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Get Ready for a Wild Ride

By Peter Weddle, CEO TAtech

A recent research report from McKinsey & Company contains a finding with startling implications for both talent acquisition and recruiters. According to McKinsey, developed countries are going to see more technological progress in the next 10 years than they did in the preceding 100 years combined. The good news, of course, is that this extraordinary pace of development will yield a vast array of commercial benefits. The more sobering news is that it will also dramatically change both the kinds of talent recruiters are asked to find and the numbers of those individuals they must hire, and it will do so in a timeframe that’s literally just around the corner.

Now to be clear, McKinsey’s prediction isn’t the first to address the accelerating introduction of new technology. For example, as I note in my book, The Neonaissance, Ray Kurzweil, the Director of Engineering at Google, was even more hyperbolic in his description of the situation. He said, “So we won’t experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century—it will be more like 20,000 years of progress (at today’s rate). The ‘returns, such as chip speed and cost-effectiveness, will also increase exponentially. There’s even exponential growth in the rate of exponential growth.”

McKinsey’s statement, however, wasn’t just another opinion, but instead, a conclusion based on research. It looked at 40 different technologies – from next-level process automation and next-generation materials to advances in connectivity and distributed infrastructure – and for each, calculated a “momentum score” derived from 6 proxy metrics: patent filings, publications, news mentions, online search trends, private investment accounts and the number of companies making investments. Those metrics were combined into a single composite score that was then used to determine the most important tech trends.

The facts! In a talent market that is more competitive and less understood than at any other time in history, it’s the facts that matter most. And TAtech’s biweekly podcast Start Smart focuses on the facts. Join me and my cohost, Shelia Gray, VP of Global Talent Acquisition at Quadient, as we examine the findings from the latest talent acquisition research and explore their implications for recruiters and job seekers. This week’s show looks at a report by Aptitude Research on “The Power of AI in Talent Acquisition.”

I realize that, for many of us, such esoteric analyses can make any conclusions seem like science fiction or, at least, something that’s likely to happen so far in the future as to be irrelevant to our lives today. That’s not the case here. For example, McKinsey states that:
• by 2022, 70% of companies will be using hybrid-cloud or multi-cloud platforms as part of a distributed IT infrastructure;
• by 2024, AI-generated speech will be behind more than 50% of people’s interactions with computers; and
• by 2025, more than 50 billion devices will be connected to the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

Each of these developments, in and of itself, doesn’t seem particularly disruptive, but combine them into a single tsunami of technological advancement, and the impact will revolutionize both the nature of work and the employability of tens of millions of workers in all four of today’s workforce generations. Jobs will disappear and the new jobs that are created will be unlike any that existed previously. Those resets, in turn, will terminate some career fields and diminish the opportunities in others. In the end, the very essence of what’s seen as talent will change and change again and again.

Given the certainty of such disruption in the near to mid-term, recruiters and others in talent acquisition should think about how best to manage it and embark on that assessment right now. I’m not proposing some neo-Luddite call to arms against technology, but rather a call to look beyond the present – to envision what must be done to prepare for the changes in jobs that will be brought on by the benefits technology will inevitably bring to employers.

I understand that call to preparation is much easier to write than to do, especially in today’s hyper-competitive talent market, but it is the only way to avoid the trauma that comes from being caught by surprise. What should this assessment address? It might include such questions as:
• will process automation in recruiting unfold the same way it has in manufacturing, where there are now far fewer jobs and those jobs require far more technically advanced skills and knowledge than in the past?
• will next generation computing and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT) dramatically cut the number of workers a company needs to get work done, and as a consequence, reduce its need for recruiters?
• which of the current and/or emerging technologies can best be applied in talent acquisition to reinforce the stature and value of recruiters’ uniquely human capabilities?
• better yet, which of those technologies create new and/or additional roles that make recruiters’ contribution to business outcomes even more strategic and highly regarded?

The answers to these questions are not going to impact recruiters’ work today or tomorrow, but they will at some point, and that point is edging closer every day. The key, then, to both individual and team success is to get ready, starting right now, for what’s about to happen. It’s going to be a wild ride.

Food for Thought,

Peter Weddle is the author or editor of over two dozen books and a former columnist for The Wall Street Journal. He is also the founder and CEO of TAtech: The Association for Talent Acquisition Solutions. You can download his latest book – The Neonaissance – FOR FREE at And, if you don't have time to read the entire book, just download a short excerpt of his inspirational message.