The headline sounds like the opening line to a joke. The changes underway in recruitment styles and process are nothing to joke about. Here is what I see based on a view of recent years and daily conversations with recruiters.
Recruitment has long been under a state of continuous change, much like most businesses. The scale and speed of change has ramped up due to low unemployment in 2018, 2019 and early 2020. Then the pandemic hit. Everything went on hold and is just now returning to something closer to normal in many sectors with the exception of travel, hospitality and some other particularly-impacted sectors. It is clear that technology can either be your way forward in the new world of recruitment or just noise that is distracting you from the work that needs to be done. Here is what I am seeing as the bifurcation that is happening in recruitment in the years ahead.
Some recruiter styles are moving toward a concept of automation and a technology-driven recruitment process. These recruiters are leveraging LinkedIn and social media with drip campaigns and Chrome extensions to keep an endless collection of talent a few clicks away from a sendout, interview or application. They have massive databases and contact with thousands on a weekly basis. This is a recruitment process play that requires solid thinking, a plan and a consistent application of strategy. You might have good or bad weeks or months, but the numbers are the numbers and if you send out 50 to 100 candidates, you are likely to deliver on one or two placements, if your process is effective and well targeted. The cost of tools and subscriptions can be considerable and while duplicating the process for a number of new recruiters is well defined, the cost can be a staggering breakeven for newbies.
Recruitment changes are taking some recruiters’ styles in a completely different direction. Some recruiters are going back to what might be seen as old school headhunting. They are using the phone and well-crafted scripts and leveraged points of connection to strategically extract talent from their current employers. They have well defined job openings that they are headhunting to find the 2 or 3 top candidates that can fill the role for their clients. The tools are typically lighter on technology and higher on relationships. These recruiters are positioning themselves as consultants to the employer.
It seems that there is room for both recruitment styles to coexist and prosper. In some cases, the two recruitment styles even cross paths. Some headhunters use outsourced service providers, RPO or pure candidate exporters to help build a call and reference list, then dig in with old school phone techniques to locate the best fit candidates. In this case, the cost of tech applications and tools is that of the service provider and the headhunter pays a flat fee for a list.
In the next few years, many will need to pick a path forward from this pending fork in the road. Will most go toward the technology play? Can we assume that newer and younger recruiters will choose that path forward? Will the days of pure headhunting be gone? Will those skills and benefits be lost as baby boom recruiters exit or retire from the business? Maybe there will be more hybrids that surface? The road ahead will be interesting and filled with choices. Have you started down one path or the other?