Recruiting Trends For 2016 And Their Supporting Best Practices, 2 Part series

What could be more important in a fast-moving world than keeping up with developing trends? Unfortunately, many in recruiting are so busy that they forget to set aside time to follow or act on these important emerging trends.

The Many Benefits of Tracking Emerging Trends in Recruiting

Not following trends can be a mistake because being first provides your firm with a competitive advantage and a notoriety that helps you build your employer brand. Unfortunately, once a recruiting practice becomes a trend, the opportunity to be first disappears forever. Not keeping up with trends probably also means that you are using dated practices, and as time goes by, they can only produce weaker results. Knowledge of upcoming recruiting trends will also make you appear “forward-looking” to your manager and colleagues. And finally, knowing about growing trends keeps you from being surprised, and if you’re aware of these trends early enough, you will have time to plan on how to best handle them as they eventually get more prominent.

The Top 12 Recruiting Trends That Will Become Dominant in 2016

In Part one of this article, I will cover the first six trends and their related best practices. The remaining highest impact six recruiting trends will be covered in part two.

Trend #12 – Anonymous resume screening and blind interviewing

Why being aware of this trend is critical — because the recent strong push for hiring diverse people and STEM women occurred primarily in the technology industry, there has been much more emphasis on using a more scientific approach to diversity recruiting. As a result, more recruiting leaders have become aware of the significant unconscious biases that many hiring managers and interviewers have. In addition to training that makes them aware of their unconscious biases, hiding irrelevant information from the eyes of hiring managers has also proven to be effective.

Best practices in hiding irrelevant information

  • Irrelevant information on resumes can provide an opportunity to be biased. Background information (like a candidate’s name, grades, their address, or their school) that has not been proven to be valid predictors of new hire success can be removed or obscured from the resumes that are presented to hiring managers. Firms like Deloitte and Google are experimenting with this practice.
  • Visual biases during the interview can be reduced by using more telephone interviews, where the individual is not visible. Another approach is, as many symphony orchestras now do, literally hide the performing candidates behind a screen.
  • Voice biases can be reduced by offering written or questionnaire Internet interviews. This is where the candidate types their answers to the posed questions on a computer screen, so the candidate is neither seen nor heard.

Trend #11 — A significant shift toward finding talent becomes easier but selling talent becomes more difficult

Why being aware of this trend is critical — literally, for centuries, sourcing or finding talent has been extremely difficult. However with the growth of the Internet and social media, it is now possible to find almost anyone who is qualified to do a job. So now the most difficult phase of recruiting will become the “selling aspects.” Top candidates will be harder to sell because the drop in unemployment rate and the creation of more jobs means more choices and competing offers. In order to be successful, recruiters will have to develop much stronger selling skills in the areas of convincing prospects to apply, to come to multiple interviews and to accept your offers.

Best practices in improving the selling capabilities of your recruiters

  • Start by assessing the sales skills of your recruiters, because in many cases, they are under emphasized and extremely weak.
  • Drop the intuitive approach to convincing and adopt a scientific candidate research approach. Survey a sample of recruiting targets in order to specifically identify how they look for a job, where they look for a job, and what factors must be present before they will apply for and accept a job.
  • Consider hiring ex-salespeople as recruiters, because they already have the necessary selling skills. Be aware that you may have to pay them more, because recruiters’ salaries are usually significantly lower than those of the best salespeople.
  • Survey all of your new hires during onboarding and ask them specifically what arguments or sales approaches were effective and which ones had no major impact. Then use that information to improve your selling approach.

Trend #10 — Video becomes prominent in all recruiting messaging

Why being aware of this trend is critical — online videos now exceed 50 percent of mobile traffic and 64 percent of all Internet traffic. And video usage is bound to continue to increase (at least in part because of the popularity of cat videos, LOL). Video usage is increasing because of their high impact. If a picture is worth 1,000 words, think what a video is worth because it is more eye-catching and engaging. Most recruiting leaders find that videos are the very best way to reveal the excitement and the passion that can be found at your firm. If the videos are shot by your own employees on their mobile phone, they are also likely to be considered more authentic and believable.

