Kevin Wheeler is an authority when it comes to recruitment and labour market trends. For several decades, the Founder and President of The Future of Talent Institute has researched the future of work, talent acquisition and learning. Wheeler then turns that around into actionable insights for some of the world’s leading organisations and start-ups, in order for them to improve their TA and learning processes.
Wheeler presented four major trends currently taking place to an audience of several senior leaders active in the area of Talent Acquisition and Employer Branding. “Firstly, younger workers are demanding more flexibility and choice, leading to a shift to smaller and agile firms”, he said. “Secondly, we have fewer older workers due to general ageing, early retirements and changes in lifestyle. Thirdly, More workers are moving to gig work and a lifestyle of choice. Finally, simply put: more automation. The more expensive it gets, the more we try to automate.”
A new focus on skills and networks
“At the moment, we mainly hire people for showing up”, Wheeler continued. “We are finding that credentials aren’t very meaningful, so this is where the shift is taking place to a more skills and network-oriented strategy. Wherein we ask a simple question: ‘What can you do to contribute to our company?’. Every move used to require a degree or experience, now it’s all about testing. If you pass the test, we’ll hire you.”
“Now it is up to recruiters to find a way to better assess skills.”
Where Google once used to rely heavily on only hiring top-of-class from the very best universities — their methods have shifted in recent years, Wheeler said. “Economically, it’s not paying off for people in the US to go to university. Unless you get a scholarship, it’s not worth it. And Google are agreeing with that, with a sense of ‘if you can write code, we’ll hire you’ type of mentality. Now it is up to recruiters to find a way to better assess skills.”
‘We have a talent philosophy issue’
It is part of what Wheeler describes as part of a common ‘talent philosophy issue’. “We have grown used to a talent surplus world as our norm, with enough people knocking on the door”, he said. “We used to control the conversation with conditions and salary, but the world of recruitment has completely changed. Five years ago I said it was becoming a candidate market, it absolutely is today. If you can’t learn that, you’re going to continue to lose.”
“Five years ago I said it was becoming a candidate market, it absolutely is today.”
The issues go way beyond recruiting, Wheeler argued. “We have to step back — and think about what our philosophy will be going forward. Younger workers are demanding things we never demanded. Hiring managers and recruiters are continuing to struggle to deal with those demands. Established companies are all experiencing the same significant challenges.”
Becoming a modern workforce
Part of what Wheeler sees as the route to becoming a modern workforce, is having conversations about what it is that younger workers desire — and how it is currently being advertised. “So many conversations are just about hiring full-time, but the question companies are not asking is which jobs are which? How many could be part-time, or some-time? Are we hiring consultants, or are we just going to go the route of full-timers only? And what is the criteria for that decision? We need to start having these conversations.”
“The question companies are not asking is which jobs are which? How many could be part-time, or some-time?”
For those familiar with Wheeler’s work, through his Future of Talent newsletters or blogs, know that he is a man who doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to work-related predictions. He is a leading voice when it comes to the future of automation. “Many HR departments aren’t currently asking the question: ‘Is this a job we will automate, or not?’. And it may not be a question you ask now, but if you’ll work in recruiting in more than ten years, that will be a big question. Most jobs could very easily be robotised.”
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