Posted by: garispang | August 4, 2009

Taking a look at the recruitment landscape in 2011

Wired GlobeKeith Robinson, Career Site Advisor founder and former Totaljobs COO, offers his opinion…

Almost two decades have passed since the dawn of digital recruitment and in this period the traditional employment channel has seen – and overcome – many challenges. Technological advances have meant that it is possible to operate an entirely automated recruitment function, whilst allowing for the integration of a host of innovative features that has taken the hiring process ‘off the streets’ and lodged it, forever, online.

However, far from running scared, many of the old-school agencies are engaging more and more with the digital age and rather than floundering, they are thriving. There may be fewer jobs out there but the enthusiasm to make the most of opportunities is tangible and whilst their budgets may be cut, employers using recruiters as part of their hiring strategy should be feeling like the cat that got the cream right now.

But whichever way the mustard is cut the current economic backdrop has opened as many doors as it has shut and as the recruitment industry attempts to find symbiosis between higher-fee traditional staffing and reduced-cost online reactivity, have the digital dice been cast too far to expect there to ever be a reincarnation of the conventional contingency consultant? And how does this impact the jobseeker?

“For the moment,” Keith says, “the recruitment space is in such a state of flux that predicting the future is tantamount to picking a Grand National winner. It’s anyone’s guess. That said I do not believe social media is a passing fad so whether it takes two years or five, direct engagement will be a key driver in the hiring process. Recruitment in 2011 will move to social media channels and integrated job boards will be right there. Mediums such as print and fairs won’t disappear altogether but the trend will be less about ‘coincidence recruitment’ – hoping jobseekers will be found – to ‘relationship recruitment’.

Perhaps the biggest driver of all, then, will be how jobseekers respond to the changes. They are experiencing tough times at the moment and whilst the prognosis is shifting from bleak to moderate, there is a long way to go before this imbalance is concluded. I anticipate resurgence but I envisage an ‘ugly recovery’. Throughout this process, though, lessons are being learned and the more creative, socially engaged individuals should be rewarded.”

In my article ‘How to Use Social Media to Find Your Next Job’ I suggested that by treating yourself as a brand and by building a profile to which people will come and explore, you create an online space dedicated to you and your work. I described this as the ‘mountain coming to Mohammed’ effect, which premises that the current climate both encourages and demands that we each have a showcase area where all our professional laundry is hung. Those peering over the fence, surreptitiously or otherwise, can identify your authenticity – one of social media’s key components – and decide whether you are someone they wish to do business with. And this is equally relevant in the recruitment process.

Keith agrees: “I foresee that in the coming years there will be a growth in the number of in-house recruiters working not only for corporate organisations, but SME’s too. Companies will provide these people with a recruitment budget and rely on ingenuity to work within this. Being able to identify potential employees will be as much about plugging into social spaces such as LinkedIn as it will be about using job sites and striking deals with mainstream recruiters. Whilst each of these components has its virtues the one with instant engagement capabilities will offer the most robust solution.”

As in most industries, technology is beginning to dominate the recruitment planes. The laws of economic forces acknowledge that as choice inclines so cost recedes: basic supply and demand. And as prices decline so the options available to both jobseeker and recruiter increase, igniting a digitally-charged carousel, which once on, may be difficult to get off. This though, should be a good thing; certainly if the industry buys into social media and believes the one-stop-shop for individual profiling is, indeed, the future.

“There are some very good pieces of kit in the market”, considers Keith, “that provide a vehicle for anyone – not just jobseekers – to manage their entire career online. Companies such as Careerplan4me and, more recently, Workthing +are, in essence, document storage facilities and resource tapestries; if used correctly they provide a two-way stream of information: individuals can track their career and prospective employees can find people in one place and access succinct information with ease and transparency.

I think in due course job applications will consist of submitting a single URL to complement a structured introductory personal summary, behind which will be as much information as any discerning recruiter or employer could wish for. Your LinkedIn page, for example, could well be a place to upload video profiles to compliment your written detail. There is already provision for collecting testimonials from previous employers, peers and business associates and, although contrary to believe in the States, I think providing details early about what others say about us will become more and more important, especially within the social media stream, where authenticity and transparency is vital.”

The recruitment landscape now is about conversations. Web-savvy jobseekers are communicating in language that is natural, open and honest, sometimes even direct; more direct than recruiters might wish them to be. Most corporations, on the other hand, only know of monotone mission statements, product strategies and marketing brochures. Everything is changing. People are connecting and working together. The Internet is enabling these conversations and there is nothing corporations or recruiters can do to stop it. What they can though, is embrace it: for joining them is surely the only way to preserve.

The economic uncertainty provides an opportunity for everyone in the recruitment sphere to try something new. The situation we find ourselves in now was inevitable. Once Facebook and My Space et al made their mark the writing was on the wall. The decline in recruitment advertising and hiring spend merely expedited this social interaction.

Social media tools are becoming mandatory for career success and marketing recruiters such Solutions4Recruitment have shown that by harnessing their undoubted expertise and involving themselves in the digital jobseeker space it is possible to mingle traditional searching with Web 2.0*. Jobseekers appreciate the lengths these companies are going to provide value added services, which certainly help now and will pay dividends in the future.

Provided it adapts traditional recruitment remains central to the staffing industry and by implementing a web strategy now and mingling with social strata agencies are likely to gain an edge over their competitors, both now and when the economy turns.

For jobseekers then, the outlook is good – provided they adopt the ‘mountain to Mohammed theory’. “By focussing on employee branding,” enthuses Keith, “and showcasing individual brands through personal websites, video profiling and self-promotion, they will form syndication of information and with that, the opening of multiple channels to find jobs. The future is about engagement, relationships, transparency, personalisation and honesty. Employer brands will be defined by the experience these criteria deliver to the user.”

So, 2011 promises interactive proactivity. Passive jobseekers using authenticity as a byword for professional integrity will ensure social media retains – and even develops – its meteoric evolution to ensure that short and long-term needs are met, saving time and money: and with USP’s like that, who would want to stop it?

*Now it’s all about Web 2.0. And we’ll cover that next month but in the meantime jobseekers might like to read this article on How to Leverage Social Media for Career Success

About Keith Robinson
Keith Robinson is founder and chief networking officer of Career Site Advisor, an online job indexing tool for all corporate and recruiter job boards, whose aim is stream lateral sector information through interactive web casting.

Written and interviewed by Simon Lewis | Only Marketing Jobs


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