This post is part of a larger guide: TQR’s 2020 Salary Guide. Click here to get the full guide free!

2019 marked a very tight year in the labor market with high employment rates; unemployment levels not seen in half a century, and an extremely demanding year for recruiters. While we don’t have a crystal ball to predict the future, signs point towards a continuation of 2019 in many ways. The economy is expected to continue to expand, and Employers will compete for limited talent. 

Demand for critical roles will continue to outstrip supply, which will place more significant pressure on HR departments and recruitment processes to improve and deliver highly qualified talent in record time. This past year we have seen firsthand, high performing candidates receive multiple offers in their job search, as well as aggressive counteroffers as employers tried desperately to hang on to key talent, attracted away to other opportunities. Some candidates, with multiple options, elected to drop out of recruitment processes that became redundant and time-consuming, and companies lagged in their hiring decision. 

In 2020, it is expected that recruiters continue to adapt to the changing landscape and focus on improved productivity and speed using technology and focus on the hiring experience as well as creating a winning culture to retain sought after talent. Employers who learn to lead in each of the trending areas, listed below, will find themselves on top with the best available talent and the ability to retain their talent against competitive pressure in 2020 and beyond.

1. AI (Artificial Intelligence) in Hiring

AI for recruiting, per some statistics, is in about 24% of midsize to large organizations, with 56% planning to add it in the next year. At this point, then, AI is “here.”

Recruitment by nature is labor-intensive, and many tasks, while mundane, are altogether necessary to recruit top talent. AI helps remove the most tedious tasks such as sourcing candidates, pre-screening, and manually screening resumes, which allows recruiters to focus on higher-level tasks such as conducting assessments and closing selected candidates. As technology improves and becomes, more affordable, even smaller companies will have access to AI tools to enhance their recruitment processes. AI is designed to help recruiters do their job better, not replace recruiters. 

AI if used effectively, will: 

  1. Automate and speed up the candidate sourcing process. 
  2. Aid in the candidate screening process while at the same time helping to eliminate any potential bias. 
  3. Analyze your existing talent pool for potential candidates for a newly opened role. 

2. Brand Resonance

Employer Branding is critical in a tight labor market. How do candidates see your company from the outside? Is there a sense that people are treated well, with respect? Is your organization a place where candidates feel they will be working with like-minded professionals? According to HubSpot, 86% of workers would not apply for or continue to work for a company with a bad reputation. 

Employer Branding goes beyond how consumers view your products or services. Employer Branding is about job seekers as well as current and ex-employees. What do they say about your company out of the Employer’s earshot? In their social circles, on social media? The power of social media can’t be underestimated in Employer Branding. It’s naive to assume that every employee will leave your organization on good terms. But what do the majority of current and ex-employees’ say?  

Satisfied and well-treated employees are your greatest asset in Employer Branding. Sure, you can cherry-pick testimonials, but the real proof is in Employees who speak of the company outside of its walls in a positive light, and this is only earned through walking the talk. Strong Employer branding will not only improve the quality of the candidates who will apply for your roles; it will reduce your turnover. 

3. Social Media Recruiting

Companies who have not yet embraced social media recruitment, face an uphill battle as this is the fastest-growing sector in sourcing talent today. According to CAREER ARC, 55% of job seekers find social and professional networks to be the most useful resource during a job search. The use of social media in the job search is only expected to rise year over year.   

Social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook are used to reach out to passive candidates to present fresh opportunities. LinkedIn gives the ability for Employers to post their active vacancies, and Facebook for the past few years has allowed Employers to post jobs and receive applications directly from Facebook. With over 1 Billion pages visited monthly, Facebook enables companies to post jobs to applicants who are already spending their time on Facebook as a part of their daily lives. 

While far behind dominant social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp, and Instagram, LinkedIn is commanding as the Social Media platform for business users. This makes it an ideal platform for sourcing and recruiting business professionals. LinkedIn allows recruiters to post jobs and provides a platform for proactively recruiting candidates through its RPS (Recruit Professional Services). 

There is also a myriad of industry-specific social media tools such as GitHub, to find talented software developers or Doximity for healthcare professionals. The basic rule of thumb for choosing a social media platform is determining where your candidates are spending their time and reaching them in their social media platform of choice. 

