by Don Kennedy, Managing Partner

For many of us that have spent the last few decades operating scaled digital businesses, Mary Meeker’s annual Internet Trends Report has provided us with an authoritative POV on the global digital economy, and a sanity check against our business strategies. Equal parts economic reporting and predictions, and a detailed analysis on the internet’s global societal impact, her work is a must-read for anyone trying to wrap their arms around the massive changes that internet based technology is driving across the globe. As I read this year’s report, and the associated analysis, I looked at things for the first time through the lens of my role in managing an executive search practice, and the implications that her findings have – both on companies looking to find top talent, and the candidates they covet.

There is a ton to unpack in this deck (it’s 294 slides after all), but here are a few key takeaways that we can relate to recruiting top talent:

1.  Simplicity and speed drive massive consumer product and platform adoption. The most widely adopted products in sectors like Messaging (Telegram), Commerce (Square Cash), and Media (Spotify) are easy to install, understand, and utilize on a daily basis. They are incredibly complex business models and the technical specs behind each are beyond the realm of understanding for most of their subscriber base. The output itself though, is simple to process. The same can be said for the executive search process. There is a lot of “sausage making” that goes on behind the scenes, but any successful engagement delivers an easily digested and managed process for both the candidate and hiring leader. Overly cumbersome processes and protracted timeframes don’t drive adoption. A negative user experience will not create a win for any party.

2.  Data improves engagement and consumer experiences and growth. One of the key messages throughout Meeker’s presentation is that data produced and surfaced on a daily basis is growing at exponential rates. The best products and platforms turn this raw data into insights to inform personalization and create better user experiences. In the recruiting world, there is also a ton of data created in every touchpoint with a candidate or company. The key is focusing on the “why” and not just the “what”. It’s not until we are able to make data actionable that we can really drive positive experiences for our clients. The key to making data actionable through a recruiting engagement is sticking to a rigid process of data collection (quantitative and qualitative), and a formal comparison of that data to create an informed opinion of a potential fit for a strategic role. Too often we see “on the fly” interviewing and assessment styles (often done in a silo) with no formal intake vehicle. This is a wasted opportunity for everyone involved.

3.  I really enjoyed this quote and associated content; “It’s Crucial to Manage for Unintended Consequences….But it’s Irresponsible to Stop Innovation and Progress.” She used this quote to talk about global commerce dynamics and tackling huge societal issues, but as we look inward to the talent sector, many of the same fundamental truths exist. There are no perfect candidates. There are no perfect roles. There are no perfect companies. And, there are no perfect processes. That being said, none of this should deter an aggressive approach to driving successful outcomes. We need to adapt, we need to pivot, and things will not always be perfect. Everyone involved (hiring leader, candidate, and recruiter) needs to not only realize this fact, but embrace it as an opportunity to drive growth.

4.  The US job market is solid based on historical metrics, but new technologies are creating evolving job expectations and priorities for professionals across all sectors. While unemployment numbers are at a relative low point, job openings are at a 17 year high (7MM open positions in the US as of March ‘18). There is a need for new skills in relatively new industries, and a shortage of individuals to fill these positions. This no doubt puts a strain on internal recruiting personnel, as the volume and complexity of roles becomes challenging in scope. The need for outside recruiting resources that provide a high level of service and value will continue to be critical. However, those resources must stay current with industry trends, required skill sets, and formal training and education critical to success. At GM Ryan, we are driven to grow and develop our skills to keep pace with a rapidly changing landscape. It’s what separates us from other practices, and results in material positive impacts on our clients businesses and candidates careers.

As always, Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends Report is simultaneously enlightening, inspiring, and a little scary. It highlights massive progress that has been made, as well as the challenges that will need to be addressed in the future. When it comes to talent and recruiting, it’s on the industry to embrace these trends, find the areas where true value can be created, and play a part in transforming companies, industries, and careers in the coming decades.