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The changing nature of the U.S. workforce
June 8, 2005
Colleen Aylward
Devon James Associates, Inc
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Over the next five years, the American economy will force a unique change in the nature of how the workforce will be used and how recruiting will be performed.

Demographics show that the baby-boomer generation is morphing from the “doers” to the “managers” or “consultants” as they age. This is creating a shortage in skilled workers that we’ll see in the next 5 years. White collar workers will again be in demand.

Many of the workers who lost jobs in the economic downturn years have been out of the corporate environment for so long that they prefer to stay out. Consulting or ‘specializing’ and renting their skills back to these corporations is big.

I believe that in the next fives years, every worker in the U.S. will have a profile on the Web, whether they like it/know it or not.  These profiles will be a combination of education data, results of any profile assessments they’ve taken, mortgage application data, e-bay purchasing data, credit card data, financial information, biographies or resumes of work history, annual review data, etc.

The widespread use of the Internet has improved the accessibility to candidates, and is contributing to an entirely new methodology of recruiting. Because of these phenomena, I see workers having “revenue streams” instead of “jobs” in the future. A worker might consult in his/her specialty area to firms doing business in a particular domain area, and might have an e-commerce business running out of his/her home with a family member, and might have a hobby or sport with a revenue stream (video, book, advisory board, etc.)

Also, these factors will force a change in how recruiting is done, since workers and their talent data will be so available online.

Imagine being able to jump online to find a Product Manager who has a background in soccer and biology and has done animation. Imagine further that this person will already be pre-screened, because all workers will actually choose to take behavior and style assessments and skills tests and have that data online along with written, audio, or video endorsements from clients, and a five minute flash presentation of themselves.

Imagine systems that not only strip and store resumes for keyword searching, but also use artificial intelligence to personally respond to each candidate and ask the first round of personalized pre-screening questions.

For example, you could send such questions back to candidates as, “I see a gap in your employment history. What were you doing during that time?” Or other questions such as, “I don’t see “CRM” on your resume, but you applied for the CRM Director position. Can you explain?”

These are only a few of the considerations for the future of employment and recruiting. Corporations will also make changes in their approaches to staffing an HR or Human Capital (the newest buzzword) department.  

They’ll hire either:

  • Full-time recruiting assistant who will do these online searches and keep a company database of available talent; or
  • Outside recruiters as ‘talent scouts’ who also keep tabs on specialty candidates.  Gone will be the outrageous fees of today (25 percent to 35 percent of base salary) for doing the same searching online as a corporate recruiting assistant does; or  
  • Neither.  Hiring managers may control their own recruiting functions on the front end and have “human capital assistants” do all the paperwork.


Colleen Aylward, President/Hall Monitor

Colleen refers to herself as the Hall Monitor, in lieu of the title President, partly due to Catholic school neurosis, and partly because she believes that EVERY CEO job is about monitoring, making small adjustments, and more monitoring and more making small adjustments. In a word "Control"—taking and giving Control. Her days are spent monitoring the halls of clients where her professional recruiting teams reside onsite to aid in start-up or scale-up hiring projects. Her startup clients have included such industry pioneers as Amazon, Visio, Spry/Compuserve, StarFire Sports, WSCPA, InfoSpace, Xylo, Cranium, eCHARGE, Quintessent Communications, Rhapsody Networks, Avenue A, and many others who have depended on this onsite recruiting "war room" approach to kick start their revenue machines.

With a business degree from University of Washington, followed by 24 years of high tech sales and management experience in large and small companies, including NCSS, Dun & Bradstreet Computing, Comshare, Carlyle Systems, and GEAC, Colleen came to the Recruiting industry in 1990 on a soapbox of Change. Having been a hiring manager for years, and being unimpressed with headhunters in general, she made a point to meet with every client company she dealt with. What she found in that down market of the early 90s was a typical Catch 22—clients who needed to ramp up couldn’t afford to. They needed to spend their seed or Series A funding on salaries, not headhunter fees. So she dug back to the "solution selling" training of her background and created the Onsite Recruiting War Room model that took off immediately, and has earned Devon James Associates a steady stream of referrals since she founded the firm in 1992.

A stickler for details, truth-telling, and ownership, she tends to hire "solid" human beings who have been through the wars of life in some fashion, maintained their sense of humor, have outside interests, have traveled the world, share her passion for excellence, and have practical earth skills, but lean toward the idealistic in vision.

Colleen and her forward-thinking ideas have been featured in such magazines as Fast Company, Forbes, Wall Street Journal, Smart Money, Washington CEO, Puget Sound Business Journal, Human Resources, Inc. Magazine, and Office.com. She has spoken across the country at large and small groups about The Future of Recruiting, Recruiting Tactics, How to Work with Recruiters as a Client, How to Find a Job in a Down Market, How to Interview Legally, and How to Bottom Line your Recruiting Investment.

Author of "How to Write a Resume to Save Time and Deodorant During Interviews", Colleen is a writer, speaker, artist, scuba diver, single mom, control freak, and promoter of forward thinking.

Contact Colleen by Email at: colleen@devonjames.com

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