Sloppy thinking and failure to shift the paradigm have slowed recruitment’s evolution.

By Michael Beygelman
In recruitment, it is rare to have a conversation and not discuss “how much recruiting has changed in the past 15 years.” While there certainly has been a great deal of change, data also suggests that talent is just as hard to find, if not harder; that requisitions are vacant for just as long, if not longer; and that cost for recruitment has stayed relatively flat and even increased in some verticals. We should pause to address a widespread false sense of progress, and as HR practitioners, we must develop a renewed sense of focus on making meaningful progress by the year 2020.
HRO Today held two of its forums in the month of May 2013— one addressing the North America market, held in Philadelphia, and one addressing the Asia Pacific market, held in Singapore. There was a good deal of similarity between them. For example, at both events attendees referred to Asia—citing China or India or even Russia, in Eastern Europe—as emerging markets, where a lack maturity augurs slow progress. Most positied that as those markets gain maturity we should expect more progress. But such rhetoric has become an excuse for lack of success, which probably has little to do with market maturity.
In the year 1800, China was the world’s largest economy followed by India, which was second. In the Year 1900, the United States was the world’s largest economy, followed by China second, and the United Kingdom, Germany, and India rounding out the top five. In the year 1950, the U.S. topped the list of the world’s largest economies, followed by U.S.S.R in second, which ironically is also referred to as an emerging market today, followed by the U.K., China, and Germany and France and India once again rounding out the top markets. So why is it that in the year 2013 we still refer to China and India and Russia as emerging markets? One possibility could be that the Western world has made no meaningful progress in penetrating the Eastern markets, and instead addressing that, we call those countries emerging and stop thinking.
Social media and the mobile workforce have also become a catchall for all things great or evil. These are enigmatic mechanisms for recruitment that dominate each conversation about talent. Significant time and money have been spent in these areas, deemed as panaceas. But only some 15 percent of job seekers attribute finding a job to social media, according to a survey by Jobvite. Most employers are not using social media to attract and engage; it’s just another place to advertise jobs—like job boards but on a website. And we need to be careful not to repeat history, because job boards also brought quick success, then became less effective.
Real progress in talent acquisition can only come from shifting a paradigm and leveraging technology and social media to crowd source skills and ideas. But this concept is hard to internalize for companies that are still operating within parameters established during the industrial revolution. HR practitioners talk about multimedia and branding and employee engagement, but then ask for CVs, which say little about true ability. In fact, all your social media interactions and acquired knowledge are more indicative of possible success, but companies have yet to embrace the very things they say they want.
Our false sense of progress derives from a fundamental problem of “good enough.” Most organizations do not have enduring commitments to see evolving strategies through to completion, but rather looking for quick fixes. And plenty of terrific quick fixes are on the market—from staffing agencies to branding firms and social media websites. But these things will not improve your quality of hire in the long run, nor will they reduce either your time to hire nor your cost per hire in any sustainable way. In order to make sustainable progress, organizations and HR departments need to adopt a sense of honesty and transparency and long-term vision.
Companies come and go, but great organizations endure because of their vision towards the future. Like Wayne Gretzky said, they “skate to where the puck is going be, not to where it was.” Companies that adopt concepts like the social CV, Klout scores, the notion of crowdsourcing skills not people, and breakdown the traditional job interviewing paradigm, will benefit from their transformations. Yet others, which are relying on their false sense of progress, will continue to complain—and will continue to call countries like China and India emerging markets.

Michael Beygelman is RPO president at Pontoon. He can be reached at

Tags: Consultants & Advisors, HRO Today Forum APAC, HRO Today Forum Europe, HRO Today Forum North America, HRO Today Global, HRO Today STA, Professional Contribution, RPO Staffing, Talent Acquisition

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