The State of Hiring in 2017

Each year, we’re getting a little closer to the holy grail of a seamless hiring experience—one where candidates quickly find jobs that fit their skills and interests, and hiring managers are able to fill openings rapidly with well-suited talent.

There are many new technologies, tactics, and trends that are affecting the way we apply, recruit, and hire for roles in 2017. Some of these are driven by applicants and others by hiring managers, but all of them affect the way that people approach the hiring process today.

Here’s a look into a few of the biggest trends we are seeing in the job market today and what they mean for both applicants and hiring managers.

The Rise of the Applicant Tracking System

In the past, when candidates applied for a job, their resumes went directly to someone’s email inbox to review. Now, resumes and cover letters are often funneled directly into an applicant tracking system (ATS) like Jobvite, Greenhouse or Lever. These systems have become a key tool within the hiring process at many companies today—yet many job seekers don’t even know they exist. Certainly, most are not aware of the major role that an ATS can play in the success of their job hunt. 

Applicant tracking systems first came on the scene in the late 1990s, and the industry has rapidly grown since. Today, it’s a $6 billion market, with no sign of slowing down: The ATS market is predicted to grow another 7% over the next 4 years

Talent acquisition software is popular in part because it saves valuable time for hiring managers. However, it can also be a black hole for resumes. Since a human doesn’t read every resume as it comes in, a staggering 72% of resumes are never even seen by employers. Once in an ATS, candidates’ resumes are only unearthed when a hiring manager searches using keywords that match up. Hiring managers sometimes struggle to find the best candidates quickly within an ATS, and perfectly good resumes may languish because they don’t contain the right keywords. 

Savvy candidates have realized their resumes must be optimized for search in order to be easily surfaced by the ATS. They are learning to use application search optimization (ASO) to their benefit. However, hiring managers should keep in mind that not all applicants understand how to optimize their resumes and cover letters. They may want to consider getting creative when combing through the ATS for candidates, trying different keywords and combinations of words to make sure no strong candidate goes unnoticed. 

Adoption of Employee Referral Programs

Did you know that applicants who come in via referral are four times more likely to be hired for a given role? It makes sense. Simply put, a company takes less of a risk on an applicant when someone who already works there can vouch for them. On the flip side, nearly 80% of millennials look for people and culture fit with employers, followed by career potential. 

Referrals are also faster to hire, on average filling a role in just 29 days. They also have higher retention rates. An impressive 45% of referrals are still at a company after two years, compared to just 20% for hires via job boards.

In today’s candidate-driven market, referrals have become even more valuable because they can help hiring managers actually get in touch with candidates—especially the coveted passive candidate. While many people will ignore a cold email or LinkedIn message from a recruiter, job seekers are far more likely respond to job-related outreach from trusted friends or advisers. 

The trick with making your company’s referral program work is incentivizing and scaling it to fit the needs of your business. Often employees are happy to share referrals with a company they enjoy working at, but it can take some work (and social capital) for them to query friends and family and send leads to HR. That’s why it’s very important to offer appropriate incentives—whether monetary or otherwise—and to make it as easy as possible for employees to make referrals.

Unfortunately, employee referrals are a finite pool. Many hiring managers have had the experience of asking for employee referrals, over and over again -- first receiving a flurry, followed by diminishing returns over time.

In 2017, it is possible to increase the number of applications from referred candidates by expanding the search beyond the direct networks of your employees; it is simply a matter of finding the right technology to scale your internal referral program outside the four walls of your company. 

We have an inkling of where to look...

Hiring for Talent Management Operations

Another major challenge many companies face today is time management. Hiring managers are often torn in a million directions – trying to schedule interviews, wrangle candidates, post jobs, create outreach campaigns, and review resumes for many open roles at once. They have quotas to fill, and often it feels like there are not enough hours in the day.

This is why it can be really helpful to have someone whose job it is to make sure the recruiting function runs smoothly. In 2017, we believe that the concept of “talent operations management” will go mainstream, especially at larger companies.

Talent operations is a role devoted to managing the tools that can make recruiters more successful -- therefore, eliminating wasted time. A person hired to run talent operations is likely to take charge of the following tasks:

  • Choosing and implementing technologies
  • Automating and optimizing processes
  • Measuring performance
  • Communicating strategy to senior leadership
  • Managing risk and safeguarding the company’s reputation
  • Selecting and managing recruiting partners and vendors
  • Staying up-to-date on trends and changes in the world of talent acquisition

Whether you hire one person or choose to build out a team of talent operations managers, this function can empower your hiring managers to focus on finding the right talent. In 2017, we believe the industry will see more companies—even small ones—recognize the value of talent operations. 

Increased Emphasis on Transparency

Candidates want to know what it's like to work at a company before they come in for an interview. That's why they use sites like Glassdoor to learn the good, the bad, and the ugly -- all with the tap of a few keys.

These days, it’s tough to keep mum about your company culture and hiring practices; candidates want to learn as much as they can before committing to a role. In response, huge technology companies like Google and Facebook are publishing data about diversity, salaries, and more. The push by market leaders to share information openly is trickling down to smaller companies, too, and influencing every step in the process—for the better, we say!

The best candidates will do their research on your company long before they apply for a job. They’ll read your blog, check out your investors, and do research on salaries for roles in your industry. Once candidates do talk to you or apply for a role, they prefer you to be open and honest about salary ranges, work-life balance, and career development opportunities. 

We’ve found that there is actually a two-fold increase in interest from qualified candidates if you display salary range on a ReferralMob job posting. There’s nothing worse (on either side) than going through the entire interview process only to find that issues around compensation can’t be reconciled. In fact, today, 47% of hiring managers say unfilled positions are staying open longer due to mismatched salary expectations. Posting the salary up front saves both the company and candidate a ton of time. (And it’s why we recently introduced a “Minimum Salary” search filter for job seekers in our app). 

Bottom line: If you’re looking to hire top candidates, you have to commit to transparency throughout the hiring process. 

The Art and Science of Hiring

Hiring has always been both an art and a science. With the advent of the internet and the widespread access to information, it’s increasingly true that candidates and hiring managers can learn a lot about each other before they even hop on the line for that first phone screen… So it’s time to build our hiring processes around that reality.

Taking advantage of technology, hiring managers are using a combination of application tracking systems, sophisticated data analysis, and referral networks to find the best possible candidates. On the productivity front, they’re streamlining processes through the discipline of talent operations. Meanwhile, candidates are using new research tools and search strategies to find high-quality jobs with companies who are willing to be transparent about everything from culture to salary.

In order to succeed with hiring in 2017, you need to be aware of all these driving forces in the market. Hiring will always be a huge factor in the growth of any business, and those who do it well this year will set themselves up for success years down the line.