As Terri Davis, CEO of ProFound Group of Companies, prepares to launch new initiatives in 2020, she discusses what has changed – and what hasn’t – in her 20 years as an executive recruiter and career coach.
Have things changed? Are things better or worse today? These are some of the questions I get asked about my 7,300 days in recruiting and coaching (and counting). These are difficult questions to answer. What’s changed in recruiting and coaching in the last 20 years? Very little and quite a lot. The old ways to recruit people are still standard, transactional, and silo-ed by department. The technology revolution has taken a wide berth in the recruiting space, leaving the sector behind in revolutionary ways to create better customer experiences. Companies more than ever need people and can’t find them in some sectors, even while other sectors are seeing huge layoffs, like BMO in Canada, with only some of those terminated people finding their way into the job market, aged out, packaged out, retraining for something else. The recessionary conditions today are different than the recruiting heyday of the 80s, 90s and early 2000s, which means the “old jobs” in some sectors don’t even exist anymore, like in some manufacturing where robots are traded between companies and people aren’t required any more. More people with fewer traditional sector positions available means more people are retraining, or they are living below their previous income levels in jobs they are overqualified for, maybe even in the ‘gig economy’ space. The divide between a technocracy and those who aren’t part of it is widening. In the way reading and writing separated the literate from the illiterate, driving the wealth divide in the information age, the internet age widens the chasm considerably.
While recruiters have yet to catch up with the market changes, so too have job seekers fallen behind the knowledge curve that grows exponentially under us. The Internet Age of Value is underway, and with it come huge challenges and huge opportunities.
As recruiters, we still live in a transactional world, where everyone wants it cheaper, faster, and better, and procurement has assumed an even bigger role in retaining recruiting firms for search, which destroys opportunity for smaller firms to get a break, their chance, in an ever hyper-competitive market.
I see three major recruiting and career trends going into 2020 and beyond:
More layoffs in 2020 in government, banking, manufacturing, and other people-centric businesses. More “help services” and manual services served by specialist bots, which will have mixed customer service reviews, but will serve the driving bottom line. Even if it sounds like a person but you know it’s not, how will that make people feel? And will that meta quality be something that affects us in ways we can’t yet know or see that’s beyond economics and at the root of interacting with human beings?
Specialization. The roles of the past are over. At the very least everyone will be a hybrid, knowing how technology works (adaptation) and skill specialization in their field. Where robots don’t completely replace people, people will have to know how the robots work. Programming knowledge will become very valuable as a service and skillset.
The interconnectedness of things via blockchain technologies and integrated AI solutions will mean a lot of things, including an information/surveillance culture. It will also mean the technology for creating and sharing information and content will be easier than ever to do, and the mass of new information to be catalogued, sifted, shared, sold, will grow exponentially. The revolution next will be The Content Age, the age of the connected (decentralized or not) databases, your information DNA, collected throughout our lifetimes, there as long as we live, changing the ways we consider privacy, connectedness and the indelibility of personal information. All human activity will be an infinite catalogue of information now, no archeology needed, content made for us, by us, about us, and against us, analyzed in ways that are already underway. This integrated IOE will transform civilization further, and our relationship to technology and ourselves, culturally, inter-personally and personally. Some suggest that the more technological and technologically dependent we become, the less human we become. We maybe shouldn’t be so worried about the robots taking over completely, but instead be afraid that technology dehumanizes the environments in which it works, even now (see layoffs). In the process, we become less than what we were meant to be, can be and should be, in our interactions with others, for others, and within and for ourselves.
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