Talent trends: Predictions for 2020 and beyond

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been looking at the trends that have shaped the talent landscape in 2019. Just tuning in and want to catch up? We explored the remote and distributed workforce, candidate experience, Talent Makers and how to do an inclusivity check.

And we couldn’t help but ask ourselves, what’s next? What are the emerging trends that we’ll be seeing more of in the near future, and how will our industry change as a result? We tapped the leaders from our Talent Acquisition team here at Greenhouse and the greater Greenhouse community to answer these questions.

Let’s find out what the future of talent looks like!

The year(s) in review: What have been the biggest changes in recruiting in the past five years?

To understand where we’re going, it’s helpful to look at where we’ve been. Here’s what our talent pros had to say about how recruiting has changed in recent years.

Ariana Moon, Recruiting Manager at Greenhouse, has noticed hiring managers and leaders holding themselves to a higher standard for building inclusive cultures and having fluency around DE&I. Ariana says, “This means everything from more visibility into diversity recruiting platforms to more emphasis on trainings on cultural awareness, unconscious bias and harassment, from more discussion around pay equity and fair performance management to more inclination to run a structured hiring process.”

Ariana has also observed a shift toward a candidate-driven hiring experience: “Recruiting is becoming increasingly high-touch given how candidate-driven our talent market is. Employers need to be more transparent, responsive, interactive and faster with candidates to have them accept their offers. Any tech that helps employers in that area has a market opportunity.”

Jennifer Halabi, Director of Global Talent Acquisition at Nintex, says that recruiters are starting to look and act a lot more like marketers: “We are called on to act much more like marketers than old-style recruiters. In addition to managing a call schedule with new prospects, we are also managing social media platforms and developing content. We have seen a rise in titles like Recruitment Marketing Ops and Candidate Experience Manager. This is a direct result of taking cues from Marketing and Sales regarding candidate attraction, engagement and enablement.”

What’s next? Predictions for the next five years

We asked our talent pros to do a little forecasting and predict which trends they expect to see more of in the coming years.

Angela Alesci, a Tech Recruiter at trivago predicts the end of the typical application and hiring processes. She says, “A proactive recruitment approach, where recruiters search and headhunt people themselves, is becoming more and more crucial to close positions. I think in time the classic application approach will slowly disappear and people will expect more and more to be contacted in order to get a job, especially for those high-skilled tech positions. Companies will need to share talent and I believe they will start being open to more complex setups where a single talent may serve several companies at the same time.”

Jennifer imagines improvements to all aspects of the candidate journey: “I think our industry will continue to get smarter on how to follow a candidate journey, how to create and use content to meet candidates at different points in that journey and how to quickly engage and manage the candidate relationship throughout the journey. I think we will also continue to see integrated platforms so that these tools work seamlessly in concert to help us be more predictive.”

Jacqui Maguire, Director of Talent Acquisition at Greenhouse, believes diversity, equity & inclusion (DE&I) will gain visibility, both in terms of new tools and resources and as an area of strategic focus: “This is majorly important for us and other forward-thinking organizations, but I think the majority of companies are still just at the surface. There are DE&I-focused tools and resources on the market now, but a lot of the giants in the industry have not yet made any investment in DE&I. And, unfortunately, I think that some larger organizations still think of DE&I as ‘checking a box’ – not a truly important part of their organizations and strategies.”

Ariana sees increased adoption of recruiting best practices: “The competitiveness of the talent market will lead to higher standards for recruiting best practices, and therefore – I hope! – better recruiters. Recruiting will become more of an explicit element in a company’s strategy to win.”

What’s next for tech?

Technology has already transformed every aspect of recruiting, from the ways we find, communicate and assess candidates to our ability to report on pipelines and predict future hiring needs. What can we expect from technology in the near future? We turned to our talent pros to find out.

Ariana foresees the recruiting coordination and sourcing functions becoming highly automated. She says, “This doesn't mean the elimination of coordinators – rather the elevation of their role to focus more on candidate experience and programmatic work like interview training, DE&I initiatives and getting involved in talent branding and marketing.”

As recruiting becomes more metrics-driven, Ariana also anticipates “more emphasis on ATSs and BI tools that help recruiting teams function and measure progress.”

Similarly, Jennifer predicts more sophisticated reporting: “I imagine that reporting tools and full candidate/requisition dashboards will help businesses better understand what is happening in their hiring process. I expect that we will also see this bleed into market mapping as well, helping recruiting teams understand hot spots of talent, mobility of talent and the like.”

Jennifer also sees technology developing to support the distributed workforce: “I believe that the workforce will continue to find ways to let remote work feel less remote, using VR to simulate IRL conferencing and work pods so that companies can decrease operating costs while increasing the availability of talent pools.”

Angela anticipates advances in artificial intelligence: “I’ve heard a lot about artificial intelligence being developed to substitute for the recruiter in the classic resume screening. A machine would be able to identify the most successful resumes based on a set of skills and eventually refine the ranking through a learning process. I’ve even heard of AI chatbots that can assess candidates’ skills.”

What’s likely to stay the same?

While we are likely to see significant transformations in the technology we use and our work environments, are there certain elements of talent acquisition that will remain unchanged? Our talent pros think so.

One topic that came up several times was the continued need for personalization and human interactions. Jennifer says, “We will never lose the importance of the human touch. Regardless of how much automation or digitization we infuse into our process, careers are still too personal, too emotional, to leave to automation. I think that technologies that help us actually increase our ability to still have personal interaction (or seemingly human interaction) while also decreasing the manual work will continue to gain traction. I also believe that our ability to show authenticity to millennials and Gen Z will be important – back again to that marketing aspect of our job!”

Similarly, Angela says, “I think that, paradoxically, the relationships we have with candidates will become more and more crucial to win the war for talent. I say paradoxically because in a world developing more and more toward technology taking over human jobs, I still see the value of those interactions that make a difference. We are humans, after all, and candidates will still make a choice based on their emotions. The recruiter will still need to focus on this aspect in order to distinguish their company from others.”

Ariana believes that the increased availability of data will help elevate recruiting as a strategic partner: “We’ll continue measuring the value of effective recruiting and, in doing so, driving the idea that great recruiting is a revenue driver, not a cost center.” Ariana also predicts a continuation of the idea that everyone should be involved in recruiting and believes we’ll see “more of a dialogue around how recruiting is a key responsibility of any manager or leader.”

Here at Greenhouse, our goal is to help you and your company prepare for these changes. In 2020, we’ll continue sharing recruiting best practices and gathering insights from forward-thinking talent professionals to empower you to make data-driven hiring decisions.

Here’s to a successful new year – and decade!


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Melissa Suzuno

Melissa Suzuno is a freelance writer and former Content Marketing Manager at Greenhouse. Melissa previously built out the content marketing programs at Parklet (an onboarding and employee experience solution) and AfterCollege (a job search resource for recent grads), so she's made it a bit of a habit to help people get excited about and invested in their work. Find Melissa on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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