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4 Steps to recruitment automation

For years there was a lot of talk in the recruitment industry about mobile, matching (of both skills and culture) and big data. Now we have not only moved from talking to doing, but to building useful and impactful products, that will lead us ever closer to recruitment automation. As an example, here are four companies that stand out from last week’s TruLondon:


PreHashLogoPreHash describes themselves as “an online coding platform to help technical hiring managers attract more developers with real-world coding challenges”. In other words, developers are being asked to display their actual coding skills, so that the hiring manager can ascertain if they are up to the standard of problem solving and coding that is required for the job. So people get hired for their coding skills instead of their interviewing skills. Mind Candy (creator of Moshi Monsters) is apparently considering using one of PreHash’s coding challenges.

PreHash, with the feel of an Integrated Development Environment (IDE), provides challenges that are being communicated via both their own and the client’s social media channels. The results are ranked not only against all the recipients for this company, but the market as a whole. Apparently, the challenges are taking on a viral nature with developers passing them on.

I really like the approach, as it assesses the actual skill levels instead of the interviewing skills and replaces the traditional job ad with a coding challenge. It takes away bias and discrimination. It allows the hiring manager to assess the candidate but also the candidate to assess the company. Are they really as good as they both say? It works both ways. Everybody gains, and only when both – the company and individual – receive something equally useful will a service and product be successful. It will be even more powerful when the hiring manager can review the actual code used by the developer and set time limits, only then a real assessment of quality and working under pressure can be made.

At the moment PreHash position themselves very much around acquiring new talent and helping build and communicate the employer brand. It would be better for PreHash to alter this and focus more on talent screening and build their argument on reduced time to hire and increased productivity (even though some companies already have their own tests to assess quality). Additionally, it will be a more challenging sale, because the actual buyer won’t be the recruiter, but the line manager/IT lead; participation from both is required to make this successful. Whilst both want the same outcome, they respond to different messages and have different needs and motivations. Clearly building the community will be crucial for this, as it will give PreHash credibility with the IT audience.


JTlogoThere are several companies offering matching with no obvious distinction between them. Most of them focus on the recruiter’s needs. JobandTalent are different: they start with the jobseeker in mind. This is the best place to start. The job seeker provides JobandTalent with their resume and then receives jobs that match. This happens with ”the algorithm – which behaves like a virtual recruitment consultant – identifying and recognizing linguistic patterns within the structure and phrasing of both job adverts and CVs. These patterns are then converted into data points that match candidates with suitable job opportunities, even if they do not match a candidate’s or recruiter’s specification word for word.”  Everybody needs to test this for themselves. JobandTalent have certainly developed traction, not only because of the recent funding they received but also because of the uptake by job seekers and companies.

JobandTalent are what I would describe a second generation aggregator – combining the advantages of aggregation with a focus on matching candidates to relevant jobs via their own bespoke matching algorithm and putting mobile first (very nice app).

Herein also lies their challenge: The first generation aggregator business model of cost-per-click (cpc) is not sustainable when matching becomes very accurate, as it results in less clicks and therefore less revenue, unless cpc sky-rockets. It will be interesting to see how JobandTalent develop their business model and if a move to Cost per Acquisition/Application will really prove more successful, especially as integrations into the workflow of both recruiter and financial controlling might make the adoption actually more difficult.


WorkDigitalLogoIt shows that Bill Fischer and Howard Robinson have been working on big data solutions for several years now. Their products are multi-layered, well thought through and certainly benefit from having access to the vast and detailed data of Dice Holdings.

The one that caught my attention this time was the knowledge – or skillsgraph by company. By assessing the publicly available profiles of employees, Workdigital can provide a detailed breakdown of the skills of a company. This is a much faster way for a company to know and update their knowledge about the skill sets of their employees instead of tracking and updating it manually.

Additionally, it allows companies to compare their skill base against that of competitors and answer questions such as “Do we have the right skills and the right amount of people with the skills to realistically compete with the market leader?” The current skill base can be compared against development of skills in the wider workforce and plan the workforce development accordingly to compete in the future. It would also be a neat tool for any investor to assess if a company really has the skills they claim to have and assess any future plans against available resources. The question is how and to what extent it can be monetised beyond just spot purchases.


eiTalentlogoThis is by far the most exciting product I have seen since looking at TheSocialCV. eiTalent “identifies patterns that naturally occur in written communication, providing insight into the personality and culture fit of candidates.” They do this by identifying the core values of a candidate by analyzing their resume with their algorithm and comparing them against the core values of the company, therefore identifying candidates that fit the company culture and resulting in higher employee engagement.

It is fascinating stuff and applicable to so many different scenarios:

-          It could inform the interview process.

-          It could be used for brand building: Does the employer brand really match the core values of the employees? Is it therefore a real brand or fiction? How do departments differ?

-          It could be used to identify changes in employee engagement (via scanning electronic communication) and therefore positive measure could be put into place before a drop in employee engagement has a negative impact on productivity.

