Innovative Staffing Practices: 2014 Trends

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digital trends A few years ago, if you had told some of the world’s best and brightest recruiters and HR professionals that everything they were currently doing manually would soon see the advent of automation and may be put on auto-pilot, what do you think they would have said? Chances are, one would have heard a great deal of laughing and a few choice words. In fact, many of the things that made a recruiter a recruiter ARE now automated and analysts and practitioners alike are struggling to identify what innovative means for the future.

Innovation hit both the recruiting and staffing industries with the force of a gale wind and the endlessness of the tide. It changed so fast and so much, it was difficult to recognize. Will 2014 be the same? Will all recruiters be encouraged to become marketers? Will social be both decried as the end of a profession while simultaneously saturating the same? It’s possible. But instead of taking apart those oft-discussed topics, here are some truly innovative staffing principles that will guide the staffing practices which, like the endless tide, will continue to change our industry…for the better.

The Ladders Testing and Sourcing will become more closely aligned

Faced with the influx of candidates that are very eager but less qualified, recruiters, staffing agencies and HR professionals are finding themselves caught between the proverbial rock and hard place. They must increase their employer brand to attract the right people but even more of the wrong people are washing up with them. In 2014, sourcing companies are using data already on the Internet (where we do most of our sourcing these days) to weed these people out before they are marketed to, often at a significant cost.

While the past few years have hailed the fusion of recruitment and marketing professionals, sourcers will get smarter and make use of the kind of predictive analytics marketers have been harvesting from social networks and professional websites for a couple of years now. These evaluation methods, made possible by a breadth of information passive candidates willingly give, will allow more of the right jobseekers to become marketed to, while decreasing the amount of “applicant white noise” currently driving staffing professionals to distraction.

As prospects move from the sourcing gauntlet closer to the recruiting process, more subtle evaluations will be put in place to ensure a seemingly simpler applicant experience and eliminate those who are unlikely to make the cut when later evaluations are put in place. While this is a much more effective (not to mention faster) route, it is less likely to work in smaller geographical areas where talent must be close to the job location. However, this is less of a concern because of the rise of the contingent workforce and the increasing acceptance, due in part to consumer technology, of teleworking options for many professions.

Many companies spend more time and money researching the costs, benefits, pros and cons of a new machine than they do a new employee. However, this is counterintuitive, since a bad hire can cost an organization as much as 10-100x a bad machine. Including the latest in I/O selection criteria will allow companies to more accurately assess their available talent pool while sourcing in the most advantageous areas.

linium Hiring trends upward, but it’s not the hiring of yesterday

Never has the rise of the contingent and “blended” workforce been more obvious than in the past year. Most surmise that it will continue to affect a large portion of our workforce. The Great Recession changed the way people work and the way companies hire. In effect, it scared all of them. To that end, companies are looking for the most cost-effective and time sensitive ways to shift their hiring; while employees are trying to navigate new healthcare laws, a plethora of new opportunities open to them because of teleworking, new hiring standards and a shift into recession hiring.

This is the triumvirate of innovation; everyone involved has something to gain by seeking out a new model and the circumstances are entirely right for it as well (economic trends, political climate, entrepreneurial mindset on the rise). We’ve seen this happening on the micro-stage in industries like healthcare and administrative. Some of the world’s largest companies use a blend of FTE (full-time employees) supplemented with contractors and contingent workers and a new research report titled “The Future of Work” commissioned by online platform company Elance and conducted by Tower Lane Consulting revealed that 60% of enterprises plan to increase freelance hiring in 2014.

While freelance may imply that these are “ad hoc” or “as needed” services, the effect on the workplace is very real and these workers can be indistinguishable from their payroll counterparts. Learning how to manage this hiring in a consistent and focused manner will lead to even further innovation that will not only allow organizations to fulfill their business objectives but create a freelance class that has the autonomy to create a new kind of work.

This solution is not new (or innovative) but the way companies and staffing agencies are using it IS. 2014 will bring a focus on planning, managing and integrating these workers with the remainder of your organization both locally and globally.

You should be in pictures.

