Tag Archives: predictions

Boiling Frogs – My Predictions for Recruitment in 2011

So here we are then the first week of the business year, the traditional time for predictions about what this coming year might bring for the recruitment industry. As this is a blog about futurology I obviously have to contribute something but this time I’m going to take a slightly different approach.

Before I do anything though it is of course compulsory to have a quick review of the predictions I made last year. You can find them here

Feel free to judge for yourselves but I’d say that I got the recruitment market and social recruiting ones about right. The jury is very much still out on the newspaper one, we’d never heard of the iPad when I made these predictions and it might just change the dynamic but only time and successful mass adoption will tell.  The Job Board one looks likes it was way off unfortunately and to the detriment of the industry in my opinion. That said I do have a fairly well informed feeling that there were some back room conversations in 2010 that might see some innovative products being launched this year

So what of 2011? Well rather than putting down any specific predictions I wanted to share some overarching thoughts about change and how it will effect everyone.

I’ve been lucky enough to speak to a huge number of employers in the last few weeks, either via my work with MetaShift or through some of the great events I’ve attended or spoken at. Through some continuing work in the outplacement sector I’ve also been able to speak to and get the opinions of many job seekers across different sectors and at differing levels first hand.

The main thing that comes through in all of these conversations is a very noticeable groundswell of change. Whether it is the growth of direct resourcing, dissatisfaction with the current state of the online recruitment market or a huge shift in how and where people look for jobs there are changes taking place that really do put this industry at a crossroads.

My biggest continuing frustration is that large sectors of the recruitment industry are completely failing to notice and address these fundamental issues. The good news though is I think that finally, with the help of an often used business metaphor, I’ve worked out why.

You see most of the time, in our industry anyway, revolutions are imperceptible unless you are looking straight at them, particularly when some of their effects can be explained away by tough economic times. It’s just like boiling a frog, if you drop it into hot water the frog will jump out, if you put it in cold water and slowly heat it up the frog won’t notice the temperature increase and will boil to death.

If 2010 was the year when the water got a bit tepid, my prediction is that it’ll get a lot more than just lukewarm in 2011.

So whether you are:

– An employer needing to take a careful look at how your online recruitment offering is actually working and/or needing to investigate social media.

– A Job board thinking carefully about how your business needs to evolve in these “tough” times

– An ATS supplier trying to meet the demands of clients widening your portfolio when they also seem to be putting the needs of the candidate further and further down their list of priorities

– A recruitment agency thinking that direct resourcing and social media are fads that won’t effect you

– A recruitment advertising agency betting the farm on “strategic media partnerships” and/or claiming you get social when you’re not even doing social

I’d keep an eye on the temperature of the water this year because you are going to need to start planning change very soon. You should also get in touch with me, I’ve got some ideas that will help…

Happy New Year Everyone!

Why Job Boards need to innovate or die

First of all this isn’t another generic all job boards are doomed blog post. I wanted to put some recent thoughts I’ve had in writing that I truly believe represent the issues job boards are facing or about to face. My credentials to do this are 12 years experience of working with job boards in the UK market as opposed to mere speculative opinion!

This post starts about 10 years ago. Back then I was one of the few professional buyers of job board space in the UK and my day was always a whirlwind of presentations from new job board launches. Some of sites don’t exist anymore; many more of them are now mainstays of the UK market. The one thing they all had in common though was innovation. Everyone was going to change recruitment for good, everyone had a new and interesting model, everyone was a disruptive force in a recruitment space that was over priced, old fashioned and out of touch with jobseeker and client needs.

Business models and market share were established and the job boards did indeed change recruitment, not as quickly or by as much as the initial optimism suggested but they were a truly disruptive force. However the dot com bubble bursting, a relatively small UK internet audience (back then anyway) and limitations in technology did take the edge off a lot of the promised innovation

Fast forward ten years and Job Boards are indeed a dominant force. With this though have come severe product commoditisation and a rather alarming establishment mindset that is personified by the frequently heard mantra – “but there will always be job boards”.

