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In this discussion, industry thought leaders Tim Sackett and Matt Chambers discuss trends in recruiting that are here to stay, and how modern recruiters will need to evolve to address these changes.

Question 1: What do you see as the most impactful changes you’ve seen in the recruiting industry?

Tim’s Answer:

It continues to be the speed at which recruiting is expected to find talent for openings. We’ve gotten to a point where hiring managers have this expectation where you’ll start showing them candidates in the matter of hours, not days or weeks. All of this is driven by technology.

Matt’s Answer:  

Let’s start macro and work our way down to share why these changes are happening.

A generational transformation is underway.  Baby Boomers are retiring, millennials are taking over their leadership roles, and Generation Z is entering the workforce as the first digitally native generation.  This generational transformation is hitting at the same time that the web 3.0 is emerging and we are going to cross a tipping point to broader market adoption.

Unemployment is at an all-time low, and we are also on the longest bull run in history.  A tight labor market magnified lazy hiring practices which relied exclusively on job board postings. Ineffective hiring and subpar results created robust demand for recruiting agencies, and passive recruiting solutions.   Today talent acquisition is strategic; having top recruiters either in-house or as recruiting partners is a major competitive advantage.  We are starting to see a hybrid RPO boots on the ground model becoming very popular.

Executive search, staffing, RPO, and recruiting agencies are facing pressure to find ways to differentiate. Five years ago, the biggest changes were happening on the corporate side, but now executive search, RPO, and recruiting agencies are playing catch up.  It’s a lot of energy and effort for an organization to change software solutions and to consider new approaches to recruiting.  It also can take a year or more for an organization to switch out and upgrade their technology, so those who wait risk putting themselves out of business to modern recruiting practices that just have too significant an advantage.

Matt’s Thoughts on Tim’s Answer:

Hiring managers are being sandwiched by both technology innovation on the vendor/supply side but also from their C-levels measuring progress via KPI metrics.  I think Tim and I would both agree that quality of hire is the most important metric, but as he said to be successful in today’s world you have to get the job done fast or someone else will be there to beat you to it. 

Tim’s Thoughts on Matt’s Answer

As much as we see recruiting evolving and changing, it’s still out on the edges for the most part. The most used recruiting strategy across all functions, markets, and industries is still “Post and Pray”. Post a job, pray someone will apply. While we see the leading edge of recruiting at an advanced stage, it’s still mostly in the minority. One issue, especially on the corporate side, is recruiting is still part of HR and HR hates to recruit. So, they’ll do almost anything else besides picking up a phone and reaching out to a potential hire.

The growth of RPO is a straight-line direct reflection of this failure. Organizational leadership is giving up on recruiting at a colossal level because CHROs can’t figure out how to fix recruiting and make it work, so let’s just shop it out to experts. The reality is, you’re not shopping it out to experts, you’re shopping it out to 25 year olds working in call centers who are paid to call candidates. That is now your employment brand, a 25-year-old who probably has never been to one of your locations and knows nothing about you.

It’s not a hit on RPO, they are hired to find talent and fill position, and they need to do that as efficiently as they can to produce a profit. Turns out, many do a great job at that, but many organizations give up too easily instead of just fixing the core issue. Talent Acquisition is not HR. It can’t be run like HR, or it will keep failing.  


Question 2: Process-wise, where do you see recruiters putting in the most effort into moving forward?

Tim’s Answer:

I would love to tell you it would be quality over speed, but I fear it’s still going to be speed. For me this isn’t either/or, it’s both. Yes, I want you to find me talent fast, and, yes, I want you to find me great talent. Far too often, in most shops, recruiters turn this into one or the other. It doesn’t have to be that way. But, that takes a really great process, supported by great tech, supported by high expectations and performance management. BTW – it’s also costs money!

Matt’s Answer:

At the very top of the funnel. 

Executive search firms and internal talent acquisition teams are focusing most of their effort at the very top of the funnel.   Relying exclusively on job boards for “sourcing” is lazy and results in the lowest quality, yet still remains the primary way most organizations (and even most staffing agencies) recruit.

