Wednesday, December 7, 2011

HR Predictions for 2012 May Change Job Hunters’ Strategies

I recently ran across the site for Human Resource Professionals and a Dec. 5th post by Dr. John Sullivan , a frequent contributor to the site, a professor of management at San Francisco State University, and referred to by Fast Company as the "Michael Jordan of Hiring."

His post, “10 Predictions for 2012: The Top Trends in Talent Management and Recruiting” can be read here.  (By all means, read the article. I’ll wait right here.)

I read the article with great interest, not as an HR professional, but as someone who is both looking for work and writes frequently about the process of job hunting. Here are some of the ideas from his article and my responses on how job hunters may adjust to some of these changes to their benefit.

“It’s clear that Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter will play a dominate role in recruiting and development best practices in years to come.”

No surprise or prediction here, just a reminder that if you aren’t on at least two of the three services here, you may be at a distinct disadvantage in the job market.

Another not-so-surprising prediction is that mobile phones and tablets will be even more important in both business interaction and in training as more applications are developed that take advantage of the mobile market. My conclusion (again, not very surprising): a frugal job hunter trying to save money by not using a smart phone may be making a false choice when competing for jobs in 2012. Just as there should be more apps for work, there should be more new apps for job hunting and hiring in 2012 as well.

Prediction:Intense hiring competition will return in selected areas — global economic issues will persist for years to come, but the global war for talent will continue spiking in key regions an[d] industries... Australia and Southeast Asia — including India — continue to see dramatic demand for skilled talent.”

“In high tech inclusive of medical technologies, 2012 will see a significant escalation in the war for top talent…”

For some time, high tech and medical technologies have been the bright spots in the hiring market here in the states. Expect that trend to continue both here and around the globe. Those who speak two or more languages in these fields and are willing to relocate may be the most attractive in the international market.

Prediction:Retention issues will increase dramatically — almost every survey shows that despite high engagement scores, more than a majority of employees are willing to quit their current job as soon as a better opportunity comes along.…”

Expect more churn in the job market next year. As the job market begins to loosen, more employed people will leave for advancement in other companies; HR pros will be scrambling to fill the vacated position as well as any newly created ones.

Prediction: “Remote work changes everything in talent management — the continued growth of technology, social media, and easy communications now makes it possible for most knowledge work and team activities to occur remotely. Allowing top talent to work “wherever they want to work” improves retention and makes recruiting dramatically easier.”

Although Dr. Sullivan anticipates more remote work with current employees, the last several years have seen a great increase in telecommuting for freelance workers and team projects. Self-motivated knowledge-workers may be able, therefore, to cast a wider net in their job search beyond local businesses.

Prediction: “The need for speed shifts the balance between development and recruiting — historically, best practice within corporations has been to build and develop primarily from within. However, as the speed of change in business continues to increase ... talent managers will need to rethink the “develop internally first” approach.”

“In many cases, recruiting becomes a more viable option because there simply isn’t time for current employees to develop completely new skills. As a result, the trend will be to continually shift the balance toward recruiting for immediate needs and the use of contingent labor for short-duration opportunities and problems.”

Job applicants will need to focus on the specific skills that HR is looking for in order to fill those temp jobs. Focused résumés and cover letters will be essential and experience will be in demand, even for temp positions.

Prediction (paraphrased): In the past, referral programs and social media efforts have occurred separately, without coordination. Now, talent managers are looking at tapping their employees’ social media and networking connections and relying less on outside recruiters.

Those social media and live networking connections will be even more valuable as more companies tap into this resource for recruiting talent.

Prediction: “Organizations have never treated candidates as well as they did their customers, but the high jobless rate has allowed corporations to essentially abuse some applicants.” [Italics are mine] “As competition for talent increases and as more applicants visit employer criticism sites like Glass, talent leaders will be forced to modify their approach.”

“At the very least, firms will more closely monitor candidate experience metrics as they realize that treating applicants poorly can not only drive away other high-quality applicants but it can also lose them sales and customers.”

So that abusive and/or non-responsive treatment at the hands of hiring managers in the past wasn’t just in your imagination. Finally, something might be done about it. (And nonprofit employers may finally realize that they should be treating their prospective employees more like they do their donors.)

Some other trends to watch (excerpts):

    • Expedited leadership development — as more baby-boom leaders and managers actually begin to retire, there will be increased pressure for expedited leadership development — specifically solutions that develop talent remotely using social media tools and within months rather than years. ...
    • Contingent workers — as continuous business volatility becomes the “new normal,” the increased use and the improved management of contingent workers will become essential for agility and flexibility. ...
    • Recruiting at industry events — as industry events return to popularity, recruiting at them will again become an effective tool for recruiting top and diverse talent.
    • Location software — talent managers will begin to realize that software that allows you to check-in and see who is within close geographic proximity has great value and many still unidentified uses.
    • Hire before they do — most firms will restrict their hiring until the turnaround actually begins. However, your firm must have a talent pool or pipeline developed, so that you can hire immediately and capture the top talent right before your competitors realize the downturn is over.

The Frugal Job Hunter’s Conclusions

These predictions, however well thought out and logical, are still only predictions. As we have seen in recent years, dramatic events can derail these trends. However, the thoughtful job hunter should watch for some changes:

Baby-boomer retirement should gradually accelerate in the near future, creating some leadership vacuums. Although businesses will be looking at new ways of developing current staff, they will look outside the organization when necessary. Contingency hiring (temp work) will only increase (as may temp-to-hire positions). Industry events and networking events will become even more important for job hunters to attend in 2012. Make it easy for local talent managers to find you. HR may be interviewing more people to help them build up talent pools for future contingencies rather than for immediate hiring.

Also, as pressure grows to promote talented employees to positions long-held by baby boomers, and the likelihood fewer workers will hold onto their jobs for security sake, and as internal training programs give way to outside hiring, prepare for more job opportunities (but just as much competition). However, in the short term, these trends may also boost temporary hiring with the use of telecommuting and off-site work, resulting in fewer benefits and less job security.

If you work in HR, prepare for more pressure to please your bosses, improve the interview experience for candidates, and build up a pool of potential candidates aided by your own fellow-workers’ networking connections.