There in lies my issue because it’s not true; job boards have no more right to exist than the traditional publishers they have slowly been displacing. Don’t believe me? Then ask anyone over about 35 and if they think about it they’ll remember a significant period of their career when job boards just didn’t exist. The industry is far too young to have such a “you’ll never cope without us” attitude

Ten years later I’ve moved on as well,  I don’t buy job board space anymore but nevertheless as a consultant to the industry I’m getting a strange sense of déjà vu.  Once more a series of wide eyed keen young start ups are seeking me out for advice and presenting business models designed to disrupt the recruitment status quo. This time the perceived status quo aren’t traditional publishers it’s the job boards themselves.  Then there is LinkedIn probably the biggest potential disruptive force in our space that I’ve ever seen. Any job board owner who says it isn’t a threat to their business is either lying or hasn’t thought about it deeply enough.

Add in the embryonic force of social recruiting that is seeing progressive clients proactively undertaking activity with the aim of reducing or even eliminating their job board spend and you’ve got a heady mix of forces that should give job boards all the motivation they need to innovate and take their offerings to the next level.

What absolutely amazes me though is that with a few very notable exceptions (keen market observers will spot them!) this innovation isn’t happening. It seems to me that most job boards are expending all their energy either denying that there any threats to their model or doing whatever they can to maintain the status quo and in so doing are potentially taking their business models into a commoditised death spiral

I’m not writing all of this because I want to see job boards disappear in fact quite the opposite. I truly believe that they have a small but significant window of opportunity to innovate and thrive. Once the window closes though I’m afraid there will be no way back. So this is my challenge to the job board industry, put more of your energy into planning for the future and make me eat my words by creating some innovative disruptive business models that will drive the industry forward. I know you can do it because I still remember the year 2000 and how we’ve all been in the same position before. This time though the audience, technology and timing are all perfect……

Recruitment predictions for 2010

With a very challenging 2009 finally drawing to an end, now seems like the perfect time to make some predictions about what we can expect in the world of recruitment during 2010. Before I do that though I wanted to briefly reflect on the last 12 months.

Although it may well be remembered for a number of other things, 2009 was certainly the year that the term Social Recruiting began to enter the broader recruitment lexicon. There has been a huge amount of talk about how social media will change recruitment and unfortunately much of it is just self-serving rubbish.

With this in mind my heros of 2009 are ERE who put on two excellent Social Recruiting Summits to unpick what is actually happening by bringing people together to discuss genuine case studies. I attended both events and they were real highlights of the year for me, with the opportunity to meet some truly great thinkers and practitioners. November’s summit illustrated just how quickly the companies embracing social recruiting are making progress and I’m now absolutely convinced that what we’re seeing is a genuine revolution and not just the latest fad

So what’s in store for 2010? Here are a few thoughts: –

The Recruitment Market

A quick Twitter poll I did the other day revealed that most people are rightly cautious about 2010 and I would predict that we are in for another challenging year. Corporate recruitment will most probably pick up but this will be potentially overwhelmed by acute difficulties in the public sector.  While some people will still do well; it could be a very painful year for those in the industry who aren’t innovating quickly and effectively enough.

Social Recruiting

The next 12 months are going to tell us everything we need to know about how much time it’s going to take for Social Recruiting to move through its adoption curve. There are lots of smart companies who have been using a quiet 2009 to plan social activity for 2010 and I’m really looking forward to seeing much experimentation, a growing body of case studies and more great events to discuss them. I’m not looking forward to the inevitable proliferation of bandwagon jumping and snake oil selling which could make “caveat emptor” the most used Social Recruiting phrase of the year!

Job Boards

The future of job boards seems to be a much discussed topic at the moment and something I’m going to be writing a bit more about next year. The key thing is that the debate shouldn’t be a live or die one; it’s all about the shades of grey. Job Boards are not some kind of unified entity, they are all different depending on the industries they serve and countries they are based in.  With the pressures in the marketplace and the growth of social recruiting, 2010 should be an interesting year for many of them. As well as some inevitable market consolidation I’m expecting to see more innovation in the next 12 months than we’ve seen in the last ten years


By this time next year we’ll know whether pay walls work and once we do it’ll certainly move the debate about the future of newspapers forward. I could be wrong but I’m expecting the default “but we’ll always have newspapers” camp to be slightly less hardcore in 12 months time

So all in all 2010 may well be challenging but it certainly isn’t going to be dull!

Have a great Christmas!