13 Trends In Corporate Recruiting for 2009

A significant part of my work involves giving presentations around the world on the hottest recruiting topics. It is an aspect of my work that I truly enjoy because it affords me an opportunity to continuously learn about where our profession is headed.

Through speaking, I not only help companies understand the latest recruiting trends, but I also learn from hundreds of professionals about what they see as hot topics, emerging trends, and how they are approaching them. I wanted to take this opportunity to share my thoughts on what recruiting trends will top the agendas of Global 500 recruiting managers in the next 12 to 18 months based on my interaction with more than 300 organizations around the globe this year.

The Latest Trends in Corporate Recruiting

Based on conversations with recruiting leaders, questions asked during seminars, advisory requests, and best-practice research, expect to see an increased emphasis in:

  • Upgrading employment branding. Nothing is hotter around the globe in recruiting than employment branding. Firms throughout Asia, in particular, are increasingly adopting employment branding as a wildly important activity for 2009. The success of Google, a firm that has built the world’s strongest employment brand over an amazing five-year period, has led others to focus on this impactful long-term strategy. Key focus areas include increasing media coverage, increasing visibility online, building your “green” brand, and countering your “negative” employment brand. Firms to watch: Facebook, Google, Yum Brands, Tata, E&Y, Enterprise, U.S. Army, and Sodexo.
  • Reinvigorating referral programs. Despite the growth of career-related Internet sites, the highest volume and quality candidates still come from well-designed employee referral programs. While heavy adoption was initially hampered by cultural issues around the world, today such programs are proving highly effective everywhere. Key focus areas include proactively approaching key employees for referrals (program targeting), leverage non-employee referrals, making reward systems more comprehensive, immediate, and visible, and last but not least, helping employees leverage social media to restore relationships, make new relationships, and build stronger relationships. Firms to watch: AmTrust Bank, Edward Jones, Whirlpool, and Amazon.com.
  • Renewing the focus on quality of hire. As a result of strong research by organizations like staffing.org, recruiting leadership has begun to refocus its efforts on identifying factors that increase the quality or the on-the-job performance of new hires. Key focus areas include improved quality of hire metrics, calculating the performance differential between average and quality hires, and identifying sources that produce high-quality hires. Firms to watch: Aimco and Wipro.
  • Reinforcing the business case for recruiting. As budgets tighten and slow economic growth continues, recruiting budgets will face constant constraints. Instead of whining, many leading talent organizations are seizing the opportunity to reposition themselves as non-transactional organizations. When the focus in recruiting is placed on non-transactional, more systemic issues, such organizations can work with the CFO and risk management to demonstrate the importance of supporting recruiting even during times of reduced hiring volume. The key focus areas include predictive modeling, dollarizing recruiting results, and showing the dollar impact of vacancies in revenue generating positions. Firms to watch: Aimco, DFS, Wipro, and Google.

  • Utilizing social networks. Although using social networks as a recruiting source has been a well-discussed concept for a while, few firms have found productive ways to truly leverage social media sites. However, as new approaches are developed that more accurately align with the paradigm of social media audiences, recruiting on social networks will become more mainstream. Focus areas include encouraging your employees to be more visible online and using networks to identify innovators. Key networking sites include Facebook (global), MySpace (global), Friendster (global), LinkedIn (global), Twitter (U.S.), Multiply (Asia), Mixi (Japan), Cyworld (Korea), and Xiaonei (China). Firms to watch: E&Y, Zappos, CIA, Yum Brands, Google, and Facebook.
  • Utilizing video. While it may be hard for some to fathom, 1:1 and 1:many video has become a very popular communication medium, surpassing all other forms of Internet traffic. Second only to employee referrals, the most impactful tool for effectively demonstrating the excitement and passion at a firm is online video. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then moving pictures demonstrating what it’s like to work at your firm would have to be “priceless.” Focus areas include posting on video-sharing sites such as YouTube (global), Youku.com (China), and sharing employee-generated “unscripted” videos on your corporate site. Firms to watch: Deloitte, Microsoft, and Google.
  • Upgrading succession planning. A common practice becomes much more critical as global growth and large-scale retirement loom on the horizon. Focus areas include replacing retirees, improved succession planning metrics, adding external candidates to your plan, and fast-track leadership development. Firms to watch: Intuit, Eli Lilly, Deloitte, and TVA.
  • Using employee blogs for recruiting. A practice that is finally beginning to enter the mainstream is employee blogging to support recruiting efforts. The very best firms use blogs not just to spread their message but also to answer questions and to make their company appear more “real” and approachable. Key focus areas include blogs by employees other than recruiters and micro-blogs. Firms to watch: Microsoft, Google, and Sun.
  • Using mobile-phone recruiting. As mobile phones with amazing features spread throughout the population, recruiting managers are beginning to realize that they can be a powerful recruiting media. Key focus areas include text messaging, mobile video, and mobile-accessible corporate careers sites. Firms to watch: Google and nearly any firm in Asia!
  • Revitalizing corporate jobs page. Recruiting managers are beginning to understand that pitifully dull and dated websites drive away innovators. Focus areas include providing personalized information to the visitor, Flash video integration, blogs, podcasts, and virtual Q&As. Firms to watch: Microsoft, Google, and Deloitte.
  • Using a CRM model for hiring. I’ve been touting the values of the CRM (customer relationship management) model for years. More firms are beginning to understand the value of improving the experience at each “touch point” with the candidate. Key focus areas include relationship recruiting, automated applicant profiling, automated event calendaring, and robust lifecycle metrics. Firms to watch: U.S. Army, GlaxoSmithKline, and E&Y.
  • Hiring innovators. Rapid product copying and the high visibility of innovative firms like Apple and Google are forcing recruiting managers to modify recruiting processes in order to successfully recruit innovators and game changers. Key focus areas include relationship recruiting, pre-need hiring, and tolerant/inclusive screening and interviewing processes. Firms to watch: IBM and Google.
  • Recruiting globally. Recruiting managers are beginning to learn how to differentiate multi-national recruiting from true global recruiting. Key focus areas include global sourcing, globalized websites, and globalized employer referral programs. Firms to watch: Infosys and IBM.

