The Top 25 Recruiting Trends, Problems, and Opportunities for 2014, Part 1 of 2

Dec 9, 2013
This article is part of a series called News & Trends.

Even if you work in a corporate recruiting function with low resources or minimal expectations for change, every recruiter still has a professional obligation to maintain their awareness of the latest trends and predictions. I have grouped 25 predictions of the leading corporate recruiting trends for 2014 into four separate sections. Part 1 includes two sections that cover 14 new opportunities and continuing current trends. Part 2 (to be published next week) includes the final two sections, which cover 11 remaining trends that cover new challenges and areas that will continue to diminish in importance.

Section 1: The Hottest Recruiting Opportunities for 2014

The eight top opportunities that will dominate strategic corporate recruiting during 2014 include:

  1. The competition for top talent intensifies — you could call 2014 “the year that intense recruiting competition returned.” That is because after years of slack hiring, the competition for top performers and technical talent will increase over the next year in many industries to the point where current recruiting resources and tools will be stretched to the limit. Aggressiveness, the need for counteroffers, higher rejection rates, and a renewed focus on recruiting the currently employed will all return to prominence. As a result of this increased competition, executives will begin to put pressure on recruiting to produce new recruiting approaches that provide them with a competitive talent advantage.
  2. A metric-driven employee referral program  becomes the dominant hiring source — as more firms adopt quality of hire metrics, it becomes even clearer that well-designed employer referral programs produce high performers, high retention rates, and if managed correctly, they are faster, just as diverse, and often cheaper than all other sources. Referrals are obviously not new but the results that they produce have been recently strengthened by the astonishing growth and usage of social media. The impact of social media has been so strong that that the referral hire target for top firms is now approaching a dominant 50 percent of all hires. The most effective programs will adopt specialized types of referrals including assigned referrals, proactive referrals, college referrals, and non-employee referrals. Overall the 2014 strategic referral goal should be to build a recruiting culture which makes every employee a 24/7 talent scout, and to channel these employee talent discoveries through a data-driven employee referral program. At the same time, many of the recently introduced vendor supplied external referral programs will begin their inevitable decline.
  3. Predictive metrics and the use of big data move from interesting to essential  after years of struggling with “historical metrics” that have had only minimal impact, recruiting leaders are beginning to follow the lead of the rest of the business in adapting advanced metrics. This new focus will be on real-time metrics that let managers know what’s happening today, and predictive metrics, which alert everyone about upcoming recruiting problems and opportunities, so that they can act appropriately with time to spare. Although still in its infancy, a handful of vendors are beginning to show that you can actually identify hundreds of top performers who are not currently looking for a job (the so-called passives) using external “big data.” These advanced metric developments are on top of the established trend of shifting recruiting toward a data-supported decision model.
  4. Employer branding returns as the only long-term recruiting strategy — after years of minimal funding and attention, strategic employer branding begins its return as the only long-term recruiting strategy. This shift is partially due to increased recruiting competition but it also comes about because social media now makes it so easy for others to virally spread either positive or negative comments covering working at your firm. The willingness of current and former employees to comment online about their work environment increases the impact of firms that reveal what employees and applicants say (i.e. Glassdoor, LinkedIn, and Universum).  Talent leaders are also gradually learning that providing a weak candidate experience can quickly damage that brand. There is now a growing division between the one percent top employer brand firms in each industry (e.g. Google, Facebook, Deloitte, P&G, and McKinsey) and the remaining 99 percent of firms that simply offer “paycheck jobs”. This dramatic and perhaps insurmountable difference in brand strength and employee treatment may permanently limit the capability of the remaining 99 percent to attract any more-than-average talent.
  5. Recruiting finally adopts the practice of monetizing its business impacts — even though it has long been a standard business practice, recruiting is finally beginning to move away from its long-held attempt to “align with business goals” and instead focus on having a direct impact on business goals. Because revenue is one of the prime corporate goals, by quantifying the revenue impacts of great compared to average and weak hires, recruiting can now convincingly demonstrate its “highest of all talent function business impacts” to executives. Demonstrating the direct connection between recruiting results and improved business results will eventually supplant quality of hire as the most important recruiting measurement. By monetizing its revenue impacts, recruiting can make a continuous business case, which will provide it with the necessary funding to meet this latest hiring surge.
  6. A focus on becoming a serial innovation firm increases the need for recruiting innovators — the wild economic success of serial innovation driven firms like Apple, Google, and Facebook have demonstrated to executives the high economic impact of hiring, retaining, and managing innovators. The renewed expectation for rapid corporate growth means that more innovators must be recruited. That simply can’t happen unless current recruiting systems are redesigned so that they can now effectively recruit and hire these hard-to-land innovators.
  7. Boomerangs become a primary target once again — boomerang rehires have proven to be one of the highest quality of hire sources, and this new talent shortage will return them to prominence after years of inattention. As the competition for talent heats up, the best firms will re-energize alumni groups and they will use them as the mechanism for bringing back the very best former employees with a proven track record (among the many who were recently released). This increased emphasis will eventually lead to boomerang rehires reaching nearly 15 percent of all hires.
  8. Accepting social media profiles in lieu of resumes opens the door to many passives — the unabated corporate goal of targeting and recruiting those top prospects who are not in job search mode”cannot be met if an up-to-date resume is required. That is because these individuals often resist applying for a job simply because they don’t have the time to update their resume. Although there are still legal and administrative hurdles, more and more firms are learning that accepting a social media profile alone (usually a LinkedIn profile) is more than adequate at least initially to begin the hiring process.

Section 2: Currently Impactful Trends That Will Continue to Remain Important

Six major corporate recruiting trends that have been prominent during the last year will continue to be significant corporate recruiting trends during the next year.

  1. The mobile platform continues to be a critical tool — even though last year was “the year of the mobile platform,” the impact of this platform in recruiting will continue to expand and grow. The emergence of the technical capability that allows the direct “instant” application for jobs from mobile phones will soon become mainstream.  A multitude of startups will continue their development of a variety of recruiting-focused mobile phone apps.
  2. A data-driven approach to operations continues to be the benchmark standard — even though most business functions have long ago shifted to data-driven decision making, the practice is strikingly unusual within recruiting. Google continues to separate itself from every other firm in its comprehensive data-driven approach to recruiting and its use of predictive metrics. Its recent data-driven research on the ineffectiveness of many traditional recruiting tools can only be classified as groundbreaking.
  3. Live video interviewing steadily grows in acceptance — live video interviews has now proven its effectiveness, so its use will continue to expand until it becomes the standard practice, at least for initial interviews.
  4. On-line candidate assessment continues toward the mainstream — as online technical knowledge and skill assessment options become cheaper and more effective, they will continue their growth until they become mainstream. Their impact is high because they reduce unnecessary interviews and they can dramatically improve the quality of hire.
  5. Remote work continues to expand the talent pool — the growth of technology and the willingness of managers to accept remote work positions will continue to dramatically expand the number of available recruits for those remote work jobs. This shift to remote work will also force recruiting to increase its capability to find and land candidates around the globe.
  6. Accelerated internal movement is still needed — continued uneven growth in business units will mean that there will be a much greater need for the rapid movement of current employees into new areas where they can have a higher impact. The most effective solutions have involved either using corporate recruiters to proactively move underused employees or encouraging employee referrals to quickly identify a wider range of talent for internal openings.

Next week: Part 2, which covers 2014 recruiting challenges and recruiting areas that will continue to diminish in importance. Part 2 also includes an additional section covering some developing trends that have yet to peak and some final thoughts on developing action plans for preparing for these upcoming trends.

This article is part of a series called News & Trends.
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