“Look into my crystal ball and see what Madame Ruby sees,” she says as she clicks the switch and turns on the light bulb inside her (fake) crystal ball. And then pretends to tell a young man what he wants to know (by checking out the contents of his wallet).
Bonus points if you caught my Pee Wee Herman’s Big Adventure reference. But the point is: There’s really no guaranteed way to predict the future – it’s often more about observation.
One of the things we frequently hear especially when it comes to temporary or contingent staffing is that it’s very difficult to predict upcoming needs. This is true, but you can get pretty good at predicting your staffing needs by paying attention to a few details.
Here are a few ways you can get better at it:
Listen – Go out and talk to hiring managers and even internal recruiters about their needs. Hiring managers may complain (so be ready) if they don’t feel all their needs are getting met, however, you should be able to gauge where the pain is. Are they not getting quality candidates? Are they not getting enough good candidates to consider? Which areas are causing the most pain or which will have the most impact on their ability to get their projects done? If you have internal recruiters, find out which jobs they have a handle on, and which they typically need help with. Listening can help you figure out which areas you need to be ready for, and which are already handled with current resources.
Talk To Your Staffing Partners – If you have feedback from managers (as in the conversation above) then you can take this information to staffing partners who should be eager to hear how you prioritize you needs. Believe me; if they know they are more likely to get hires in one area, they will put more resources toward finding those types of skills. Even if you don’t have feedback, ask them which of the jobs you give them are the most challenging or what the market looks like in those areas. This may prompt you to expand your resources, re-organize your staffing supply chain or put different performance measures in place for suppliers in order to meet your needs.
Look At Past Trends – Now, looking only in the rearview mirror is not good, but if you do have some information, even limited information, take a look and see where you have trends. Seasonal things are easy, but projects often have a cadence of their own. Maybe it lines up with budget time, maybe events, maybe releases. It’s different for every company. But if you are matching that with some of the information above, you might at least be able to predict when it’s going to likely get really hairy and plan for some additional resources to lean on.
None of this is actually predicting the future, however, just like Madame Ruby, by honing your skills of observation, you might get better at not getting slammed at certain times, or at least have plans in place to help you get the talent you need, when you need them the most.
Your next assignment would then be to take this information to executive management to help them understand the importance of this type of evaluation and planning. At the end of the day, you can do and see a lot (and maybe even predict the future), but if you don’t have executive support, it will still likely fall short of your ‘predictions.’