Top 100: Recruiting and HR

Top 100: Recruiting and HR

Posted on 10. Jun, 2009 by in Blog, Top 100

By John Sumser

Our industry stretches from recruiting on one side to more traditional HR on the other. One part moves at market speeds; the other runs at a conservative pace. One part is an engine of competitive advantage. The other is the hard work that must be done with precision. Like families during the 60s, we are half conservative and half liberal.

What’s odd is that the conservative function (traditional HR) comes with a relatively liberal perspective. The liberal function (Recruiting) tends to have a more conservative set of politics. To be clearer, traditional HR, the defensive function, often champions liberal views. Recruiting, the offensive operation, often delivers a more ‘business-y’ set of politics.

Obviously, the generalization breaks down in the face of anecdotal specifics. But, one of the reasons that the Recruiting operation influences the strategy of the organization is this relative political alignment. Harsh competitive realities, severe deadlines, impossible goals, aggressive tactics and sales style motivation characterize the great Recruiting functions. The more traditional aspects of HR have softer things at the core of their operations. This is the reason for the historical tension between the two functions. HR leaders who are able to really harness both sides of the business are rare creatures.

The tension is so strong that many people don’t believe the two halves. are parts of the same industry. It’s only recently that ‘Talent Management’ software, which tries to integrate all aspects of the HR Department into a single toolset, came to market. After years of internal squabbling, there is a drive to have a single record for all employees. The typical HR operation has over 200 separate databases and software tools. Enterprise /component/page,shop.browse/category_id,7/option,com_virtuemart/Itemid,37/”>low cost cialis style integration is long overdue. The question is whether a toolset that operates at market speeds can also be precise enough to handle routine operations like payroll, benefits, compensation analysis. Is the level of record keeping (sloppy) that makes Recruiting departments successful going to fit with data where completeness /component/page,shop.browse/category_id,7/option,com_virtuemart/Itemid,37/”>low cost cialis and accuracy are essential?

Imagine that the industry is a matrix with two dimensions. The professional axis includes HR at one end of the spectrum. Recruiting is at the other. The other one includes the vendors, event producers, speakers, academic, consultants and analysts. This is the commercial axis.

The most observable forms of influence in the industry come from commercial forces (including academia). The players on the commercial axis make their living, in one way or another, by trying to change, guide or drive the behavior of the professionals in the business. It’s a complex feed of newsletters, advice, blogs, conferences, podcasts, specification development, standards creation.

One of the most interesting features of the landscape is the class of service providers who deliver recruiting services from outside of the corporate walls. Third party Recruiters (search firms, contingency, staffing agencies, contract recruiters). They act like a hybrid, part vendor, part practitioner.

There’s another emerging class of provider who deliver outsourced services. Built on the Recruiting model, they range in depth from sourcing operations to complete Human Resources Outsourcing. While third party recruiters were the first outsourcing operations, these new providers are developing new approaches to basic tasks. By applying industrial and information era management techniques, they are driving the costs out of service delivery in both Recruiting and traditional HR.

The industry is roomy. With a footprint in every company and a representative in every company with more than 100 people, our industry has nearly 2,000,000 professionals. There are complex layers and niches. The way that people perform basic tasks varies with region, industry and size of the operation.

Influence in the industry comes in a variety of forms …professional practice, software choice and design, fads and fashions in language and issues, purchasing choices, operating concepts. Over the remainder of the Top 100 Influencers project, we’ll be taking a deeper look at each area.

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5 Responses to “Top 100: Recruiting and HR”

  1. Martin Snyder

    10. Jun, 2009

    I like this one John. You are so right about the underlying political outlook driving a lot of what happens without people realizing it directly.

    It remains quite unproven that Talent Management as an industry will outperform data warehousing and analytics as up and coming corporate competencies to make sense of the 200+ databases.

    The deep flaw (it seems to me) with the TM approach is that no matter how comprehensive an offering, there still will be outlying data sources and tools that HR will end up wanting to use or actually using, which means there will remain the need/overhead/effort to apply analytics to the case anyway….

    We are at a technical moment where the notion of using many data sources to derive the right views and actions for each end-user is becoming an everyday possibility. Should be interesting ;-)

  2. John Sumser

    10. Jun, 2009

    You’re right, Martin. The whole notion of a single record database (to consolidate and corral all of the disparate hunks of info) is only partially proven.

    Much of what passes for truth in the HR-Recruiting space is really a stew of conjecture and convetional wisdom. Much of it was more appropriate a generation ago.

    I’m anxious to see the emerging generations of analytic based insight and decision support tools.

    One of the big questions is how you dig generalized principles from the sea of data. How do you bootstrap a system like that into place? In order to get it right, you have to be willing to make some pretty big mistakes.

    The data and insight is flowing. I’m seeing tons (one or two a week) of new players who have data-centric models. The notion that software isn’t complete unless it comes populated with the right usable information is starting to take root.

    My sense is that the industry is poised for real disruption. What do you think?

  3. Pat Sharp

    10. Jun, 2009

    Building on John and Martin’s comments…analytics tools are great, but the disturbing thing to me, is the lack of agreement as to WHAT gets measured. Indeed, the couple of years will be interesting.

    It’s high time for disruption, John.

  4. Martin Snyder

    12. Jun, 2009

    Oh I see big disruption right now, and I think we are just getting started with a new way of life and business that could go on for a decade or more. My outlook is mostly socio-biological; the rules of natural selection and environmental response/mutation, while not exact, drive market economies in similar ways.

    In times of abundant resources and balanced competition, flash and dash often wins the day because most choices have good outcomes to the premium for picking style is not heavy. In times of stress and pointed competition, versatility and hardiness win because the premium for style is unaffordable.

    In our biz, style means sexy features, high-concept, and sometimes high finance. Talent Management often is all three of those. But our niche has some conditions all its own; HR’s history as a cost-center, as a reactive agency, and a ghetto for women executives. The search world has its sub-conditions as a buffer to prevent open poaching and transparency as to who is getting what, which would be a negative condition for businesses in general.

    HR has never led technologically and it remains underserved by just about every corporate IT department I have encountered (some selection bias there- they find us because they have little support otherwise).

    The interesting part to me is what if the proposition holds: that in a deep, deep recession, effective talent management is among the key competitive pivots?

    It means that as the reality takes hold, more corporate IT resources would be turned toward HR, including the much more highly evolved analytics capabilities normally associated with stuff like production and material handling, financial modeling, call-center automation, and marketing. As to what gets measured, that’s a question for the mindset of individual managers. As to how HR data is treated, it should be a whole new ballgame.

    I think the natural master record for a corporate employee would be the ERP/HRIS system, but only a relative few users need to be involved with master records. All talent related data should be connected and modeled in a data warehouse maintained by the corporation or third-party vendor. The warehouse should be the source of the views and workflows for end-users associated with the talent function. Some of those views and workflows will be actually supported with outside tools- widgets for job- posting, or background checking, or phone-calling or dataset building for salary info, job descriptions and competency models, tax information, etc.

    The future for vendors in our space is probably not building huge systems pre-loaded and connected with a specific array of services, but rather as subject specialists able to seamlessly interact with both the warehouse and end-users.

    Vendors are showing stresses. Price dropping is rampant. It’s a risky time to select a vendor, especially those dropping all upfront costs and promising long term costs remaining suppressed- you don’t want to find yourself working with a slowly drowning vendor, unless they can hold their breath for a very long time!

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