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  • 2018 Recruitment Trends: What to Expect and How to Make the Most of Your Hiring This Year

With the unemployment rate hovering at a 16-year low and the economy seemingly on the mend, HR leaders are eager to leverage 2018 recruitment trends to frame their hiring strategy in the coming year. In 2017, employers focused their attention on strategies such as building a better work environment and prioritizing employee satisfaction. Company culture and employee engagement were all the rage.

In 2018, HR leaders will still be paying attention to these important strategies, but there are several other recruitment trends that will be making it to the forefront of business discussions this year.

Hiring Volume and Competition Still on the Rise

According to a recent survey from Indeed, 61% of companies expect to hire more people in 2018, while only 10% are planning to reduce headcount. Of those expecting to hire more talent, 56% say they are doing so to support business growth. If the survey is any indication, hiring volume will definitely increase this year.

And we all know what that means… greater competition for top talent. It also means that many companies will have difficulty scaling their recruiting efforts to meet the demand. It’s a perfect storm that can send recruiting teams into a tailspin if they aren’t prepared for it.

Growing Gig Economy

It’s been a growing trend for the last year and will continue as a recruitment trend in 2018, as more and more companies hire independent contractors, freelancers, and consultants. According to MBO Partners, 32% of the private workforce currently works as independent professionals, and that number is expected to swell to 58% of the U.S. workforce by 2027.

Couple the gig economy with greater competition for high-quality candidates, and it’s clear that 2018 will require recruiters to work smarter to adapt to these new workforce challenges.

Heavy Reliance on Technology

In the last few months of 2017, artificial intelligence (AI) was on the lips of every HR and recruitment professional. According to Josh Bersin, 33% of employers expect to do “more human tasks” augmented by AI in the future.

AI is here to stay, but it’s not the only technology trend we’ll be seeing as a major recruitment trend in 2018. This year’s digital tools will push to be even more user-friendly, industry-specific, and automated, giving HR leaders more time to focus on strategy. In the future, you can expect to see AI involved in more than your ATS. Candidate sourcing, resume screening, candidate outreach, and interview scheduling will all be touched by AI this year.

Emphasis on Recruitment Marketing

In 2018, smart companies will continue to move toward recruitment marketing and borrow many of their most effective strategies from the marketing department. Content marketing, lead generation, nurturing email campaigns, and branding will all become more crucial than ever in the effort to attract top candidates.

In addition, there will likely be more focus on social recruitment in 2018. Not only will job offerings be posted on social media platforms with more frequency, but more recruiters will use social media for sourcing passive candidates. Adding to the trend is the fact that Google, Microsoft, and Facebook are dipping their collective toes into the recruitment arena.

Emphasis on Analytics

Successful HR leaders always keep a close eye on their recruitment analytics, often using key performance indicators (KPIs) such as cost-per-hire and time-to-fill. However, in 2018 more leaders will be looking past these types of raw numbers and into other KPIs such as conversion rates, recruiting cost ratio (RCR), time-to-acceptance, time-to-productivity, and pipeline speed.

Getting a more comprehensive view of the recruiting picture allows the hiring team to make changes where needed and become more competitive in securing the best talent.

Prioritizing Passive Candidate Sourcing

With high demand for great candidates and a more competitive market to get them, more recruiters will be turning to passive candidate sourcing in 2018. In some industries, the need to pursue candidates who aren’t looking for a new position is even greater due to the skills gap.

These recruiting challenges are likely to prevail far beyond 2018, and that means that hiring teams will need to be more engaged with talent and spend more effort building the highest quality talent pipeline possible. Think of it as a “find and engage” approach.

Candidate as Customer

More and more organizations recognize the importance of candidate care, and it’s a recruitment trend that will continue in 2018. Treating candidates more like customers and less like commodities will continue to be an important differentiator this year.

While in the past candidates accepted a process that was tedious, unfriendly, outdated, and sometimes unprofessional, today’s candidates expect more. They want immediate feedback, real-time updates, and a simplified process when applying for open positions. On the other side of the equation, companies are becoming more aware of the impact of candidate care on their brand and on the quality of talent they can attract.

This year, we can also expect to see a rise in tools and strategies designed to enhance the candidate experience. Recruitment chatboxes will become more prevalent and companies will focus more on engagement and conversion rates to build a pipeline of qualified talent.

Employment Brand As Key Differentiator

So much of what we’ve already talked about here is directly related to employer brand, so it’s appropriate that we’ve saved this one until last. The search for top talent is going to be tougher in 2018, competition is going to be fierce, candidates want more out of potential employers, and companies want to see better pipelines and conversion rates. All these market forces will push companies to focus on their employment brand.

Companies that demonstrate a positive employee experience to potential candidates will have a definite leg up this year. Sometimes it’s about the perks a company offers, but more often than not, it’s more about how current employees feel about their employer and the work that they do for them. Candidates want to see a potential employer through the eyes of an actual employee.

Whether it’s through social media or the organization’s career site, top candidates want to “feel” what it’s like to work for a company before they take the time to apply for a position. Organizations who get this right will be highly competitive and able to stock their talent pipeline with the very best candidates available.


There’s little doubt that 2018 is going to be a challenging year for recruiters. Companies are expected to hire more and there will be more competition for top talent. That means that HR leaders will need to focus on strategies that will attract and engage the best candidates. Employer branding, candidate care, recruitment marketing, passive candidate sourcing, and the adoption of great new technology tools will be the strategies of choice for the most successful companies this year.

Click here to learn more about how Orion Talent can help you meet these challenges.

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