Learning Curve: Adapt and survive

by Tracy Clayson
Tracy Clayson is managing partner, business development of Mississauga, Ontario-based In Transit Personnel.
Tracy Clayson is managing partner, business development of Mississauga, Ontario-based In Transit Personnel.

When web-based job boards first came on the scene in 1999, those resistant to change—mainly people from the personnel recruitment and classifieds advertising worlds—claimed sites like Monster would be the death of both the recruiter and the print-based classified job posting business.

A year later The Toronto Star integrated its classified job listings with the launch of the web-based Workopolis, as two formerly separate worlds began to collide. Clearly, traditional human resources and personnel hiring had to either compete with, or figure out how to thrive alongside, the innovative new players on the digital hiring frontier.

During this time, numerous groups were focused on ways to optimize use of this new hiring model. They found that job seekers were more than happy to search, apply and post their resumes online, so any company willing to fork out hefty ad fees to job boards could gain access to those applicants.

But a tidal wave of resumes not subject to screening or preliminary assessment of skills, qualifications or job fit presented a new problem: too much traffic and not enough quality control.

My firm was actually an early adopter of the web technology behind digital hiring. In March of 1996, with the help of our newly employed HTML programmer, In Transit registered in-transit.com. Within our first year of business, we had one of the first operating websites in the recruiting business.

In Transit quickly gained access to web-savvy applicants and other early adopters. When a mapping data supplier approached In Transit in 2000 to recruit drivers to provide mapping across Canada, we were ready.

Today, companies use sophisticated methods to hire and recruit on their corporate and recruiting sites. They also partner with many popular job sites, advertising employment opportunities through LinkedIn, Facebook, Indeed, CareerBuilder and others.

Now applicants can create a single profile on a site, and then begin the process of posting customized or specific resumes while applying for a variety of positions at a range of companies.

Not all have flourished in this new landscape. The influence of print media’s career classifieds model took an irreversible nosedive. However, web-based job posting has opened up opportunities for employers, applicants and recruiters, and it certainly hasn’t killed the recruiting business.

In fact, Statistics Canada reports revenue from employment services increased from approximately $9.3 billion in 2008 to $12.5 billion in 2013, in spite of economic downturn going on at that time. (The employment services industry consists of establishments primarily engaged in permanent placement, executive search, contract staffing, temporary staffing and co-employment staffing services.)

What does this say about the offerings of web-based job boards and human resources departments? It says they are not going anywhere, one assumes.

But questions remain. What does the future hold for recruiting, job searching, career management and talent acquisition in the supply chain field?

Is the same talent moving laterally from company to company throughout the industry, or are there new candidates coming in from other sectors, regions, demographics?
What is the level of engagement required to keep talent in the business (and not just in the same company or career track)?

How does supply chain compare to other industries when it comes to hiring, response to job fairs, on campus career days, referrals, retention and the promotion of talent? Are there other ways to address the talent shortage?

Let me answer this long set of questions with one (hopefully) illustrative answer. At a recent conference one transportation industry analyst made a good point. In reference to the lagging response by Canada’s retailers to customer demands to provide more innovative, customized shipping options, he stated: “you can’t out-Amazon Amazon.” Then he called upon industry leaders to “drive their own innovation,” by continually hiring talent with cutting edge ideas that will boost their corporate brain trust.
The last thing you want to hear from me is that for you to survive you must innovate. But customers are constantly demanding more.

Shippers and carriers may feel they are trying to put a puzzle together with pieces that don’t always fit. Unfortunately that is the nature of the beast, and it isn’t likely to change anytime soon.