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Next Year’s Recruiting Headlines, Trends, and Next Practices

by Nov 5, 2012, 5:10 am ET

If you are going to be strategic, you must be forward looking. Obviously forward-looking people stay aware of current trends. I’ve written extensively on recruiting trends, but the definition of “a trend” means that a significant group of firms have already implemented the practice. And that means that if you merely identify and copy current trends, by the time your firm implements them, you will have fallen behind the benchmark firms that would have continued to develop new approaches. If you are tired of simply playing catch-up and you want to “get ahead” of your talent competition, you need to move beyond current trends and instead identify “next year’s” upcoming practices long before they gain wide acceptance.

If you want to prepare for what’s next on the horizon, here is my list of “next year’s recruiting headlines” or “next practices” that will soon be adopted by leading edge firms. Don’t be surprised if you’re not familiar with some of these “next practices” because they are seldom written about and they are even less frequently implemented.

A List of the Top 20 Recruiting Headlines That You Can Expect to Read Next Year

I have broken the recruiting headlines and “next practices” into seven different categories (A-G).

A. Next Year’s Technology-Related Headlines

At leading-edge firms, you will see the following trends emerge.

  1. The mobile platform dominates – the dominance of the mobile platform in recruiting will continue to grow. The best firms will allow applicants to apply for jobs directly using only their mobile phone. Leading firms will begin to make all internal recruiting software applications accessible to managers and recruiters on the mobile platform. A multitude of startups will intensify their development of recruiting-focused mobile phone apps.
  2. LinkedIn becomes #1 in social media — the LinkedIn portal will be used and eventually recognized as the primary recruiting tool for attracting non-active prospects. The use of Twitter for recruiting will continue to grow, while Facebook will begin to wane in the recruiting space. The impact of the social media site glassdoor.com on recruiting and employer branding will continue to grow.
  3. Online candidate assessment becomes more common — in order to ensure that managers see only candidate slates that exclusively contain high-quality candidates, more applicants for high-volume jobs will be required to complete a brief but effective online technical knowledge and skill assessment test.

B. Next Year’s Metrics Headlines

At leading-edge firms, you will see the following trends emerge next year.

  1. Predictive analytics replace historical metrics — most current recruiting metrics are useless as decision tools, because they only report what happened last year. An alternative, predictive analytics help you understand what is about to happen, so that you can act in time to make a difference and to prevent problems. Predictive metrics will be developed in the areas of forecasting labor opportunities/availabilities and forecasting “on-the-horizon” challenges for your firm. They will also report upcoming turnover rates in key jobs, predicting which positions will open up for recruiting as a result of growth, and projecting which recruiting and assessment practices can impact the quality of hire.
  2. Recruiting follows other functions in quantifying its dollar impacts – as the pressure to demonstrate business impacts expands to all overhead functions, recruiting will finally be forced to quantify its impacts on revenue and its ROI. Recruiting will begin to report the positive dollar impact on corporate revenue as a result of higher-performing hires, faster hiring, using the best sources more often (i.e. referrals), increasing diversity hires, and having a strong employer brand.
  3. Data-driven recruiting spreads from Google – the incredible recruiting machine at Google owes its success to using the firm’s “math camp” and algorithm-driven model. Other recruiting leaders will begin to realize that the current “past-practice model” performs poorly compared to the data-supported approach.

C. Next Year’s Competitive Analysis Headlines

Most firms currently do not conduct any type of formal competitive analysis. However at leading-edge firms, you will start to see the following trends beginning to emerge.

  1. Competitive analysis and intelligence are placed on the agenda — the recent highly competitive V.U.C.A. business environment that we all face has forced almost every function to be more externally focused. Recruiting will no longer be able to ignore this trend, so you will begin to see the growth of competitive analysis and competitive intelligence roles in recruiting. The recruiting function will develop plans to track and counter their competitors’ recruiting moves. It will continually compare your firm’s recruiting program’s features and results to others, in order to ensure that your recruiting approach provides your firm with a measurable competitive advantage.
  2. Firms begin “mapping” their future talent pool – it has long been known that great recruiting functions are proactive and forward looking. Leading firms will begin mapping top talent working at their competitors. They will also use professional communities and continuous employee referrals to develop a talent pool of pre-qualified top candidates for key jobs.

D. Next Year’s Recruiting Targets Headlines

At leading-edge firms, you will see the following trends emerge next year.

  1. The focus on hiring innovators increases — the success of innovation-driven firms like Apple, Google, and Facebook have demonstrated to executives the high economic impact of hiring, retaining, and managing innovators. Hiring processes will begin to shift and become more data-driven, so that they can successfully understand innovators and then recruit these unique high-value individuals who are rejected by most hiring systems.
  2. Boomerangs become a primary target again — because of large-scale workforce reductions, most firms have let go many top performers. As the economy improves, the best firms will focus on bringing back the very best former employees with a proven track record, to the point where boomerang hires reach 15%.
  3. Sales leads and credit card information enter mainstream recruiting – I often call sales leads “the single most powerful but underused tool in recruiting.” Recruiters have almost totally ignored the high volume of prospect leads and the valuable information that is available through marketing and sales lead channels. Those who have researched and used these channels find them to be amazingly powerful, accurate, and economical.
  4. Direct sourcing becomes the primary focus — leading firms will begin a steady shift away from recruiting “actives” (currently 60% – 90% of all candidates) and toward the direct sourcing of “currently employed top talent” using social media channels and social-media-driven employee referrals.
  5. Diversity becomes a business imperative — more organizations will shift away from the traditional legal and social justification for diversity and begin to conduct a data-driven business case for achieving “global diversity” (i.e. diversity that reflects your customers and users). Firms that calculate the business impact of global diversity, especially among design, sales, and customer service teams, will increase their focus on global diversity hiring for managers and employees.
  6. Market research practices are adapted to recruiting — recruiting will continue to expand from a local to a global search for talent. And because candidate expectations will be continually in flux, historical assumptions about “what candidates want” and “how they search for jobs” will have to be re-examined. This new approach, which will eventually become dominant, will be borrowed from the existing market research and understanding your customer models (i.e. CRM). In order to fully understand, attract, and effectively sell your top candidates, recruiting will have to use surveys, interviews, and focus groups to identify new job search approaches, emerging candidate expectations, and their “job acceptance criteria.”

