5 Talent Acquisition Trends We’re Watching for in 2017

“The corporate learning marketplace is ready for a revolution. Never before have I seen so much frustration, innovation, and change in the corporate L&D world.” – Josh Bersin, Principal at Bersin by Deloitte.

Disruption is the name of the game for talent acquisition in 2017. That’s what Bersin by Deloitte says. It’s an exciting time to work in the industry. Each calendar year brings a wealth of new ideas for recruiters, HR managers and the whole hiring team. But the coming year might be a major newsmaker.

With so much technology and the tools for a greater understanding, talent acquisition pros should expect new clarity. And that should produce smoother, efficient and more productive hiring. But that’s just the outlook from cruising altitude.

RELATED: Traditional Talent Acquisition in the Gig Economy

From the ground level, hiring pros are making headway with longstanding issues such as understanding which metrics matter and conquering hiring bias. Job ads are expected to get a makeover in 2017. Big Data could finally make sense to virtually every stakeholder, too.

Ready to dig in? Here are 5 trends we predict will shake up the talent industry throughout the coming year.

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Mobile for Streamlining the Recruiter’s Job

There’s a lot of talk about mobile for the candidate experience. Where candidates go, the hiring team must follow. But mobile makes the recruiter’s job better, too.

In 2017, we predict that recruiters will find more ways to get the most out of mobile recruiting.

The LinkedIn Talent Solutions Mobile Recruiting Playbook lists “three pillars of mobile recruiting”.

  • Learn
  • Apply
  • Engage

Since this guide was written in 2013, many talent acquisition professionals have focused long and hard on the first two. But it’s the engagement that makes mobile such an effective tool.

With mobile, recruiters can communicate with candidates immediately from almost anywhere. And it doesn’t matter what your communication choice happens to be. If you text, call, email or chat via social media, it’s all there.

If a candidate hits a snag in the mobile application process, you can help walk through it using your own device. Mobile also lets you sent helpful messages, says LinkedIn, such as traffic alerts on the day of an interview.

Mobile frees recruiters from the desktop. And that applies to communicating with others in the chain of hiring command. While working to improve the candidate experience, don’t forget that mobile is great for everyone involved with hiring.

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Job Postings as Talent Acquisition and Branding Tools

When is a job ad not just a job ad? When it’s a multifaceted tool.

There’s a new understanding of a job ad’s value and flexibility. When you think about the advertisement part of the name, it makes more sense. Long gone are the days when a job posting was just a means to an end, a way to announce a job opening.

You’re probably familiar now with the sales aspect of talent acquisition. There are so many parallels between sales and talent. You both seek the right audience for the product, and you both need to encourage the most qualified people from the top of the funnel to the bottom. The difference is that your product is a job.

Chris Forman, Founder and CEO of Appcast says the process of converting talent into employees is the “lynchpin” of recruiting. The hiring team going forward is a combination of marketing and talent acquisition. Forman explains:

“Such duality of function is unusual. Outside the human resources space, sales people rarely do marketing work, and marketing people rarely sell the leads they turn over. It’s a real testament to the business savvy and talents of recruiters that they are able to combine both functions. But managing these two processes also presents distinct challenges for recruiters who may not be versed in marketing analysis.”

The job ad makeover capitalizes on its potential for greater returns than one hire for one job. The ad has a title, says Forman, a job description and a pathway to the hiring platform. And those elements of the ad make up the talent acquisition sales funnel.

Each level of the funnel gives you an opportunity to be a disruptor.

  • Top of the Funnel: There’s a sea of prospects out there. How can you improve the job title for better traffic?
  • Middle of the Funnel: You’ve got their interest. Now what will you do with it? Does the job description function as a sales tool? Or does it only convey information about the job?
  • Bottom of the Funnel: Does your hiring platform encourage conversion, or is it just a means to an end for filling out a job application?

Job ads are sales tools. They’re recruiting solutions. In the coming year, you’ll have more opportunities for perfecting your approach as sales and talent acquisition in one.

Smarter, Data-Driven Automatic Ad Buys

There’s a buzz around recruitment advertising. And it’s called “Programmatic.”

Programmatic advertising is a data-driven vehicle. It simplifies ad buying, improves campaign performance and makes the most efficient use of the ad budget. And in the coming years, hardly anyone won’t use it.

Data-driven recruitment advertising works because it’s based on information you always wished you had. Where does the talent acquisition target audience hang out? There’s data to tell you. What’s the best way to approach candidates? Data clarifies that, too. What’s the best job ad format, placement, and timing? Again, data clarifies those issues.

“Not surprisingly, growing numbers of recruiters are embracing programmatic ad placement and the rich world of data and analytics it makes possible.” – Allen Schweyer, Author, Recruitment Analytics in a Programmatic Sourcing Era

The talent industry is taking data much more seriously these days. And that’s due in part to the volume of data available. But knowing what to do with the information factors high, as well. Since the inception of the digital age, data has existed. But the stumbling block has been extracting data and interpreting it.

