In a recent Talent Talks episode, Jenn Terry (VP of Strategic Initiatives, Joveo) and Chad Sowash (Co-host and Producer, Chad & Cheese Podcast) discuss how critical it will be for talent acquisition professionals to pivot and scale in 2021.

While the pandemic has resulted in massive job losses across most economies worldwide, the snap back is going to be much quicker. To meet their hiring goals in the next year, most recruitment leaders and professionals will have to scale instantaneously. 

Jenn and Chad also discuss the acceleration of HR technology adoption, why recruitment organizations need to work with and like staffing businesses and continuously focus on building their talent pipeline, the importance of diversity recruitment, and more.

Watch the video or check out some of the highlights in the transcript below!

COVID has warp-speeded the adoption of tech

Jenn: We’re going to talk about some fun stuff – we’re looking into crystal balls. Let’s talk about what’s next for TA. Obviously, I’m super bullish on programmatic. But besides programmatic – because we’ll come back to that probably in the end – what do we predict? What’s going to happen? What’s COVID done to our infrastructure? 

Chad: So I think the key word, or “key virus,” is COVID, and how that’s changed everything. First and foremost, I believe that COVID has warp-speeded us into adoption of tech because we have to do these types of things. This is our everyday now. We’re more remote, I’m not sure that we’ll go back. 

So I think the adoption of technology is big – and you know this – so many companies have gone into the “virtual career fair” end of things – I don’t think career fairs are ever going to be the same again. What do you think? 

Jenn: Okay. So two things, I don’t know why they did in the first place. Those were the bane of my existence. So sure – I’m all in on the “virtual career fair.”

Here’s my deal: It doesn’t do away with the line. They’re just standing in virtual lines now. 

Chad: I’ve seen some really cool tech that’s not sending you to a queue where you’re just sitting around and waiting.

Jenn: That’s good. There’s a few – Heroes Jobs, I think does a good job. But the reality is, career fairs were only effective because they helped the employer process candidates quickly. And my feedback is, that is #fail – and you should fix the core problem.

You can now hire anybody,anywhere.

Jenn: You also said, all people are going remote and we’re not sure if we’re ever going to go back to the old way of doing things. I sure hope so! Do you know how much easier it is to find a data scientist anywhere as opposed to Boise, Idaho?

Chad: I just don’t get it! The thing is, we’re going to have to take a look at wages, and what we’re paying people that used to live in Silicon Valley, who moved to Palm Springs. Facebook is looking at docking pay, like 20%. There’s going to have to be regulation that starts to address this new workforce, this new remote office setting that we have.

Jenn: Big companies already do it with geo zones and it’s already part of the comp structure. 

Chad: It’s just not cool. I just don’t want to devalue what you do as a human being for eight hours a day, and say that you’re worth less than somebody who sits in Silicon Valley, just because they’re not smart enough to move out of Silicon Valley.

Jenn: So that’s the downside, right? So the upside is you can hire anybody – and if you get to the point where you can hire anybody anywhere, it totally changes the diversity makeup. I don’t care where the talent sits as long as the talent works. And by broadening that horizon, it does add some complication to your system – which is a reason to talk to Joveo: We could start to really accelerate gender diversification, particularly in technical roles. I’m excited for that! You?

Chad: Yeah, of course. I love the opportunity of being able to be more transparent on the types of individuals that we’re pulling in from a diversity standpoint. I wish every Fortune 500 company actually posted their diversity stats so that they would stay accountable for those, and then take that next step on the wage side as well. I think that’s the only way that we’re going to get where we need to, as organizations, where everybody feels like they’re being treated fair. And when people feel like they’re being treated fair, and they believe in the purpose, they’re going to work really hard for you.

Hiring as a business, not a job

Jenn: So let’s take it a step further. COVID has really tipped things and some direct employers had to go down on staff, and we have people still furloughed. What’s your prediction for how that’s going to shift the makeup of how we’re servicing our vacancies?