Other Trends to Observe

Although these trends aren’t red-hot, they are emerging areas where a few firms have taken the lead and have produced noticeable results. These are certainly not going to become mainstream for most firms during the next year, but if you are an innovator, keep a close watch:

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  • Virtual-reality recruiting on SecondLife
  • Video games as recruiting tools
  • Online assessment tools
  • Using contests to identify internal and external prospects
  • Simulations for candidate assessment
  • Inclusive recruiting (replacing diversity recruiting)
  • Remote interviewing
  • Remote college recruiting
  • A renewed focus on internal redeployment
  • Boomerangs (bringing back key ex-employees)
  • Recruiting at professional events
  • Using credit card/sales leads to find prospects
  • Using analytics and modeling to predict future workforce needs
  • A new focus on the use of contingent workers in the weak economy
  • “Remote” college recruiting
  • A focus on contingent hiring
  • Improving on-boarding to build the employment brand
  • Reality TV shows as a recruiting and branding mechanism

Not-So-Hot Areas

Here are some areas that vendors and consultants talk a lot about, but in many cases, there is little innovation to report:

  • Outsourcing recruiting processes. Protecting your own recruiters makes this option less attractive as budgets get tight.
  • Video resumes. It’s still hard to get managers to view them.
  • Competency modeling. Too time-consuming to undertake during tough times.
  • Large job boards. Always mediocre, and their value is shrinking.
  • Retention. In a tight economy, only the very best will consider leaving.
  • Speed of hire. As unemployment rises, there is less pressure to make rapid hiring decisions.

Final Thoughts

These are just my thoughts. If you have identified any additional trends, let me know (johns@sfsu.edu) or post them on the ERE forum.

Dr. John Sullivan, professor, author, corporate speaker, and advisor, is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high-business-impact talent management solutions.

He’s a prolific author with over 900 articles and 10 books covering all areas of talent management. He has written over a dozen white papers, conducted over 50 webinars, dozens of workshops, and he has been featured in over 35 videos. He is an engaging corporate speaker who has excited audiences at over 300 corporations/ organizations in 30 countries on all six continents. His ideas have appeared in every major business source including the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, BusinessWeek, Fast Company, CFO, Inc., NY Times, SmartMoney, USA Today, HBR, and the Financial Times. In addition, he writes for the WSJ Experts column. He has been interviewed on CNN and the CBS and ABC nightly news, NPR, as well many local TV and radio outlets. Fast Company called him the "Michael Jordan of Hiring," Staffing.org called him “the father of HR metrics,” and SHRM called him “One of the industry's most respected strategists." He was selected among HR’s “Top 10 Leading Thinkers” and he was ranked No. 8 among the top 25 online influencers in talent management. He served as the Chief Talent Officer of Agilent Technologies, the HP spinoff with 43,000 employees, and he was the CEO of the Business Development Center, a minority business consulting firm in Bakersfield, California. He is currently a Professor of Management at San Francisco State (1982 – present). His articles can be found all over the Internet and on his popular website www.drjohnsullivan.com and on www.ere.net. He lives in Pacifica, California.

 

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