Like many HR professionals, I’m very inspired by the evolution of the recruitment industry. Recent years have brought many changes, however I believe it is the next 10 years that will be most important. The forthcoming decade will bring about the most exciting advances in our ability to discover, attract and retain the best talent because of a revolution that will also take place in the digital landscape. Since the digital world is now all-pervasive, changes within it will directly affect recruitment and HR practices.
In this article I’d like to examine the recent history of recruitment and then take a journey into the future to take a look at how recruitment will continue to evolve.
Recruitment 1.0: Resume Databases.
The first contemporary generation of recruitment has its roots in the era of Web 1.0. It was a primitive and linear affair which took place through the 1990’s until the mid 2000’s.
During that era it was very, very far-fetched to think that Google could return a meaningful response to a search query such as:
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“I need a UI/UX designer from London with 10 years experience”.
Instead, talent search was done largely by building and searching large in-house resume databases.
Recruitment 2.0: Rise of Social Media.
LinkedIn, the biggest HR success story of the past decade, was borne out of the community-centric consciousness of Web 2.0 (which began to take hold online from approximately 2005 onwards).
Although on the surface LinkedIn looks somewhat Web 1.0-esque (a large database full of contact details), it differs from this in two very important ways:
- it is user-generated
- access to contact details can be purchased by anyone
This meant that all value recruiters have built up by creating huge, private databases evaporated overnight.
Social media platforms have also enabled huge growth in passive recruitment, by giving recruiters access to a huge pool of talent that isn’t actively looking for work.
Recruitment 3.0: Contextual Web.
Google’s Hummingbird algorithm update in August 2013 heralded the arrival of Web 3.0 – the era in which robots attempted to understand complex search queries and examined context as well as content.
It will be a few more years before Google begins to understand context on a level which adds significant amounts of value to search.
However, when that happens, entering my above example search query “I need a UI/UX designer from London with 10 years experience” into a browser will indeed become an everyday recruitment practice.
To respond to that query with relevant, highly customized results and suggestions for action, Google will formulate a contextual understanding of the word “I” in that sentence not only by pulling in historical data from your search history and social media accounts, but also perhaps from your company’s blog, CRM, project management and payroll software packages as well as data from wearable and other mobile devices.
The web you’ll see in search results will be YOUR version of the web.
Recruitment 4.0: Intelligent Digital Assistance.
Why tell Google that you need a new designer with a certain set of credentials when you can simply say:
“Anthony Clifford has submitted a resignation. Please find a suitable replacement”.
Why can’t your artificially intelligent digital assistant app, then, use available Internet and company-wide intranet data to deeply understand the nature of Anthony’s role, the characteristics that made him successful within his role, tasks, achievements & performance while benchmarking them against industry standards to offer you a list of possible job search strategies as well as position descriptions and job ads?
This same system can, upon the HR manager’s approval, go online and create Pay Per Click (PPC) campaigns on LinkedIn, AdWords, Facebook and other platforms which target desired individuals.
In this world, jobs begin to truly “follow” talent. This will be the beginning of truly intelligent digital help which understands human problems – not merely easily digestible search queries.
This will allow recruitment processes to become more nimble & precise. It will also put the ability to find talent in the hands of managers and team leaders, which will become critical in a world where the typical worker is a temporary free agent.
I think we’ll see beginnings of this kind of reality emerge in the mid 2020’s.
What Do You Predict?
Do you agree? Disagree? How do you see Big Data, wearable devices, social media and advances in Google search algorithms changing HR & recruitment?
I’d love to hear your take. Please share your vision in the comments.