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Job boards & Social Media (infographic)

There is no doubting it: Social and aggregators are the significant growth segments in online recruitment. But in the foreseeable future the greatest market share will still be commandeered by job boards and that is no surprise: For one, they fit well into the workflow of the recruiter and  at the moment deliver best against the job seeker principles of relevance and speed. The most influential part, however, are the local market dynamics  - obviously macro-economics, but also differences in the political, legal and technological environment as well as structures of individual market. Utterly fascinating.


These findings are drawn from our report, Digital Recruitment: The Hottest Markets in 2020, which compares recruitment markets around the world and reveals the Top 10 markets to watch as the digital recruitment landscape evolves towards 2020.For anyone who missed it, the full report pdf can be found here

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Recruitment is local (Infographic)

This year I worked with a team in Evenbase on a research that that compared recruitment markets around the world (Digital Recruitment: The Hottest Markets in 2020,) The differences in these markets are profound, which shows again, that whilst global solution work to a certain extent,  local idiosyncrasies need to be taken into account when recruiting.  Here are just some highlights:



For anyone who missed it, the full report pdf can be found here.


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Riding the wave of freelance working – the trends behind the success is expected to list on the Australian Stock market this week – 15th of November to be precise; at the current offer price the market capitalization would be $218m  and the company claims that the stock is already oversubscribed.

It is not surprising because operates in one of the sweet spots of recruitment, riding the wave of temporary working, that will continue to build in years to come:

One of the fascinating changes in the world of work is the unstoppable rise of remote freelance working. Instead of continuing to play by the rules of the industrial society, we are now entering the era  of working ‘when we want and where we want’. This increases the global availability of talent, whilst enabling people to develop stronger local ties; skills and talent are moving, but only electronically. This e-transient knowledge section of society is being supported by the service sector  of society, which leads in equal parts to more automation of repetitive tasks and to an increase in casual work.


Casual labour is more prevalent outside the developed nations, particularly in developing countries.

Although casual labour is more prevalent outside the developed nations, overall it is a global phenomenon and a massive opportunity of levelling the playing field for everybody involved. Companies are sourcing workers from across the globe. In the current climate, advanced economies, such as the US and UK, are the leading sourcers of global online freelancers, and – as the slide below from cloud-based contractor sourcing site Elance shows – a significant portion of this labour is sourced from developing countries such as India and Pakistan.

To underpin this with some real numbers: Even though India is a service society, 35% of the all IT coding is written in India.  At the same time, it is worth remembering that the Elance’s figures, due to the source, will have a higher representation of the USA, but generally, they are a great representation of what is currently happening in the world of work.

Generally, the casualisation of employment is expected to continue, especially as it is driven by both the employer and worker.

These three trends – continued economic instability, longer-term benefits of temporary workforce and increased workplace flexibility desired by the worker – are the underlying drivers of this ever increasing change, not only in the UK as the example above, but globally.

Focus UK

Let’s have a closer look at the UK (as a proxy for developed nations):

During the economic downturn, the UK has experienced increasing casualisation of its labour market, which has led to a rise in part-time working, temporary employment, freelancing and remote working.

Part-time working has risen as employers limit their full-time hiring and try to retain their most valuable staff. So we see an ever increasing shift towards part-time work as more employees are unable to find full time work (from 10% in March 2008 to 18% in April 2012.)

The increase in temporary employment has similar drivers; it has increased as employers tighten their hiring in response to an uncertain economic outlook. Temporary employment growth has helped offset declines in permanent recruitment, but much of this is involuntary, with workers unable to find suitable permanent roles (see the slide below for figures)

So people need to make the most of the current employment market and as workers take more control of their (under)employment, freelancers have grown to record levels, due to fewer employment opportunities and the need to supplement income.

Remote working has also been on the rise, as it helped employers reduce costs and increase their flexibility. So far, it has all been driven by the economy. That is certainly a really important driver, but not the only one – at the same time, both men and women are increasingly seeking increased working flexibility, with 83% of workers (both male and female) in a recent survey noting the desire to work away from the office.

So whilst the shift is currently driven by the dire economic situation, it will become a mainstay of the working world, even when we are reaching calmer waters.  Ultimately, like money skills and talent will be moving fluidly around the globe, enabled by technology and shifts in values and priorities.

