Recruiting Is Losing Relevance — Sort Of 

For the first time in a while, talent acquisition is no longer the No. 1 concern for HR leaders. In fact, it has fallen to near the bottom of the priority list, usurped by that old standby “employee engagement,” which is really just another way to say “retention.” 

Yup, it would appear that organizations are (finally) starting to realize that keeping good employees is much more cost-effective and successful in the long-term than constantly trying to hire new ones. 

While this is positive news for talent management in general, recruiting teams across the world of work might not be so bullish on the prospect. Indeed, many large, influential organizations have announced hiring freezes through the end of the year (at least). And when freezes are accompanied by layoffs, the writing would appear to be on the wall for talent acquisition. 

Instead of sinking into a pit of despair, recruiting leaders should look upon these latest developments as an opportunity — the opportunity to evolve the recruiting function beyond external hiring to become a true advisory partner to the business.

I know, I know…you’re doing that already. Recruiters partner with their hiring managers all the time. You’re amazing at it. I have no doubt. But when hiring is put on the back burner, we have all seen layoffs hit recruiting harder than other parts of the organization. And while we know the whiplash is going to come when companies suddenly need to ramp up their hiring, that doesn’t help you right now. 

To help keep talent acquisition relevant in a world of uncertainty, it’s time to rethink the way you approach recruiting. Here’s what to consider as you navigate the coming year:

Focus on internal mobility. When there’s a hiring freeze, it’s because companies are trying to cut costs, which inevitably means doing more with less. This means they’ll be trying to fill staffing gaps with existing employees. Recruiting can and should step in and help organizations navigate — and in some cases create — this process. Partner with HR to help create success profiles and conduct internal searches with leaders. 

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Think beyond “jobs.” The evolution toward skills-based work is upon us, and it will change the way everything approaches talent management. Yet while you often hear it referenced, many leaders have no idea what it means to embrace skills-based hiring — how it will impact salary structure, team structure, workforce planning, and everything else associated with work. Recruiting can and should be at the forefront of this evolution, advising leadership on how to adapt to this world-change, tying skills to job postings, to internal dynamic teams.

Remind leaders that retention is recruiting. If you want to keep employees, you have to re-recruit them every single day. Recruiters know how to do this, often in more creative ways than leaders and HRBPs. That means stepping out of the talent acquisition box and standing side-by-side with HR to build a value proposition for all employees, new and existing.

These are uncertain times for businesses, but the key to surviving is to remember that this too shall pass. Business is cyclical and reactive. What’s ignored today will be a top priority tomorrow. As a leader, the best thing you can do is to focus on what you can control and build a strategy that shows your team’s value.

Mary is a principal with IA, a boutique consulting firm focused on HR transformation. She is also a talent strategist and business leader with almost 15 years experience in helping organizations achieve their goals. After working on the operations side of start-ups and small companies, Mary landed in HR by way of learning and development, with extensive experience in leadership and organizational development, coaching, key talent planning, talent acquisition, performance management, business partnering, HRIS, process and policy creation, and instructional design.

In addition to her work within companies, Mary authors a leadership development blog called Surviving Leadership to continue the dialogue around the challenges of leadership – both being a leader and being led. 

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