We have crossed the tipping point, and it is no longer cost effective to source manually, when there are superior sourcing options on the market that can programmatically deliver an extremely high-quality talent pipeline at a fraction of the cost. 

To give you a concrete example, Loxo AI™ helps our customers build extremely high-quality talent pools.  It removes 90% of the hours spent sourcing by recommending only the very best people for each open position.  This is automated.  Why would you have a dedicated sourcing team when you could have this? Solutions like Loxo AI™ are gaining popularity as more recruiting organizations learn about them and realize how big of a game changer it is to their productivity.

The largest recruiting organizations have started to invest into building their own in-house technology systems.  I think almost everyone except these organizations realize this is a catastrophic mistake that will lead down a black-hole.  The pace of technological innovation in the open market is 100x faster, so the tens of millions of dollars of investment will cost these organizations a decade of lost opportunity cost.

Corporate recruiters are relentlessly testing and trying new solutions, but often have to figure out work arounds or even pay out of pocket due to the slow and bureaucratic nature of big enterprise. As a compromise, I think you are starting to see market forces demanding open API integrations so their recruiters can use best of breed solutions rather than being forced to use these monolithic systems that put the recruiter’s needs last.  Recruiters will select and choose solutions that they want to use and that solve their problem, even as big enterprise struggle to keep up with the pace of innovation and global regulatory environment.

Matt’s Thoughts on Tim’s Answer:

Spot on –it’s always about the time, quality, cost tradeoff!

The Project Management Triangle is one of the most important constraint models in business operations. Clients always want it faster, better, AND cheaper and service providers always have to remind them that we can do two at once, but you Mr. or Ms. client select the two you want and we’ll adjust accordingly.  Technology innovation in a fully optimized system is the only thing that can improve all three at the same time, but technology will only get you so far so if you don’t have exceptional leaders, process, and people.  If you do you can achieve better quality hires faster than ever before. 

Tim’s Thoughts on Matt’s Answer

Totally agree with you Matt. Although, I don’t see corporate recruiters “relentlessly testing and trying new solutions”, I would encourage them that they should. They should be demoing and looking at new tech at least once per month. It has to be a priority or the function just falls too far behind, too fast.

I do think as we see more and more of the top of the funnel be automated the real value of recruiters comes back to can you influence the decision of a candidate to believe that the position you have open is right for their career path? Can you get them to say, “Yes!”? That only happens when they trust you and believe that you have their best interest at heart. That takes expert-level relationship building at scale and speed.


Question 3: Where do you think the biggest opportunity is for recruiters to drive more value?

Tim’s Answer:

Actually knowing great talent verse good talent verse average-bad talent. Right now, the vast majority of recruiters, corporate and staffing-related, have no idea if the talent they are sourcing is great, good, average, or bad. They have no idea who is the best in their market or industry. The opportunity to standout is for the recruiter who can determine, not only can I find talent, but I can actually find better talent.

Matt’s Answer:

The recruiters who move up the value chain as technology increasingly plays a larger role in recruiting will be the ones who will be rewarded most.  The recruiting skills in 2020 are going to be very different than they were even just a few years ago.  The opportunity for modern recruiters and recruiting organizations will fall into one of the buckets:

  1. Closing and landing the hire – the best recruiter is the one who consistently delivers on landing the best hire.  That is where the value is.  The challenge for recruiters is figuring out how to make the process more efficient and repeatable in a hyper competitive landscape.
  2. Recruitment Marketing – Recruiters who understand how to create and optimize automation campaigns and workflows for their organization will become indispensable in their organization over the next decade.  You will begin to see new roles in recruiting organizations similar to how you have growth marketers, sales enablement, and sales operations roles now for modern sales teams.   These new roles will be similar for recruiting organizations and require individuals who are more technical and analytical.  They’ll be a productivity multiplier for their team so will be well compensated.
  3. Talent Advisor – being a trusted talent advisor so that you have great relationships with the best talent in the market, so you have influence to help introduce them into the best match opportunities in the marketplace.  This takes years and there are no shortcuts.
  4. Consulting / Strategic Talent Acquisition – Talent acquisition is a full-time job.  Hiring Managers don’t have the time to invest 8 hours a day being a master in the recruiting craft, so they need to partner with recruiting agencies, RPO firms or hire dedicated recruiters who spend 100% of their time recruiting. 

