white paper

The Recruiter’s Toolkit for Success in a Rapidly Changing Workforce

Economic and social factors are transforming the way in which organizations define today’s workforce. The confluence of a growing millennial workforce that values flexibility, the rise of automation, and the increasing prevalence of telework challenges organizations to recognize that a workforce is comprised of more than full-time, 9-to-5, career-track employees.

This altered definition of work will ultimately force companies to adjust their recruitment strategies in favor of what candidates are looking for from employers and how such a wide and increasingly remote talent pool will be managed.

To understand the ways in which today’s workforce is evolving and the reasons why recruiters must find ways to adapt to this changing definition of talent, it’s valuable to look at an overview of today’s workforce:

  • Representing roughly one-third of the total population, Millennials are the largest, most diverse generation. Their personal and professional lives have been shaped by technology. For example, three-quarters of Millennials have an account on a social networking site.1
  • Robotics and automation will play a big role in tomorrow’s workforce. According to the technology research firm Gartner, by the year 2018 we can expect more than 3 million workers globally to be supervised by a roboboss.2
  • Fifty-three million Americans, or 34 percent of the workforce, holds a freelance job. Approximately 68 percent of those freelance to earn extra income, while the remaining 42 percent do it to have a flexible schedule.3
  • It’s predicted that, this year, 63 million Americans will be working in a virtual or flexible role, up sharply from 2010’s 34 million.4

These statistics show us that the definition of talent is changing. With it organizations must adjust their recruiting strategies and practices to align with the new workforce. It also means that organizations must make this transformation a priority or risk losing top talent to their competitive set. The conversation starts with redefining talent.

Adopting a narrow definition is risky when it comes to redefining talent. This excerpt from the HR Trends Institute provides context for creating a broader definition of talent.

“The notion of more diverse talent groups is slowly entering organizations. The wishes and expectations of talent differ, and also change over time.

Some people are looking for a career in one organization;

Some people are looking for a couple of years’ experience, and their plan is to move on afterwards (although they might not express this when you interview them);

Some people are not looking forward to being employed by a big employer, but they like to be involved in challenging complex projects.

Organizations that define talent too narrow might miss opportunities to connect talent to their organization.5

A broader definition of talent positions organizations to have a more comprehensive recruiting strategy, one that allows for casting a wider net to find the best employees and contingent workers. However, it does mean that companies need to plan and prepare differently.

How are organizations currently preparing (or not) for workplace change?

Before talking about a few practical ways that organizations can adapt to the talent transformation we’re facing, let’s take a moment to understand what companies are doing (or not doing) in response to current workforce trends. According to studies conducted by the Hire Expectations Institute at iCIMS:

  • Seventy-six percent of recruiting professionals said their recruiting techniques have evolved or changed over the past three years.6
  • Only 24 percent of recruiting organizations have a defined global recruiting strategy for deploying resources with a concentrated purpose.7
  • Fifty-two percent of U.S. companies believe that building a candidate pipeline or talent pool is the top talent acquisition priority, 16 percent believe it is strategic workforce planning, and 13 percent believe it is improving the candidate experience.8

The good news is that organizations know they need to change. The question becomes: are the changes being considered the right ones? It’s encouraging to see that 76 percent of recruiting professionals have changed their techniques over the past three years. However, when this data is coupled with the other two statistics about global recruiting and talent priorities, it’s concerning. Recruiting pros could be spending an incredible amount of time and resources on the wrong things, which ultimately keeps them from being successful. By connecting the individual talent acquisition activities in a linear fashion, recruiters can see how their efforts impacts the organization.

There’s too much competition for talent for organizations not to have a global recruiting strategy. Organizations do not require a global presence to have a global recruiting strategy. This is directly related to talent acquisition priorities. Organizations cannot build a global recruiting strategy without a strategic workforce plan. And they cannot develop talent pools or candidate pipelines without a recruiting strategy. Lastly, no one will apply if the candidate experience isn’t top notch.

5 Ways Organizations Can Adapt to the New Workforce

There are ways for organizations to adjust to the challenges they face. These strategies focus on hiring, engaging and retaining the best talent.

