From AI recruiting to Millennial bosses: 2018 talent trends revealed

AI and social media are taking the recruitment process into a hyper-personal, hyper-segmented, and hyper-driven age. Here are the top 10 talent trends to look out for in 2018.

More personal, more segmented, more strategic and more driven by an up-and-coming generation. Those are the key 2018 predictions for the future of the talent acquisition profession, based on insights from Korn Ferry Futurestep experts from across the globe.

According to Futurestep CEO Byrne Mulrooney, the break-neck speed of technology advancements is at the centre of the change, allowing recruiters the ability to focus on what matters most: people and strategy.

“Linking business strategy to talent strategy has always been critical to the success of talent acquisition professionals, and today, technology frees up experts in our profession to do what they do best – offer sound advice to their business partners, create a warm and welcoming candidate experience and get results,” said Mulrooney.

New employment data released by the ONS this week has revealed the sharpest drop in the number of people in work in almost three years. According to Korn Ferry Futurestep’s MD, EMEA Search, Richard Shea, the UK faces a unique set of challenges as we enter 2018.

“The demographic phenomenon of an ageing UK presents a distinct challenge for organisations seeking the best talent,” he said. “The latest employment figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that we are at a turning point where the employment boom seen in previous years is eroded as older workers leave the workforce. As companies begin to feel the effects of their most experienced staff leaving, this will put even more pressure on them to attract people with the skills required for the age of digital disruption.’

“Indeed, this age of disruption is seeing business models, industries and working practices transform, with jobs that didn’t exist a few years ago being created. What this means is there are increasing demands for new skill sets in virtually every job and profession.”

In order to keep abreast of this wave, organisations must ensure that they have the pulling power to attract the best, according to Shea. From flexible working schemes for a better work-life balance and increased holiday allowance, to robust career development programmes and creative working environments, employers need to communicate the benefits associated with their brand.

“Moreover, speed and agility are vital in any kind of competitive market, and this applies to the switched-on, digitally-savvy recruitment marketplace,” Shea added. “Having the right recruitment tools and technology in place will make the process efficient and more responsive to the expectations of prospective employees.”

Here are 10 of the top talent trends recruiters and business owners should watch for in 2018.

AI and tech – The reinvention of the human recruiter

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has finally come into its own, especially with its ability to quickly and effectively source candidates. And as big data and AI will continue to proliferate, top recruitment partners are able to streamline into one single sign-on platform virtually all aspects of recruiting, including sourcing, assessments, scheduling, creating accurate compensation models and following up with candidates for future opportunities.

So does that mean the human recruiter will become obsolete? Actually, it’s the exact opposite.

With technology taking the brunt of the once cumbersome work, recruiters now have more time to invest in high-value areas of delivering an outstanding candidate experience and impactful advice to hiring managers.

Sourcing gets personal

New AI and social technology tools are allowing for segmentation of candidate pools and the ability to communicate in a hyper-personalised way.

One key example of this comes from today’s virtual world, which enables recruiters to set up a wireless “fence” around key locations. This helps recruiters identify and segment qualified candidates in specific geographies, allowing them to target candidates with mobile messages and/or advertising. This is especially helpful when entering a specific market with hiring events, as the systems also automatically collects data from the user’s mobile phone so it can continue to advertise to them, even after they leave the geo-fenced area.

Going places by staying put: Is relocation necessary?

Even when the offer is amazing, more candidates are opting out of moving for a job. In response, many employers are allowing new hires to remain where they are and work remotely. Another option being increasingly used is to rely on members of the growing “Gig Economy,” wherever they may be located. Enabled by video conferencing and ubiquitous internet access, this allows workers such as IT, marketing and sales professionals to contribute from wherever they are. The downside, a lack of face-to-face interaction could inhibit creating a cohesive company culture.

Millennials are now bosses

Since their debut in the professional workforce, members of the millennial generation have been known for being impatient when it comes to advancing within the workforce. Well, the wait is over for millions in this generation – many of whom are in their mid-30s – as they now are leaders within their organisations. Millennials as an archetype value flexibility in the workforce, not just for themselves, but now for their teams.

Living the company culture is core to how they lead. While these new leaders bring much to organisations, there however may be a few cautions. Since many did move up quickly, they have to learn how to “manage up” to colleagues that have more seniority than them. They also have to learn how to relate to their direct reports, some of whom could be as old as their parents. Finally, millennials grew up in a digital-first environment, so they must resist the urge to lead from behind a screen instead of face-to-face communications.

Internal hiring on the rise

It’s no secret the market is changing rapidly and the use of technology is changing virtually every role in organisations, regardless of the industry. This means people with the skills that organisations are looking for are often hard to find. Looking ahead we’ll see more leaders finding ways to reskill and promote existing employees.

Previous training on the company’s protocols and procedures, plus their understanding of company culture, puts internal candidates ahead of the game when coming up to speed learning a new role in a new division or geography. Internal postings of job openings, that require the same qualifications as external hires, takes out the bias of hiring internally.

University grads have options… again

While just a few short years ago new college grads found it difficult to land that first professional career after graduation, we’re now seeing the tide turn. Companies are setting their sights earlier on new college hires, which is clear from an August 2017 Korn Ferry Futurestep survey that found due to intense competition, nearly two-thirds of hiring managers believe the best time to recruit college students is during the beginning of their senior year.

As an indication that grads are in the driver’s seat, companies are looking to make employment offers more attractive to young professionals with in-depth, multi-week training programs, often bringing the graduates to one centralised location to help introduce them not only to their new job, but to the culture that will surround them.

Instant interaction for candidate communications

Long gone are the days where companies can expect candidates to sit through multiple interviews and assessment days. Today’s candidates want a faster process and ways to communicate via social channels such as texts, WhatsApp, Twitter or even Instagram. Because this takes less time and the response is often much faster, candidates are actually getting more interaction with recruiters, including an expanded talent acquisition team who can help with various aspects of the process.

Display a true picture of your business culture

For candidates, organisational culture and quality of life are key factors in determining where and for whom they want to work, and it’s nearly impossible to get this impression from traditional HR materials.

Candidates want to hear/see real employees discussing the pros and cons of the job. This can take the form of written testimonials, videos or even AI that simulate the person, much like today’s video games.

This helps candidates best determine if they’ll be a good fit for the organisation before they get too far along in the recruiting process which can result in reduced turnover and costs.

Candidates are also customers; look after them

Depending on the type of organisation, candidates can often already be, or become future, customers, clients or partners. It’s important to remember this during the recruiting process, as a new Korn Ferry Futurestep survey of professionals found that more than half say it is unlikely they would remain a customer of a company if they had a bad experience as a candidate.

One trend is for the talent acquisition and marketing departments to work together to monetise the candidate conversation, by, for example, giving all candidates a percentage off coupon for applying, and progressive discounts the further the candidate goes through the funnel.

Bottom line, candidates are people who want to be treated fairly and respectfully during the recruitment process, just the same way customers want to be treated.

Job hopping is no longer taboo

It used to be that finding qualified candidates was the hardest part of a recruiter’s job. Now, Big Data, AI and social media make the search much easier. What that means is recruiters are calling upon more qualified candidates, and more candidates are listening and taking new opportunities at a faster rate. This holds especially true in high-demand fields, including technology and engineering. Employers should take note and work to retain existing employees by giving them development and advancement opportunities, along with creative reward packages.

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda was Editor for from 2016 to 2018.