Chasing world records in talent acquisition

It’s interesting to look at progression, particularly where it’s not easy to do, and to admire those that have driven change, challenged the status quo, and achieved incredible results, often against the odds.

For example, take world High Jump and 1500m Freestyle records – they make an interesting read in themselves. We can observe the changes and hypothesise about what caused or at least catalysed some of the more significant advancements, including the step change innovations such as the Fosbury flop for High Jump.

When I reflect on the world in which I currently ‘compete’, that of Talent Acquisition/Recruitment/Consulting, I wonder if the chart of our progress would match the achievements of the sporting advancements here… but sadly I doubt it. So much of the thinking in broader ‘HR’ and certainly in Talent Acquisition really hasn’t changed for far too many years. That in itself might not be a bad thing, if current systems, techniques, and methodologies were already achieving great results. However, you don’t need to be in our industry to know that’s simply not the case: our ability to engage (note not necessarily ‘hire’) people to undertake pieces of work that they’re suited for, able to do well, and get a sense of meaning from is frankly woeful. So why can’t our $700 Billion global recruitment industry always claim to be money well spent?

I have no intention nor desire to get into the ‘recruitment is dead’ argument, but what I do know is that recruitment is, finally changing for the better due to the use of more facts, data, science and technology. Thankfully we’re approaching, or already in, our own step-change in our progression; a period similar to the innovation of the Fosbury flop in high jump which, in the best ‘dad joke’ way, should give us all cause to jump for joy.

The only difference between science and science fiction is time

So what does this mean? Let’s indulge in a little imagination… What might be possible and why is it important? In an article written recently by Adam Glassman on ‘Hey Alexa…find me a job’, the reader is taken on a journey to some of the possibilities in the world of recruitment, and the reality is that even bolder steps are not only coming, but are already possible and being used in many sectors today. The only difference between science and science fiction is time, so if we dare to imagine we can at least start the journey.

What if in addition to Adam’s great description of the candidate and recruiting experience, we had sophisticated organisations using AI to predict what workforce needs will be required? Not in a traditional ‘head count’ mentality but in discreet ‘pieces of work’. This ‘work’ could be undertaken by hot bodies (employees), warm bodies (contingent workforce, including crowd sourced or gig economy), or cold bodies – yes the machines are not coming, they’re already here.

We need to start divorcing our thinking in Talent Acquisition, and more generally from ‘employing full time staff under a job description’ to ‘what pieces of work are required’ and what is the optimal, but realistic, way to achieve this? And what better tools to help us than AI and Robotic Process Automation (RPA)? Imagine AI Assistants allowing us to almost instantly understand the complexity of internal supply and demand, external market forces, current organisational deals and partnerships, timing, environmental factors, political and physical constraints. Though, whilst answering the build, buy, borrow or ‘bot’ question when building or augmenting a workforce is becoming more complex, there is definitely more sophisticated assistance available to us as well.

There are many macro-drivers for the need, for us to be able to create better workforces of the future, more accurately aligned to the needs, aims, goals and missions of an organisation, and more clearly and accurately able to measure our success in doing so. Our organisations’ executives scream for it, the future of work demands it, and HR teams and employees have begged for it for years. It’s time. Let’s introduce a little more science, a little more reasoning, a little more analytics, data, and dare I say let’s innovate… We might even find ourselves suddenly of much more value to organisations and the individuals we’re trying to help.


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