The recruiters who can setup the infrastructure, pick the best tech tools and drive themselves or their team to consistently achieve results in a competitive market will see compensation that is higher than software engineers which is pretty crazy, but also shows you how much value this role can provide.

Matt Thoughts on Tim’s Answer:

Someone who is truly exceptional at identifying talent has a unique ability to build championship winning teams. 

My favorite soccer club since I was about 12 years old has been Manchester United.  They had one of the greatest and most successful managers of all time (Sir Alex Ferguson) up until 2013 when he retired, and ever since they’ve been horrible regardless of the reputation of the new manager.  Each new manager recruits in 4-10 new players every couple years based on their personal taste and preferences, and regardless of the players pedigree it’s never been the same. 

Meanwhile, their cross-town rival Liverpool appointed Jürgen Klopp manager in 2015 and he’s taken one of the lowest performing teams to the top of the Champions League and Premier League with a fraction of the budget and brand pull to land the marquee players that other global top soccer clubs are able to each season.  Jurgen Klopp knows how to identify talent and potential better than anyone.  He knows how to create the environment for those individuals reach their greatest potential and he knows how to recruit the individual pieces to work together as a team.   Alex Ferguson, Jurgen Klopp, and top headhunters are all in the business of talent acquisition and I’ve never been more convinced how rare that skill set is for exactly what Tim said with his response.

Tim’s Thoughts on Matt’s Answer:

I’ll add one piece. If you see a recruiting function that is failing it’s almost always because the recruiting leader, those managing the output of recruiters doesn’t understand and leverage basic performance management. Recruiting isn’t hard. It’s not! I can teach someone who has never recruited a day in their life how to recruit and be filling positions within 30 days. Doesn’t have to be a college grad. Doesn’t have to have experience in recruiting or HR or even sales. They just have the ability to communicate and follow a process. Then it’s a simple mathematical equation about doing enough outreach, with proper incentives.

Talent acquisition fails mostly because recruiting leaders fail to hold recruiters accountable to doing the work that is needed to fill a position. Period.


Question 4: How sophisticated has recruitment marketing become? how do you see it continue to evolve?

Tim’s Answer:

It’s really off the charts at this point. A normal TA leader actually is probably 3-5 years behind the marketing knowledge curve to where they should be, if they truly want to do next-level recruitment marketing. It’s moving so fast right now, that I think what we’ll see if more sophisticated TA shops begin to hire straight marketing automation pros to work on their teams. It’s really the way to go at this point.

Matt’s Answer:

Recruitment marketing is a broad term.  How it is used depends on the type of recruiting; retained executive search, RPO, staffing or in-house talent acquisition. The level of sophistication is increasing each month largely due to the explosion in HRTech innovations, venture capital and big enterprise trying to keep up.  This is actually an area where I feel there is a huge opportunity for differentiation and competitive advantage.

I’ve seen hundreds of organizations overcomplicate this and lead their organizations down rabbit holes to nowhere because they have no clue what they are doing and they continue to trust and rely on well established brands to solve this who also have no clue what they are doing.  This does not have to be complicated – it really is pretty simple.

There are many different tactics that can be used to nurture and engage prospective candidates, and the type of approach and tool you use depends on where each individual candidate is in their candidate journey.  For example, an active candidate who is applying to jobs on a job board will be receptive to a retargeting ad or programmatic job ad, whereas a passive candidate that requires a multi-touch headhunting approach needs to be put into a drip email campaign similar to an outbound sales sequence to nurture that individual from a cold prospect to getting them engaged and into the talent community, talent pool or hiring pipeline.

Matt’s Thoughts on Tim’s Answer:

Couldn’t agree more.  However, I don’t think a TA leader is going to have the skill-set, time or patience to learn modern recruitment marketing, so we both see a major new role and career opportunity opening up in the recruiting world that did not exist in 2018.  At first we will see new general job titles gaining popularity such as Recruitment Marketing Manager, and over time it will break out into more specialized sub roles like Talent Demand Generation Specialist, Recruitment Operations, etc.  Technology improves productivity and instead of putting people out of work, it helps create more advanced jobs higher up the value chain.

