The Top 10 ‘Bleeding Edge’ Recruiting Trends to Watch in 2015

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 2.20.29 PMMost articles that cover recruiting trends highlight what I consider to be obvious approaches that many firms have already adopted. But my perspective on trends is unique because I am focused on what I call the “bleeding-edge trends.” These trends are unique and rare because they have been adopted by less than 5 percent of the major firms. However, they are still important for all recruiting leaders to know and watch because they signal the path that all progressive firms will eventually have to follow. The top bleeding-edge trends are listed below in an easy to scan format.

The Top 10 Most Impactful Trends That May Surprise You

  1. The shift in power to the candidate means current approaches will stop working — 83 percent of recruiters report that the power has shifted away from where it has been for years, the employer, and toward the candidate. In a candidate-driven marketplace, “active-recruiting approaches” simply stop working. Now that top candidates are in the driver’s seat, the best have multiple options, recruiting must dramatically increase hiring speed, offer a great candidate experience, and shift to an emphasis away from assessment and toward excellence in “selling candidates.” Once candidates realize that the power has shifted to them, many will develop an arrogant “why-should-I-work-for-you?” attitude, which you must adjust to if you expect to land the best.
  2. The mobile platform begins to dominate every aspect of recruiting — most firms have finally figured out that individuals should be able to apply for a job directly from their mobile phones. However the best firms are now realizing that the mobile platform should dominate every area of recruiting, because of its versatility and its incredibly high response rate (compared to other communications platforms). The mobile platform should be the primary mechanism for communicating with prospects/candidates, spreading your employer brand messages, to view recruiting and job description videos, and to push relevant open jobs to applicant communities. Eventually it will be used by most to offer live Hangouts/Meetups, for candidate skill assessment, for most candidate interviews, to find referrals, and finally to allow individuals to accept job offers directly on their phone. Recruiters and hiring managers must be able to approve reqs, post jobs, post videos, review resumes, schedule interviews, and other administrative tasks from their mobile phone. Employees must be able to do all referral administration and apply for internal openings on their phone.
  3. Shifting to compelling offers becomes essential — during the down economy, almost any offer was accepted. However, in today’s marketplace where top candidates get multiple offers, the offer generation process must be radically updated. That means that sign-on bonuses, exploding offers, and identifying and meeting an individual candidate’s job acceptance criteria will become essential once again. In addition, hiring managers, compensation specialists, and recruiters will need to update their skills and approaches for creating compelling offers and selling in-demand prospects and candidates. Relearning how to successfully combat counteroffers from a candidate’s current manager will also become essential.
  4. Perhaps the biggest surprise will be the shortage of top recruiters — as recruiting volume and difficulty both ramp up, firms will begin to realize that there is a significant shortage of talented and currently up-to-date recruiters. Expect a bidding war over the few available top corporate recruiters. A lack of quality, leading-edge recruiter training will unfortunately also make the experienced recruiter shortage even worse.
  5. Videos begin dominating recruiting messaging — Online video now accounts for 50% percent of all mobile traffic. So now that viewing videos (rather than static pictures or reading text) has become widely accepted, they must be used in every aspect of recruiting. If you’re not already using video job descriptions, videos for employer branding, video employee profiles, video job postings and video job offers, you need to realize that authentic videos are an essential supplement to all traditionally print messaging. Videos make it easier to see and feel the excitement at your firm.
  6. Turnover issues dramatically impact recruiting — turnover rates continue to spiral upward (they went up 44 percent last year). Increased turnover will mean that the volume of recruiting will increase significantly, but the firm’s reputation for high turnover will also impact your ability to recruit new talent. Given the high impact of new hire turnover, firms will need to begin assessing candidates on their likelihood of an early departure.
  7. Learning to hire whenever scarce talent becomes available — during periods when top talent is extremely scarce, the best targets enter and exit the job market over a matter of days. That means that recruiting functions must shift from their traditional recruiting model, where you hire only when a position becomes open, to a completely different approach, where you hire whenever top talent applies to your company. That means when a top talent applies for a critical high-volume job at your firm, you begin the hiring process immediately and make an offer quickly, even if there is currently no vacant position. Yes, this means that you will hire some talent a few weeks before you need them, but that results in a lower cost than being unable to fill jobs at all because no qualified talent is available when one of these high-volume positions eventually opens up.
  8. Deemphasizing resumes and accepting online profiles — resumes have many weaknesses, but the primary reason that they need to be made optional is hiring speed. This is because few employed candidates have any interest in, nor do they have the time required, to update their resumes. They simply can’t become a candidate at your firm until they update and submit their resume. Firms must learn to eliminate the “resume update wait” by instead accepting LinkedIn profiles for referrals and at least the initial application for regular job openings. LinkedIn profiles are generally more accurate than resumes because they are viewed by so many individuals that any misstatements would be instantly discovered.
  9. Sourcing will add a “find-their-work” component — some of the most competent professionals have weak resumes. Fortunately, with the growth of the Internet and social media, it is now becoming possible to find the actual work of most professionals. And this is a good thing because an individual’s work is almost always a better representation of their capability than their resume. Employees looking for referrals and recruiters need to also focus on discovering the great ideas and the writing, the pictures, and the video representations of their work and the actual work samples of “hidden individuals” who couldn’t be found based solely on their resume. As an added benefit, your firm gathers information on new approaches, whether you end up hiring these individuals or not.
  10. Boomerangs return as a primary source — boomerang rehires of previous high-performing employees have proven to be one of the highest sources of quality hires. Because so many have been released, there is an abundant talent pool to choose from. And in addition, keeping track of corporate alumni is now so much easier because you can find them easily on LinkedIn and on social media. Because of their speed, low cost, and high quality of hire, expect boomerang rehires to reach 15 percent of all hires at major firms.