It’s true. Video for both branding and staffing is paramount in 2014. Content is 50x more likely to appear on the first page of search if it contains video content. The good news for those invested in building employer brands is that these are often far easier to get approval for than the videos the marketing department is trying to get budgeted and approved. Video job descriptions, video interviewing, and day-in-the-life videos are being used by 6 out of 10 companies AND video interviewing has grown by 49% in the last two years. Many highly recognizable companies and agencies are capitalizing on the visible consumer brands in which they’ve already invested, to create an “instant employment brand”.

But large companies aren’t the only ones who may want to dip their toe into this very attractive pool. Mid-size companies are seeing the benefit for live video interviewing as it allows their entire hiring team to easily collaborate with their agency partners behind the scenes, while also providing the candidate an easy way to interview that cuts down on travel and interview costs.

Staffing will see a surge in the use of video for screening use as average time savings over phone screens are staggering, with some companies reporting an 80% time savings over the average 30 minute phone screen. Because staffing companies often deal with a large volume of candidates for office positions, medical openings, retail and hospitality jobs and more; these virtual interviewing solutions will make the typically busy seasons much easier to bear in agencies.

Big Data is the 500 lb Gorilla

That no one knows how to move. In fact, there have been a great many articles about how to use Big Data for Recruiting but the solutions remain in the abstract for now. There is a reason that data scientists are in demand in 2014 and it’s because it takes a great deal more time and expertise to unravel the streams of TRUE big data than the average recruiter has on his or her hands.

However, data is still useful to the recruiting industry, particularly when it comes to highly competitive industries. If you recruit for one of the industries that is going to be squeezed even tighter in 2014, take note. A well-kept CRM can be a recruiter’s best friend and the data you filter through it can be even more helpful.

Innovative companies are using the sourcing technologies of yesteryear to renovate the systems of yesterday, to solve tomorrow’s issues. Most namely, if a company has been hiring for even five years, there is often enough data to mine before heading out to search for more applicants. Many enterprises are keeping that data (culled from old applications and social networks associated with email addresses) “fresh” and creating a new repository, that unlike the databases of last decade, retain up to 80% of their value and allow recruiters and agency partners to source from a larger (pre-qualified) pool every time a new position becomes available. With 55 percent of all recruiters and HR pros expecting to look for new talent in the first half of 2014, the easier the better.

A small sampling of this same data (for example, your best fit hires or the department with the highest turnover) can be analyzed to make better hiring decisions in the future and assist with succession planning or even to optimize VMS spend. However, as we come full circle with automated systems, it’s important to note that at some point, all this data must be entered into a system. 2014 will be a year for “spring cleaning” all the hoarded resumes and aligning old data with new, readily available data from sourcing tools and professional networks to obtain a complete profile on passive jobseekers. Applicants and candidates may also benefit from this “evergreen profile” that adds to itself as their careers progress.

Degrees will decrease in importance

Companies that truly want to innovate will attempt to do so by staffing diversely. With STEM grads dropping drastically in 2014, companies are already choosing to hire for fit and train for skills. While some positions absolutely require a degree, there are others for which the merits of a specialized degree are already being debated. With hiring teams already looking outside their traditional “top schools” and popular business magnates challenging the traditionally held belief that a college education is the only way to success, the climate is ripe (and necessary) for agencies and organizations alike to take the “college” out of “college recruiting”.

Ad-hoc educational institutions like Treehouse, Code Academy, and Khan Academy have changed the definition of some of our most in demand jobs and not a moment too soon. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates by 2016 hiring for technical positions will at least double hiring for all other fields.

The old battle between classically trained and self-taught is beginning to extend to occupations outside the creative arts. First adopters of alternative educational “graduates” will be the first to benefit or at least measure the impact on the enterprise and learn how to supplement with on-boarding and training initiatives. The benefits to mid-size companies (particularly those outside of the Silicon Valley) will be myriad and include lower starting salaries, the ability to attract and retain a talented but not classically educated workforce and the added bonus of knowing your employees are passionate about their chosen profession. would like to thank this month’s Innovative Staffing Practices Leadership Sponsors, The Ladders and Linium Staffing. Please consider their innovative services for your recruiting and staffing needs!


By Maren Hogan