8 trends that altered the recruitment industry forever

Last updated:
July 22, 2021
December 20, 2021
min read
Adrie Smith
Table of contents

For decades the recruitment industry was relatively static with recruiters having full control of the hiring process. The steps were straight forward: identify a vacancy, place a job advert, screen applicants, conduct interviews, and negotiate an offer.

We saw the first ripples of change with the introduction of online job boards in the mid-1990s, but recruitment processes still idled along. In the background, words like “digitization” and “applicant tracking system” were bandied about, but they meant little to the average recruiter. Some of the early recruitment software packages weren’t integrated and amounted to little more than a crude system of spreadsheets.

The first decade of the 2000s saw more advancements in technology being introduced into the recruitment industry. Some sharp-minded recruiters started getting a heads up on impending change and took note.

Fast forward to 2019 and the recruitment industry is a whole different world!

What changed and how it happened

Technology has been the prime disruptor of the recruitment industry in the past decade, prompting a change in candidate mindset. Instant access to information, growing connectivity, and a transient workforce have turned the tables on recruiters, giving candidates far more control.

In the dark ages before the internet, applicants responded to print job adverts, often without any idea who the prospective employer was. Today, candidates want to know more about the employer before they apply. And that’s kicker – top talent expect companies to have an employer brand so that they can decide whether they’d like to apply or not.  Candidates aren’t willing to make blind applications anymore.

The unquenchable thirst for advancement in technology across all spheres has introduced another game changer to the recruitment industry: skills shortages. In 2018 research found 40% of global business leaders worldwide cited skills shortages as a constraint on growth.

The recruitment industry, redefined

If your recruitment efforts are yielding poor results, maybe it’s time to evaluate what you’re doing (or not doing) so that you can implement change. With skills shortages a growing reality and evolving technology, recruiters have to adapt to the way the world has changed.

The recruitment industry will never be as it was before, and if you’re not at the forefront of industry trends your competition will mow you down.

Recruiters who’ve failed to keep pace with industry changes and candidate expectations probably haven’t added different types of creative recruitment strategies and tools to their arsenal and are being left behind. The reality today is that recruitment is no longer a one-size-fits-all gig as it was before. Every vacancy has to be approached as a separate project if you’re going to attract (and retain) top talent.

8 trends that have changed the recruitment industry

1. Rapidly evolving technical skills requirement

Don’t ignore the skills shortage, even if you’re not experiencing them in your industry. As technology advances, every industry will embrace the likes of IoT technology, AI, big data and data analytics. It’s estimated that 65% of tomorrow’s workforce will be employed in jobs that don’t exist today.

Solution: Become a specialist in your industry and keep abreast of industry developments, particularly in technology.

2. A more transient workforce

Long service awards are rapidly fading into obscurity as employees change jobs and industries more frequently. Few employees stay at one company for more than a few years today as people adopt a more varied approach to work and are willing to try different roles. Focusing only on education and job skills is in the past; recruiters have to be more open to a candidate’s potential too. What was the career ladder is now the career lattice.

Solution: Commit to finding candidates who are cultural fits and develop cultural fit questions for your company. Assure hiring managers that candidates who match the company culture will stay longer if they’re given opportunities to grow.

3. A more connected and informed workforce

The internet has revolutionized employee and candidate mindset. People are no longer willing to be numbers on the payroll of a company that has no identity. Candidates want to know more than just the job description and salary package before they accept an offer. If you’re going to attract top talent, you have to motivate why they should join your company.

Solution: Adopt marketing as a recruitment tool. You need to know your employer brand and how to sell it to potential candidates not only job applicants. Regular engagement with your talent pool is essential to keep them engaged and interested when a suitable vacancy comes up.

4. Candidate-centered approaches

Previously recruiters were focused on what the company wanted, and candidates were viewed as the numbers that made up a successful placement. No more! Applicants are aware of, and judging your every move. Poor recruitment processes, lack of employer branding, and a lousy candidate experience will have a massive impact on your success. Worse still, candidates spread the news on social media and reviews sites like Glassdoor. A few bad reviews could see your talent pool turn into a mud pool overnight.

