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2020 Predictions for Talent Acquisition Teams: Webinar Follow-Up

2020 Predictions for Talent Acquisition

This week, Gem presented a live webinar on top predictions for talent acquisition teams in 2020. Speakers were Steve Bartel (Gem’s Co-Founder and CEO), Mike Moriarty (Director of Technical Staffing at Dropbox), and Dan Levine (VC Investor at Accel). We wanted to offer a variety of viewpoints, from TA leaders to creators of sourcing solutions to investors in HR tech. Below, we rehash those top predictions along with snippets from our speakers, responses to the survey questions posed throughout the webinar, and audience questions and responses. If you’d like to watch the webinar in its entirety, you can find it here.

Prediction #1: VC firms will accelerate investment in companies that gather and analyze data for ROI insights.

Dan Levine: One of the big trends that we continue to see over time is an abundance of data across business operations—whether from your sales processes, your marketing processes, your recruiting processes, and so on. Data isn’t going anywhere. So firms will continue to invest—and even accelerate their investment—in companies that gather and analyze data, and provide returns on that. For recruiters, this will mean investments in companies that help you understand things like recruiting spend, efficiency of hiring processes, and recruiter performance.

Prediction #2: Teams will harness the power of analytics.

Steve Bartel: Until recently, recruiting analytics has been a big challenge, mostly because a lot of the data just hasn’t been tracked—especially at the top of the funnel. Recent advances in technology, like CRM and recruiting email automation, are changing that. For the first time, teams are tracking the performance of their email outreach. They’re experimenting with different content to see what generates the most clicks. They’re experimenting with subject lines. They’re then taking those best practices and implementing them across the team. Next year I think we’ll see more teams setting and tracking goals beyond headcount. I predict there will be more top-of-funnel goals, since that’s the leading indicator of hires. We’ll also see goals for mission-critical initiatives like D&I; and the best recruiting teams will look at historical data for things like headcount planning and forecasting.

Prediction #3: Sourcing will increasingly become a separate function within talent acquisition.

Steve Bartel: There are two big takeaways to a recent Recruiting Trends survey that we conducted at Gem. In the first place, sourcing is now such an important piece of the recruiting puzzle that many teams are now hiring sourcing “specialists” to focus solely on this one crucial piece of the funnel. In the second place, teams are starting to innovate on best outreach strategies for engaging passive talent in a labor market with more open jobs than there is available talent to fill them. We’re not just seeing a shift in approach to proactive talent sourcing; we’re also seeing a range of experimentation with what that looks like, and how to define the parameters of the roles in order to make great sourcing happen.

Prediction #4: Companies will be more open to flexible work environments.

Mike Moriarty: When I look at my 2019 data, the highest passthrough rates are with remote employees. Companies are really starting to see that from a cost perspective, it makes more sense to hire remote professionals without the overhead of a brick-and-mortar. I have friends here in Austin who work for a 30-person company and they all work remote; there is no office. It saves the company a lot. Not that there aren’t trade-off challenges; but we’re really starting to see demand from candidates who maybe don’t want to move to the Bay Area, but they still want to work for your company. So companies are more and more considering this as an option. 

Prediction #5: Teams will put more focus on sourcing diverse talent pools.

Steve Bartel: In the survey I just mentioned, recruiters said their teams’ #1 pain point was diversity sourcing—yet 60% of respondents said their team had no official plan in place to address it. I predict that in 2020 we’ll see these same teams put diversity plans in place which will focus heavily on top-of-funnel work. Some of Gem’s best customers sponsor professional events where they know they’ll find underrepresented talent—the annual Lesbians who Tech San Francisco Summit, for example, which the largest LGBTQ professional event in the world. Or AfroTech, which also hosts an annual event in San Francisco. These are tremendous opportunities to get companies’ names out to underrepresented tech communities and to network with prospective candidates. I think we’ll be seeing more of these kinds of efforts.

Prediction #6: Teams will be looking to consolidate tools.

Mike Moriarty: This one’s short and simple: There needs to be an ecosystem where a recruiter can input data into one software platform, and it updates everything else. Gem is a great example of this: When I go in and update something, it updates in Greenhouse as well. The fact that the tools work together is as important as the tools themselves. Teams will be less and less likely to have patience for the alternative. 

Prediction #7: Decision-makers will evaluate and purchase software after heavily considering usability.