Best practices involving the use of videos

  • Deloitte started a major trend with its “film festival,” which offered its employees a chance to shoot short videos from their cell phones revealing the fun inside the company. More than 2,000 employees participated.
  • With the widespread availability of smart phones, recruiters and hiring managers can now make personalized recruiting videos to send to high-value candidates.
  • Video job descriptions and even video job offers can have a profound impact on selling candidates.
  • “How-to videos” on a technical topic posted on YouTube have proven to be a great attraction tool. When the employee is contacted, they can eventually turn that contact into an employee referral.
  • Placing actual recruitment ads on TV has been recently popularized by GE, Walmart, and Koch. Coors offered a compelling TV ad that linked fun work and producing a great product. The ad included these lines: “A story about loving what you do”; “When you love your job, you never work a day in your life”; “When beer is your calling, you never clock out.”

Trend #9 — Improve the selling capability of your job descriptions

Why being aware of this trend is critical — many candidates who were initially interested will turn away after reading dull and poorly written job descriptions. They demand an exciting job and they assume that the dull job description is accurate. Misleading job descriptions can also increase new hire turnover when they realize that the job described in the outdated description is completely different than the job that they discover on the first day.

Best practices for increasing the selling capability of job descriptions

  • Start by testing if your firm’s job descriptions are superior to the ones offered at competitive firms. Simply conduct a blind side-by-side test (where the job descriptions have no company name on them). Then in order to find out how relatively attractive your description is, simply ask a sample of people in the field to rank the most exciting job descriptions for similar jobs. Borrow some of the terminology from the most attractive descriptions.
  • You should also survey potential applicants to develop a list of the words and phrases that definitely would excite them about this job.
  • Video job descriptions involving the team are becoming quite popular because they reveal much more excitement than any written job description can. Firms like Quickstop, Accenture, and Deloitte have all used them.
  • Obviously you should change the ratio of the words used so that the percentage tilts toward the selling aspects of the job description.
  • If you’re having difficulty finding diverse candidates, consider an approach that Google has tried. Allow a team of your own diverse employees to rewrite the job description so that it is friendlier to your target diversity group.

Trend #8 — A focus on recruiting innovators

Why being aware of this trend is critical — the most innovative firms like Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon produce a significantly higher workforce productivity (i.e. revenue per employee) than the average firms in the industry. This is because they focus on hiring innovators, who produce at least 10 times more than the average worker in the same job. Innovators also allow a firm to be first in the marketplace, which builds the product brand and often produces high margins.

Best practices for recruiting innovators

  • Because innovators know other great innovators, referrals are the best way to identify and recruit additional innovators.
  • With the growth of the Internet, blogs, and slide sharing, video, and picture sites, it is now amazingly easy for your employees and recruiters to find the ideas and the work of innovators.
  • Put together a process for identifying innovators within the large volumes of resumes or LinkedIn profiles.
  • Don’t lose innovators during the early stages of the interviewing process because of their tendency to be slightly arrogant. Train recruiters and managers not to instantly reject individuals because they abruptly answer interview questions with phrases like, “no, I would never do it that way!”
  • Be aware that innovators also expect different things before they will accept a new job. They are likely to want the job customized to them. And they would want lots of freedom and the ability to take risks and to try new things.

Trend #7 — Take a forward-looking approach to recruiting

Why being aware of this trend is critical — in business, it is better to be prepared … than to be surprised. But unfortunately, rather than being forward-looking, 100 percent of all current recruiting metrics are historical and backward looking. So shift to a future-focused approach because warning others about upcoming talent problems allows them time to prepare and to mitigate the potential damages. Being forward-looking may also help your career because others will view you as strategic because you continually look and plan ahead.

Best practices for becoming forward looking in recruiting

  • Conducting workforce planning helps you prepare for the future by knowing what types and amounts of talent your firm will need in order to meet business needs.
  • Offering effective succession planning will help you fill your leadership openings with better prepared internal candidates.
  • Forecasting possible turnover and then alerting your managers before a key employee become serious about quitting can improve retention. Alerting hiring managers to the fact that a great talent is suddenly on the job market can improve recruiting results.
  • Using predictive metrics allows you to prepare for next year. Predictive metrics can warn you about next year’s turnover and offer acceptance rates and the number and quality of applications that the firm is likely to get in the near future. Firms like Google are now even predicting which employees are likely to quit because they feel underused.

Final Thoughts

Every company is different, so trends don’t impact every firm the same. However, if your firm must dominate your recruiting marketplace, you have no choice but to follow and to occasionally start trends. One way to continually become aware of trends is to create a Google alert covering “recruiting trends.”

