By Jessica Miller-Merrell
Sometimes in life you have to learn things the hard way. I had the pleasure of doing just that early in my career when my team was entrusted with an enormous task and simply weren’t able to pull through. It was no small matter, either. My division experienced quick growth and was suddenly faced with the need for an expanded workforce that could move $40,000,000 worth of accounts in under 30 days. My team worked hard to staff the division, but at the end of the day, we weren’t prepared to jump when the division said “jump.” We simply weren’t able to adapt quickly enough. It wasn’t an experience I’d like to re-live anytime soon, but I learned an important lesson in the importance of recruiting teams being flexible and adaptive.
Fast forward many years and I’m still thinking about that situation because it showed me early in my career what some struggle through years of trial and error to discover: nothing is certain except that there will be change.
When real change comes
Most of us have seen businesses shrink and grow, but being truly flexible is about more than just growing and shrinking over time. In this new fast moving economy, companies need recruiters who can change and adapt with them into many shapes, sizes and forms. From company structure to company name to company size, nearly everything is fluid in the business world. Businesses have to be responsible, flexible and adaptive to changing economic conditions, markets and other factors. They must be prepared for multiple scenarios and situations, and sometimes even be able to anticipate the change long before it occurs. This also means that they need recruiters who are able to keep up, fill in the gaps and help anticipate needs as well.
It’s about the goal, not the method
In the late 2000s when video rental stores were dropping like flies, I heard a Netflix executive say that his goal wasn’t to mail DVDs to customers, it was to serve customers, whatever that may look like. It was around that time people began streaming movies online more often than they received them in the mailbox, and also the same time that Netflix was prospering while its competitors fumbled with how to adapt to changing technology and customer needs. Netflix focused on the overall goal while its peers focused on the only method they knew. This is a perfect example of how recruiters can either focus on the end goal of staffing a workforce or they can be dragged down by the fact that the methods they’ve always relied on may need to be tweaked or changed for a different environment. A flexible, adaptive recruiter knows that recruiting methods can change even quicker than business needs, so you have to be willing to do whatever works. Personal development is also an important trait of a flexible and adaptive recruiter because there is always more to learn and ways to improve your methods.
Being flexible and willing to adapt is far more than just having an easy-going personality and working well under pressure. The most valuable recruiters are those who are constantly honing their ability to adapt by planning, strategizing and growing their efforts in anticipation of a business shift or change. Whether you know that change is coming or not, it’s vital that you’re always ready for whatever may come next. The best way to do this is by working proactively to connect with potential candidates, stay in touch with former employees and think ahead at what possible changes could mean for the workforce.