Every year I try and predict what trends and topics will dominate our thinking, conversations, and technology in the coming year. Last year my three predictions were pretty much on target: Simplicity in sourcing, the rise of social networks, and internal redeployment. I am not sure how much redeployment actually took place, but it must have been significant as key positions remained filled even when external hiring was slow.
Sourcing remains a topic that I am interested in. It seems to me that the need to conduct in-depth Internet searches and apply Boolean logic to searches is no longer relevant in the majority of cases. Cold calling and other traditional methods of locating people will never go away, but are less significant. Two occurrences have changed the game. The first is social networks whose mass adoption, personalization, and ease of use have put them first in the sourcer’s toolkit. Second, jobs are being redefined and replaced with an emphasis on broader skills and on the ability of candiates to take on a variety of roles. This opens the door to more candidates, except in narrow technical areas where specific skills and training are required. A third minor factor is the recession and the short-term surplus of candidates. This will evaporate as Baby Boomers retire and more people start to work for themselves, but this will be an evolution over the next five years.
I don’t need to comment too much on the importance of social networks. This past year has proved their efficacy as sourcing tools as well as sales tools to motivate and engage candidates. What is going to change this year is the emergence of proprietary networks for specific industries or even for specific organizations, if they are large and employ a lot of people. The Facebook’s and LinkedIn’s will face competition, in a way, from networks that are designed for a specific type of person, role, industry, or geography. These more general networks are already offering this, in a way, through interest groups and pages for specific organizations.
As I wrote last year, I think that over time candidates will find that they are better treated and more completely able to present themselves via social networks than they can with a resume. This is huge as candidate dissatisfaction with recruiting and employee dissatisfaction with employers is at an all-time peak. Social networking offers some hope as a way to alleviate some of this.
The emerging trends I see for 2010:
We are going to see a steady and continuing rise in temporary, part-time, contract, and consulting work. This will replace a large portion of traditional employment over this year and continue on for the foreseeable future. Employers are and will remain reluctant to hire regular employees given the economy, the constantly-changing consumer and marketplace, as well as new government regulations. I believe that new labor laws, more enforcement, and higher costs for health and disability will also pressure employers to hire people as temporaries or contractors.
This is in line, as well, with worker sentiment. Recent Conference Board research shows a record level of job dissatisfaction among current workers, with a significant number of Gen Y saying they are highly dissatisfied. More young people are opting to downsize their lives and find ways to earn a living on their own. They offer a variety of skills from programming, writing, tutoring, teaching, or doing manual labor on a part-time or temporary basis.
I predict no upsurge in regular employment. There will be hiring, but primarily for critical positions and to protect intellectual property.
We are living in a time when where we work is no longer the most important consideration. Again, young people are leading the way in demanding the opportunity to work wherever, whenever, and however they want. The most leading-edge organizations are adapting to this and allowing lots of flexibility in employment terms. These firms will prosper.
But this trend means recruiting will have to go virtual and recruiters, as I have said many times before, will need to become skilled at video interviewing, online testing, and the other components of a complete virtual recruiting process. Hiring managers may never meet face-to-face with a candidate, and once hired, the employee may work alone in some remote place with no face-to-face contact with any other employee. Others may work in small clusters located regionally, and others may choose to work this way on a part-time basis. The key will be flexibility in everything.
Visa issues will become less important because people can work from their home country. Travel is cheap and fast and, while security may be an issue, people are more mobile than ever. If there is a need to meet, it can happen easily. This mobility may make a temporary or part-time workforce even more attractive as that will eliminate the complex issues of health coverage and other benefits for a distributed workforce.
As mobile phones get even more connected to the Internet and offer more capabilities, work can take place literally anywhere: in airplanes, cars, or trains, and at all times and places. The concept of work being something done at a specific place is ending.
Fewer Recruiters: More RPOs
I see the need for far fewer recruiters as the number of employees continues to drop and there is more focus on part-time and temporary workers. The recruiters who remain will be highly skilled in using social networks, in living and working virtually, in influencing and selling, and in learning their trade more thoroughly than ever. As I wrote a few weeks ago, the internal recruiters who survive will have to have the skills of successful third-party recruiters, plus more.
There will also be a steady rise in recruiting firms who can fill all the hiring needs of an organization. The so-called one-stop-shop will become more popular to fill the needs for temporary and part-time workers. These recruitment process outsourcing centers will reduce the need for internal recruiters. And, the successful RPOs will heavily use technology to reduce their need for recruiters and keep costs low. Perhaps a fourth trend should be the rise of recruiting technology that will really improve recruiting. But I still believe that technology is only a tool that well-trained and seasoned recruiters can employ to handle more open positions, do more with less, and lower costs.
Let’s see how I do this year and let me wish you all a very happy and a prosperous new year!