Why Finding the Right Candidate is Going to Get Harder in 2018

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A study by Indeed found that 61 percent of respondents expect to hire more people in 2018 than they did last year. But 42 percent are worried about being able to find the right candidates.

Part of this is down to there being too few candidates with technological skills. The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs report states that technology’s impact on the global workforce could eliminate around five million jobs by 2020. These will come mainly from white-collar office and administrative jobs.

However, as some roles vanish forever, many new positions will become available, and certain jobs will climb in demand. Cadie Thompson at WeForum posits that data analysts, computer programmers, software developers and mathematicians will find themselves popular among companies and recruiters.  

Architects and engineers, the WEF report says, are also likely to be safe. In general, employees with highly technical and specialized skills will continue to succeed.

Softer skills, such as those required by salespeople, will continue to be important; however, those skills will be complementary as those same roles will increasingly demand highly specialized knowledge. This will continue as companies produce technical products and services.

Here is what you need to know about the hiring landscape in 2018.

HR Will Need New Skills to Deal With New Roles

The consequence for hiring professionals is that they, too, will need to adapt and learn new skills. Only by doing this will they be able to assess candidates in highly technical jobs. We have written before about how best to connect with tech candidates.

Technology’s reach is pervasive. Carol Stubbings and Jon Williams at PwC assert that there is a fundamental transformation underway. “Automation and ‘thinking machines’ are replacing human tasks and jobs and that means significant organisational, talent and HR challenges.”

Jobs are changing, and many future roles have not yet even been considered. This means organizations will have to find ways to invest in people. In an unpredictable future, good employees will need to be re-skilled or up-skilled to meet their changing roles.

Gerard McDonough, director of people and organization at PwC Ireland, says this change is hard to define. HR departments and recruiters will still be hiring graduates just as they always have, only the numbers will change and automation will be employed in an increasing number of tasks.

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Technology Will be a Way of Life in the Workplace

Criteria Corp. CEO Josh Millet writes that, in the past, technology has been a tool to help with day-to-day tasks. In 2018, however, technology will be a way of life in the workplace.

This has some benefits for hiring managers. Access to passive candidates, which we wrote about here, will continue to get easier. Talent pools can be reached through hashtags, sub-forums or other online communication methods. Millet argues that recruiters will learn to reach these potential hires, getting a sense of what they are looking for and whether they want to change their careers.

HR Will Put a Greater Emphasis on Blind Hiring

Millet says another key focus area for 2018 is blind hiring to reduce bias. The tech industry in particular has faced increased criticism of its homogenous workforce, and it is more important than ever to hire a diverse team.

Blind hiring involves removing any data from the application process that reveals a candidate’s background, gender, age and race.

Another exciting hiring trend, Millet says, is the use of gamification. Candidates can play recruitment games through apps, which track analytics and offers insight into candidates’ proficiencies.

The Job Market is Tough and Getting Tougher

The truth is that the job market is difficult for employers, and it is not going to get easier. Sarah Murray at The Financial Times [subscription required] writes that between now and 2030, some 40 million jobs need to be created each year to accommodate the world’s future working-age population.

Headhunter Marissa Peretz stresses similar sentiments. She writes that 2018 will be tough for companies looking to recruit because unemployment is low and candidates are in demand.

Part of the problem is that the job market has stabilized going into 2018. When unemployment was higher, there was greater fluctuation and uncertainty in the job market. It was a bit “like a fire sale when the last recession hit,” Peretz writes. People were looking to change jobs.

These days, stability makes hiring managers’ work difficult. After all, “movement creates movement,” according to Peretz. Companies will have fewer people to choose from and greater need for highly skilled applicants.

Competitive job markets will force employers to become better at the hiring process, ensuring the candidate experience is positive.

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Artificial Intelligence in HR

Part of getting better at hiring is accessing the right tools. Most exciting is artificial intelligence.

“The rise of AI will be the biggest challenge for HR in 2018 and beyond,” says Holger Mueller, VP and Principal Analyst for Constellation Research. “It changes the employee experience fundamentally — away from traditional enterprise software screens to chat based or even voice based assistants.”

AI is a hot topic across many industries, but HR can really benefit, says Josh Bersin, principal at Bersin by Deloitte. Software designers know this, too, and startups are looking to access the $100 billion HR assessment market.

“I get emails every day from someone who decides they’re going to fix the recruiting market through artificial intelligence,” Bersin says. The goal is for algorithms to match a person to a job better than humans can. And that technology is improving every day.

Candidates From Liberal Arts Backgrounds Will Still Offer Value

While the job market is becoming increasingly technical, candidates needn’t worry that they are not — at least when it comes to educational backgrounds.

Vidyard CEO Michael Litt says he will always focus on finding the right candidate, which means they might not necessarily have a coding or STEM background. Litt says he considers candidates with liberal arts degrees, too. In fact, the best option would be education that combined arts and sciences in equal parts. This would give students the “skills to reimagine and reshape a technological world, not just assemble it.”

More important than education, however, is experience. Recruiters and hiring managers often use degree majors as a means of predicting candidates’ skills. This is often imperfect.  “Hiring someone for a skill they developed five or 10 years ago at an academic institution is like assessing someone’s fitness based on a marathon they ran five or 10 years ago,” Litt says.

Jobs are going to be different from what has come before, but employment laws will change, too, affecting current roles.

Ilyse W. Schuman, Michael J. Lotito and Betsy Cammarato at Littler advise employers to pay attention to developments at the federal level, including possible additional changes in immigration law and enforcement, health care policies and tax codes.

The Basic Principle Will Remain: Invest in People

Investment in people will continue in 2018 and beyond. Catey Hill, at Moneyish, says employers will focus more on developing programs to support employees’ career development through role experimentation.

Employees might spend a few weeks in an IT role when their normal position is in HR or finance. There will be more training even if it this doesn’t directly relate to the employee’s specific job.

Hill argues that transparent application and interview processes will permeate in 2018. Candidates will be able to follow their applications in real time, like tracking a FedEx package.

Johnson & Johnson already does this. Its hiring platform shows the company’s progress in the hiring process, where candidates stand as applicants and what they should do in the next stages of the process.

The future is notoriously difficult to predict. However, it is safe to say the job market will remain tough. The best candidates will be those who can perform today’s job and adapt to the undefined roles of the future. Hiring managers will work hard to find these quality hires, accessing all the best tech along the way to boost their options.

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