Talent acquisition professionals continue to face recruiting and hiring challenges in the second year of an unprecedented labor market characterized by record-level turnover and job openings, increased stress, and significantly changed candidate expectations.
Agility is the key factor in successful recruiting, according to the annual Recruiter Nation survey of over 800 U.S.-based recruiting professionals conducted by talent acquisition software company Jobvite.
“Things have been changing so quickly, and we’re finding that recruiters are becoming more adaptable to labor market trends,” said Kerry Gilliam, vice president of marketing at Jobvite.
“Recruiters are short-staffed themselves, and yet they are having to hire more than before amid a shortage of talent.”
But where there’s great challenge, she said, there’s also great opportunity: “Hiring teams are using more external workers, looking at different sourcing channels and rethinking requirements for roles. If companies can invest in their hiring teams and rethink their employee value proposition, it is a great opportunity.”
Here are some of the report’s key findings as recruiters look ahead to what is expected to be another strong candidates’ market in 2022.
Improving quality-of-hire over the next 12 months is the top priority of surveyed recruiters, according to Jobvite. That aspirational forecast may be a result of the crisis-hiring taking place in many sectors, experts say. Employers desperate to fill roles may be thinking that the effectiveness of those hires will have to be evaluated and addressed once the labor market settles down.
The survey revealed interesting shifts in recruitment priorities over the last five years. The biggest downward shifts in importance include areas like talent pipelining and crafting employer brand. The biggest upward shifts include investing in recruiting technology, automating processes and improving diversity.
“Companies are still putting an emphasis on diversity, but recruiters’ commitment has dropped since last year,” said Amber Ferrari, marketing manager at Jobvite. “Recruiters are so bogged down right now, that while it is still important to them, it’s more of a luxury to think about that while being overwhelmed with open requisitions.”
Tim Sackett, SHRM-SCP, president of HRU Technical Resources, an engineering and design staffing firm based in Lansing, Mich., agreed, saying that “Most organizations have pushed DE&I goals to the side because they are so desperate for talent right now.”
Gilliam said investing in automation, in order to improve efficiency and allow recruiters more time to build relationships with candidates, is also related to the current labor market, where recruiters are swamped with open roles to fill.
Sixty-four percent of recruiters expect recruiting budgets to increase in the next six to 12 months, with the largest recruitment investment shifts going toward external recruiting agencies and internal hiring programs.
“We’re seeing a lot of traction with internal mobility,” Gilliam said. “Everyone is fearing the ‘Great Resignation,’ and companies are thinking about how to retain their best talent.”
She added that companies that would not have previously considered using an external staffing provider or recruitment process outsourcing firm are doing so in increasing numbers.
“They’re busier than ever right now,” she said.
“So many recruiters were laid off when the pandemic hit,” Sackett said. “Then hiring turned back on, and organizations have been trying to figure out how to hire with less resources. Heads of HR are telling me that this is the hardest time to find recruiters and salaries for recruiters have skyrocketed.”
Recruiters expect to still be dealing with challenges in 2022 related to the pandemic, including addressing health and safety concerns; COVID-19 vaccination mandates; and whether jobs are fully remote, onsite or something in between.
“Organizations will lose talent if they don’t adapt to candidate and employee expectations around these issues,” Ferrari said. “Recruiters have had candidates turn down offers specifically because there wasn’t flexibility built into the offer. Some form of flexibility is becoming less of a perk and more of a real expectation.”
Stress and burnout continue to be acutely felt by talent acquisition professionals. “For every success you have filling a role, there’s 10 more [openings] coming your way,” Sackett said. “On top of that, TA teams are getting beat on by senior executives for not filling roles fast enough.”
Recognition from senior leadership is one simple solution. “Recruiters probably could use some more technology investment, and more budget for job advertising, but just showing appreciation goes a long way,” Sackett said.
Gilliam added that while recruiters are tasked with having to hire more people from smaller applicant pools, “let’s not forget that they are people too, juggling kids, and school and home and not exempt from these other challenges everyone else is experiencing during the pandemic.”
What Candidates Want
Candidate expectations have also shifted during the last couple of years, and workers expect more from organizations.
Seventy-three percent of recruiters report an increase in negotiating for higher salaries among candidates and current employees—up more than 20 percentage points since 2020. “I’m surprised it’s not higher than that,” Gilliam said. “Practitioners are telling me that companies are having to pay significantly more for the same roles. And candidates are very educated about their market value.”
Recruiters are having to get savvy around negotiating earlier in the process and pre-closing candidates, Sackett said. “Pre-closing is hard for new recruiters to learn, but it only takes getting burned by candidates a couple of times before you start realizing the value of locking them down early on salary expectations.”
As for benefits, the traditional offerings are still most commonly asked about by candidates, including health care coverage and a 401(k), but new benefits are rising in popularity, such as family planning, child care and parental leave. “Flexibility and child care support are becoming an expectation from employers,” Gilliam said. She added that about half of respondents said an increased number of job seekers are inquiring about DE&I initiatives more than they did in the previous year.
Investment in Tech
In addition to recruiters being agile, the survey results showed that to compete for talent in a candidate’s market, employers are having to improve process efficiency. Recruiters are using automation and artificial intelligence software to source, screen, schedule and chat with candidates more so than the previous year.
“Most companies are in dire need of more candidates, which requires them to cast a wider net,” said Anil Dharni, CEO and co-founder of Sense, an automated communication and engagement platform based in San Francisco. “To do this successfully, you have to have an automated technology platform to effectively reach five times or even 10 times more candidates. Then there’s the situation where there is an abundance of candidates for a position and now companies are tasked with looking for the needle in the haystack. With automated technology, companies can more efficiently and more quickly qualify the best candidates for the available positions. Anything a recruiter is doing more than five times a day can and should be automated.”
Chatbots are one of the most popular tools being used, Jobvite found. Just over half (51 percent) of surveyed recruiters said their organization uses chatbots in the recruiting process.
“With chatbots, recruiters can better qualify candidates prior to any human interaction,” Dharni said. “This is the wave of the future and speaks to the consumerization of how people seek jobs. Candidates want an Amazon-type experience from companies when seeking employment. They want their information to be current and accurate, they want their preferences remembered and to be connected to positions they see as a good fit.”