I was talking to recruiters in California, London and Switzerland recently, who taught me three revealing insights about the changing world of recruitment. They are:

1.    Trust on the skills of the candidate is key

2.    Speed in hiring is a real need

3.    Web as mass-reference check is a norm


Trust on insiders versus outside recruits

Let me start with an interesting anecdote from Silicon Valley. A recruiter based in California told me that the CEO of one pre-IPO start up is currently looking for a head of marketing. He is looking for an extraordinary professional of course but he placed special importance on this one key skill. Let’s say it was inbound marketing. The CEO was willing to promote an internal person into that role even though she lacked that skill. But when it came to external candidates found through the recruiter, he was less forgiving of skills gap and sought verified skills in the area.

Why the different take? In case of the internal candidate who he knew well, he could trust in her ability to quickly bridge that skill gap and learn on the job. But he could not place the same trust on the external candidate who he didn't know yet.

The point is that recruiters and employers are looking for ways to extend that trust to outside people. This also points to the need for external candidates to do more to stand out and demonstrate their proven skills.


Speed in hiring is a real need

A problem in our fast moving world is that even HR managers and recruiters are feeling the pressure of hiring the RIGHT person FAST. A friend of mine at a Switzerland based firm regularly needs to fill several hundred contractors around the world for their clients. Once the project is signed, they only have less than 4 weeks to fill 200 positions. Their challenge is to pick the right candidates who possess the right skills as fast as they can. This means they do not have the time for extensive reference calls or 3-stage interviews with case study questions. So, should employers accept the trade-off between quality and speed? That’s an important question.


The Web works as mass reference check

An HR executive spoke told me over a few beers in London that he thinks the ‘digital footprint’ of a candidate is already much more precise than a 1-1 reference call he would be making to verify someone’s skills. “I spend too much time calling a person that was selected by the candidate to say nice things about him/her.”

Why even do that if the candidate’s reputation and track record is already accessible online in various networks? But the main question is how can recruiters do a web reference check when candidates today are engaged in multiple networks. Where should recruiters look?


These three trends of trust, speed and the power of online networks indicate that the professional world of hiring and job search is evolving quickly. The main aspect of this change is that innovative new solutions will emerge which will help professionals verify their skills and help employers select the right candidate quickly and with great confidence.

Welcome to a world where your digital footprint on the web serves as a mass reference check on our skills.

By Simon Schneider