Predicting the future is an inherently risky and fraught business.
For example, who would have predicted that Keith Richards would still be alive at 67 years of age?
Videos and DVDs didn’t kill cinemas, as they were predicted to do. Instead they helped fuel greater demand and innovation in movie making and movie going (eg. Gold Class, 3D etc).
Downloadable or free public-access music hasn’t killed CDs or the music industry but it has certainly changed the power balance in the industry and destroyed the long-standing distribution oligopoly of the major record companies.
Now it’s the turn of the book. Will e-readers (Amazon Kindle, Apple iPad, Koboo eReader, Sony Reader etc) kill the traditional printed book? That battle is in its early stages but I am not expecting traditional book publishing to disappear anytime soon.
The demise of agency recruiters has been written about for years but I don’t expect to see it happen in my lifetime. In fact, I think the reverse; the recruitment agency sector will only grow in size and importance.
I certainly don’t have any special foresight about what’s ahead for recruiters, only my optimism.
Instead I offer you a short guide about who or what I recommend you should be looking at to identify and act on trends that are relevant to your business to ensure your own relevance and profitability into the future.
- Third-party assessment tools: Assessing candidates for skills, competencies and motivation using validated profiling tools has traditionally been expensive, cumbersome, inconvenient, time consuming and frankly, hit-and-miss. This is now changing, swiftly. Assessment vendors are producing products that are web-based, user-friendly, more accurate and, crucially, less expensive.
The rapidly changing demand for skills will ensure that more candidates will need to be assessed on their behavioural competencies and motivation rather than their actual work experience.
This shift significantly reduces the effectiveness of the ‘interview and reference check’ hiring process of last century in accurately identifying the best person to hire.
Smart agency recruiters are already incorporating third-party assessment tools into their hiring processes for clients and are creating a clear competitive advantage as a result.
- Geoff Morgan and Andrew Banks: Back in the 1990s, Australia’s original recruitment moguls showed the market how to grow a highly profitable public recruitment company. In the new century they reinvented themselves under the Talent2 banner and aggressively diversified outside their traditional recruitment business into recruitment process outsourcing, payroll and human resource administration services, training management services, as well as sales, implementation and support services for human resource and payroll software.
I’m predicting Australia’s richest and most successful recruiters won’t be slowing down, or becoming less successful, anytime soon. All the more reason for you to be very closely following what they do in the recruitment and human resources services market.
- Deloitte Australia: As a raw graduate (with first class honours in British politics, if you don’t mind), Deloitte National Recruitment Director, James Elliott cut his teeth in the world of agency recruiting for four years. He was clearly taking notes.
After nearly seven years with Deloitte, Elliott now leads one of Australia’s most impressive and awarded corporate recruiting teams. Investing in leading CRM and search technology and building in-house human capability, has lead to a dramatic reduction in both recruitment agency candidate sourcing and cost-per-hire.
Meanwhile Deloitte outstripped all its Big 4 competition to rank 11th in Australia’s Top Places to Work survey, 2010. Whatever Deloitte does in the world of recruitment, you should be taking notice.
- RPO vendors: Indian-based recruitment outsourcing, IMS , came steaming into Australia in 2009 and has quickly built a portfolio of clients on the back of its success in the UK market.
Local outsourcing specialists, HCMS and HRX, continue to build their presence and global companies such as Hays , Hudson , Alexander Mann and Futurestep are aggressively marketing their global capability.
As competitive pressures increase, I expect that each RPO player will be going further down the corporate food chain, to pitch for business in organisations that have previously been an RPO-free zone.
If you don’t keep metrics to support your value, then you are at risk of your clients being seduced by the dazzling case studies and interactive presentations of hungry RPO Business Development Managers.
- How your ‘platinum’ candidates find new jobs: Nothing is worth a closer view than how your very best candidates find new jobs. If these candidates are mostly securing their new opportunities through you, then you can congratulate yourself. If your agency competitors are beating you to the punch, then you should be concerned.
However if an increasing number of these platinum candidates are finding great jobs through more direct means, then you should be taking very close notice of how this is happening and what that means for your current business model.
As an example, I have previously highlighted young Melbourne HR professional, Ellison Bloomfield , who came to minor online fame when, over a 4 month period last year, she publicly blogged and tweeted her way into her dream job (leadership development) with her dream employer (Deloitte Australia ).
The cream in recruitment is finding and recruiting the very best candidates, seemingly unavailable to your clients through other means. If you lose that edge, you are very quickly consigning yourself to the scrum of desperately-discounting, resume-referral recruiters.
- Public mistakes of other recruiters : Specialist News Ltd provides a wonderful service for recruiters. Every weekday they publish relevant recruitment-specific articles and features on their respective specialist recruitment websites, Recruiter Daily (for free) and ShortList (for an annual subscription fee).
Their editorial staff do a great job of hunting down and publishing various legal decisions and other rulings that involve recruiters with articles on topics such areas as candidate fraud, employment contracts, contractor rulings and unfair dismissal. These articles all provide excellent pointers to the areas you should be closely examining to ensure your future is not derailed by having to invest time and money to rectify previously avoidable mistakes.
- LinkedIn’s progress in Australia: In January 2010, LinkedIn opened their first local office in Sydney. By June, sign-ups of 15,000 new profiles per week in Australia lead Steve Barham , LinkedIn Director of Hiring Solutions (Aus & NZ), to predict that ‘LinkedIn would cover most of the Australian workforce within five years’.
HP, Rio Tinto, IBM, Vodafone Hutchison were just some of the Australian corporate heavyweights signing on for the new LinkedIn Recruiter product. When Global CEO, Jeff Weiner stated that ‘the Recruitment Solutions Division is the biggest and fastest growing division of the business’ you knew it was time to be paying really close attention to what LinkedIn was up to.
- How your clients fill their toughest jobs: Clients hate having vacant jobs. Clients especially hate having vacant jobs that hang around for months at a time. If those same clients consistently find a faster way to recruit better people (than you can provide to them), then it’s a sure bet that you won’t stay on their speed dial for long.
- How your competitors harness mobile technology: There’s no doubt that the current, next wave of recruitment technology innovation is focusing on being smartphone friendly.
Everyone (well, everyone that you would be interested in recruiting anyway) has a mobile phone. Whatever you are doing in this area of technology, I would also advise you to keep a watching brief on other leading recruitment agency websites to see what they are promoting and have available.
You can be sure that any advantage your competitors think they have through their technology they will be wanting to shout it from the rooftops via their website.
As with any industry, there will always be threats and opportunities emerging in the future.
Firms that see the emerging opportunities, and act on them successfully, will be those that win. Those who pretend that nothing has changed (or who fear change) and stick rigidly to their old business model, are those most likely to struggle to survive or be left behind to become obsolete … like analogue television.
It’s all about the mindset of wanting to stay ahead, keeping up with the times, looking for ideas and never being welded to one way of providing recruitment services.
It’s never about luck.
It’s never about luck.