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March 29, 2018

Why Catch & Release is the Next Brilliant Recruiting Strategy

catch and release hiring

I’m going to go on a limb and predict that by 2020, careers will look more like a series of short residencies and resumes will be replaced with skills portfolios featuring proof of mastery rather than employment history.

If this sounds a little far-fetched in 2017 … humor me as I connect some converging trends that are already forcing our customers to rethink the way they attract, develop, and re-attract talent.

Yes — that sounds like a catch and release recruiting strategy. Yes, it is hard to imagine.

Yes, it is already happening.

While there are other reasons to rethink your recruiting strategy, here are three that have my attention:

  • TREND 1: The higher value placed on learning experiences over the length of employment: Careers will be ‘project-based residencies.’
  • TREND 2: CHRO’s prioritizing new L&D approaches to keep pace with the consumption demands of digital learners. 86% of CHROs are doing so in 2017: Skills portfolios replace resumes.
  • TREND 3: The rise of voluntary freelance talent at ALL ranks (including CXO): Highly skilled people giving themselves permission to move at will.

As these trends converge, every brand faces an era where traditional recruiting strategy, learning, and career development is quickly becoming irrelevant.

How so? Let me break it down for you by trend:

Why will careers become residencies?

The opportunity to learn and grow.

Today’s talent wants a coach to help them learn and grow. Just like a physician uses their residency to master skills and prepares for a professional practice under the guidance of an attending physician, new talent will seek similar opportunities from a wider range of expert coaches.

“Sounds like job hopping.”

Bingo! But nobody cares.

A looooooong time ago employers stopped tethering a loyal workforce with generous benefits packages. It took a few decades, but the ramifications are here — just like pensions, loyalty for the sake of building a career is history.

While the notion that a successful career requires ‘putting in the time’ is not entirely gone, ‘putting in the time in one place’ is gone for sure.

These days, putting in the time means learning the skills to improve your craft and personal marketability.

Will this trend slow down? No. Two reasons:

  1. The largest segment of current and future talent (Millennials) already ranks the opportunity to learn and grow as the number one factor in looking for a job.
  2. Job hopping no longer has the same stigma. In fact, in some industries (cough cough — tech), NOT moving around can be a negative, as there’s a perception that talent gets cozy while skills get cold.
different generation important job features

Why will resumes be skills portfolios?

Show me the money.

We all know that business survival requires new skills like creativity, change management — and sick coding skills, bro. Smart organizations have already connected the dots and shifted focus from a role-based recruiting strategy to skills-based recruiting strategy.

In addition, they’re mining expertise within the organization and leveraging it across departments; flattening org structures in favor of small, dynamic teams that form quickly, kick ass, and move on (a la the Hollywood model).

As the half-life of skills continues to shrink, companies will need always-on learning experiences that encourage employees to build skills quickly, easily, and on their own terms.

“Sounds like I won’t get the ROI out of my training budget.”

Let it go. Pay it forward.

Talent knows that certain skills are in short supply and high demand. As their new career currency, they are investing in their personal skills portfolios with or without the help of employers. 76% of employees report that they will do what they need to do to learn effectively. Hello Lynda.com, Kahn Academy, and General Assembly.

As employees take learning matters into their own hands, they gain something much more valuable than an employment history — they gain a highly mobile, certified proof of skills mastery.

Check out my dribbble yo.


By now you’ve read (and maybe choose to ignore) the fact that by 2020 50% of the workforce is going to fall into the freelance category. Why the shift? Trend 1+2 = 3.

Yes, other factors contribute to the sharp increase in freelancers; the economy, fewer barriers to entry, easy access to entrepreneurial tools, and talent marketplaces to name a few. However, no loyalty and better chances to grow skills across industries is a sustainable case for freelance. And it’s a strong case regardless of role from copywriter to CXO for hire.

In a recent article for the Huffington Post, Ellyn Shook, Chief Leadership and Human Resources Officer at Accenture, predicts what feels hard to imagine right now: “watching the future of work unfold, it’s not too far-fetched to think that within 10 years, there will be a ‘fully liquid enterprise,’ operating with no full-time employees outside of the C-suite.”

“Sounds like I need to rethink exit interviews.”

Yep. So let’s not call them that, k?

As project work increases, and ‘liquid teams’ become org design status quo, the concepts of recruiting strategy and retaining talent will shift to an engagement and re-engagement relationship.

The smartest organizations will strive to become the freelancer’s ‘client of choice,’ providing high-value project experiences that motivate talent to re-engage repeatedly. Instead of exit interviews, they’ll be booking availability for next quarter’s sprint.

I look forward to advancing this shift towards skills-based recruiting.

Not only is it a win for innovative organizations, it also represents an exciting future for talented people. We’re no longer destined to languish in places we can’t grow or roles where we can’t thrive.

We have the freedom to gain any skills we choose. In doing so, we’re printing our own ticket to anywhere.

Our dream jobs await.