-          It could help individuals identify their own core values and show them jobs at companies with matching ones, therefore increasing satisfaction.

-          It could be used to change a company’s or department’s make up by injecting people with different yet desired and required core values for the future plans and success of the company.

-          It could be used to assess the core values needed to compete with companies in a different field.

These are only some of the applications within talent acquisition and planning; the parent company themselves is working on some other areas such as forensic analysis for law firms and it would be beneficial for marketers and brand builders around the world. So far, one very famous online retailer uses ieTalent, but everybody involved in employee engagement and employment brand building should have a look at it. It opens up completely different possibilities as well as accountability and performance measurement. The immediate challenges for ieTalent is to stay focused, build re-sales channels and support demand, the longer term one is how to use this for global brands with multiple cultures, locations and nationalities.


These four companies are great examples of the direction in which the industry is developing. They show that the whole conversation about automating recruitment isn’t so far fetched, especially when looking at them in combination. Having identified the skills his/her company lacks with Workdigital, the hiring manager uses a PreHash challenge on JobandTalent to understand the skill level and analyses the communication to understand the cultural match via eiTalent.  What is the role of a recruiter in this scenario?

It also shows that virtual teams will more and more dominate the world in which we are working and that work location and home location do not need to be the same. We can now recruit from anywhere, assessing the skills and the cultural fit and with enough tools in our hands and understanding of human performance to ensure that productivity and engagement increases when working remotely.

Whilst we now have working, useful and impactful products of mobile, matching and big data, there is one topic, often discussed and warmly embraced, that hasn’t produced any real offspring yet: The gamification of recruitment. I wonder why that is, or if we are soon going to see a first meaningful application.

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The Employment Brand – the glue for recruitment cohesion

The employment brand is the most important part of the new recruitment model. It is the glue for recruitment cohesion. It defines and amplifies values, mind-set, behavior and vision – acting therefore as an attractor, a (self-) selector of talent and a re-energizer for talent.

Before we go further into the subject matter, let’s however be very clear: an employment brand per se doesn’t exist as a stand-alone entity. A strong employment brand is clearly devised as a facet of the overall brand and therefore able to draw on the strength, resources and support.

This is a really important distinction. If an employment brand was separate, it would increase confusion and separation between the different brands. It would be only an attraction tool, it would have to create goodwill and impact from scratch, and it would not be related to the day to day experience of the people and therefore damage employee engagement.

Employee engagement, sometimes also called productivity, is the key metric for the successful creation, execution and adoption of the employment brand facet. If that wasn’t the case, then what is the point of employee engagement? Especially if we all agree that the people are the key ingredients of the brand and that a brand’s reputation is built from the inside out.

In a nation, the citizen is the most important entity and the strongest ambassador. The citizen defines the culture and is defined by heritage. The citizen has rights and responsibilities. The citizen pays taxes and votes, but most importantly, when citizens participate, societies and nations flourish.

It is the same for companies, so let’s treat employees (and customers) like citizens. We want employees to join the cause, to participate in our common goals, to share our vision, to be there voluntarily, to take their rights and responsibilities seriously. Every day is a campaign to be voted into office, every day we need to show vision, leadership and earn trust. When employees participate, companies flourish.

Once employee engagement is raging positively, one can forgo hierarchies and job titles (as Zappos does) and one can relinquish the (perceived) control over brand and communications. At this stage, the employees have bought into the vision and the way of doing things, are self-determinedly moving them forward and want to rely their positive experiences, their pride in working at the company.

Zappos hiring strategy makes sense in this regard, as it needs to ensure that only people with the right make up for the overall mix of the company enter the brand, so that the culture of trust and empowerment can continue.

Only with an employment brand and with employee engagement of this nature is it possible to communicate it via a clear and authentic content marketing strategy to convey the attractiveness of the brand as a workplace and to disseminate it using social connections of all employees and suppliers and therefore reaching most of the people a company wants to hire in the first place.

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Anarchy in the U.S.A.

NeilBCNHold on a second! What is happening in the USA? The beating heart of capitalism is turning into the second coming of Lenin and Marx. Well, not all of the USA, but certainly Silicon Valley and friends.

Zappos is eradicating all hierarchies and job titles, which is nothing more than anarchy – “the absence of government”.

AirBnb and Uber are turning the tables on haves and have-nots, challenging authority, hierarchy and power.

Predictive Analytics are shaping up to be workforce planning par excellence – every socialist country would have dreamed of having this to organise the masses, to forecast the missing skills and identify the youngsters with the rights aptitude to fill those gaps.

Can’t you just hear all the old anarchists, communists and socialists rejoice?

But you can most certainly see McCarthy turn in his grave, right? Why is Putin fretting about the demise of the Soviet Union and its ideals, when he can just sit back, relax and watch all the entrepreneurs and software developers in Silicon Valley doing his work for him, spreading socialism and anarchy around the globe and challenging political, judicial and economic power structures?