Additional Bleeding Edge Trends To Watch

Some additional trends that also reveal the future of recruiting include:

  • Data-based decision-making in recruiting goes mainstream — recruiting leaders are finally realizing that all other business functions now make all major decisions based on data. Metrics-based decision-making will have a huge impact in recruiting because I find database decisions to be at least 25 percent better than intuitive decisions. Forget the low-value historical metrics and expect to see real-time and predictive metrics dominate. If you need increased budget resources, work with the CFO in order to assign a dollar value to how much recruiting results directly increase corporate revenue.
  • Referrals continue to dominate — spamming employee contacts for referrals has run its course. Referrals produce quality hires not because of who they know, but instead because your best employees far surpass even recruiters in finding, building relationships, assessing, and selling top people who are not active in the job market. At top firms, over 50 percent of the hires will come from quality employee referrals.
  • Personalization will become more common  top candidates will no longer tolerate a “one-size-fits-all” approach. In-demand candidates are now beginning to expect a unique and personalized recruiting approach (much like what occurs in executive recruiting). I call this approach “artisanal recruiting.” And don’t be surprised when top candidates begin to expect that even their job will be customized for them. Providing top candidates with choices that include who they work with, where and when they work, and even who their supervisor will be become more prevalent. And because the measured resources mean that you can’t personalize every job or candidate experience, prioritization will become even more essential. Prioritization allows you to focus your resources on the jobs and the candidates that will have the most business impact.
  • Colleges and their students have changed dramatically, but college recruiting has not — unfortunately, corporate college recruiting budgets and processes have been stagnant for years, even though the demand for grads is now soaring. Unfortunately, during the slack college hiring period, colleges themselves, the visibility and the expectations of college students have changed dramatically. A reengineered recruiting model must move beyond a focus on career centers. Instead it must increase its capabilities in the areas of global college recruiting, remote college recruiting, recruiting students from online universities, recruiting “passive” students, and the use of market research to completely understand the job search process and the expectations of this new generation of grads.
  • Large firms will struggle to compete with startups for innovative talent — the recent lavish funding and the economic success of numerous startups will continue to make them attractive to innovators and top talent. Unfortunately, few major corporations have a market-research-driven strategy or a set of tools that allows them to successfully recruit against startups for these valuable innovative prospects with a startup mindset.
  • Workforce planning returns as a hot issue — recruiting shortages and high turnover rates have historically forced executives to focus on developing dependable talent pipelines. Expect an increased emphasis in all aspects of workforce planning, including talent pipelines and talent communities, supply/demand forecasting, succession planning, predicting employee turnover, and leader development. Don’t expect much success in this area because of the volatile VUCA environment and the fact that professionals in each of these workforce planning areas have almost universally failed to produce the promised results because they do not use data based decision-making.

Expect Continuing Disappointments in These Recruiting Areas

Unfortunately, you won’t find any predictions of dramatically new recruiting technologies on this list because our technology sector has continued to disappoint by providing only incremental changes.

Also don’t expect any new innovations in recruitment process outsourcing, in truly global recruiting approaches, in executive search, on corporate career websites, and from those who push recruitment and employer branding advertising. And finally, although these areas are getting more attention, expect little major innovation in the candidate assessment, diversity recruiting, and automated employee referral areas.

Final Thoughts

Many industries are finally experiencing dramatic growth, and as a result, their executives are clamoring for the talent that is required in order to continue that growth. And as the world moves faster, these executives are also expecting a continuing increase in corporate speed.

Meeting these high-level growth, speed, and innovation needs is difficult enough during normal times. But the escalation of turnover rates combined with vicious competition for top talent has produced a level of difficulty and challenge that recruiting leaders haven’t faced in years. Firms that expect to simply meet those challenges will obviously need some new recruiting strategies, tools, and approaches. However, if the goal of your firm is to go the next step and to dominate your industry, you will need to be on the bleeding edge of recruiting practices. This is because you can’t expect to provide your firm with a competitive advantage if you simply copy the recruiting practices of your talent competitors.

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Dr. John Sullivan

Dr. John Sullivan is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high-business impact; strategic Talent Management solutions. He’s a prolific author with over 900 articles and 10 books covering all areas of talent management. He has written over a dozen white papers, conducted over 50 webinars, dozens of workshops, and he has been featured in over 35 videos. He is an engaging corporate speaker who has excited audiences at over 300 corporations/ organizations in 30 countries on all six continents. His ideas have appeared in every major business source including the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, BusinessWeek, Fast Company, CFO, Inc., NY Times, SmartMoney, USA Today, HBR, and the Financial Times. In addition, he writes for the WSJ Experts column. He has been interviewed on CNN and the CBS and ABC nightly news, NPR, as well many local TV and radio outlets. Fast Company called him the "Michael Jordan of Hiring," Staffing.org called him “the father of HR metrics,” and SHRM called him “One of the industry's most respected strategists." He was selected among HR’s “Top 10 Leading Thinkers” and he was ranked No. 8 among the top 25 online influencers in talent management. He served as the Chief Talent Officer of Agilent Technologies, the HP spinoff with 43,000 employees, and he was the CEO of the Business Development Center, a minority business consulting firm in Bakersfield, California. He is currently a Professor of Management at San Francisco State (1982 – present). His articles can be found all over the Internet and on his popular website www.drjohnsullivan.com and on www.ERE.Net. He lives in Pacifica, California.