The emergence of new business models

A number of new business models have emerged to address the casualisation of the labour market. The level of backing of these businesses and the success achieved so far indicates that this is not a blip or a fad. Not at least the valuation of

- Companies like Grockit serve the part-time, flexible working market: They are an online platform that connects students with tutors and provides tools to facilitate tutoring online and have received around $27m in funding.

- Companies like Taskrabbit and Amazon Mechanical Turk are sites built for task-related work. Taskrabbit connects people who want a job / task done, with people who will do the task for cash and have received around $18m in funding. Amazon launched the “mechanical turk” as an online marketplace launched in 2005 where people (mainly computer programmers) can post micro-tasks that cannot easily be automated and require a degree of human intelligence. So far around 500,000 workers are registered on the marketplace from 190 countries.

- Companies such as, Elance, oDesk and Workana are focusing – successfully – on the remote-working, freelance market.  

In the longer-term, increased casualisation is likely to continue, as lasting economic uncertainty will likely result in employers favouring the flexibility of more casual work contracts and workers continuing to have limited employment alternatives. Many employers plan to carry on using temporary workers based on their positive experiences to date, even when we leave the current economic situation.

At the same time, workers are increasingly seeking flexibility to work away from the office and the labour market is becoming increasingly international, with companies sourcing workers from across the globe (partly driven by the socio-economic developments in developed and developing nations (shrinking populations, rising middle classes and the effects on migrations as explained in the post “The rise of the internal headhunter”). Expect this trend to continue, an improved economic situation might even speed it up instead of slowing it down.


The data t is based on an in-depth study by Evenbase into the casualisation of the labour.  I published a slightly different version of  post before Evenmore

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The Supermarket of Talent

SupermarketI think we’ve got it all wrong.

Not because of stupidity or ignorance, but out of the goodness of our hearts and by wearing rose tinted glasses when looking at reality.

I am talking about the way we, the recruitment industry, treat candidates as consumers and put them at the heart of the entire recruitment process. It is no wonder that suddenly we have all these misguided initiatives, such as talent communities, based on misguided principles of candidate engagement.

At the moment, there is a desire to treat candidates as consumers. Why should there be a difference between Amazon’s shopping experience and customer service and those seen in recruitment? If the best in class are consumer centric, let’s all become candidate centric. If the consumer wants to chat, connect, follow, like, well let’s transfer it to the recruitment world and create talent communities, social referral programs, follow company features…you name it.

But does that make sense when looking at the underlying principle of job seeking?

A candidate wants to find a relevant job quickly (and relevance here is based around their personal situation, i.e., travel time, money needed to pay mortgages, flexibility to deal with outside-of-work-and-equally-as-important-if-not-more-important-things), because believe it or not, jobseeking is at best a frustrating experience and candidates have far more interesting things to do.

Delivering against this principle requires balance between candidates and recruiters, not candidate-centricity: There is only value in each one if they are both connected. One isn’t more important than the other and one isn’t equal to the other, they are unique and different yet intrinsically linked.

Candidates are suppliers of data

To achieve the best results for candidates, let’s treat jobseekers as suppliers instead of consumers:

Candidates supply us with data (resume, applications, profile updates, search behaviour, etc.). At Amazon, authors supply us with data (books). These authors aren’t the consumers, they are the suppliers. Following this logic, the recruiter/hiring manager becomes the reader/ consumer, the one that pays, the one that goes through the checkout.

Or to compare it with supermarkets, the data are the blueberries. The candidate is the supplier/farmer of the blueberries and the recruiter/hiring manager is the consumer of the blueberries.

If applied, it can lead to some intriguing consequences, with immense positives for everybody involved.

Hiring Managers/Recruiters – as the consumer, you’ll finally be treated like one. The more convenience you want in your shopping, the more you will be prepared to pay. The better the experience you want, again, the more you’ll pay.  And like a shopper of blueberries, let’s ensure that what you buy is relevant, fresh and tasty. The interactions are daily and the value comes from the loyal and returning customer.

While this is already – at least in parts – relatively common, it is often still more driven by process than customer centricity. Hiring managers are perceived purely as a business representative instead as an individual following the same buying decision making patterns as consumers. It therefore also makes absolute sense to direct more of the brand building budget towards the hiring manager and move from (or merge and enhance) a B2B approach to a B2C approach.

