A recent report by Aptitude Research describes the challenges companies face in identifying and attracting candidates to fill critical resourcing needs. Sourcing, the first step in recruiting, matters because it is ‘top of the funnel’ in attracting the right talent, the mix of technical expertise, experience, and business and interpersonal competencies. As the report describes, “Over the past few years, companies have built sourcing teams, invested in new solutions, and reevaluated their capabilities. Yet, according to Aptitude Research, 75% of companies are not satisfied with their approach to sourcing and one in two companies are still not effectively tracking their sources of hire.”
So, what’s not working, and how can a more comprehensive, strategic, and integrated approach to talent management take recruiting to a better place? Here’s what we learned from Aptitude Research and other sources:
Companies are spending more and getting less for it. Aptitude Research points out that companies have significantly increased their spend on sourcing despite frustrations with the value its produced. Even with a slight drop in investment in recruiting in 2023, the spend outpaced pre-pandemic levels: surveyed companies report increases at or above 50% each year since 2019. The additional funding led companies to build out internal expertise, bring in outsourcing help in recruitment, investing in technology, and increasing talent intelligence. But, as the report points out, “As pressures to fill positions intensified over the past few years, companies turned to technology to help fill the gaps and provide immediate solutions. Unfortunately, the investment in sourcing for many companies was reactionary and viewed as a short-term fix to a long-term challenge.”
Nobody in the recruiting system is happy. As pressure to fill positions has intensified, companies have often turned to technology for quick fix solutions. Despite additional funding, frustration, disagreements, and differences in knowledge and awareness are broadly felt. The report notes that IT is more involved in recruiting tech decisions, yet IT professionals are often not aware of the realities and nuanced requirements of young professionals (for example, Gen Zs want to speak with a human despite their familiarity with tech). Eighty-four percent (84%) of recruiters state that they are overwhelmed with more jobs to fill, but only 66% of TA/HR leaders and 20% of IT professionals agree. Additionally, 73% of recruiters state that they cannot find enough quality talent, compared to only 39% of TA/HR leaders and 10% of IT professionals. Recruiters are unlikely to get the help they need if their experience is challenged. For example, 91% of HR/talent leaders recommend their investments to tech, while only 40% of recruiters agree.
Responsibilities are shifting in how recruiting is organized. The report points out that companies are rethinking and actively reshaping how recruiting roles and responsibilities are aligned. Almost half (43%) are shifting recruiting responsibilities from procurement to HR. Other companies (15%) are asking for Procurement and HR to share responsibility. A small percentage (8%) are moving recruiting responsibility from HR to procurement. And 24% report that their company is unclear, hasn’t decided, or they are unaware of how responsibilities are shifting. Said bluntly, the variety of ways that companies are attempting to reposition the work and success of recruiting suggests real confusion about how to successfully meet recruiting targets. In fact, the survey found 65% of companies don’t measure and don’t know the ROI of their increased recruiting investment.
Many areas of frustration are noted. There are a variety of specific areas where the Aptitude Research survey notes specific concerns:
- Sourcing diverse candidates is described as difficult by almost 50% of respondents
- Identifying attractive passive candidates (not actively looking for a change) is problematic for 40% of respondents
- High turnover within the recruiting team is troubling for 34% of recruiters
- Difficulty using the ATS system is an issue for 32% of respondents
- Limited in-house expertise is a complaint given by 26% of respondents
The system isn’t broken, its incomplete. A separate study by Magnit Global points out the key problem facing many sourcing and talent acquisition activities: It’s incomplete. As a recent survey mentions, “Many organizations are already beginning to leverage contingent labor to strategically fill mission-critical roles.” Nor is Magnit alone in pointing out the increasing role of independent professional talent – freelancers – in meeting the expertise, experience, and professional competency needs of both SMB and enterprise companies.
More organizations understand the need to take a comprehensive strategic approach to talent. It’s no surprise that smart organizations – both SMB and enterprise – are thinking more strategically about resource attraction, and leading to a more flexible, blended approach to talent. This reflects the growth of talented independent professionals in both developed and developing economies. As the supply of top contingent experts has increased, and more talented professionals prefer independent work to fulltime employment, companies recognize the benefits:
- Access to top talent that the company could not attract or afford fulltime like those available through Torc.dev, G2i.co and Catalant
- The attractive economics of fractional or contingent work relationships offered by a wide range of freelance marketplaces
- The ability to significantly lower the amount of time required to bring talent on board as Indielist.ie and Redegate.com provide
- The opportunity to attract not just individuals but teams and project management expertise as Mash, Proteams.com, and Ollo.is offer
- The increasing availability of freelance management and compliance partners like Worksome.com, YunoJuno.com, and bloom.io
- The opportunity to establish attractive B2B relationships with large communities of certified talent like Supportwave.com, Topcoder.com, and Contra.com
- The increased sophistication of freelance platforms offering innovative and AI enabled curated talent guidance and selection like Gigged.ai
- Access to both contingent expertise and fulltime candidates through new platforms like Freeagents.network
- The increased availability of helpful information about platforms quality and trust through data sources like the Trusted Talent Partner program
- The avoidance of employment conflicts e.g., employee demands for fully remote or hybrid work arrangements
In their summary of the Aptitude Research report, the authors point out how companies view the priorities for talent sourcing:
- Quality of hires, the area of greatest agreement, was identified by 70% of survey respondents
- Speed and efficiency were mentioned by 68%
- The candidate experience was identified by 62%
- And, in fourth position, reducing bias in the recruiting process was mentioned by 31% of participants
These are obviously all important correlates of a well-functioning sourcing, attracting, and retaining talent system. But, when the talent system is limited in its focus on fulltime permanent employee roles, there is little chance that these priorities can be fully, sustainably, and effectively met.
The big message to companies, whatever their size and complexity: start with fundamentals. Rather than focusing on an individual here, or a team there, the strategic emphasis must be to build a flexible, blended, workforce that delivers enduring value.
Viva la Revolution!
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