That’s what data-driven programmatic advertising does. Hiring professionals don’t need to hire data scientists because programmatic solutions extract the right data and use it to make the best ad buy decisions for the best hires possible.

Here’s just a small part of how programmatic can improve your workflow:

  • Job / Candidate matching in real time
  • More efficient ad buys
  • Improved quality of hire
  • Campaign fine-tuning on the fly
  • Ad exposure across multiple job boards
  • Automation that frees up your time

Data-driven recruitment advertising is shaping the future of the talent acquisition industry. The technology already exists for maximizing every campaign. And what’s better? The more you use it, the more effectively it performs.

Strategies that Minimize Hiring Bias Effects

Woe betides the employer that succumbs to hiring bias in this day and age. Unfortunately, it’s everywhere. Unconscious bias is inescapable. Just ask Forbes.

According to their 2015 article, Rise of the Bias Busters: How Unconscious Bias Became Silicon Valley’s Newest Target, bias training can only do so much. In fact, sometimes training can backfire. Oddly, acknowledging it and crafting bias-busting training sessions around it can encourage hiring managers to accept it as a given.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the training room.

One way to circumvent bias is to manipulate the talent pool on the front end. Think that sounds sketchy? You might not when you see the results.

According to Harvard Business Review (HBR), the least represented demographic in the talent pool is almost guaranteed not to get the job.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a woman or a man. Ethnicity doesn’t matter, either. If there’s only one person from any group, the so-called rules of hiring bias say that person has no chance of being hired.

So some employers are shifting to a model that fills the talent pool with a competitive number from as many groups as possible. HBR says that it’s not reverse racism (or sexism, or any other ‘ism). It levels the playing field so the best candidate has the highest chance of landing the job.

Here are a few other bias-busters:

  • Blind/anonymous recruiting solutions. Employers can choose to know as little or as much about a candidate as they like before making the hire. Sometimes, even names are excluded until the end of the process.
  • Candidate matching (which can incorporate blind hiring)
  • Cultivating a brand of diversity
  • Creative talent acquisition such as solving a problem in lieu of sending a resume

The younger generations expect diversity in the workplace.

“They [Millennials] also use the word to describe the combination of these unique traits to overcome challenges and achieve business goals. Millennials view cognitive diversity as a necessary element for innovation, and are 71% more likely to focus on teamwork.” – Fast Company

Older generations, which include GenX and Baby Boomers, see diversity differently, says Fast Company. Instead of viewing it as necessary for peak performance as Millennials do, older generations think diversity matters because it’s fair and important for compliance.

The coming year will bring more young people in the workforce and more Millennials moving into management positions. So diversity should rank as a higher priority than ever before.

New Clarity in Talent Acquisition Metrics

If there’s anything more puzzling than Big Data, it has to be which metrics to track and how to track them. The ‘Big Three,” says Roy Maurer for SHRM, are:

  • Time to fill
  • Cost per hire
  • Quality of hire

But there is a lot of information that builds out those metrics. And therefore, you have ample opportunities to improve the Big Three.

For example, Maurer says a common metric is how many applicants come from a certain source. But you might also ask how many from each source make it all the way through the pipeline. That gets you closer to the drivers behind quality of hire.

There’s always more information to be had as long as you keep looking. But you have to know what to do with the information once you get it.

Micah Fairchild also writes for HR Lab, “Regardless of the recruitment software solution chosen, though, the bottom-line takeaway is that all assessment and intervention processes are only as good as you make them. Capturing the ever-elusive Quality-of-Hire stat, for example, is not something that can be addressed simply by getting a “good” hire through the company’s door.”

Fairchild adds these metrics to the pot:

  • External hire rate
  • Hiring source
  • Internal hire rate
  • Time to productivity

The hiring source is becoming more important because it relates to true effectiveness. The hiring team might get scores of applicants from a behemoth job board. But while a white-label job board usually brings fewer applicants, quality of hire is typically better (with a lot fewer applications to sort through). That circles back to the link between data-driven recruitment advertising and quality of hire.

You know that talent acquisition metrics matter. The challenge in 2017 is eliminating the unnecessary noise to focus on what’s really behind the best hires. Homing in on the primary metrics lets you find what’s working so you can make it better.

The coming year promises to bring some disruption and some clarity, too. Disruption is good for keeping the competitive edge. And the clarity that’s been lacking in so many technological advances is finally emerging from the mass of information.

  • Mobile matters for everyone, not just job candidates
  • Job postings are an untapped well of marketing possibilities
  • Data-driven ad buys make talent acquisition smarter and more efficient
  • The clarity you’ve wanted is on its way

It’s a great time to be in the talent acquisition industry. And it’s a great time for recruiting solutions that genuinely solve problems. Ready to get a jump on 2017 and learn more about it now? Check out our Webinar: The Emergence & Impact of Programmatic Advertising on Recruiting.

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