After five rough years in an economy that turned people out of their jobs in record numbers, closed businesses, and turned real estate values upside down, there is some good news for those involved with talent acquisition. The U.S. Staffing Industry Forecast expects staffing and recruiting to grow six percent in 2014, with a continued and probably increased need for information technology and marketing professionals to support advances in web and social media technologies. As the economy slowly recovers, talent acquisition trends to watch in 2014 include hiring vets and disabled candidates, a focus on strategic recruiting with talent pipelines, internal talent advocates, diversity recruiting, attention to candidate experience, and operational effectiveness.

Hiring Vets and Disabled Candidates

With The American Community Survey estimating almost six percent of active candidates have a disability and the U.S. Department of Labor reporting that almost eight percent of those looking for work are veterans, it’s easy to understand why the federal government wants seven percent of the contractor labor force to be workers with disabilities. It announced two new final rules in August, 2013 to improve hiring and employment of veterans and the disabled. Patricia Shiu, director of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, says the goal of the new rules is a “step toward reducing barriers to real opportunities for veterans and individuals with disabilities.” Both veterans and disabled candidates face more difficult challenges than other job seekers, including negative stereotypes about skills and abilities and physical and mental well-being. Despite this, there are employers who work to include these candidate groups. The Washington Post reports that major employers including PepsiCo, General Electric, and Valero Energy hire the most veterans.

Strategic Recruiting with Talent Pipelines

Stiff competition for top candidates combined with rapid advances in recruiting and social media technology make it a competitive requirement to streamline hiring processes to have a steady pipeline of talent to draw on. Part of the need for this is the high demand for temporary employment, making the labor force more volatile and making it more important than ever in 2014 to have a qualified labor pool on tap. A few things are essential to successful talent acquisition pipeline development and sustainability:

  • Employers, recruiters, and hiring managers must know and understand their organization’s short-term and long-term hiring needs and the positions
  • in order to source and develop effective candidate pools.
  • They must be using internal and external resources to develop the most diversified and qualified pipelines.
  • Their talent acquisition program must be able to measure pipeline strengths and weaknesses.

They must maintain engagement and interaction with candidates.

Internal Talent Advocates

An emerging talent acquisition trend going into 2014 is focusing on internal candidates, especially top performers, to improve performance and retention. Major companies like Time Warner Cable are making internal talent a focus of their talent acquisition function. Time Warner has an internal talent advocates program to engage internal candidates and let them know they are valued. Time Warner’s Senior Director of Talent Acquisition and Movement Meredith McGough says part of advocating for internal candidates is helping them define their career goals and understand the opportunities in the company. Titles that reflect this talent management role include Internal Mobility Career Advocate and Talent Acquisition and Reassignment Advocate.

Diversity Recruiting

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that white men will make up 43 percent of the labor force in 2014, and women and minorities will make up 57 percent, which points to trends in diversity recruiting, hiring, and retention. With a more diverse labor force, businesses must develop diversity and inclusion talent acquisition initiatives to be competitive. Diversity recruiting in 2014 will include diversity efforts for executive level position to support diversity companywide. AmericanProgress.org reports that women and minorities are vastly under-represented at the executive level, with 41 percent of companies lacking any Hispanic, African American, or Asian executives. L’oReal USA CEO Frederic Roze understands diversity. He told Forbes that “Diversity fosters creativity. We need to generate the best ideas from our people in all levels of the company and incorporate them into our business practices.”

Attention to Candidate Experience

Lincoln Financial Vice President and Head of Recruiting Teal Thayer knows how focus on talent acquisition processes rather than candidates can impact recruiting. Lincoln plans to use talent acquisition tools such as video interviewing to improve candidate communications and shorten recruiting timelines. Things that will be important in 2014 for improving candidate experience include knowing the defection rate of your applicant tracking system and online application processes, personalizing your talent acquisition processes with effective recruiting marketing, and mobilizing your recruiting process to make it accessible and enjoyable to the more than 70 percent of candidates on the go who are looking for career opportunities. With the report from Deloitte that by 2018, 50 percent of the workforce will be millennials aged 24 to 34 who are totally engaged with social and mobile technology, making sure your recruiting process is optimized for mobile means access to candidates.

Operational Effectiveness

Operational effectiveness is more and more a requirement rather than a wish-list item in talent acquisition. Improving applicant tracking systems, career sites, and social media recruiting methods provides the right tools for the active outreach and engagement with candidates. Smaller companies without effective ATS systems and social networking strategies will not only lose candidates but will not even have access to candidates on the same playing field as companies who use recruiting technology well. The latest ATS systems provide quality search capabilities, social networking and job posting interfaces, easy application processes for candidates, efficient reporting tools, internal candidate portals, and ownership of data. Without these time and effort saving capabilities, recruiters will be way behind the curve for candidate sourcing and engagement. ATS systems like Jobvite, iCims Talent Platform, HiringThing, and Taleo help recruiters and employers leverage technology to enhance traditional recruiting methods, and will become more important in the next few years approaching 2020.

Keeping an eye on talent acquisition trends for 2014 will help you measure your company’s recruiting efforts against your competitors and what candidates want from the companies they work for. If you see any gaps, it’s time to make some changes.

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