Workforce on Demand
The On-Demand Workforce Will Grow
Some researchers estimate that by 2020 as much as 40 percent of the American workforce will be made up of contingent workers, which includes temporary employees, independent contractors and project-based on-demand workers.
Josh Wright, chief economist for recruitment software company iCIMS, based in Matawan, N.J., said that while the pursuit of short-term, project-based freelance work is not new, the ability to centralize this type of work and give freelancers access to potential clients through online apps has led to an explosion of the practice.
According to Mulrooney, the two key drivers responsible for the rise of the on-demand workforce are workers’ demand for diversity and flexibility in their roles and a shift in organizational strategy from needing to hire a person to needing to complete a task.
Wheeler explained that, historically, recruiting focused on full-time regular hires or temporary hires. Gig hiring—such as when retailers ramped up headcount during the annual holiday season—fell under purchasing or procurement. “TA was unaware that those people even existed,” he said. “The TA function had been insular, focused on growth or replacement. Many colleagues in TA have told me they are now looking at taking over gig workforce hiring as a part of their responsibilities.”
Determining the optimal workforce composition will be a core competency for HR and TA functions going forward, Wheeler said. “HR will be asked to help determine which positions should be full time and which should be done by contractors, or staffed by third-party agencies. We’ll see a shift to contracting with more niche expertise workers as needed instead of hiring full-time generalists to all-purpose roles.”
The growth in recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) firms will also continue. “Agencies will have to include RPO or they will not survive, except a small sliver of executive search firms,” Wheeler said.
But Andrew Chamberlain, chief economist for employer review website Glassdoor, is pushing back on speculation about the growth of the gig workforce. “Without a doubt, there has been massive growth in the gig economy in recent years. But growth in gig work will likely trail off in 2017 and beyond as reality sets in about the actual pros and cons of contract work—both for workers and employers,” he said.
Chamberlain explained that using contract or gig workers allows for flexibility for workers and cuts overhead costs for employers, but “it only works for relatively simple jobs that are easy to measure.”
He said that skilled work in professional services, technology and finance increasingly require deep institutional knowledge, trust, reputation and personal relationships inside the organization. “These jobs have many intangible attributes that are hard to measure, making it hard to carve them up in pieces, each with their own contract written to specify exactly what will be delivered. For that reason, the gig economy is likely to remain a small, although important part of the U.S. labor market.”
‘Skills over Schools’ Movement Will Diversify Hiring
By 2020, estimates the McKinsey consulting firm, there will be a global shortfall of approximately 85 million qualified workers.
There is a “critical need for organizations to broaden their views to source and hire talent with diversity being a crucial consideration,” Mulrooney said. “By diversifying their workforce, businesses can utilize a currently untapped pool of talent to help plug the skills gap.”
One trend gathering followers is the “skills over schools” methodology.
“In the past, recruiters and hiring managers looked at resumes and put too much stock into where a candidate previously worked or went to school, rather than the specific skillsets they possess,” said Susan Vitale, chief marketing officer for iCIMS. “Recently, they have been shifting the focus to hiring driven candidates who have the determination to learn the skills they need for the job and who share the same competencies of the organization.”
Hiring based on academic pedigree is becoming a thing of the past, Schmidt said, though many hiring managers still have this mindset. “This creates opportunities for savvy recruiters more focused on experience, skills and potential to find true high-potential candidates,” he added. Industry leaders like Deloitte, Google and LinkedIn have announced efforts to hire for skill over alma mater.
Many employers have long complained that universities don’t provide graduates with the skills competitive businesses need today, Vitale said. “Online education courses are on the rise, allowing people to learn coding and other skills that allow them to earn full-time or on-demand work in highly sought-after areas. These learning opportunities are more accessible to a wide variety of individuals, which in turn should make the pool of talent more diverse for hiring organizations.”
Recruiting Will Get Hyper-Personal
With the talent market becoming more competitive, companies are switching focus from what employees need to what employees want, Browne said.
“Today’s candidates require a consumer-quality experience, similar to what they receive when shopping online,” said Roopesh Nair, president and CEO of Symphony Talent, a leading recruitment marketing company based in New York City. “Personalization is the key to capturing their attention. Thanks to omnichannel solutions and artificial intelligence, data is getting more precise than ever and can be gathered from every point of contact with a candidate to provide a more relevant, consistent and personalized experience.”
Personalizing careers sites and recruitment marketing will significantly impact not only the quality of candidates companies can reach and attract but also the number of relevant applications. “Data can be used by recruiters to create persona-based content to reach higher quality candidates, while at the same time relieving them of mundane tasks so they can refocus on their actual job—recruiting,” Nair said.