Recently I was asked about what I saw as the top 10 big changes or trends emerging in recruiting in 2012. After consulting my crystal ball, here they are in no particular order:
1. It will be much harder to find those “hidden gems.” Social media will make it harder for the best people to go unnoticed and un-contacted. Also, people who are good, and wanted to make a move, will have done it by the time 2012 is well underway…
2. Proven relationships with candidates will become increasingly important. Being able to have superstars take the time to actually consider new opportunities will require a level of trust and influence that is only seen in the best relationships. Being able to bring to the table candidates who aren’t looking and aren’t all over the web will be invaluable.
3. Proven relationships with company hiring managers and decision makers will also become increasingly important. As the market for the best candidates turns, and they become far more difficult to find, the ability to influence hiring managers to consider “the best” vs. “the perfect” will be critical to get forward motion in the hiring process.
4. The retail “middle” will continue to be squeezed out. The market for boutique, relationship-driven, niche-focused (and often more expensive) recruiting companies will increase. Similarly, the market for the large-scale, “paper slinging,” transactional, commoditized (and often far cheaper) recruiting business will also increase. These increases will come at the continued expense of the middle: the retail mid-level business that has been the traditional backbone of so many mid-sized local and regional recruiting firms.
5. Companies will increasingly look for employees and contractors who can hit the ground running. Companies have decreased (or eliminated altogether!) their spending budgets on training, and increasingly looking for immediate impact. The ability to demonstrate immediate impact will be a key in 2012. In return, companies will have to demonstrate their attractiveness more effectively to prospective stars.
6. Candidates who truly understand “the business” will increasingly beat out candidates who only understand their functional area. The companies with which I work, the ones that are doing the best , also happen to be those who screen the hardest on business-centric focus and awareness.
7. Recruitment outsourcing will grow. Companies that can provide optimized outsource solutions that can be turned on and off quickly, are scalable, and demonstrate value, will grow their business.
8. Companies will realize something that has already started: “the market” is a myth! The ease and availability in sourcing shipping clerks will be vastly different than the ability to source database developers. The same can be said about hundreds of functional and industry areas! There are many “markets” out there. Some of them are still quite impacted, while others are doing great – and in which it is very hard to find available candidates.
9. Good recruiters will spend more time away from their desk. As recruiting continues to be increasingly relationship driven, being out in the community interacting with candidates and demonstrating value will be a definite competitive edge.
10. Recruiting will be more fun in 2012! For most top-tier industry and functional recruiters, 2012 should prove to be a year in which their skills will be invaluable and in demand by many companies.
Overall, I think that it will take some companies longer than others to realize that many of the best and the brightest candidates are not lined up waiting to apply for their jobs, but have made moves in 2010 and 2011 — if they had intended to move. The advent of social media has scared some of my fellow recruiters, but I liken it to the development of Monster and Dice 15 years ago: Rather than eliminate the need for good recruiters, as many feared it would, it actually accentuated the need for professional recruiting assistance. Social media will be a critical tool – but as with all tools some people will be highly skilled at leveraging its power, while others will expect that it will do all the work for them. Being able to effectively cut through the almost-overwhelming amount of noise to find the hidden nuggets of gold is something that neither job boards nor social media will be able to fully automate. Human influence and relationships will remain at the core of the most effective recruiting. Good companies will go further in 2012 to maintain their relationships with those recruiters who demonstrate an ability to influence.
While the economy, as a whole, may grow slowly overall, there are many projects and developments that were completely put on hold in the past couple of years. It will become increasingly important for companies to make up for this lost time if they want to stay in the game. This means that there will be a growing battle for top talent, and recruiters who are best prepared to wage this battle will win.