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Three Things We Learned in 2012 About HR

December 20, 2012

Ah 2012, it seems like just yesterday we were welcoming you, and now you’re almost gone. This year has been an interesting one in the world of HR. A slowly improving economy with banner years for both the manufacturing and healthcare industries has laid groundwork for what I hope will be an even stronger 2013. With that, as always, we as HR professionals need to learn from this year to better adapt and prepare for the year to come. Here are a few of the lessons we learned in 2012 and how to apply them in the upcoming year.

• Labor Pools Have Been Picked Once-over
Anyone who has conducted a talent search in the past six months probably knows this already. Talent pools are in the early stages of drying up, and much of the top talent from 2010 and 2011 is working again. I expect companies to devote more time to recruiting efforts, or (more likely) internal training in 2013.

Speaking of training, skilled trades are becoming popular again in direct response to the boom in manufacturing. Mike Rowe very aptly stated that a lot of very well-paying (sometimes 6-figure) salaries can be found in what have been referred to as “vocational consolation prizes.” It’s simple supply and demand; MBAs are much more common in the current labor pool than CNC machinists or automation technicians. This upcoming year should see some considerable course correction in terms of educational enrollment for high school graduates and beyond.

• Earnest Workers are Shifting Industries
Due to the comparatively slow recovery from recession compared to years past, people are realizing their jobs may not be coming back and are career shifting to more stable industries. This transition is led by the healthcare industry. People understand that healthcare is as stable as it gets, and stability has skyrocketed to the top of a lot of applicant wish lists. This is going to continue providing hiring managers with head-scratching resumes, as was evidenced by my colleague Ted’s “RadioShack guy” story.

The use of assessments in the hiring process will continue to grow in 2013, as hiring managers become more willing to deviate from the “ideal background” in response to lack of available talent and look toward better selection tools to assess for needed skills and abilities. Secondarily, we’ll likely see a movement away from the traditional "technical resume and interview" hiring model, especially in heavily contested labor markets.

• HR Lean Initiatives Have Picked Up Considerably
Now that corporate headcounts are going back up, HR needs to staff up accordingly…or does it? More commonly, HR is being asked to run lean, encouraging HR teams to accomplish more with fewer resources. This past year has seen considerable growth in highly intelligent HRIS systems, seamless technology integrations linking multiple providers (facilitated in part by HRXML data links and middleware firms), and applicant tracking systems that guide individuals through increasingly robust hiring processes automatically with fewer touch points. This is a great example of lean HR, but also comes with an increased need for organizations to provide a positive and expedient candidate experience.

There it is, HR 2012 in a nutshell. What do you think? Are there any other big HR lessons learned in 2012?

Adam Hilliard