Tim’s Thoughts on Matt’s Answer:

Overcomplicating is a serious issue in recruiting and recruitment marketing. We love to do this because equate difficult with valuable. If we had the mindset that being super simple was valuable we would be so much farther ahead of the game!  No one wants to stand in front of their executive team and tell them how simple their job is! We want to tell them and show them how complicated it is, so they know we really know our stuff. Making a process simple is the hardest thing you’ll ever do, but we think the opposite.

Recruitment marketing is really still in its infancy. We are still just stealing consumer marketing tech and ideas. Eventually we’ll see this evolution to how we market to a candidate is probably different than how we market to a potential customer. That evolution will transform organizations in a real competitive way. If the best talent wants to work for you and not your competitor you’ve won.


Question 5: Do you see AI becoming a regular fixture in modern recruiting? at what capacity?

Tim’s Answer:

100%! I truly believe we are months, years, away from about 70% of what we consider recruiting now, from a tactical standpoint, completely being done by AI and Intelligent Automation. Right now, there are tools on the market that can separately, take your job posting, source talent for that opening, reach out to those candidates and screen, and then set up an interview between candidate and hiring manager. So, it’s just a matter of time until someone puts this jigsaw puzzle together, and makes it happen.

Matt’s Answer:

No question.  As the CEO of an AI recruiting platform on the front lines every day, I understand “AI” in the recruiting ecosystem better than 99% of people.  That said, I can also say it takes a lot more time than people realize for machine learning solutions to be brought to market.  For anyone who thinks they are going to create a category leading enterprise AI recruiting solution in less than a decade they are severely disillusioned.  We’ve been working on the building blocks since 2012 and are fortunate to have insanely talented engineers working to pull this off.

Conceptually, AI scares a lot of recruiters because they equate it with losing their job or “being replaced”.  Why recruiters have nothing to fear is that “general artificial intelligence” where a machine can think and reason like a human is decades away and may not even happen in our lifetime.

The machine learning solutions that will come to fruition will actually help the recruiter, not replace them.  AI will help a recruiter make smarter decisions and do things so much faster. You will start to see machine learning solutions optimizing the candidate experience during the application and initial screening phases. You will see sourcing automation come of age, and eventually you’ll start to see some benefits of AI supporting the interview process.   Humans and machines working together.  This is how the majority of AI solutions for the next decade will impact recruiting.  What should be exciting is that this will elevate the entire recruiting profession and open the door to more technical and higher paying jobs in recruiting that didn’t exist before.

Matt’s Thoughts on Tim’s Answer:

Tim not only runs an extremely successful staffing organization, but he demos more technology and recruiting software than anybody on the planet, and I’ve been working with an incredible team 90+ hour weeks for the last 7 years to develop an AI recruiting platform for this exciting new era.  It sounds like we both not only agree it is coming, but we also agree we are now only a couple quarters away from seeing AI recruiting software become a regular fixture in modern recruiting.

Tim’s Thoughts on Matt’s Answer

The Tim bot is answering this question as it has replaced the Real Tim Sackett. A.I. is god. All bow down.

We are right on the edge of having real companies do all of their hourly hiring using A.I. without any human interference until those new hires show up day one for a crappy HR onboarding. That is happening in test environments right now. The results show the A.I. hires faster and better. Longer tenure, higher performance, no humans. This can work really well at high volume, low-skill hiring. As we add complexity to things like development, career growth, relationships, A.I. struggles a bit to complete the deal, but can be a huge advantage to add capacity to great recruiters who are learning how to leverage the tech.

Question 6: What technology do you think modern recruiters will be adopting the most the next year? Why?

Tim’s Answer:

SMS/Text Messaging with candidates in a really robust way. We still do way too much email in recruiting. 100% of recruiting shops should be doing most of their initial outreach communication via text messaging, but they aren’t.  I would fire any TA or HR leader who is refusing to use text messaging in recruiting. It works 10 times better than any other form of outreach to candidates at every single level of position, from hourly to executives.