Note: Part two of this series will cover the remaining six most powerful recruiting trends in their best practices for 2016


Recruiting Trends For 2016 And Their Supporting Best Practices, Part 2 Of 2

Tracking upcoming recruiting trends is a professional obligation, but it can also help you identify and adopt powerful new trends before other firms are barely aware of them.

The Countdown to the Top 12 Recruiting Trends That Will Become Dominant in 2016

In Part one of this article, I covered these six recruiting trends for 2016:

Trend No. 12 — Anonymous resume screening and blind interviewing

Trend No. 11 — A significant shift toward selling, and away from finding talent

Trend No. 10 — Video becomes prominent in all recruiting messaging

Trend No. 9 — Improve the selling capability of your job descriptions

Trend No. 8 — A focus on recruiting innovators

Trend No. 7 — Take a forward-looking approach to recruiting

In this Part two, the countdown to the No. 1 trend continues. I will cover the remaining six highest-impact recruiting trends and their related best practices.

Trend No. 6 — Calculate the tremendous costs resulting from a bad candidate experience

Why being aware of this trend is critical — we’ve been treating candidates poorly for years, but, unfortunately, we have routinely underestimated the costs associated with that negative treatment. Recently, CareerBuilder (and the CandEs) has identified some of the unexpected consequences, including lost sales, where 9 percent would tell others not to purchase products from the firm and up to 23 percent would reduce their own purchases. A firm will also get a reduced volume of applications, where 22 percent would tell others not to work at the firm. You should also assume that at least 10 percent would post negative social media comments about your hiring process, which would discourage many others from applying.

Best practices for improving the candidate experience

  • Survey a sample of past applicants and new hires to identify what they didn’t like about your hiring process.
  • Consider periodically using “mystery shoppers” to go through your hiring process to identify issues.
  • You should also check to see (or ask them) if a to-be-interviewed applicant is currently a customer so that you can treat them better.
  • Periodically track negative social media comments about your interviews on and other similar sites.
  • Follow the CandEs and learn about newer best practices.

Trend No. 5 — All recruiting applications and communications must be deliverable on the mobile platform

Why you must track this trend –– the smart phone is ubiquitous and people carry everywhere. As a result, it has the highest response rate of any communications channel. Already more than 43 percent of job seekers use the mobile phone in their job search, and that number will continue to rise until the mobile smart phone is dominant in recruiting. And as a result, it becomes the primary way for applying, communicating, and providing information to candidates and maintaining candidate relationships.

Best practices that allow the movement of more recruiting tasks to the smart phone

  • Failing to have the capability to complete an application on your corporate applications site from any mobile platform may cause your application drop off rate to skyrocket.
  • You should also make it possible for candidates to accept your offers directly on their mobile phone.
  • You should always use the most responsive channel for communications, and currently that is often texting.
  • The mobile platform makes it possible to hold live video interviews from anywhere.
  • All internal recruiting applications and webpages should be mobile phone accessible for all managers and recruiters.
  • Employees must be able to do all of their referral tasks on the mobile phone.
  • Eligible candidates should be able to self-schedule their own interviews within any of their hiring manager’s available times.

Trend No. 4 — Increase your speed of hire in order to increase new hire quality and corporate revenue

Why you must track this trend — unfortunately, very few hiring managers and recruiters realize that if they don’t act quickly, many of their top applicants will drop out of the hiring process within as few as 10 days. That is because the best are likely to receive other offers, so they are not going to wait for a delayed offer, even though it may be a promising one. Others may view your slow hiring as a mirror of the speed in which you make business decisions, and drop out because they expect faster decision-making. Firms also need to be aware that slow hiring times are posted on sites like, so if you are slow at hiring, many potential applicants will know it. Finally, realize that if a vacant position is a revenue-generating position, a great deal of corporate revenue will be unnecessarily be lost if a slow hiring decision keeps the position vacant for too many days.

Best practices that allow you to reduce your hiring time

  • Measure the correlation between hiring the speed and new hire quality to show that slow hiring reduces the quality of your eventual hire.
  • Prioritize the recruiting for jobs and candidates that require speed in order to land the best candidates.
  • Identify the unnecessary delays in the hiring process and show those causing the delay the impact it has on the quality of hire.
  • Widely distribute a ranked list of the managers with the slowest hiring speed in order to embarrass them.

