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Postcards From the Real World

By Peter Weddle, CEO TAtech

This year, TAtech held its annual industry conference in conjunction with the SHRM Talent Conference & Expo. Both events took place late last month and were the first in-person gatherings of talent acquisition leaders and professionals in over a year. One of the featured sessions during our conference – TAtech North America & The World Job Board Forum – was a moderated discussion of key workplace issues and dynamics. The conversation confirmed the views of some, opened the eyes of others and included a surprise or two for everyone.

Our Discussion Leader was Tony Lee, VP-Content at SHRM. The title of the session was “Job Market Dropouts, the She-cession and Early Retirees: How will a smaller talent supply affect talent acquisition and the talent technology industry?” To get the conversation started, Tony surveyed a number of the attendees at the SHRM event, and not surprisingly, he uncovered a broad range of opinions. I’ve summarized most of them below with some of my own commentary added for color.

The Great Recruiter Revolt. More and more employers are experiencing “HR ghosting” – recruiters who never show up for an interview. The shortfall in new hires is now accompanied by a shortfall in recruiters, and employers are having a hard time filling those openings as well.

A pandemic of exhaustion. The flip side of the recruiter shortfall is recruiter burnout. The huge surge of job market dropouts as well as the she-cession and early retirements have created a perfect storm of impossible-to-fill requisitions, amplifying recruiter stress and even depression.

New kinds of green jobs. While there are several factors driving the Great Resignation, one of the most impactful is compensation. Gone are the days of employees’ moving for a modest bump in salary; today candidates are fielding offers that increase their pay by 30-50 percent.

Social recruiting is dead. The consensus is it just doesn’t work. Whether it happens on LinkedIn or some other platform, “networking” online is too time-consuming and, worse, candidates now consider the messages they get from recruiters as spam and seldom bother to reply.

Data and analysis are in. Every HR Department of any size now has or is looking to hire an analytics person as a permanent member of the staff. The “golden” HR job of the moment and probably the future is HR Analytics Professional – a person who knows how to collect, reduce and analyze data.

Let somebody else pay to train ‘em. Employers are seeing a tsunami of exiting talent at or near the one-year anniversary of a person’s hire. Apparently, poaching has become more targeted and the bullseye is on those who already know the ropes, thanks to the generous investment of another company.

Lousy managers are in the crosshairs. It’s astonishing that it’s taken this long, but finally employers seem to have lost patience with inept and self-serving first-line supervisors. Those who treat their reports with bias, contempt or indifference are now being warned and then shown the door if they don’t improve.

DE&I has legs. Unlike the here-today, gone-tomorrow issues of the past, employers’ commitment to DE&I, while imperfect, appears to be genuine and continuing. One indication of their determination is the growing number of managers who are now being incentivized to improve the diversity of their teams and evaluated on their performance in doing so.

The search for talent is expanding. After declining during the pandemic, a growing number of employers are now renewing their efforts to explore non-traditional sources of talent, including individuals with disabilities, the neurodiverse, and those with criminal records.

The battle over job location isn’t over. While many CEOs are now planning for a full return to working in the office as soon as it’s safe to do so, recruiters are pushing back, arguing that without some flexibility on where work is performed, they will have a very tough time and may not succeed at all in filling their employer’s openings.

Employee referrals have disappeared. Long considered one of the best sources of top talent, recommendations by employers’ workers have all but dried up. No one seems to know why, but the dynamics behind the Great Resignation probably has something to do with it. If someone is bailing out of their employer (or planning to), they’re unlikely to think it’s a good place for a friend or colleague.

Sign-on bonuses don’t work. A one-time payout doesn’t address or redress the perception among many workers that they are underpaid while CEOs and their c-suite cronies are raking in obscene levels of compensation. And with the other partner in many households still earning a paycheck, at least some of those who are unemployed can afford to hold out for a job that offers a permanent increase in compensation.

What’s all this mean? The workplace and workforce are in flux, and that turmoil will continue for at least another year or two. The success of an organization’s talent acquisition, therefore, will depend on both its recognition of the issues and its ability to deal with them forthrightly.

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 check out his latest books on Amazon or in the TAtech Bookstore.