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Whatever Happened To Recruiters?

By 2012, recruiters will be as irrelevant as the Milkman, Blacksmith, and Phone Operators of yesteryear. Why? Simply put, the innovation of the age would have quietly and efficiently processed humanity out of the doldrums of administrivia and research; thereby eradicating an industry made up of recruiters, career job boards, career coaches, resume writers and internet researchers. An explanation of their extinction is seen in the day-to day work process of the average hiring manager.

Sally Newyear is a Project Manager operating in a Fortune 500 company that produces widgets. She was assigned to control the production of 1,000,000 widgets by the end of the quarter; not a problem with sufficient help. Sally logs into her PC and clicks the “Recruiting” icon. A holographic window displays the status of a request made three days prior. Five candidates are scheduled for phone conversations with her on Friday. The top candidate meets 98% of her requirements (technical acumen, compatible career path, likelihood of success and references from inside her organization.) with the fifth best candidate meeting 86% of Sally’s necessities for the position.

Pardon the pun, but Sally was a “happy” Newyear. A mere five years ago, such a recruiting feat would have been unlikely for the same position. It was then that the status quo would have been to expect a nine month turnaround; even using the resources of a dedicated recruiter, it was unlikely that so many candidates would have been identified and qualified to the degree that they are now. Sally sits back, smiles and thinks to herself, “Where was this technology 10 years ago? This looks like the fourth (so-called) difficult job this month that is going to be filled in less than 2 weeks!”

In the post-bubble era that we operate in now, Recruiters deflect such possibilities as the by-product of organizations that deem staffing with the indifference so many job seekers share. Recruiters are a necessary evil; a Godsend for the unemployed, underemployed or unhappily employed, but an annoyance otherwise. The technological building blocks to change these perceptions are in place and promises to evolve beyond the beta phase of today. What keeps it from coming into fruition sooner than the 2012 scenario is the rapidly changing job market and the evolving job seeker.

The day of passive and active candidates has gone. Candidates now work under market conditions which are project driven. They move from position to position, project to project (both internally and externally within a company) based on skills, areas of interests and company requirements. Additionally, permanent employees become a rare breed for any company as the general mindset of the future worker is that “I work for me” on “Your property or time.” Benefits such as Healthcare, Stock Options and so on have become the growing turf of Benefit Providers. Furthermore, the more savvy employees have taken to hosting videos on their blogs to serve as commercials for their talent. The employee has in effect, converted himself into a consultancy for hire.

So how does this hiring Utopia operate? Well from the job seeker side, candidates will no longer be sold on an opportunity or a company only (although that will play a part). Due to the labor shortage, job seekers can afford to be picky because they can literally work anywhere (thanks to the growing dominance of telecommuting). The job seeker of the future makes value-based employment decisions. To assist them with their considerations are customized “Bots” (online automated search robots searching the web 24×7) who never sleep. They gather, collect and analyze data from a variety of online sources and then present them to candidates who have elected to receive such data from their secured online job center administered by The Department of Labor. The data that these bots gather derives from such sources as: Video and Radio commentary on the company (made over public airwaves), Employee blogs, “Best Company To Work For” ratings, Lawsuits pending and resolved, Citations in Research Journals ” if applicable, History Of Layoffs, Community Involvement, Standard of Living for the location of the company, Compensation Comparison to rival companies and quotes from News sources.

From the perspective of Sally Newyear, company bots are able to scout for talent based on the academic history and personality of a candidate (covering grades, interests and ambitions recorded from highschool through college or trade school, as college enrollees have diminished greatly), core talents of a candidate (as to ascertain what skills are transferable), work history, extra-curricular career related activities and a personal career path that is reviewed, updated annually and maintained by the Department of Labor. Armed with this data, companies are able to match the needs of their business months and (often) years in advance of the actual need. Imagine receiving an email from an enterprise that says, “Congratulations on your straight-A report card and getting accepted into the Young Engineers of America Association. Please keep up is mind when you enter college and begin to consider internships. By then, we would have figured out Quantum Physics and will need your help in developing “Star Trek” teleportation technology. Go Soaring Eagles!” (Of course, “Soaring Eagles” is the mascot of your high school.)

If you are thinking that this is just a cold Orwellian view of the future with no inkling of personal relationships, then you would be wrong. Relationships still flourish between candidates, companies, and hiring managers though the uses of personal networking tools. Add to that consistent permission based 1 x 1 marketing and you have a process that proactively builds relationships and pushes out useful content to all concerned. The future of technology is to act as a facilitator, the saver of time and the weeding out of the noise. This frees up both candidate and company to invest in what is really important the relationship.

Like the Darwinian drawing depicting the theory of man’s evolution, the dawn, development and extinction of recruiting (as we know it) is in motion. From desk and phone (to) desk, phone and phonebook (to) desk, phone, phonebook and fax (to) desk, phone and internet (to) desk, phone, internet, ATS, (to) desk, phone, internet, ATS, converging technologies (to) desk, phone, internet, converged technologies, advancing technologies (to) Whatever happened to Recruiters?

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the age of Convergence.

*ATS systems becoming CRM solutions

*CRM solutions becoming ATS systems

*ATS/CTS solutions with Hiring Manager portals

*Previous standalone screening tools integrating with ATS/CRM solutions

*Job boards becoming ATS solutions with referral tools

*Resumes and bios becoming living blogs

*Meta search tools now becoming Meta bots for candidates and companies alike

*Screening tools for companies becoming screening tools for candidates that collect information about companies/projects that meet specific needs

*Mass emailing tools becoming personalized relationship building solutions that only push out relevant targeted content.

*Many solutions becoming one!

Chicken Little said that the sky was falling and I suspect that some reading this piece will believe that I am his disciple. Not so. The folk-hero John Henry died when challenging automation with physical man power and I choose not to. Our industry is on the brink of irrevocable change that we can all play a part in, adapt to and thrive accordingly. After all, at the end of the day, recruiters are in the service industry and technology is just the facilitator. There is a bright light at the end of the tunnel and I am convinced that it is not a rushing locomotive.

For those of you that think this is article is too absurd, my apologies for moving your cheese.


Jim Stroud is a “Searchologist” with an expertise in the full life-cycle placement of Executive and Technical personnel, Recruitment Research and Competitive Intelligence. He has consulted for such companies as Google, Siemens, MCI and a host of start-up companies. He presently serves Microsoft as a Technical Sourcing Consultant.

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