But let’s be clear. This isn’t the old days of the Soviet Union. The motivations are different. This time it’s actually human behaviour driving change. This time it is from the people and for the people. It’s – to quote Colin Ward – “the natural and spontaneous tendency of humans to associate together for their mutual benefit.” And that is the philosophical basis of anarchy. Hasta la Victoria siempre!

Photo courtesy of  Neil Morrison 

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The new recruitment model

dolls600x600Several sessions in last week’s iRecruit conference focused on a new recruitment model. This new model starts with the already existing individuals in a network and builds from there on out.

1. At the core stands a strong employment brand, clearly devised as a facet of the overall brand and therefore able to draw on the strength, resources and support of it.

2. It is communicated via a clear and authentic content marketing strategy, utilising video in the process, to convey the attractiveness of the brand as a workplace.

3. It is disseminated using social connections of all employees and suppliers, based on the belief that most brands are already connected to most of the people it wants to hire in the first place and therefore does not need to use job advertising anymore.

4. It has built-in data captured at all different touch points, not only from the recruitment but the entire consumer process to increase understanding, insights and drive personalisation.

5. It uses e-commerce models for repeat interactions, recommendations, relevance and reinforcements.

6. It chooses the channels of interactions the candidate wishes to be communicated with to achieve highest conversion through increased convenience.

7. It permanently trials new solutions and apps unrelated to recruitment to find talent and connect before the talent moves from passive to active and before anybody else gets to embrace it.

In short, the mainstream of HR is arriving at the point of ‘Total Access’ as described by Regis McKenna:

“A value of a brand can now be defined by the number of active participants in its network.”

The underlying approach is not new. It’s just a very good understanding of the three marketing maxims of segmentation of the market, targeting the desired audience and positioning the brand accordingly, combined with finally making the move from the 4Ps of marketing to the 4Cs in the execution of recruitment initiatives.

Product = Customer Solution

Price = Cost

Promotion = Communication

Place = Convenience

The new part of the approach is to build a seamless process and platform that links all the pieces outlined above together. Instead of talking about mobile, social and big data as separate entities, these have finally been recognised as smaller yet essential building blocks of an overall integrated solution. Instead of marvelling at GenY, they have now been accepted and are communicated with in their desired fashion.

The new model of recruiting also doesn’t use innovation for pure cost cutting, but innovation to enhance the performance of their recruiters and hiring managers and therefore understands that – at the moment – human interaction is a key component in the hiring and retention process.

But there are also challenges:

1.Several big companies seem to invest mainly into their company pages on LinkedIn. For them, LinkedIn has clearly usurped the career pages on their own website. They see great results. But: For the above approach to work, an open system is required, where new and different solutions can be plugged in and integrated. LinkedIn is not known for being an open system. Is it therefore wise to put all eggs in one basket and the basket being owned and controlled by somebody else?

2. The new approach of recruitment clearly works for big, well-known brands. But what about the small brands and companies? Could it be that some already use it successfully and we just haven’t heard about it, as they don’t get the same airtime as the big brands when sharing case studies?

But doesn’t that argument actually highlight the problem: big employment brands benefit from the resources and attractiveness of its overall brands. The small employers, however, have to work much harder for the same results and often don’t have the resources to build a proactive HR/recruiting/resourcing team. So is the job advertisement really dead? And how can small companies thrive in a world where more and more power seems to go to bigger brands?

3.The new approach of recruitment is clearly very focused on utilising the assets of the brands, be it the employees, the employees’ networks, the talent networks and talent pools, the email databases, you name it. But is it always really positive or are some using it for cost cutting? And who said that using employees networks on a mass scale is something employees really want? Do we just reinforce an elite? Is this a NeoCon approach to recruitment disguised in the cloak of the sharing economy? Laurie Ruettimann wrote a thought provoking blog post about it: “Is Zappos being fair to the American worker?

4. While it is great that mobile recruitment isn’t treated anymore as a standalone branch, it is still under represented in the solutions and approaches. Is this because it has become second nature or because we haven’t yet completely understood how to do mobile?

There are some encouraging signs nevertheless: Jerome Ternynck, CEO of SmartRecruiters, stated that they have a 20% visit to application rate on mobile and of those 60% are using LinkedIn profiles and 40% Facebook. This again highlights the needs to build an open system and integrate what users like to use most – the product becoming the customer solution and not just a flight of fancy for internal looking product managers.

5. Understanding the need of an open system, several providers are now moving away from building a one-stop shop towards building an ecosystem, a platform. This requires not only a strategy shift but also a culture shift, which will be fascinating to observe.

Whilst there are many questions and challenges – and it is always easier to shoot holes into a new approach and idea instead of building it – we see movement. Two years ago, everybody talked about these new models and ways of recruitment, now they are slowly creeping into the mainstream and changing ways of thinking, approaching and executing. It is fascinating and exciting when thought becomes reality.


Posted in Brand, Marketing, Mobile, Recruitment, Social Media.

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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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