By Peter Weddle, CEO TAtech
Despite its shortsightedness, it’s normal for companies to lay off recruiters during an uncertain economy. However, the range and size of the current downsizing suggest that something out of the norm is afoot. It is becoming increasingly likely that the cuts will be permanent, not everywhere of course, but certainly in enough companies to drive a fundamental reset in the business model of job boards, aggregators, talent marketplaces and online classified platforms. Those that adjust appropriately will see their business flourish; those that don’t will face an uncertain future at best.
Let’s deal with the facts first. As I noted in an earlier post, recruiters have been the most over-represented occupation in corporate downsizing over the past year and a half. The cuts came outside Silicon Valley, of course – Airbnb, for example, cut 30 percent of its recruiting team – but the downsizing was particularly severe in the high tech sector. In fact, according to multiple sources, big tech companies have jettisoned around 50 percent of their talent acquisition professionals. Apple laid off 100 recruiters in the fall of 2022, while more recently, Google reportedly laid off “hundreds of people across its global recruiting team.”
So, why won’t employers simply hire back all these folks once the economy improves? After all, that’s been their SOP since Henry Ford was punching a time clock. There are actually several reasons:
• First, a significant number of recruiters are calling it quits. They’re tired of being treated like second-class citizens by their employers and leaving the field to look for a new and more fulfilling career.
• Second, more and more employers are turning to automation and AI to eliminate human labor. Machines don’t demand a remote work option and never come down with the Monday-After-Super Bowl flu. Even better, they don’t need to be recruited.
• And third, employers are also rethinking their workforce management practices. Some will opt for a “doing more with less” policy, while others will move to a lean or core staffing strategy augmented with contractors. Both will generate fewer openings and therefore require fewer recruiters.
So, what does that mean for those of us that have traditionally sold online recruitment advertising to recruiters, recruiting teams and the companies that used to employ them?
Whether your company operates a job board or provides a CRM platform, whether it’s an aggregator or offers a conversational AI solution, stepping outside your industry niche and connecting with other technology companies in the recruitment space is now essential to bottom-line success. And, there’s no better place to forge those inclusive connections than at TAtech Europe & The EMEA Job Board Forum, coming up in London on December 4-6. It is the only conference in Europe and the rest of the EMEA region that is designed for job board and talent technology company CEOs, their direct reports and rising stars and totally focused on advancing the bottom-line growth of their enterprises. So, don’t delay; register today to reserve your seat at this one-of-a-kind B2B conference.
This recruiter apocalypse presents both a challenge and an opportunity for employment sites across the board.
The challenge is two-fold: first, longstanding points of contact may have been laid off, which means these sites will have to establish and nurture a relationship with new customer representatives. And second, even if the sites’ normal points of contact still have their jobs, their budgets for advertising may well have been cut, as CEOs move to automation and a lean or core staffing strategy.
The opportunity, however, is even greater. Without enough hands, surviving recruiters will be looking for providers that can help them accomplish more than one task. While recruitment process outsourcing providers will likely meet some of that demand, there’s plenty of room in the market for an alternative resource – a reimagined online employment site.
Such a “recruitment services” company will, of course, still post jobs but also provide support in a range of additional areas including but not limited to:
• Providing salary and labor market info for corporate decision-makers;
• Writing effective, bias-free job postings and job alerts;
• Bolstering recruitment marketing with talent pool messaging;
• Dealing with candidate questions a chatbot can’t handle; and
• Conducting the initial screening of applicants.
There are undoubtedly other tasks this new breed of recruitment services company could perform, but all of them preserve the priority of job postings and hence the revenue they generate AND add new sources of revenue from an expanded portfolio of capabilities. That doesn’t diminish the time and effort making such a shift can entrail – it is clearly an exercise in change management – but it does enable job boards, aggregators, talent market places and online classified advertising platforms to evolve in alignment with customer realities. And evolution has always been the hallmark of the most successful employment sites.
Food for Thought,
Peter Weddle has authored or edited over two dozen books and been a columnist for The Wall Street Journal. He is the founder and CEO of TAtech: The Association for Talent Acquisition Solutions.