4. Hiring for Soft Skills

In tight job markets, recruiters realize they are going to have a challenge recruiting perfectly matched candidates for every role. Recruiters need to adapt to the market by evaluating candidates for soft skills which will be the crucial differentiator between final candidates in the selection process. This requires a different evaluation process for recruiters. In addition to their hard skills evaluation, recruiters will need to: 

  • Determine the soft skills most valued by their company. Most common being, communication skills, problem-solving and adaptability. 
  • Determine the soft skills required for the role. In addition to the soft skills needed by the company, there are likely specific skills necessary for the position such as empathy in Customer Service 
  • Find a tool that helps them evaluate the candidate’s fit without bias. 

While many recruiters and hiring manager pride themselves in being able to pick up on social skills during the interview process, there are several software tools available to recruiters to conduct evaluations to eliminate any potential bias in the process, such as Predictive Index, IBM Kenexa Employment Assessments or Thomas International’s Personality Profiles. Recruiters need to do their homework to find the tool that’s right for their company as there are many assessment tools available depending on the requirements of the role. 

5. Mobile Hiring

It is no secret that mobile devices have become an essential part of our daily lives. We use them less as a phone and more as a tool for our everyday lives, to buy products, find a partner, manage our banking, and so much more. It is only natural that it becomes an essential tool in our job search. According to Career Builder, 70% of job seekers are searching for opportunities on mobile. Job searches on mobile devices surpassed one billion worldwide and will continually grow with the ubiquity of smartphones and devices.  

Your recruiting efforts, career page, and website must cater to those who are reviewing your opportunity and company on their smartphone. Without a mobile version of your site, candidates will have a difficult time researching your website and reviewing the opportunity. 

 Recruiters with mobile tools and apps are going to have an advantage in that they can access the required information at any time it’s needed. Candidates who are difficult to contact during the day due to their work demands can be reached, presented opportunities, and evaluated at their convenience. Being able to move quickly is critical in a tight employment market, so waiting until the next day or making it inconvenient for candidates may mean you are missing out on high performing candidates who are active in their business and family lives and can only be reached outside of core business hours. 

6. Prioritizing the Candidate Experience

Many companies will need to smooth out the bumps or fix broken hiring processes before being able to attract top-performing candidates. Employers who absorbed large chunks of a candidate’s time without finalizing a decision were the most frowned upon as they felt that their time was not respected during the interview process. In a market where many candidates interviewing and evaluating opportunities are currently employed but looking for something better, employers need to consider their use of the candidate’s time, particularly during business hours. The second-largest complaint was employers who took too long to come to a decision. This sours a candidate’s experience as time drags on, and it appears as if the employer is only mildly interested or slow in decision making. 

High performing candidates will include their experience throughout the hiring process as a part of their decision to accept or reject the offer when presented. This is most pertinent when candidates receive multiple offers. The employer who treated them well throughout the process concerning their time is selected over employers who took hours of the candidate’s time with numerous interviews, long-winded assessments, and, in many cases, travel requirements taking away time from their families and current responsibilities. 

An effective candidate experience: 

  1. Considers the candidate’s current time and commitments. 
  2. Uses technology effectively for both sides: Would a Skype or Zoom interview work better than an in-person fly-in at his stage? Can an online assessment be done in the comfort of their home? 
  3. Maintains open communication, letting the candidate know where they are in the process. 

All candidates in an effective recruitment process, even if not chosen, will continue to think of the company positively. Those with a poor experience will not and will likely share their negative experiences with others in their network and on social media. While this may not seem to be a big deal, in the world where information travels at the speed of the internet, a negative experience can reach faster and further than ever before, and in a tight labor market may impact the ability of your business to grow. 


Understanding and focusing on addressing the above trends in the recruitment process will ensure that your team grows with the best talent available in the market. While some areas may be easier to implement, such as evaluating tools to determine soft skills. Other areas will require a concerted effort over time. In the case of employer branding, for example, reputation doesn’t change overnight. However, moving in the right direction will go a long way. In a high demand market, employers need to do everything they can to win over top talent, which will have a significant impact on their bottom line over time. 

This post is part of our larger annual Salary Guide.


About TQR

Top Quality Recruitment is a leading provider of staffing and recruiting services in the consumer packaged goods, engineering, medical industries.

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