March 10, 2010
The field of talent management--that is, of recruiting, training and holding onto qualified personnel within a company or organization--is hotter than you'd think. Hot, as in growing and changing to keep up with the times.
Take note: the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which calls the industry "Employment Services," predicts it will grow by 19% over the decade between 2008 and 2018.
Professionals in the field--whether they refer to themselves as recruiters, staffing managers, placement service-providers or another term--are thrilled with what they're seeing. Richard Jordan, Career Consultant at the international recruitment agency Lee Hecht Harrison, says, "It's an exciting time to be in the field. It's becoming highly skilled, and recruiters who are able to use technology to their advantage will be able to stand out."
Not only is technology changing the profession, but so is the recession. The shakeup in the job market and the eventual recovery of the economy are having profound effects on how companies look at their human resources, business objectives, and internal operating procedures. "It's fascinating stuff," says Jill Silman, Vice President of Meador Staffing Services, as she describes the changes in recruiting she's seen over the years.
Personnel recruitment after the recession
The end of the recession will be a time of transformation for companies and organizations, as well as for those who help staff them. Not only will they begin to hire or rehire more people, but they will do so more strategically.
According to Silman, who specializes in identifying and placing qualified personnel in temporary, contract and full-time positions, companies are taking time to evaluate how they function, what their human resource strengths and needs are, and how they can become more efficient in a tight economy.
"I think staffing management is going to look very different than it has in the past. The days of hiring temps for a day or a week are over. Companies are savvier now about their use of contingent personnel. They are becoming more strategic and project-oriented, so they look for specialized people who can carry out required tasks efficiently," says Silman.
At the same time, she adds, "Employee and workforce expectations and attitudes are changing." Experienced business managers, some of whom were let go during the recession but are expecting to be hired anew as companies rebuild, are more particular. They want to use their knowledge and experience in specific ways, and they want more control over how and where they work.
Companies lead the way in the recruitment process
Silman explains that her work is driven by the needs of the client. She spends time working with companies to examine long term plans and processes, and then helps them align staff with business goals and organizational philosophy.
"Companies are morphing more quickly now. You see transitions within the life of an organization, and this sort of change begs for a contract-type attitude. How those contracts and arrangements are going to be built is different than what we're used to." Recruiters and personnel placement managers will, she adds, "need to be people who can put pieces of the puzzle together correctly. Speed and dexterity will be important."
Mark Foster, CEO of Accenture's Global Markets and Management Consulting group, agrees that talent management is not just the mission for a company's human resources department; rather it is a strategic issue that business leaders need to address. In article in Business Week, he states that, "a talent strategy is now as important as a marketing or finance strategy for corporations operating in today's multi-polar world."
Job seekers take a more active role, using social media
Jordan describes staff recruitment and retention from the perspective of the changing talent market. "It's a buyer's market now," he says. "Before the recession, companies were worried about losing talent. There weren't enough people for jobs. That's not true anymore.
Now we're approaching a crisis of talent acquisition and retention because there are a lot of highly experienced people out there in the marketplace. They are very bright and want to be in control of their destiny. When the economy recovers and hiring picks up, these job seekers will be a lot more selective."
The advent of social media makes it easier for job seekers and companies to find each other, thereby diminishing the role of recruitment agencies. Jordan notes that as more and more professionals use services such as LinkedIn to post their job histories, aspirations, and recommendations from co-workers, bosses and clients, company staffers can find the talent they need without having to hire outside recruitment specialists and pay search fees. This will, as Jordan says, "re-personalize the relationship between employers and talent."
Dionna Keels, a Senior Corporate Recruiter for a business services company who recruits professionals for information technology (IT) and accounting services, says that LinkedIn has made a big difference in her work. "It's a great portal to find passive candidates--people who are not necessarily looking for a job. We can get specific information about them, such as the types of IT systems they know and use, and then reach out to them, making a connection," which can lead to a conversation, and possibly a job change.
Areas of growth for recruitment agencies
Jordan explains that the growth area for recruitment agencies will be in workforce planning. Companies will hire agencies to help them create human resource strategies that are closely aligned to the future of their business. They will assist in determining the balance of skills needed, and in growing the talent they have.
"Companies will rediscover competency frameworks for employees, and will focus on retraining employees. Much of talent needed is within the organization, but it needs more development," he says.
Keels finds additional reasons that recruitment agencies will continue to be needed by companies hiring higher-level staff. She says "The agencies can come in handy, and can differentiate themselves, when they become specialized. By networking in particular fields or professions, they can find better candidates."
In addition, companies will look to staffing agencies when hiring contractors for project-oriented work--such as to help organizations become more efficient and better meet the needs of their customers. In these cases, they look for very specialized skill sets that recruiters are prepared to find.
So, when you get right down to it, not only is the field of recruiting and managing personnel changing, but the role that companies and organizations play in determining who their employees are is being transformed.
Add to that the job seekers, who are taking more control over where and how they spend their workdays. It does make for an exciting time, both in the world of hiring and of being hired.
Written by Abigail Rome