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Douglas was the presenter of a Society for Human Resource Management/Monster.com-sponsored webcast, “R.I.P. Recruiting,” in June 2013.
“The way that we recruit—our strategies and our resources—will look dramatically different just two to three years from now … the way we recruit today will die in the next two or three years,” he said. “Our current system is broken. It’s not sustainable. Changes are coming, and they’re coming quickly.”
Recruiting often falls to HR professionals, and Douglas called on them to find a good balance between high-tech and high-touch methods in finding talent.
“We’ve shifted heavily toward the technology side so far that the human-engagement piece has been lost in the process, and we’ve done it all in the name of efficiency—or so we think”—in order to handle the “tidal wave of job candidates.”
Douglas, who has recruiting experience in a variety of industries, was quick to point out that he makes heavy use of technology in his work, but warned that a reliance on it at the expense of human engagement cannot continue.
For one thing, the 80 million members of Generation Y who are replacing retiring Baby Boomers will not put up with methods that lack feedback and transparency, he noted.
Generation Y is the first to have the Internet accessible to them every day of their life, and it “has transformed the way that they think, the way that they communicate, the way they reason, how they go about doing their research, and their expectations of how people should behave and the way businesses should operate,” Douglas pointed out.
Applying for a job today involves going to a corporate website, uploading one’s resume, perhaps filling out an online form with the exact information on the resume, completing prescreening questions and divulging all sorts of personal information.
After spending a good bit of time on this process, the applicant hits “submit” and within seconds may receive an e-mail expressing thanks for the submittal but stating that the person is not a good fit for the job.
“No human eyes ever saw that applicant’s application. No attempt was made to see if there was anything unique or extraordinary” about the applicant, and a do-not-reply e-mail address prevents the applicant from asking a follow-up question.
“As they observe our current recruiting processes,” Douglas said of Generation Y, “they feel disrespected, humiliated and frustrated. They require quick feedback,” but current recruiting systems “don’t match up with the way these guys are wired,” he observed.
Recruiters of the future will need to have strong computer skills; be able to gracefully drive the recruiting process; be world-class influencers; be committed to the candidate experience; have a long-term vision, instead of a focus on short-term fixes; emphasize transparency over secrecy in the recruiting process; be relentless networkers; and be able to build a personal brand.
Also, recruiting tools will change—job boards are becoming more social, for example, and LinkedIn will change how it operates, he predicted.
“Some people out there are getting hit 40 and 50 times a day by recruiters trying to fill a position.”
In response, many LinkedIn customers are making their profiles private, said Douglas, who suggested that a time will come when the site will shut off its access to recruiters and instead approach major organizations to offer—for sale—its database of candidates from every imaginable industry.
He also thinks recruiting will change from a “just-in-time” approach to building a pipeline of talent. This can be done by creating rapport and trust with the best candidates—even years before they are job hunting—to influence them to join the organization the recruiter represents.
“The days of letting technology do all of the recruiter’s work is at an end,” he said. The new approach “will focus on a prequalified and exceptional lineup of candidates” who are familiar with the company and its culture.
Ways that businesses can build rapport with desired talent include:
Posting a link to job openings on your organization’s Facebook page or LinkedIn profile is not a social media strategy, he pointed out. Social media requires engagement, including being transparent in the hiring process by giving the applicant feedback—even if he or she is not hired.
Generation Y “will not fall into a black hole of silence and disrespect. They will find a way to get to the decision-makers and just bypass recruiting altogether,” he said.
“We should be able to find a good balance of high-tech and high-touch in our recruitment efforts. And more importantly, issues like the generational shift that’s taking place right now is going to demand it.”
Kathy Gurchiek is associate editor for HR News.
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