E. Next Year’s College Recruiting Headlines

At leading-edge firms, you will see the following trends emerge next year.

  1. Remote college recruiting limits campus visits — because almost all college students are now visible on the Internet or in social media, a top trend will be shifting to a “remote” college recruiting program. Instead of visiting a handful of top universities, leading-edge firms will instead focus on the top handful of students at many universities. Remote live video interviews, contests, online assessments, and simulations will begin to be used for student and intern assessment.
  2. College referrals become the most powerful recruiting tool – college students are well connected on social media (even across universities). And as a result, leading firms will recognize that the referral recruiting model that is so effective with employees can be easily adapted for use in getting referrals from recent college hires, interns, employees, and any top college student.
  3. College employer branding comes into its own – top firms will finally begin to accept the fact that your college employment brand is separate and worthy of its own targeted branding strategy. As a result, the “college employer brand” and value proposition will begin to be developed and measured separately.

F. Next Year’s General Recruiting Headlines

At leading-edge firms, you will see the following general trends emerge next year.

  1. Integration finally begins to improve – because other business functions have successfully integrated (i.e. supply chain), there will be increasing pressure for recruiting to more closely integrate and work seamlessly with compensation, development, performance management, and succession planning. Only the very best firms will identify the key factors that increase cohesion, coordination, and integration between the different currently siloed talent management functions.
  2. The importance of prioritization is finally recognized – continued budget and resource shortages will increase the pressure on recruiting leaders to prioritize their services and to identify and prioritize the high-impact business units, key jobs, and high-value managers that they serve.
  3. The broken areas of recruiting show little improvement – many broken processes will continue to languish. The fact that most recruiting functions have no formal strategy, understanding of the available recruiting strategies, or a strategic plan will continue to hamper the effectiveness and the strategic impact of recruiting. Both candidate and manager satisfaction with recruiting services will continue to be extremely low, and those rates will continue until recruiting functions adopt CRM and market research models. Corporate career websites will continue to lack authenticity and believability compared to external social media sources. The source identification process for new hires will continue to be inaccurate at best. And finally, the already existing trend of vendor consolidation in the recruiting marketplace will continue to the point where it will limit choices and innovation.

G. Current Recruiting Trends That Will Intensify in the Future

There are numerous current trends at leading firms will continue to intensify next year.

  • Referrals — will continue to produce the highest volume and highest quality of hires. The target percentage of all hires from referrals at top firms will reach 50%.
  • Live video interviewing — live video interviews will move from the experimental to become the standard, at least for initial interviews.
  • Sustainability — the slowly building expectation of sustainable business practices among employees and candidates will eventually become an essential employer brand pillar.
  • Retention impacts recruiting — the already increasing rates of turnover among highly desirable employees will continue to the point where recruiting will have to be able to scale up its volume to fill the vacancies.
  • Candidate selling – the overall recruiting emphasis will continue to shift away from what is becoming relatively easy — the “finding” of candidates. Instead, there will be a shift toward the still difficult task of successfully “selling” top talent who are in high demand.
  • Remote work — the growth of technology and the willingness of managers to accept remote work options will dramatically expand recruiting for remote jobs. This shift will force recruiting to increase its capability to find and land a higher percentage of candidates from around the world.
  • Volatility and workforce planning – as continuous business volatility becomes the “new normal,” data-driven workforce planning will become an absolute requirement. In addition, the increased use (approaching 40%) and the improved management of contingent workers will become essential to provide the needed agility and flexibility.
  • Recruiting at industry events — as the economy approves, industry events will return to popularity. And once again recruiting at these events will become an essential and effective tool for recruiting top and diverse talent.
  • Personalized recruiting — although it is still currently rare, more organizations will attempt to “personalize” their recruiting and target it to specific extremely high value targets.

Final Thoughts

Benchmarking and learning about what is happening today is certainly valuable. However, identifying well-established best practices forces recruiting leaders into a game of catch-up. A clearly superior approach is a forward-looking one that identifies upcoming “next practices.” Identifying them early on gives you time to implement them long before your competitor may even find out about them. I hope this list of “next year’s headlines” will stimulate your thinking about what you need to be working on now in order to dominate recruiting in your industry.

If you don’t think this list is accurate, generate your own, but in a rapidly changing world, you really have no choice but to move beyond benchmarking current trends.

This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to offer specific legal advice. You should consult your legal counsel regarding any threatened or pending litigation.