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2016 Recruiting Trends: Solution Disruptors Will Drive Career Booms & Busts

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By Kim Shepherd, CEO, and Loren Miner, COO
With Tom Brennan, Master Writer

If you missed part 1, check it out here: 2016 Recruiting Trends: Boomers Beware! The Generation Balance has Flipped

One of the most intriguing trends we are anticipating in the coming year is the rise of solution disruptors. We’re not talking about industry disruptors, like the dwindling of brick and mortar shopping or the expansion of online lending markets. We’re talking about solutions that change the game so much that entire industries or professions go away. They come from people who don’t just think outside the box, they were never in the box to begin with. The classic example is Henry Ford, who said: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” Almost overnight the buggy whip industry disappeared.

Any change that impacts professions, of course, will impact recruitment. A more current example is an eye-opener. Elizabeth Holmes is working on making blood tests as simple as going to the drug store to buy toothpaste. The initial excitement — and the extent of the disruption — has been tempered by setbacks, but it’s still a great example.

Small Sample, Big Difference

Ms. Holmes used her college fund to launch a startup, Theranos, and became the youngest self-made billionaire in the world. Theranos has two key goals. First, they need automated machines, set up in places like drug stores, that will prick your finger to collect a tiny sample. Second, they need technology to get lab-quality analytical results from a mere drop of blood. Walgreens saw the value and invested $400 million in Theranos.

They’re not quite there yet, but we believe they will be. If phlebotomist sourcing is an important revenue stream for your recruitment company, watch out. That profession may be following buggy-whip manufacturing into the sunset.

Channel Surfing

The Internet is playing a huge role in this trend, becoming a dominant channel that has made some older channels obsolete. If you have a child under 15, ask them if they know what an encyclopedia is. If you recruit for newspaper companies, you’ve already shifted from searching for Beat Reporters and City Desk Editors to searching for Page Curators and Community Engagement Specialists. The big book publishing houses are feeling the effects of the increase in both the e-reader platform and self-publishing.

Not only will some existing professions go away, but new ones also will be created. Remember the tech boom in ’98 and ’99? Venture capitalists were throwing money at concepts, and suddenly companies needed whole platoons of Java and C# Developers. The kicker: those professions didn’t exist. Organizations scrambled to get people trained and almost overnight new, high demand professions appeared — and it’s still a challenge to find Java talent!

Money from the Masses

The Internet is even giving venture capitalists a run for their money. With the help of crowdfunding sites like MicroVentures and Kickstarter, a lot of independent-thinking entrepreneurs have raised capital directly from individual consumers. Instead of getting millions of dollars from a few investors, they are getting millions of investors to give them a few dollars each.

This solution disruption trend is gaining momentum. Visionary thinkers have more information at their disposal, and more opportunities to share and fund their ideas. Disrupting solutions has the potential to be very profitable. You cannot, in any business, think that this year will be like last year. Heck, “Solution Disruptor” may become a new profession unto itself — to thrive, companies will need to harness this kind of visionary thinking.

Human capital, too, will need to morph to be an effective bridge between rapidly changing companies and rapidly changing talent pools. Recruiters are used to writing “flexibility and adaptability” in job descriptions. Moving forward, they will need to develop those qualities in themselves.

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