Candidates are suppliers of luxury items

Candidates – as the supplier, they’ll be treated like one. Without suppliers there is no commerce. Suppliers of luxury items – and that is what a job change is – are very influential and powerful. So treat them accordingly.

Marketing principles of Segmentation, Targeting and Positioning, combined with the 4Cs, still apply. The mind shift is about appreciating that applying for a job is a business interaction with a very rational underpinning, driven mainly by economic desire or necessity.

Some suppliers will be able to demand higher value and services than others. At the same time, the supplier is responsible for their produce. If it isn’t selling, if it doesn’t receive the same attention and promotion as other products in this supermarket of talent, it is the supplier/candidate’s responsibility to change it accordingly. Like any other brand, there are three avenues open to him: Differentiation, Price, Niche.

It also alters the demands on the supermarket of talent: Produce of suppliers must be delivered in a timely fashion. When the product hits the shelves it should be fresh, anticipated, desired, even teased and marketed to increase the sales volume.

It also, however, becomes important that seasonality is appreciated. I can only sell my blueberries when they are ready to be picked. Yes, I can greenhouse them, freeze them, but that has an impact on taste. So trying to engage the supplier of the resume and job seeking data outside the season is irrational, a waste of energy and ultimately damages the consumer relationship and puts unnecessary and often economically unjustifiable demands on the supplier.

Seeking out the best suppliers, inclusion into the supply chain management to ensure smooth and coordinated delivery (such as picking up the goods at the farm, helping to package them in the most attractive way, sharing insights and metrics) makes good sense.

Negotiating exclusivity, offering advice on how to achieve higher sales, marketing and better shelf space for top performing items or ranges that the supermarket of talent is interested in highlighting is important. A little more B2B than B2C would go a long way. This might sound odd, but it ultimately delivers against the performance metrics set out by the candidate and would actually give the candidate a better, more important and market led standing in the recruitment process.

Candidates are not valued as suppliers

You know where it all falls down?

It’s when value is being distributed. Let’s revisit Amazon: The author of a book is paid a slice of the sales value. The same happens with the blue berry producer.

But, the value that most supermarkets of talents and personal shoppers hand to the suppliers is not a real appreciation of their value, i.e. a slice of the sales value, but only a pat on the shoulder with the sentiment of “Be happy that you found a job”. Until we treat candidates like suppliers and allocate real value to their data, the recruitment process will always be uneven. That’s what we need to change.

Creative Commons License photo credit: davydubbit


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The rise of the internal headhunter

It’s quite a remarkable phenomenon that audiences rave about future gazing presentations, yet rarely ever act on them when they have returned from the conference. It could have to do with the fact that many often only contain well known developments and publically available data, but it’s disappointing when those containing truly valuable and insightful information are forgotten.

However, when they do get noticed and acted upon, that’s when the magic happens.

Let’s take Mara Swan’s (Manpower’s VP Strategy) superb presentation at the recent ERE conference in San Diego. The presentation was incredibly rich with thought provoking insights. This post looks at just one part of it: the change in world population and migration that is linked to it.

Mara Swan shared the map from Worldmapper below,  showing the predicted distribution for the estimated world population in 2050. It shows that the population is moving east (which represents a big challenge for values and mind-sets – most of our companies are based on Western and Christian values, yet most of the workforce’s are based on Eastern and Buddhist values).


© Copyright SASI Group (University of Sheffield) and Mark Newman (University of Michigan).


At the same time the working population will shrink. This will have a massive effect on migration, as most Western countries depend on immigration to supplement their workforce and to act as drivers for innovation and diversity. If the working population shrinks there are more opportunities at home, resulting in less migration. If you consider that by then we will have more stable middle classes in the emerging economies and more wealth being created in the countries, then the people who are migrating today are unlikely to do it tomorrow.

With the underlying assumptions changing, we also need to adjust our assumptions on talent supply and demand.

At the moment, if a person/team isn’t working out, the answer is to replace them with a new one. This might work at the moment, but most certainly won’t work in 2050. Overlay this with a shortening of skill cycles (3-8 years before a skill is outdated) – and we have a perfect storm, or as Mara Swan said: “The internal workforce is a key factor and a key issue: with fewer people we can’t just get rid of people and hire news ones. Re-skilling and training gains new importance.”

