Top 10 Challenges for Recruiters – 2014
The following article is an edited version of an article written by Dr. John Sullivan for the ERE Daily on Monday, April 7th, 2014.
Those who follow my articles know that I frequently write on the positive trends and big ideas that I think recruiting leaders need to be aware of. I don’t often write about challenges or problems believing that most of us don’t want to dwell on the negative. Since I am predicting that during the next few years we will encounter a completely transformed world of recruiting, it only makes sense to shift our conversation and focus on our upcoming challenges. If recruiters aren’t prepared to mitigate these challenges, they may grow out of control, causing exponential damage to your company and its performance.
The Top 10 – in order of priority:
1. Not being prepared for the return of intense recruiting competition. With so many jobless individuals applying for every open position, it has been easy for recruiters and hiring managers to pick and choose from numerous applicants. Recruiting was a relatively easy process. As the economy improves, the power in the recruiting relationship will inevitably shift away from the corporation to the job seeker – changing the “ease” with which the recruiting function can be executed.
Most corporate recruiting functions simply aren’t ready for a return to intense competition for candidates. The primarily “active” recruiting approaches that have worked and dominated over the last handful of years will simply fail when the focus shifts to fighting over prospects and candidates. And the “war for talent” will be even more challenging if recruiting resources are short.
2. The increased volume of open positions will overload the recruiting system. In addition to having to fight for individual talent, an increase in the volume of hiring will further stress most existing recruiting systems to the limit. Obviously as corporate growth increases, so will the hiring volume. Challenges retaining talent will further increase that hiring volume. Last year alone, corporate turnover increased by 45% and I am predicting a similar increase for this year and next. Turnover will increase because as the job market opens up in specific industries, regions, and technical jobs, many employees who have been focusing on job security will begin to realize that it’s time to move on.
Because most corporate retention teams have been completely decimated and retention approaches not updated, corporate efforts to prevent this increased turnover will have little impact. For recruiting leaders this means that the combination of new corporate growth and high employee turnover will dramatically increase the volume of open positions beyond their capacity to produce the results needed.
3. Rusty hiring managers and underdeveloped recruiters have diminished capabilities. A low volume of hiring and the lack of competition may have caused the capabilities of your hiring managers and recruiters to degrade significantly. Adding to that condition the fact that there has been little money for development or training for either recruiters or managers will mean that in growth mode both are likely to initially stumble under this new environment.
4. A lack of speed will restrict your results. The business world moves much faster today than it did during the last recruiting boom. Unfortunately, recruiting hasn’t maintained its speed capability due to fewer resources, a lack of competition, and less focus on “time to hire” statistics. When top candidates have multiple offers, they simply won’t be around when indecisive managers finally make their hiring decision. In a newly competitive and faster moving world, delays in hiring will be costly, and unfortunately, reducing time to hire is one of the most difficult objectives to achieve within recruiting.
5. Long Ignored employer brands will begin to negatively impact recruiting effectiveness. In a down economy, with applicant surpluses, recruiting leaders did not pay much attention to their external employer brand image. Few have taken the time to measure their employer brands, and as a result, recruiting leaders often don’t realize how their “talent failures” (including layoffs, pay cuts, promotional freezes, etc.) have hurt their employer brand image. Once competition for top talent becomes intense, leaders will realize that a weak Internet or social media employer brand will prevent top talent and innovators from even considering applying at your firm. Unfortunately, most recruiting leaders define employer branding incorrectly and rebuilding an employer brand is both time consuming and expensive.
6. Your current recruiting process may not have the capability of recruiting innovators. One of the things that executives have learned from the success of firms like Google and Apple is the value of innovation and innovative employees. Unfortunately, most recruiting processes are not designed to effectively identify or recruit innovators who expect to see innovation and technology as an integral part of the hiring process. Without a strong employer brand and a separate sub-process designed specifically for recruiting innovators, the chance of recruiting a top industry innovator to your firm may approach zero.
7. Your recruiting strategy may be years out of date. Obviously without the direction provided by a strategic plan, your firm may suffer several years of weak results. Surprisingly, most recruiting functions actually operate without any written and distributed recruiting strategy. But even if you have a strategy, it is rarely updated to meet the needs of a new and much more intense global recruiting market. The strategy must also include a competitive analysis of your recruiting competitors to ensure that your firm’s strategy and approach produces superior results and a measurable competitive advantage.
8. Antiquated recruiting metrics lower your credibility with executives. Whether you have a seat at the table or not, recruiting leaders simply will not be listened to and funded unless they have the right metrics to quantify the dollar impact that high-performing new hires have on corporate revenue. And of course the biggest corporate metric omission is the failure of the majority of firms to accurately measure the quality of hire. As a result, few corporate recruiting functions can convincingly prove that they hire top performers and innovators with advanced skills and high retention rates. Only a handful of functions have predictive metrics that are necessary in order to alert recruiters and hiring managers about upcoming recruiting issues and opportunities.
9. A shortage of effective recruiters is on the horizon. Everyone knows that this long period with a down economy has decimated the ranks of corporate recruiters. Many of those who were laid off have left the profession. And the bad taste that it left in their mouths may cause most never to return. Since there are no college programs that turnout recruiters, recruiting leaders need to prepare for the time when competition for top recruiters will become intense. Existing employed recruiters will be in such a demand that they will be “bid on” by other firms, and finding effective replacement recruiters on the open market will be extremely difficult and expensive. Training new recruiters themselves may be the only effective option available to many firms.
10. The lack of recruiting resources. Unless you work at Google, the odds are that your function has already suffered numerous dramatic budget cuts over the last several years. You’re going to need a significantly higher budget if you expect to have a reasonable chance to increase your employer brand, recruiting volume, recruiting speed, and quality of hire. Unfortunately, most recruiting leaders simply don’t have the capability of building a strong business case that quantifies the tremendous dollar impact that recruiting has on corporate revenue and results.
There are several additional strategic problems that didn’t make the list, because I determined that even though they are important, they had a lower impact. But since every industry and company faces unique problems, add your unique problems to your “keep an eye on list.”
- The new Internet and social media approaches need to be assessed in terms of their potential to enhance recruiting results.
- The globalization of the talent marketplace.
- The high volume recruiting technologies need to be assessed in order to find the very few that really impact quality-of-hire results.
- Employment-related legislation. The rights of applicants in all countries will likely increase.
- Increasing pressure to separate recruiting, retention, and onboarding from the rest of HR.
Although it’s certainly more fun to explore new opportunities in recruiting, failing to identify and resolve existing recruiting problems may actually have a larger negative impact on both long term and short term results. Almost everyone is aware of the tactical day-to-day problems in recruiting, but very few recruiting leaders take the time to forecast strategic “big picture” problems that are on the horizon.
If you are a corporate recruiting leader, I hope my “biggest-challenges list” at least started you to think about the major shifts that are ahead in recruiting and the problems that will occur as a result of them.
Dr. John Sullivan is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high business impact; strategic Talent Management solutions to large corporations. 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 6 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. 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 industries most respected strategists”. He was selected among HR’s “Top 10 Leading Thinkers” and he was ranked #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.