For me, as the leader of a recruitment consulting and talent solutions business, ‘tis the season to reflect on what happened this year and ponder what lies ahead for us, our clients and how best to serve them.
Newsweek magazine’s recent cover story about how robotics and artificial intelligence will soon redefine our entire economy — and the types of jobs that will emerge or disappear — hit home again (recall McKinsey’s seminal piece on the rise of the mobile app-induced self-service era) to reinforce that we are becoming a veritable “tech-onomy”. Couple this with a clear, steadily growing desire by highly skilled professionals to be independent “freelance” workers and we’ve hit on the primary trends (or revolutions) that keep me up at night.
There are pros and cons of an “on-demand” workforce, of course. In seasonal industries, for example, it may be ideal and is not a new concept. And we certainly leverage such in our own business model, deploying a network of specialized recruiters for urgent client hiring needs. But cons include the erosion of loyalty and pride, the risk of a workforce of pure multi-taskers and no specialization, and perhaps even an entire generation running from gig to gig with little financial stability. If this trend is inevitable, how might it impact talent acquisition? As the McKinsey article suggests, one answer is to “fight fire with fire” by finding better ways to connect job seekers with jobs, with an emphasis on “mobilizing one’s own strengths — including scale, superior resources and access to customers — to redefine service offerings, harness digital technology, and improve the customer experience.”
Specifically, what might this look like for a recruitment function? The end goal of getting the best workers deployed most quickly at the least cost possible will not change. But how you get there will. Envision an integrated solution that works much like Match.com, rendering the traditional applicant tracking systems and job board channels irrelevant. Imagine compressed hiring cycles where a candidate is screened, reference-checked, assessed, video-interviewed, made an offer and hired within hours rather than weeks and months without stepping foot over a brick-and-mortar threshold. Will Facebook Jobs help efficiently capture the cultural fit attributes of a candidate to bring this process full circle? Is Google’s just-announced foray into the recruitment industry with its machine-learning search technology another material step toward such an end game? All of these concepts and developments could create strong demand for highly innovative recruitment process outsourcing solutions.
What lies ahead? I don’t know for sure, but as Yogi Berra once said, “The future ain’t what it used to be.”