It’s fascinating.

Even more fascinating are the companies that have already implemented programmes and initiatives to tackle this issue.  Let’s take Sodexo, as an example:

Arie Ball, their VP of Talent Acquisition, is one of those remarkable people who takes new info and immediately implements change, way before the rest of us even wake up to it.

Sodexo is now headhunting internally. Their internal recruiters have access to succession and performance data, and use this information to help guide their internal searches. You can imagine that many of  the line managers weren’t too enamoured about this internal headhunting.  At the same time, the internal recruiter also supports and coaches the internal candidates in presentation for interviews. This is to address the issue whereby typically in organisations, external candidates come much better prepared, as the internal candidate often doesn’t prepare for the interview as they believe that the manager already knows about them. Sodexo’s approach makes sense on so many dimensions.

It works for the individual; they feel valued and feel good about themselves and about the company. Too often, the employees are passive candidates and not actively seeking out new opportunities even within the company. Getting a call from the internal recruiter underscores their value and the opportunities for growth.  That results in the individual becoming an even stronger brand ambassador.

It works for the company, as they can keep talent (because let’s face it, if the employee believes they wouldn’t be headhunted internally and sees not a chance of change and success, they’ll leave anyway), and they can now up-skill their staff not only through courses and coaches but real world experience. This in itself will result in a reduced time to hire and time to productivity. Additionally, it’s a great way to reinforce new behaviours, spread skills and enable more impactful cultural change, yet in a very subtle way.

This just makes so much sense now and even more so in light of all the future trends. I find this active portfolio management of the employees admirable, because a company’s talent pool starts and ends with the existing workforce.

Let’s build clear characteristics of the players we want on our roster. Let us be ruthless in applying these when bringing in fresh talent and appraising existing talent, but let’s then support our talent and give them the opportunity in becoming the best they can be.


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Talent Acquisition: Finding the common in the unique – #ERE13

Each one of us is unique. At the same time, we share many similarities with other special and unique people, to the point where underlying patterns emerge. This became obvious when listening to all the special and unique speakers at ERE Recruiting Conference in San Diego.

Talent Acquisition thrives for exactly the same as every other function: closer alignment, better integration of the tech stack and becoming more candidate-centric.

  • Closer alignment with the overall business and its objectives but also within the teams to ensure common understanding and shared goals and language.
  • Better integration of all the different technologies that are being used in the talent acquisition process – ideally to aid the closer alignment mentioned above as this will result in meaningful integration.
  • Becoming more candidate-centric to ensure a better candidate experience and deeper engagement – which is more aligned and integrated to the overall brand experience and values of the company.

All three of these are interconnected. For example, Joanna Clark (Recruiting Leader for Community Bank’s Western Mountain Region and Shared Services at Wells Fargo) explained that social recruiting had stalled as it has been separated from overall talent acquisition.  And she is right, there is no such thing as social recruiting – nor is there mobile recruiting – it is all just one part of the jobseeker’s way of interacting with organisations. For it to flourish and become integral it requires integration into the incumbent systems as well as alignment with the overall business goals. Only when it results in gratification for the jobseeker (= finding a job), for the recruiter (= finding an interested and relevant candidate) and the company (=increasing productivity) does it become useful.

We define ourselves more often by our differences to others, instead of our communalities, but vendors, innovators and change agents of mobile, social and other cool new acquisition avenues would be advised to find the communalities and align with talent acquisition. Only then can they properly exploit changes in the external environment and in user behavior in a meaningful manner.

We differentiate to integrate. In the continuum of reputation-optimisation-innovation, talent acquisition is currently firmly focused on optimisation instead of further innovation.  Especially as there is a growing awareness that a greater focus on optimisation will result in a heighten reputation. (For more detail about the interplay, have a read of the post: The Anatomy of a company: skills, mindsets and harmony.) It is maybe a sign of the times, as I can see this focus on optimisation in many other companies and functions. There was and is a lot of innovation happening, but now businesses and people are separating the useful from the useless, often by creating useful adoptions and adaptations for their own purposes. Now profound change will happen everywhere.



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No Fear!

Courtesy to Worldblu & John Firth

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