(A quick definition of quality of hire: The percentage of improvement in the on-the-job productivity including work volume, work quality, and the retention rate of new hires.)

Trend No. 3 — Use quality of hire data to identify “what works” and to help quantify your business impacts

Why you must track this trend — by measuring the on-the-job performance of new hires, you can group them into a high-performing and below-average-performing groups. You can then identify the factors that the individuals in the top performing group had in common. By identifying which factors correlate with success, you can more accurately determine which of the selection criteria that you’re using actually predict on-the-job success. Quality of hire data can also help you determine which sources produce great hires. By knowing the top- and the worst-performing new hires you can refine your recruiting process and improve the elements that work and fix or eliminate those that don’t. By quantifying the percentage that new hires perform more than the average, you can quantify the business impact of recruiting.

Best practices that allow you to take advantage of quality of hire data

  • Work closely with the CFO’s office in order to add credibility to your data.
  • Using mathematical correlations, identify which sources, selection criteria, recruiters etc. have the highest predictive value in identifying new hires who will exceed average performance.
  • Measure the percentage of improvement in output of your new hires who work in already quantified jobs like sales, customer service, and then put a dollar value on their performance improvement.
  • In other jobs, multiply the improved performance percentage of new hires by the firm’s average revenue per employee in order to get a dollar value for jobs that don’t have their output quantified.
  • Calculate the percentage of your hires who are weak hires and then estimate the cost of each one.
  • Calculate the loss to the business for each high-quality “missed hire” who applied but that you never landed.

Trend No. 2 – Referrals will become 50 percent of all hiring … so you better get them right

Why you must track this trend –– now that the best firms are getting nearly 50 percent of their hires from employee referrals, invest time and resources into your referral program. Referral programs routinely produce the highest quality hires, the highest volume hires, hires with the highest retention rate, and if done correctly, referrals can be among the fastest and cheapest hires. Unfortunately, referral programs are not self managing, so they must be continually updated and improved.

Best practices that will improve the effectiveness of your referral program

  • Rather than focusing on the money, motivate your employees to put the company first and “hire for the team.”
  • Educate employees on how to make good connections and referrals with an educational referral toolkit, which provides sample social media profiles and advice on how to build relationships and to effectively assess potential referrals.
  • You must remain highly responsive to each referral in order to maintain high participation levels.
  • Give feedback to your employees on weak referrals, so that individual employees can improve.
  • The best single way to improve referral quality is to require your employees to know the work and the skills of the individual. Also, require that they have assessed the prospects fit for the firm/manager and that they have presold them on the company, to the point where they will accept an offer of an interview. Actively discourage referrals where the employee is not totally familiar with them and their work.

And finally…

Trend No. 1 — Shifting to data-based decision-making in recruiting

Why you must track this trend — lately in recruiting, we have gotten quite good at collecting metrics. Unfortunately, after collecting them, we don’t use them to make decisions or to force change. Because data-based decision-making improves decision quality and speed, it has already been adapted by every other business function, except HR. I estimate that compared to the normal intuitive decision, data-based decisions can be at least 25 percent better. Google is leading the way by declaring that “All people decisions are based on data & analytics.” And “We want to bring the same level of rigor to people-decisions that we do to engineering decisions.”

Best practices of a data-based decision model

  • Data will reveal which sources produce quality applicants and hires.
  • Data will reveal which types of interviews and interview questions best identify future top performers.
  • Data can show you whether your references are accurate predictors of future performance.
  • Data can show you your new hire failure rate (which can average 46 percent).
  • Data can reveal which recruiters and hiring managers routinely produce the highest-quality hires, and which ones do not.
  • Data will reveal which single factor has the highest impact on hiring success (i.e. the relationship with the hiring manager).

Final Thoughts

It’s easy to read about trends, but few in recruiting actually follow up to prepare for even one of these upcoming trends. And that “I’ll get to it later” approach will, unfortunately, mean that their firm’s recruiting competitors will implement these emerging practices faster and they will win a higher percentage of head-to-head battles for top talent. That dooms the recruiting leader to a life of catch up” and unpleasant surprises because what worked in the past no longer produces even average results in the ever-changing world of business and recruiting.

About Dr John Sullivan

Dr John Sullivan is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high business impact; strategic Talent Management solutions to large corporations.

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