Dan Levine: It’s one of my core investment theses that more and more we’re going to care about the product, and whether it works for the customer. Products have historically been sold with only the top-down buyer in mind—the executive who wasn’t necessarily using the product. Now, you still have to build a product that satisfies executives, but you have to build a product that’s useful to the people who have their hands in it. More and more end-users are voicing that they care about the products they use, and how it impacts their work and their happiness. More and more decision-makers are taking that into account. 

Prediction #8: Companies will invest heavily in top-of-funnel recruiting initiatives.

Dan Levine: The world has gotten more competitive; unemployment is relatively low. So it’s not enough anymore to just hope somebody will apply. A huge category of software in the recruiting space is called “Applicant Tracking.” But there’s a huge, untapped potential in the stage before candidates apply. What’s the employer brand that we project? What’s the advertising experience prospective candidates get of our company if they’re on LinkedIn? Are we properly reaching out? Are we targeting the right people? These will become huge areas of investment, because the ROI is so good.

Prediction #9: Candidate experience will matter more as teams compete for top talent.

Mike Moriarty: This is especially true if we’re not at the big companies that can just throw money at the experience. We need to really understand what our candidates are looking for—from impact to partnership to collaboration—and then make sure we’re offering an experience that highlights who we are as a company. Candidates need to feel welcomed, sought after, and like hiring is not just a cookie-cutter, conveyor-belt process. As a recruiter, you’ve worked so hard, invested so much time and effort to get that candidate there. If you’re not making a conscious effort to make their experience wonderful, you’re missing out. And candidates have high expectations of the process these days. 

Survey Responses: 2020 Predictions for Talent Acquisition

Q. Do you predict your team’s size will change in 2020?

#2: Do you predict your team will be more data-driven in 2020?

#3: Do you predict that your team will have a plan in place to address building a diverse team?

Audience Responses and Questions: 2020 Predictions for Talent Acquisition

Audience Responses:

A reaction to the prediction that teams will put more focus on sourcing diverse talent pools: My team is talking about hiring sourcers who focus entirely on sourcing diverse candidates.

A reaction to the prediction that teams will be looking to consolidate tools: I already saw this happening in 2019.

Other predictions from the audience:

  • I predict that my team will care even more about candidate experience early in the funnel and will put more emphasis on rules of engagement for initial outreach to passive talent.
  • I predict more use of analytics on number of reach-outs (top of funnel), but broken down even further by skill set, geo, etc. 
  • I predict my job will have more metrics and quotas attached to it. I’m not sure I like this, though. [Response from Steve: Metrics can really benefit the individual sourcer! You’ll get mission-critical insights, like where candidates are dropping out of your funnel or where the bottlenecks are in your pipeline. This way you can optimize based on facts, rather than gut instinct.]

Audience Questions:

Q. How do you see recruitment teams addressing the manpower required to aggregate, crunch, and analyze this new influx and availability of data? Most recruiters don’t have bandwidth or expertise.

A. That’s actually where software comes in—so you don’t have to expend any bandwidth of your own! Gem’s dashboards, for example, show you everything from most successful outreach messages, to most compelling content, to candidate passthrough rates in pipeline analytics—from reachout to offer accept. All of the data is automatically captured and presented for you in an easy-to-read format. 

Q. How do you think the individual branding of employees will play into the overall brand of the company? (e.g. showing what it’s like to work for a company vs. the mission of the company as a whole)

A. We know a few things from a recent LinkedIn Global Talent Trends Survey: 1. The biggest roadblock candidates face in a job transition is “not knowing what it’s really like to work at the company”; 2. The thing candidates most want to know about is your company’s culture; 3. Candidates want you to “share employee views.” In other words, one of the smartest things you can do for your employer brand is have your employees (the people talent most want to hear from) talk about your company culture and how it informs the day-to-day work environment (the thing passive talent most wants to hear about). We think shouting your company mission is great! But nothing beats hearing directly from the source. 

Q. An interesting point about diverse hiring comes from Atlassian’s Global Head of Diversity & Inclusion Aubrey Blanche, who pointed out that the typical archetypes of “diversity” are Black Americans and White women. She suggested using “balanced teams” to define diversity hiring because it includes everyone—all these underrepresented groups in tech—who might not be included by previous ideas. Just an interesting thought!

A. Aubrey always has such great insights about D&I, and we think Atlassian is doing fantastic work in that space. It’s also true that those demographics you mention (Black Americans, White women) don’t account for the whole of underrepresented groups at all: disabled talent, queer talent, trans talent, nonbinary talent, socioeconomically disadvantaged talent, formerly incarcerated talent, and so on. “Balanced teams” is a great alternative term. At Gem, we like the term “diverse teams” just as well.

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