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2019 Recruiting Trends Here to Stay in 2020

In a candidate-driven market—which, let’s face it, this is—it’s on recruiting teams to stay on top of trends in order to attract top talent. But while it’s important (and certainly interesting) to observe every new development in the industry, not all trends have staying power. Below, we focus on the top six recruiting trends of 2019 that are set to grow in importance in 2020. We selected them based on the pain points and priorities that rang loudest in this year’s Gem Trends survey. If you’re not considering how to work with them at this point, your team won’t be competitive going into 2020.

Recruiting Trend #1: Talent Sourcing

Of the customers we surveyed for 2019 recruiting trends, 38% said their teams were made up only of full-cycle recruiters; many more (58%) said they had some combination of full-cycle recruiters and sourcers. 

Does your team have dedicated sourcers?

2019 recruiting trends sourcers

Sourcing was identified as the highest-priority initiative (61%) for teams for the remainder of 2109 and into 2020. It was also cited as the biggest pain point (45%). There are two takeaways here: 1) Sourcing is now such an important piece of the recruiting puzzle that many teams are keeping the sourcing function separate; and 2) Teams are still trying to discover their own best practices for engaging passive talent in a labor market with more open jobs than available talent to fill them. (According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are currently only 0.8 unemployed persons for every 1 job opening.) Traditional recruiting strategies (“post and pray”) are no longer enough; a shift in approach to proactive talent sourcing is imperative. After all, while passive talent isn’t actively seeking opportunities, 90% of them would consider a career change if the right opportunity came their way. 

Recruiting Trend #2: Employer Branding

Over 50% of respondents named employer branding as a priority for the remainder of 2019 and into 2020. Employer branding was the fourth-biggest pain point talent teams cited (27%)—trailing not far behind sourcing, diversity, and close rates. 

Are there any pain points your team is experiencing that impact your ability to hit hiring goals?

2019 recruiting pain points

This recruiting trend is a consequence of the power shift (we don’t pick talent anymore; talent picks us): Prospective candidates are now being treated like prospective customers. An employer brand is a company’s reputation as an employer. It’s the sum total of benefits, rewards, and other value employees receive in return for their commitment to your company, and it answers the question: How positive an experience is it for talent to work with you? That’s why companies are refining and building out their brand messaging in everything from social media posts to career pages, where they share culture, purpose, mission, and values. It also explains why in-house recruitment teams are the new norm (over 80% of our respondents were in-house recruiters; 19% were from agencies or consultancies): In-house teams are steeped in company culture, and can help illustrate and support the employer brand. 

According to LinkedIn, 75% of talent considers an employer’s brand before they even apply for a job. From a recruitment perspective, this means ensuring you can point to collateral in your outreach that describes why your organization is unique and what makes it an attractive option. 

Recruiting Trend #3: Candidate Relationship Management (CRM) Built for Recruiters

A talent CRM allows TA teams to manage and nurture relationships with candidates—and it was definitely a 2019 recruiting trend. 41% of our respondents attempted to launch one… but of those that have, an astonishing 45% of launches weren’t successful. At Gem, we suspect this failure rate is because most CRM technologies weren’t built to suit the workflows of recruiters. Instead, providers have imitated sales CRMs and marketing automation platforms, and served them up to talent teams as though recruiters have the same needs as sales and marketing professionals. 

CRM is clearly a pain point—a particularly pressing one given the increasing importance of both sourcing and employer branding. Organizations are building relationships with candidates months, and sometimes years, before they’re ready to formally apply; so having an organized system that helps you segment talent and send out personalized nurture campaigns over time is a must-have for this candidate-driven market. That’s what we offer at Gem (along with very successful launches!); and we foresee that, in 2020, talent teams will have to let go of their unsuccessful CRM technologies and embrace new options if they want to stay relevant. 

Recruiting Trend #4: (Integrated) Recruitment Automation Tools

Recruitment automation means more than CRM. Automated interview-scheduling tools, chatbots that conduct screening conversations, text messages triggered by changes in your applicant tracking system (ATS)… recruiting automation has been gaining momentum for a few years now, and will continue to in 2020. 

At Gem, we offer a workflow tool that lets recruiters download prospect data directly from LinkedIn, find their best email address, and automate outreach. We expect that in 2020, recruitment technologies will become even more focused on integration to improve efficiency. After all, no matter how efficient a standalone technology is, if it doesn’t talk to your other platforms, you haven’t dispensed with the tedium of manual entry. For us, that means a workflow product that integrates with your CRM, which integrates with your ATS, which integrates with your event management platform—without losing the human touch that’s so important to your role. Ultimately that means better content, stronger employer branding, and less time spent trying to manage separate technologies, so you can focus on the only thing that really matters: your relationships with prospects and candidates. 

Recruiting Trend #5: Analytics and Data-Driven Recruiting

As we mentioned, close rates have been the third-largest pain point when it comes to 2019 recruiting trends: 49% of respondents said they were prioritizing close rates into 2020. The second-biggest paint point has been diversity sourcing. What do these two pain points have in common? They can both be tracked and improved with analytics. We also observed that 64% of respondents have a formal initiative in place to track candidate outreach, which means nearly ⅔ of teams are at least tracking open, click-through, and response rates—some of the most important data you can have access to as a sourcer. 

Is there a formal initiative to track all candidate outreach?

2019 recruiting outreach tracking

Data and analytics have become the bedrock of every successful recruiting initiative. The best recruitment technologies are giving teams high-level views of their efforts and allowing TA leaders to drill down into data to see where both individual recruiters and the team in aggregate are thriving, and where they may need a shift in strategy. Where are your bottlenecks? At what stage of the funnel are candidates dropping out? How are your diversity hiring initiatives going? What’s your offer acceptance rate? Your time-to-hire? Your cost of hire? Your quality of hire? The answers to these questions give the TA function actionable insights into where and how to implement new strategies to see better outcomes the next time around. The best gift data gives is speed; and we don’t have to tell you how vital speed is to both the candidate experience and your experience. So if you’re not already, now’s the time to get data-centric in your decision-making. 

Recruiting Trend #6: Diversity Hiring

Diversity is currently talent teams’ second-biggest pain point (41%). 53% of respondents claim that diversity is a priority for their teams, yet 58% of respondents say their team doesn’t have a formal diversity hiring initiative in place. Indeed, nearly 18% of respondents say that they don’t focus on sourcing diverse candidates at all

Does your team have a formal diversity hiring initiative?

2019 diversity hiring initiatives

When sourcing talent, how much of your effort is focused on sourcing diverse candidates?

2019 diversity sourcing

Uncovering how their stated intentions are misaligned with their current practices will be the first step for teams who want diverse organizations, with all the benefits that diversity brings: improved productivity, innovation, retention, and profitability. We’ll then see even more organizations setting diversity goals and ramping up their diversity hiring efforts—ideally with the support of technology. This will mean putting strategies in place to source a diverse set of prospects at the very top of the funnel, since that’s the one part of the funnel TA has control over. It will also mean everything from editing job descriptions to ensure you’re not alienating certain demographics; to rethinking education requirements to include talent who took non-traditional paths; to standardizing interview processes; to offering work flexibility to include people with disabilities, caretakers, and talent living in rural or economically disadvantaged areas; and more. 

Of course, TA doesn’t “own” diversity; it’ll be up to the entire organization to ensure teams are creating and abiding by their own inclusive practices. 

So there you have it: the top six 2019 recruiting trends that are here to stay for awhile. We suggest you strap in, get cozy with them, and make them part of your team’s DNA and daily workflow. 

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