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The Paradigm Shift - The Changing Face of Hiring and Recruitment

Several years ago, before the economic downturn, companies were growing fast and hiring at warp speed. The goal at many organizations was to get warm bodies into positions to keep up momentum, and there was pressure on hiring teams to deliver volume. Quantity mattered, and organizations partnered with staffing firms — sometimes multiple firms — to fill those jobs. That frenetic hiring came to a screeching halt when the economy plummeted, as many companies had layoffs or hiring freezes.

On the other side of the recession, managers and leadership teams are taking a much more conservative approach to hiring. As companies experience measured growth and slowly climb their way back to prosperity, many organizations are in desperate need of additional staff to help reinforce their overworked employees and tackle those projects that were put off until the economy stabilized. There is a new pressure being felt by hiring managers, not for high volume, but for high results and very targeted talent. Budgets are still tight and organizations are able to add just one or two people at a time. As a result, more is riding on each hire, and each must be just the right fit.

As such, many organizations’ needs are changing — shifting from volume to complexity. This creates a new kind of pressure for hiring teams. Instead of looking for warm bodies, they often need highly specialized candidates with very specific skill sets. These people are needed to fill precise roles within the organization to help it get to the next level of growth. Candidates must fill multiple needs within the organization and meet several requirements to be worth the investment of hiring them. Of course, these people are often difficult to find.

A recent gauge of employment trends from the Society for Human Resource Management indicated that more HR professionals have been having problems "landing candidates for key jobs" in both manufacturing and the service sector.

According to the SHRM report, "Considering that millions of people are actively seeking work and still cannot obtain employment in their industries, the rise in recruiting difficulty may be attributed to new or enhanced skill requirements for newly created high-level jobs.”

This paradigm shift in hiring and recruitment has also triggered a change in how many organizations are partnering with staffing firms. Instead of working with firms to meet volume requirements, they are relying on firms to help them find these elusive, specialized candidates.

“Times have certainly changed. In the past, staffing vendors used to be a catch all for your staffing needs. Years ago we engaged our staffing vendors on all levels for virtually all positions,” said Todd Tracy, Director of Global Talent Acquisition at Progress Software. “We now utilize vendors in a very strategic manner that allows us to identify top talent that is not so easy to discover. You have to think of your staffing vendors as an extension of your own staff by assigning them very specific tasks to achieve. The new way of working allows us to put a laser focus on filling openings that we are typically rated on most often. One other key to success is the partnership you establish with your vendor and the keen understanding of your business that they gain in that process,” continued Tracy.

It can be challenging for internal hiring teams to find people who meet their organizations’ narrow hiring criteria, and it can be even more complicated if the best candidate is currently employed and not actively looking for a new position. Those who are already working aren’t typically perusing job boards and professional networking sites. Staffing firms have access to a vast network of potential candidates, both active and passive ones (those who already have a job). They know how to identify, locate and forge relationships with potential candidates and have experience approaching passive candidates and presenting new opportunities in an attractive and convincing way. They can find those people whose skills match your organization’s specific needs and can get them in your door for an interview.

According to Mark Minichiello, Director of Worldwide Recruiting for Akamai Technologies, "Utilizing an agency has always been a required and important part of any staffing strategy I have been responsible for. Having a recruiting partner that is trusted completes the ‘tool bag’ of resources for any company as they try to attract the best talent. The best agencies have access to candidates that I can't reach on my own and if I want to talk to those candidates I have to have a mutually beneficial relationship with those agencies. How I leverage the relationships with a few key vendors and how they build trust with me and my team is an important piece of the puzzle for me and my total staffing strategy."

The recession has drastically changed the way organizations recruit and hire staff. They are now looking for candidates with specialized skills to fill very specific needs within the organization. This paradigm shift has also affected how hiring teams work with staffing firms. Whereas in the past, organizations relied on staffing firms to meet volume goals, today they are partnering with firms to locate the most highly-qualified, sought-after and hard-to-find talent. 

Photo Credit: The Essex Companies