Recruiting Trends and Hiring Strategies in 2018

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Technology, which has already left a heavy footprint on the recruitment landscape in 2017, is set to imprint itself even deeper in 2018, bringing with it a greater appreciation of data and robust analytics tools.
 
Throughout this technological integration, HR will continue to assume a more dominant role in business strategy. This doesn’t mean it’s going to be smooth sailing for hiring professionals, though.
 
Philip Piletic at HR Zone writes that when it comes to hiring there are sometimes two competing teams within the same organization, management and HR. The former often wants to hire on impulse, off the back of a solid resume, whereas HR tends to have a bigger set of criteria to match before offering a position to a candidate.
 
Obviously, this is a necessary requirement for HR, as the greater number of items checked off the “ideal candidate checklist” will be better for the company, especially in the long-term. An HR department armed with knowledge of future trends will be able to put this to good use in the upcoming year.
 
According to Criteria Corp CEO Josh Millet, “The focus in 2018 will be technology as a way of life in the workplace.” This is going to impact five main areas:

  1. Passive candidates have been targeted for some time now, but social media will continue to shape the building of these relationships.
  2. Remote workforces will grow even more prevalent with VPN technology, making it easy to access work systems from nearly any computer.
  3. Gamification turns engagement into a competitive game format to screen candidates.
  4. Future-proofing employees against the perpetual technological evolution. Companies will need to determine the best way to pivot employees into future positions.
  5. Blind hiring to minimize recruitment controversy surrounding diversity. This means the first wave of screening is based on abilities and achievements only.

 
Millet’s points offer an overview of some of technology’s implications. The take-home message, beyond tech’s influence, is that this will be a big year for hiring professionals. There are going to be a few changes to watch, and a lot of the trends from this year will become more important next year and beyond.
 
business management occupation research concept

An Increased Focus on Diversity in the Workplace

Starting with Millet’s last point, we have written previously about how inclusivity and a more diverse workforce is good for business. It’s not just about generating newer and fresher ideas and deepening company culture; it’s about boosting the bottom line, too.
 
Valerie Bolden-Barrett at HR Drive says diversity will play a bigger role as social pressure drives companies to create a more inclusive workforce. The better employers, however, will choose a more diverse workforce not because it is a trend, but because there is a real social need for it. A purposefully diverse company sees the deep value in inclusivity.

Using Artificial Intelligence When Hiring

Another way to help ensure diversity in the hiring process is by using artificial intelligence. This will help blind hiring managers to anything other than a candidate’s ability to respond to specific questions and tasks. But AI is not just about being fairer; it is also about saving time and money.
 
Unilever has started using AI processes for entry-level hires. It has led to a more diverse workforce, as well as being cost-effective. The company is using digital processes to replace traditional tasks such as collecting resumes, sending company representatives to universities or arranging follow-up interviews by phone.
 
According to Mike Clementi, VP of human resources for North America, only the candidates who make it through the AI screening get a face-to-face interview. This saves HR time and money by setting up interviews with vetted candidates only.

Further Applications of Data and Analytics

AI allows companies to screen candidates at the outset, but throughout the hiring process HR will be accumulating data. Those that can use the information wisely will see their success grow in the company.
 
A report from Boston Consulting Group on HR excellence states that data-driven, analytical HR departments are more likely to play a strategic role in their organizations.
 
This is what Ian Cook means when he talks about using data to make more scientific decisions. Writing at Human Resources Today, Cook emphasizes the need to connect multiple data elements. He gives three practical examples of data analytics in action:
 

  • Experiment with varying recruitment tactics, and measure the results to move from a reactive to proactive approach.
  • Cluster common employee attributes to build talent retention strategies.
  • Look at all cost data to make workforce decisions that will align people and costs to deliver an integrated strategy.

 
Data analytics is a hot topic. Ingrid Lunden at Techcrunch says that LinkedIn’s new Talent Insights, which is a a self-service, big data analytics product for recruiters to delve deeper into statistics for hiring and employment, will move out of its beta phase in 2018.
 
The product will offer Talent Pool and Company Report functions. The first lets recruiters search according to different parameters related to specific jobs that they may want to fill. An example: Which schools are producing the most successful data scientists or natural language processing engineers?
 
