Posted by: garispang | June 10, 2009

Top 100: Recruiting and HR

Top 100 Recruiting & HROur industry stretches from recruiting on one side to more traditional HR on the other. One part moves at market speeds; the other runs at a conservative pace. One part is an engine of competitive advantage. The other is the hard work that must be done with precision. Like families during the 60s, we are half conservative and half liberal.

What’s odd is that the conservative function (traditional HR) comes with a relatively liberal perspective. The liberal function (Recruiting) tends to have a more conservative set of politics. To be clearer, traditional HR, the defensive function, often champions liberal views. Recruiting, the offensive operation, often delivers a more ‘business-y’ set of politics.

Obviously, the generalization breaks down in the face of anecdotal specifics. But, one of the reasons that the Recruiting operation influences the strategy of the organization is this relative political alignment. Harsh competitive realities, severe deadlines, impossible goals, aggressive tactics and sales style motivation characterize the great Recruiting functions. The more traditional aspects of HR have softer things at the core of their operations. This is the reason for the historical tension between the two functions. HR leaders who are able to really harness both sides of the business are rare creatures.

The tension is so strong that many people don’t believe the two halves. are parts of the same industry. It’s only recently that ‘Talent Management’ software, which tries to integrate all aspects of the HR Department into a single toolset, came to market. After years of internal squabbling, there is a drive to have a single record for all employees. The typical HR operation has over 200 separate databases and software tools. Enterprise style integration is long overdue. The question is whether a toolset that operates at market speeds can also be precise enough to handle routine operations like payroll, benefits, compensation analysis. Is the level of record keeping (sloppy) that makes Recruiting departments successful going to fit with data where completeness and accuracy are essential?

Imagine that the industry is a matrix with two dimensions. The professional axis includes HR at one end of the spectrum. Recruiting is at the other. The other one includes the vendors, event producers, speakers, academic, consultants and analysts. This is the commercial axis.

The most observable forms of influence in the industry come from commercial forces (including academia). The players on the commercial axis make their living, in one way or another, by trying to change, guide or drive the behavior of the professionals in the business. It’s a complex feed of newsletters, advice, blogs, conferences, podcasts, specification development, standards creation.

One of the most interesting features of the landscape is the class of service providers who deliver recruiting services from outside of the corporate walls. Third party Recruiters (search firms, contingency, staffing agencies, contract recruiters). They act like a hybrid, part vendor, part practitioner.

There’s another emerging class of provider who deliver outsourced services. Built on the Recruiting model, they range in depth from sourcing operations to complete Human Resources Outsourcing. While third party recruiters were the first outsourcing operations, these new providers are developing new approaches to basic tasks. By applying industrial and information era management techniques, they are driving the costs out of service delivery in both Recruiting and traditional HR.

The industry is roomy. With a footprint in every company and a representative in every company with more than 100 people, our industry has nearly 2,000,000 professionals. There are complex layers and niches. The way that people perform basic tasks varies with region, industry and size of the operation.

Influence in the industry comes in a variety of forms …professional practice, software choice and design, fads and fashions in language and issues, purchasing choices, operating concepts. Over the remainder of the Top 100 Influencers project, we’ll be taking a deeper look at each area.


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