Three Possible Futures for Recruiting

Three Possible Futures for Recruiting

Here we are at the crossroads between recruitment as we have known it and recruitment as it will be after the Coronavirus has faded into history.

It usually takes a war or major crisis to propel us into a new era. Take, for example, technology itself. The jet engine concept was invented well before World War II but was not fully developed and adopted until the close of the war as the need for speed and distance grew. The tank was conceived well before world war I but was not implemented until the need to cross trenches, and barbed wire pushed generals to adopt it. Hundreds of changes, adoptions, and technological developments are the result of cataclysmic events, great necessities, and human suffering.

The world economy is at a standstill with millions of unemployed or underemployed workers. If this virus is the cataclysmic event that propels recruiting forward, what will recruitment look like? When business resumes, what will happen to employment? In recruiting, we are sitting on underutilized technology and embryonic A.I. applications that may be game changers for us and for the unemployed. Let’s consider three recruiting scenarios.

Scenario #1: Same Old World: Almost everything returns to normal with employment returning, for most people, to what it was prior to the virus: restaurants reopening, schools back in session, offices filled with workers. A small amount of work will remain virtual, and managers may be a bit more open to virtual workers. Technology will continue to creep into our processes, but not in a rapid or game-changing way. Most employees will continue to be permanent. If fact, they will want to be after the uncertainty of work and the loss of pay during the pandemic.

Recruiting will stay mostly the same, but with more adoption of technology and more candidates who are now familiar and comfortable with video interviewing and online assessments. There will be tweaks and minor shifts in how we do our work, but for the most part, things will look and feel the same. There might be slight reductions in staff, and some recruiters may find working at home more rewarding than going to an office. But generally, staffing functions will look the same as they did before the pandemic.

Scenario #2: The Modern Era Approach: A large percentage of jobs return to normal, but many office, call center, and software jobs will remain virtual. People will feel more comfortable with virtual meetings and virtual teamwork. Managers will be more accommodating to workers desire to work from home. Flextime and part-time work will flourish and be accepted.

Universities will move many classes to the cloud, and campuses will shrink. There will be fewer dorms, buildings, and commuting students. Professors can be anywhere in the world, enlarging the pool and diversity of faculties. Some classes that require labs or where hands-on work is required will continue to be face-to-face, but the number will be much smaller than it is today.

Workers will be a growing mix of permanent and part-time workers, consultants, and contractors. Fewer will be permanent employees as organizations will be reluctant to staff back to the pre-pandemic levels.

Recruiting will become heavily automated, and the tools will be integrated into how we think and act as recruiters. It will be impossible to imagine sourcing candidates without the Internet or the tools we now have. We will still interview top-level candidates in person, but only after initial automated screening and filtering. Recruitment staffs will be largely remote, much smaller, and recruiters will have better skills in marketing, engagement, and closing than they do today.

Scenario #3: The New World Almost everything goes virtual. We will work, study, learn, date, communicate, and even travel virtually. A.R. and V.R. will enhance the experience and make it feel real. Labs will use V.R. to conduct experiments, we will speak with holographic people, and we will use A.I. to enhance our experiences. Almost everyone will be a gig worker of some type. Just a minority of workers will return to permanent employment. Governments will adopt universal health care and other benefits, making it easier for people to choose alternative employment models.

Recruiting will rely more and more on video, AR/VR, and A.I. to assess, communicate with, and even employ and work with people we never actually meet. We already have the AR/VR technology but few applications and, before the virus, little sense of a need for these platforms. The virus may have pushed us into the future faster than we thought, just as wars have in the past.

Recruiting teams may be entirely virtual and very small and not be associated with a specific company. Some recruiting teams might work for multiple clients and share workloads across time zones. RPO might become the standard way for organizations to recruit as technology will make using an RPO firm a faster and more effective way to recruit. Branding, marketing, and engagement will be heavily automated, and over 70% of all positions will be filled without the candidate ever meeting the recruiter or their boss in person.

Which of these scenarios seems most likely to you? I’d love your thoughts, comments, critiques, and ideas. I’ll collate whatever I get and post a summary of them in a future article. Feel free to suggest a fourth or fifth scenario as well. Send your comments to me at


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