The Company Report will give HR departments insight into recruitment patterns at their own organization as well as at those of competitors. Insights will include what skills are growing the fastest and which cities employees are living in.

HR Needs to Foster a Sense of Urgency

Moving away from data and focusing more on ethos, Tom Haak at HR Trend Institute writes how the talent management conversation usually employs words such as “strategic,” “long-term,” “future” and “investment.” This should be a red flag to HR professionals because it usually translates as, “This is important, but not urgent.”
 
The challenge, then, is to make talent management a continuous and urgent priority. HR personnel can do this in a number of ways, such as by appointing a top potential candidate to management, promoting one of the organization’s biggest talents to an executive role giving high-potential teams more responsibility. By making big plays, HR can underscore its importance as a strategic function of the company.
 
Haak also emphasizes how hiring strategies will adopt the lessons learned from consumer marketing trends. The standard approach to hiring is to connect with a pool of target candidates and cater to this collective group. For instance, employers have in the past wanted to tap into rough segments such as High Potentials or Middle Management. They have then made assumptions as to what this category of potential hires values in an organization and what they want from a job.
 
The shift toward individualization, Haak argues, will replace this approach with a customized hiring strategy tailored to individual candidates. Employees want from the hiring experience what they get from the consumer experience: tailored offerings that speak to an understanding of them as unique individuals.
 
For talent management, this means grasping a candidate’s capabilities, desires and the career direction they wish to pursue, and designing a specific role or shaping opportunities to suit that individual’s needs.
 
With the technology of today, it is possible to know your employees better than they know themselves.
 
two business people having job interview with young woman

Focus On The Team

Ben Karter at Employee Connect says that boosting collective intelligence within a team — as well as deciphering what makes a good team great and able to deliver results consistently — will form an important part of the hiring strategy.
 
A solid team dynamic, Karter argues, forms the primary building blocks of any good organization.

Health Insurance as a Hiring Strategy

Uncertainty surrounding healthcare insurance in the US will give employers a chance to attract candidates with the right insurance package. So writes Gillian Barnes at Harger Howe. She argues that a solid healthcare package could be a strong bargaining chip for future hires.
 
While not tied directly to the question of health insurance, it is interesting that there is a general attitude of embracing change. Indeed, 93 percent of CEOs surveyed by PwC recognize the need to change the way they attract and retain talent.
 
The overwhelming majority attests to finding original, attractive and meaningful ways to get the best candidates into an organization.

Goodbye Annual Review, Hello Continuous Feedback Loop

While this is more a question of dealing with employees once hired rather than the hiring process specifically, reviews are changing. Annual appraisals have been losing appeal fast over the years in favor of more regular feedback.
 
Attributed largely to the rise of millennials in the workforce and their need for more immediate appraisals, we can expect a shift toward continuously looping feedback in 2018.
 
This is what Michael Heller, CEO and founder at iRevu, suggests will happen: “43% of highly engaged employees receive feedback at least twice a week, but here’s the sticky twist; many employees report being uninterested in performance reviews. Ongoing corrective feedback is far more desirable and constructive than any form of feedback.”
 
After all, for employees to advance their careers, they need direction. The message is feedback needs to be faster and frequent.
 
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Create a More Favorable Employee Experience

Tied to all of the above is a focus on enhancing the employee experience. Joanne McDonagh at Human Resources Today writes that a persistent problem is how to make employees excited about coming to work and giving their best while there.
 
This is why employee experience is going to be such a prevalent trend in upcoming years. It should, however, be distinguished from employee engagement. The latter speaks to employee perks while the former focuses on improving the physical space where employees work to give them room to be more productive.
 
Fostering an inclusive company culture is also an important part of the experience, as is incorporating technology to make employees jobs more efficient, intuitive and fulfilling.

Roundup of Talent Management Events in 2018

There is plenty to read about concerning trends in 2018. But for those who want a more hands-on approach or engaged discussion, Lexi Hughes at Talentwunder has curated a list of HR conferences in the first half of next year. A few US-based and others in Europe, the conferences will devote time to trends, strategy and enhancements to the hiring process.
 
Any way you look at it, the future is bright. Strong candidates, especially in specialized tech roles, will remain in the driver’s seat. It’s up to recruiters and hiring managers to use the tools and insights available to ensure their pipelines, interview rooms and, ultimately, companies are staffed with the best candidates around.

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