The topic of the HR Tech Week 2013 was “Global. Social. Mobile. The Evolution of HR “. We were able to attend some of the interesting lectures. It was good to learn about theses topics because U.S. market trends tend to cross the ocean, though usually with some delay. So here is what we learned.

Investment in HR, especially in “mobile technologies” is on the rise!

In their webcast on “The Pulse of the Industry: Results From the Workforce HR Technology Survey“, Ed Frauenheim and Sarah Kimmel presented the results of an important survey. 600 HR decision-makers from companies of different size, geographical reach (local, national, international) and from 200 different industries participated in the survey and were asked about their priorities in recruitment.

Half of the HR pros said they wanted to invest more in Human Resources and mobile devices were on the top of their investment list. For 70% of the respondents, tablets and smartphones were gaining considerable strategic importance for recruiting.

However, the exact impact of mobile devices in HR remains vague to us. Respondents just said they wanted to make their system “mobile friendly”. This could mean, for example, the creation of a mobile career site or the conversion of job advertisements into a mobile friendly format. Or, why not make it possible to apply via smart phones? In short, there are many possibilities, and interpretations.

“Why innovators will win the war for talent”

It is clear to us that today’s recruiters have to be flexible and adapt to the habits of the candidates, not vice versa. Habits are changing, as the aforementioned sudden rise in use of smartphones confirms. As a result, recruiters should understand what this means for their profession. They have to understand the applicants’ needs. At HR Tech Week, Jobvite’s Dan Finnigan confirms this trend when presenting his lecture on “Why Innovators Will Win The War For Talent”. Based on a study conducted by Boston Consulting Group, he proves that recruiting delivers the highest profit growth in HR in contrast to other HR functions like employer branding or performance management. He concludes that “recruiting will be one of the hot careers in the next decade”, i.e. the demand for human resource professionals will steadily increase.

Due to global skill shortages, HR professionals will have to widen their skill set: In order to make their company more attractive for the best candidates they have to know more and more about marketing. (Imagine a product instead of a company that is to be made desirable for potential customers. It’s the same idea.).

The competence profile of HR professionals is shifting! Recruiters need to analyse and understand their candidates in order to address them specifically and to successfully recruit them. Finnigan makes it perfectly clear: “The recruiters who transform themselves into marketers become as important – if not more – than any function.“

Employee retention is equally important

From our point of view, however, employee retention is at least as important as recruitment. The times when people stayed longer than 10 years with a company are fading. Additionally, good staff are often headhunted by competitors. With the change in employee expectations (work-life-balance, salary, etc.) comes an increasing lack of loyalty and identification within a company. Where expectations are not met or benefits do not fit, job hopping seems popular. In some industries, this may lead lead to serious staff shortage and thus to decreasing productivity for the entire company.

Happy employees are without a doubt the very best publicity for a company in recruitment. Finnigan shows that employees hired through employee referral are hired 55% faster than those who came through career sites. Here we have the advantage of a greater chance of company fit, because the candidate gets the information he wants from the employee and can decide whether they are attracted to the company or not.  Also, we have cost and time savings through a simplified and shortened recruitment process.

As a result, the two lectures we attended do not provide very new insights, but confirm existing trends. For Germany, we hope that studies like the above mentioned mobile recruiting survey will provide real insights into current recruitment practice and reveal how far trends are being implemented for real.