How Recruiters Can Get Ready for the Future

RTTT Live! opening keynoter Rusty Rueff urged HR leaders to start thinking about the future today.
By: | February 20, 2019 • 3 min read

The future will be here before we know it … and we need to be ready.

That was the message Rusty Rueff sought to impart during his opening-keynote address at Recruiting Trends & Talent Tech LIVE! Feb. 20 in Las Vegas.

“The future is going to show up a lot faster than we think,” Rueff said, using the year 2040 as an example. “Sept. 11 was 19 years ago—that feels like it was just yesterday—and 21 years away, 2040 is right there. We’ve got to ready ourselves for it.”

HR and recruiting professionals have a particular responsibility to be forward-thinking, he added, as the advent of new technology is going to drastically shape the world of work in the coming decades. He likened those who work in modern talent acquisition to crossing guards—they need to figure out how to protect talent as tech moves forward, how to avoid accidents and how to keep traffic moving smoothly.

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That sounds like a tall order, he added, but one of the best ways for HR leaders and recruiters to navigate that challenge boils down to basic education: “You have to read, you have to watch, you have to listen.” Keeping your finger on the pulse of the intersection of tech and talent is essential to staying ahead of the curve and creating innovative solutions, he said.

“And because we practice a craft, we can,” he added, noting that—unlike the regimented field of medicine—talent acquisition is a craft, not a profession, allowing for flexibility in confronting challenges.

Just what challenges are coming down the pike?

On the talent side, candidates are going to seek greater transparency and have new expectations for employers.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning will become more embedded in recruiting technology, and will become more affordable.

Modern technology, Rueff added, is “on top of the river,” as opposed to when it used to challenge TA professionals to “bend the river.” As an example, he cited his decade-long tenure with PepsiCo, during which time he attempted to institute a new ATS that would have required all of his international recruiters to code candidates with three colors—red, yellow or green—depending on their potential, a task he said they wouldn’t have done with or without that technology.

“Technology doesn’t make us any less lazy than we were before we had technology,” he said, noting that today’s tech advancements—as opposed to challenging us to behave differently—embrace how we actually work and are “making us move faster down the river.”

Work itself is also going to change because of technology—just as smartphones have become half the size and twice as powerful as they were a decade ago, work itself will become more discreet yet will need to be completed twice as fast in the coming years.

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Data will be a key differentiator in helping HR leaders and recruiters navigate those challenges. They need to think like data scientists, become reliant on data and use them to identify trends. Don’t be afraid to experiment, Rueff added.

One of the most common fears regarding evolving recruiting technology is the potential for bias, he noted, which underscores the need for HR and recruiting leaders to dive deep into the technology that will be powering their recruiting systems.

“We can control bias because we own the algorithms; we’re the risk variable here,” he said. “We’re the bias—conscious or unconscious. We’re the front line.”

Don’t be scared of technology bias, he cautioned—be aware of it and work to control it.

Doing so can help TA professionals harness the full potential of their craft in the future, he said.

“We have a higher calling: to eliminate the wrong hire,” he said. “If we can take up that calling, we can change our companies, we can change our communities and we can change the world.”

Jen Colletta is managing editor at HRE. She earned bachelor's and master's degrees in writing from La Salle University in Philadelphia and spent 10 years as a newspaper reporter and editor before joining HRE. She can be reached at [email protected]