Matt’s Answer:

Drip email automation and Programmatic recruitment. 

Email automation because it has crossed over from early adoption to mainstream. When a single recruiter can get 10x the amount done without dropping quality or increasing costs this replaces the old way of doing things one at a time. 

Recruiters who are not using email automation in 2019 are at an extreme disadvantage.

Programmatic recruitment because it’s superior to posting jobs the old way for high volume organizations.  Both of these are examples of recruiting smarter and automating manual work, however also illustrate how the recruiting organization of 2020 is going to be much more technical.  That requires a different skill-set which opens a lot of opportunity for those in the recruiting community or looking to get in to an exciting career field.

Matt’s Thoughts on Tim’s Answer:

I just love Tim’s response to this.  Speed, results and simplifying workflow are all that matter in the execution of talent acquisition.  We pulled a report in our system to see how SMS texting performed, and SMS Text Messaging has a 95% read rate within minutes, is the most convenient on the candidate and with the right technology solution simplifies process.  With Gen Z this will likely become the norm, and just a couple years ago texting candidates was considered to be rude.

Tim’s Thoughts on Matt’s Answer

It’s back to stealing ideas from our Marketing and Sales counterparts. We all love to say we hate email, and then that ‘one’ email hits our inbox and we buy!

I think we’ll start seeing Gen Z recruiters really leverage video messaging in a big way to get super high reply rates. I can, and will, send out one thousand emails to candidates, but my A.I. is telling me these ten candidates are probably the best of the bunch, I’m going to develop a thirty second video message and send it those ten. Shotgun and rifle approach, working simultaneously to ensure I get great talent on my open positions.

About the Speakers

About Tim

Tim Sackett, SHRM-SCP,SPHR is the President of HRU Technical Resources a leading IT and Engineering Staffing firm headquartered in Lansing, MI. Tim has 20 years of combined Executive HR and Talent Acquisition experience, working for Fortune 500 companies. Tim is a highly sought after international speaker on leadership, HR Tech, talent acquisition and HR execution. Tim is currently the President for the Association of Talent Acquisition Professionals (ATAP). 

He also is a prolific writer in the HR and Talent space writing every day at his blog the Tim Sackett Project, and this year, in conjunction with SHRM, Tim released his first book, “The Talent Fix: A Leader’s Guide to Recruiting Great Talent”. Tim is married to a hall of fame wife, has three sons, and his dog Scout. In 2018, he was named one the top Global Influencers in HR Tech, which gives him mad street cred with his teenage sons on Twitter (@TimSackett). He is a lifelong workplace advocate for Diet Mt. Dew fountain machines and he considered the world’s foremost expert on workplace hugs. 

Tim’s best performance feedback he ever got was “you are unfiltered and loose in the corners!” And he is!

About Matt

Matt Chambers is the Founder and CEO of Loxo, headquartered in Denver, CO. Matt has taken on progressively more advanced leadership roles in high-growth SaaS startups since 2007.  He is an expert in early stage SaaS startups and entrepreneurship; particularly around business model generation, go-to-market strategy, product development and new market innovation, operations, recruiting and talent acquisition.

Matt went through the MIT Sloan School of Management Artificial Intelligence, Business Strategy program and received his degree in Business Administration and Economics from UNH where he was a captain of their Division 1 soccer team.

Matt’s personal interests include life-long learning, technology, innovation, human capital, machine learning and entrepreneurship.  An avid reader and self-learner Matt frequently mentions the key to his growth has largely been attributed to his habit of reading for a minimum of 2 hours every day for the past twelve years and the power of compounding interest.

About Loxo

Loxo is a best-in-class enterprise recruiting SaaS company specializing in AI and machine learning, combining an ATS and CRM, and includes email automation, SMS texting, VoIP calling, personal contact information and candidate sourcing automation all-in-one easy to use platform.  Loxo’s cloud platform makes every aspect of modern recruiting and talent acquisition simple, so companies can find and hire the very best possible talent faster. Learn why more than 950 recruiting organizations across the globe trust Loxo at loxo.co

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