  1. Create an organizational definition of talent. This sounds so simple but it’s really quite difficult. In order to have the best talent, everyone in the organization must agree upon what talent means. Is it driven by job status, job responsibilities, or a little bit of both? Organizations cannot measure the quality of their hiring practices if they do not have a definition for talent.
  2. Determine the organization’s “buy, build and borrow” strategy. It’s no longer a question of whether organizations will “buy” their talent from the outside, “build” their talent from within, or “borrow” their talent when needed. It’s a business necessity to identify which positions a company should focus on recruiting, which ones should be developed internally, and which would be best utilized in a freelance or contractor role. The decision impacts organizational resources and the ability for the organization to accomplish their goals.
  3. Automate strategically. Technology solutions are no longer reserved for large corporations. Small and medium sized businesses are using technology solutions for what it does best— freeing up managers to handle things that can only be done in person. Candidates still expect a humanized hiring experience. Using recruiting technology solutions is no longer a nice to have; it’s a must have to remain competitive in the war for talent.
  4. Train managers and employees to be self-managing. The demographics of today’s workforce means that the notion of traditional managers giving employees daily assignments, fixing their problems and resolving workplace conflicts is over. Employees need to manage these things themselves. Managers have to transition to spending a large portion of their time coaching employees. Organizations need to hire talent that can successfully manage themselves.
  5. Position human resources as the architects of work. As the characterizations of jobs and work continue to be redefined, human resources professionals have a tremendous opportunity to assume the role of “workplace architect” and help the business build a foundation for success. HR is positioned to facilitate the definition of talent, to oversee the organization’s talent strategy, to select technology solutions that will carry out that strategy and to lead management toward a self-managing work environment.


talent defined

noun | tal•ent

The definition of talent was explored in an article published by ERE Media with very interesting findings.9

Eighty-five percent of organizations defined “talent” based on the potential for vertical movement up the organizational ladder. (Journal of Organizational and Industrial Psychology)

Forty-seven percent of organizations defined high potentials based on their ability to advance two to four levels. (Corporate Leadership Council)

Only 5 percent of organizations attempted to adjust their conception of what “talent” meant for their organization to align with strategic aims and coming business challenges.

Emotional Intelligence Leads to Better Hires

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the average cost of a bad hiring decision can equal 30 percent of the employee’s first-year potential earnings.10 Making sure managers make the right hiring decisions and invest the time in employee onboarding is key to a new hire’s success. Some organizations like Google are relying on emotional intelligence as part of their hiring criteria.11 The term, introduced by Daniel Goleman, involves self-awareness, motivation, and empathy. When candidates have these qualities, they have the ability to be an effective member of a team. There’s too much competition for talent for organizations not to have a global recruiting strategy. Organizations do not require a global presence to have a global recruiting strategy. This is directly related to talent acquisition priorities. Organizations cannot build a global recruiting strategy without a strategic workforce plan. And they cannot develop talent pools or candidate pipelines without a recruiting strategy. Lastly, no one will apply if the candidate experience isn’t top notch.

Rapid Change is Welcomed

Yes, today’s workforces are rapidly changing, but that’s not a bad thing. We have the training and technology tools to make this transformation. The organizations that make this a priority will find themselves to be a talent magnet, attracting the best individuals and reaping the rewards of a high performing workforce.

The challenge is building a consensus definition of talent, collaborating to create a talent strategy, and successfully implementing that strategy. The first step is finding good partners to help build the foundation.

About Sharlyn Lauby

Sharlyn Lauby is an author, writer, speaker and consultant. She has been named a Top HR Digital Influencer and is best-known for her work on HR Bartender, a friendly place to talk about workplace issues. HR Bartender has been recognized as one of the Top 5 Blogs read by human resources professionals by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and best business blog by the Stevie Awards.

Publications such as Mashable, Reuters, The New York Times, ABC News, TODAY, and The Wall Street Journal have sought out her expertise on topics related to human resources and the workplace. Sharlyn recently published her first book, “Essential Meeting Blueprints for Managers,” which is available on Amazon. And her personal goal in life is to find the best cheeseburger on the planet.

About iCIMS

iCIMS is the leading provider of talent acquisition solutions that help businesses win the war for top talent. iCIMS empowers companies to manage their entire hiring process within the industry’s most robust Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS). Built on the foundation of a best-to-market talent acquisition software suite, iCIMS’ PaaS framework, UNIFi, allows employers to expand the capabilities of their core talent acquisition technology by integrating with the largest partner ecosystem in talent acquisition to help them attract, find, screen, and manage candidates. Offering scalable, easy-to-use solutions that are backed by award-winning customer service, iCIMS supports more than 3,500 contracted customers and is one of the largest and fastest-growing talent acquisition solution providers.

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