Chad: I think it’s fairly simple. Staffing is going to be the next step. A couple of different reasons. We didn’t see COVID coming at us. So talent acquisition, you get a pass. But what you’re not going to get a pass on is when hiring starts to tick up. You’d better be ready for that.

And there’s a couple of different ways to do that. First and foremost, focus on your process and your technology, the data, and candidates you already have. Two, find a great staffing provider because the difference between a staffing professional and a talent acquisition professional is that for staffing, this is their business. For TA, it’s your job. I would love to see TA bring it and really hold that business case close, and treat this more like a business than a job, but until we get there, staffing’s always going to be the fallback position. Because that is how they make their money, and that is how they’re going to ensure that you get the right people, the fastest way they possibly can.

Jenn: That’s a great point. Just earlier this year, I sat on a staffing / RPO call for a consortium of RPOs and staffing agencies. Their questions really centered around, “How do I make sure I have the right amount – not too many or not too few?” There were really specific questions like, “How much does it cost to put somebody in the seat? How can I compare?” 

They’re what I would call leading indicators. Do you get a sense that that’s more developed on the staffing and RPO side?

Chad: Oh, easily – because again, that’s their business. So if talent acquisition actually focused on being able to turn business cases every single day, use data every single day, they could make that narrative to the C-suite more about how it affects the bottom line.

Cost per hire is something we made up! The CEO doesn’t care about cost per hire.

How do you take that cost per hire and actually reconfigure it into something that affects the bottom line? That’s what we need to do. But staffing understands that right out of the gate. They understand why the efficacy of what they do, impacts business.

If I go to a Fortune 500 company today, look at their website and say, “Oh, that engineering position, how much does that cost you to leave open every single day?” I won’t get an answer! They don’t know. 

Jenn: Spot on. So what else do we predict?

Scaling will be key in 2021

Chad: I wish that I thought 2021 was going to go so much different than 2020, I don’t think it will. So again, I just hope that companies focus on what we’re seeing today as the new norm. Because when everything does snap back, there are a couple of things you’re going to have to really focus on heavily. First: Do you bring those individuals back?

Number two, when you start to snap back and you start to rehire, how do you scale? Scale is the main thing you have to think about. The CEO is going to come to you and say, “Tomorrow, everything’s ramping up.” And then every single department in the organization is going to be on you. They’re going to be on your shoulders. You have to be ready to know how to scale on a dime tomorrow. If you can’t do that today, that’s another reason why you have to have a staffing partner close to you.

Jenn: That’s great. I think that mine would be – the ability for great leaders to develop programs in the downtime that move things forward, in addition to what you said.And some of the things that you don’t have time for in the day-to-day of TA, take the opportunity to do those now. Do some journey maps – really look at what it is like to be a candidate. What do they see?

But most importantly, all of those organizations and initiatives that were really about helping find good talent across all sorts of diversities – not just females or people of color, but also veterans, or people with disabilities – this is a really good time to evaluate programs in those spaces and get them set up to be a part of your turn-on strategy. I feel like progressive employers are going to find a way to work those programs into their daily practices.

Chad: Also, those large companies who know that there are skills gaps that are out there – go out and partner with your local university to be able to start pipelining candidates. Sponsor those individuals, get them in. Pay the accreditations, but start to create those pipelines so that you’re ready. Don’t wait to be able to fund and/or find a way to bridge the skills gap. Go do it, and do it now.

We see some companies that have been doing it for years. And that’s why they excel. Be that organization. And when you do that, here’s the big key: You can make your pool much more diverse by going to more diverse universities, schools, community colleges, or what have you. And that’s a great way to start building that entry level, so that you can start pumping those more diverse managers up into your pipeline and your organization.

Jenn: That’s perfect. And when you’re really looking at promoting and hiring those diverse individuals – access to the internet continues to be a challenge and an opportunity. Almost 60% of people are accessing your job for the first time from their phone. So making sure that you have good access for people to make a meaningful statement of interest on mobile – even if that’s not a full application – that’s super important.