Solution: Become candidate-centric! Mentor members of your hiring team who don’t understand the importance of the candidate experience. Consider the type of person you want to attract for any opening before you start hiring, and then put yourself in their shoes. How would they want to be treated, and what would make them accept an offer?

Relevant: 5 candidate-driven market trends in 2021

5. Completely digital recruitment

No recruiter can embrace the different types of recruitment we need today and still stick to old school methods of wading through countless applications to find the best candidates. Technology has stepped up to help. Algorithm assisted selection allows you to shortlist the best applicants without having to read through every CV. An ATS will enable you to keep track of all your recruitment processes as well as candidate engagement. You also have access to real-time data and HR metrics.

Solution: If you’re still not converted, it’s definitely time to make the change. Digital recruitment isn’t only the way of the future; it’s already a deciding factor in the recruitment industry today.

6. Recruitment is no longer a solo effort

If you’re managing the hiring process on your own with input from one or two line managers, you’re probably not coping well. Previously recruiters worked mostly on their own engaging in reactive hiring. Most companies have realized that working that way comes with many pitfalls leading to bad hires and early fall-outs. Collaborative hiring is fast becoming the norm and hiring teams work together from the moment a job is identified to the day the successful candidate starts.

Solution: Motivate the value of collaborative hiring to line management and identify a hiring team for each vacancy. Invest in an ATS to ensure that all team members are on board and to keep the group updated on the progress of each job in real time.

7. The best candidate isn’t necessarily on your doorstep

Previously companies hired people from their local area, and everyone mostly did a nine to five day, but that’s changed. Depending on the job, employees don’t need to live in the same town, or even in the same country. Recruiters need to broaden their horizons and be visionaries, particularly for those hard to fill roles. If you keep your candidate search local, you’re definitely losing out on top talent.

Solution: Become a harbinger for change. Educate hiring managers on the potential of remote employees and the value they bring. Find different sources of recruitment for new opportunities.

8. Recruitment doesn’t end with a successful placement

Previously a recruiter’s job was done when a candidate accepted an offer, but not anymore. The recruiters of today need to have vision and industry insight so that they can source candidates who will not only stay at a company but also add value to the company. For an employee to add value, they need to feel valued, and that again takes us back to cultural fit! Recruiters need to look beyond just skills and education.

Solution: Accept that the role of a recruiter has shifted substantially. Recruiters need to be innovative with a long-term approach to finding talent. Hone your marketing, communication and mentorship skills to ensure lasting employee tenure and build a robust talent pool.

Growing trends to watch

The modern recruiter is an innovator, a visionary, a communicator, and a mentor in addition to everything they were before. That might sound like a tough task, but it really isn’t. All you need to do is utilize technology and keep your finger on the pulse of industry developments.

Here are some current trends to keep an eye on:

5 job skills that are in short supply

  1.  Industry-specific IT skills as well as development skills.
  2.  Healthcare skills.
  3.  Finance and budgeting skills.
  4.  Research and development skills.
  5.  Green skills as the world becomes more eco-conscious.

5 soft skillsthat are in short supply

  1.  Language – mainly English in the business world.
  2.  People and communication skills.
  3.  Leadership skills.
  4.  Organizational skills.
  5.  Mentorship skills.

6 worldwide industry trends

  1.  Mining is on the decline.
  2.  Manufacturing is on the decline.
  3.  Technology is on an upsurge.
  4.  Cyber-security is on an upsurge.
  5.  Health care is on an upsurge.
  6.  Engineering is on an upsurge.

Recruitment is still recruitment. Meaning: it’s always about identifying a vacancy, sourcing candidates, conducting interviews, and negotiating an offer… just in a different landscape. The modern recruiter is an industry specialist who knows what’s going down in their business and doesn’t resist change.

Achievers in the recruitment industry also understand that there are many layers to success as well as different solutions to every situation. Technology has opened up a whole new world to hiring, and the recruitment industry has become a completely different game. Stay on top of your trends to keep on your path to hiring successes.

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