The occurrence of recruitment, used to be a little blip in the timeline of someone’s career; an obstacle to be navigated, before resuming the daily task of doing one’s job. Changes to employment patterns have now meant that changing jobs is an integral part of pursuing your career, and has to be dealt with accordingly. From both an employer and a job seeker’s perspective, I believe that recruitment will extend deep into the ongoing working lives of recruits, well past the point at which they join an organisation. Recruitment will also extend to the point way before someone is appointed to a job, before the vacancy even exists. Technology can enable this to be done, so long as it seamlessly becomes part of the ongoing employment conversation.

When people are confident, they want the opportunity to take career risks and to go for their dreams. When people lack confidence, they want security, and continuity of employment. Economic booms and recessions play a significant part in each individual’s confidence levels. This in turn affects the way technology needs to be flexible enough to handle both, or either.

The ability for employers to have access to a far wider breadth of information on, and background of, individuals will lead to some weird and discriminatory decision making (and is doing so already). For example, an employer may legitimately gain access to your credit information, purchase history, travel habits etc. They may then, for example, decide to only recruit people who are over-extended at the bank (makes hungry sales people), spend a lot on gadgets, and travel to Scotland often. That may sound strange, but with a plethora of extraneous information, employers have been shown to make very peculiar hiring decisions.

There used to be pretty fixed rules about how the recruitment process operated. These of course, evolve with time, but let’s look at some which are apt to change.

  1. Employ only people you know; friends, family, recommendations etc. i.e. only from your immediate circle of acquaintances. Social media shows that we have a much larger pool of contacts than we thought, and that we can easily extend this. It is a common human trait to distrust those we do not know. Having a connection can make us feel like we know someone, and can relate to them.
  2. Employers only consider the information on a CV, and references upon which to make a decision: This meant that the candidate had control over what information was made available to a prospective employer. As we now know, not only are candidates making themselves an open-book by sharing everything, but employers can easily nosey around to acquire all sorts of additional personal data.
  3. Two interviews and an offer: Alternatives to the traditional interview process have been toyed with since the 90’s, but web phones, video, pre-testing, psychometrics, and a raft of screening methods now present a big challenge for jobseekers and employers alike. In large part, these methods exist to ameliorate the massively increased volumes of applications which can be generated online.
  4. Stubborn, hard-to-fill vacancies: Even, or perhaps particularly in times of recession, some jobs are still impossible to fill. Sure, huge CV databases, talent pools, and nurturing programs have helped to plan better for these occurences, but many vacancies simply attract no applications at all. This is where social media can really come into its own, as an invaluable tool for recruiters with detective skills. The tools are very handy, but human sourcing skills cannot be automated.
  5. Anonymous advertising, “Apply to PO BOX No”, “Our client is looking for” etc etc etc; If employers get to know much more about candidates, then the converse must surely apply too. Who amongst us really wants to apply for a job, when we don’t even know who it is for, where it is located, and how much the salary will be? Correct, no-one. If candidates really do get to shape the job market, then anonymous job advertising will be consigned to history.
  6. Career Mapping: An immense volume of data has been compiled by job boards, social media platforms and employers themselves. It should be relatively easy to show the career paths of anyone who attended a particular university, achieved a particular degree, or worked at a certain company. Knowledge of this information can truly help candidates make informed decisions about where they can direct their career. Equally, employers could use such data to inform them of where future employees are likely to come from. I realise this can take the “mystery” and spontaneity out of job-hunting, but if it prevents “starting from scratch” for every vacancy, it’ll be well worth it.

PS. I have deliberately left out reference to recruitment agencies and the specific workings of job boards. These are merely tools that bring candidates, employers and jobs together. Tools and methods will always be subject to change, whilst those three central components remain constant.

Stephen O'Donnell is a lifelong recruiter, internet enthusiast, fadgadget and peripatetic writer.

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