intervention. It’s designed for high volume hiring, such as in fast food, where turnover is constant and the skills needed to do the job are fairly easy to quantify.

Pegged Software does something similar, but not so far as to make the hire without a human touch. It starts by measuring the attributes of your top performers, quantifies the results, then measures candidates against them. Applicants answer a series of screening questions, provide background about themselves, and get a Yes or No recommendation from the computer whether they should be interviewed. CEO Michael Rosenbaum told us it’s as simple as that and, what’s more, there’s a 91 percent certainty that the ‘Yes’ candidates will succeed.

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