Mr. Toad's ride was tame compared with the turns and twists and dives of last year. Speaking in terms of economics reflected in the recruiting industry, we've been in a down market since October 1999. Although January and February are traditionally seasonal down months, last year brought more "down" than delivery of "up."
A great deal of awareness of the need to cut costs and increase return on investment and equity resulted in many innovative ways of searching, recruiting, evaluating, qualifying and hiring. Those innovations are now becoming standard introduction and screening modules and are changing the reach companies have in connecting with potential employees and managers. This also changed the pool of available labor because local talent is no longer the exclusive market pool. It now encompasses the global labor market, provided the candidates show the requisite credentials and permissions (visas or work permits).
So on the forefront is more in terms of long-distance interviewing via many of our conferencing, online, voice-over, and webcam tools. More screening tools will be used in background checking, personality evaluation, competency evaluation, and suitability for the position as well as credentials and education.
Still, the confrontations with reality were simply not in time to avert the effects of "no free lunch" and "someone has to pay the bill." Some services have been reduced, others completely withdrawn. Indeed, some sites -- both online and physical -- have disappeared. They are now case files in bankruptcy courts or else closed records in County Recorder or Secretaries of State records.
Those companies that survive are changing the structure of their business and work allocation. Unnecessary functions and those that are redundant are being combined and the human resources reallocated or outsourced. Likewise, to the extent businesses can reduce costs while maintaining mental and physical acuity because of increased demands, are considering more innovative flex time programs. At the same time, these smart companies are looking at their productive internal resources and developing them with good training and additional education as incentives for staying with the company and to nurture loyalty based on company performance and reward.
Recruiters are looking at new ways and venues for recruiting. It remains to be seen whether newsgroups will continue to be viable sourcing points. However, user groups and active discussion lists will provide insights into who is available, who has good communication skills, and of those, who is the most knowledgeable and more place-able. Search fees will take on a new form in terms of percentages and things that constitute the package.
Likewise, compensation packages are going to start taking on a new form. One example is that the more sophisticated candidate will be looking for more of the basics that will stay with them to ensure their whole well being. That is to say, things such as healthcare benefits will carry more weight than stock options in the current market.
Smart company managers and executives will be keeping their eyes on not just how many workers but the quality of the work and interaction those critical people have with clients and customers in addition to thoroughness and fast delivery of good company product. Additionally, the reports and metrics will take on heightened importance. If their review was only once every two weeks, those reviews will now occur at weekly intervals. Means of developing knowledge management tools and intranets will become exceedingly important in order to reduce overhead while keeping everyone on the same page with the same information.
And what about diversity? It will be a mixed bag, as it has always been. The old prejudices are hard to eradicate and language barriers complicate their removal. But the importance of having a diverse workforce that can relate to many perspectives and appeal to a broad base of potential and established customers in a professional way will have its appeal and force some changes for inclusion, to the betterment of all.
Mr. Toad's ride is not over. But at least we've had a preview and now have some sense of what's to come as well as some strong ideas about how to deal with it.