If the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that predicting the future can feel like a fool’s errand. And yet that’s exactly what recruiters and business leaders are asked to do: look ahead, prepare for the possibilities and help teams chart a course through the uncertainty that lies ahead.
The good news? Firstly, you’re not alone. There’s a whole world of professionals facing the same challenges. Second, there are plenty of tea leaves to help you predict the future of recruitment — if you know where to look.
That’s the idea behind the latest data-driven LinkedIn report: The Future of Recruiting 2023. Informed by interviews with dozens of talent leaders, surveys of thousands of recruitment pros and analysis of billions of data points generated on LinkedIn, this report makes 17 predictions grouped into 5 core themes on the future of recruiting.
While every prediction may not play out precisely as described, preparing today can leave you better-equipped for whatever tomorrow holds. These predictions align with a handful of key themes:
- The role of recruiting: from the proverbial ‘seat at the table’ to using generative AI, here’s how recruitment’s remit is evolving.
- Economic uncertainty: a look into how the macroeconomic picture is impacting workforce planning, DEI and compensation.
- Employer brand: the need to examine what candidates really want and whether organisations are conveying that through their company culture.
- Skills-first hiring: a move to assessing candidates by their capabilities and potential, not just their pedigree or experience.
- Internal mobility and upskilling: why organisations are pairing internal recruiting practices with employee learning and development.
In short, recruitment leaders will be called on to be more strategic, adaptable and in tune with what candidates want, what skills they possess and how their careers can progress within your company.
Read on for a detailed look at some of these predictions, or click here to read the full report online and find insights, advice and perspectives on the future of recruiting.
1. Prediction on the role of recruiting: Recruiting leaders will drive business-critical changes
After braving the trials and tribulations of the pandemic and the Great Reshuffle, recruitment leaders have emerged with a stronger, more strategic place in the business. Some 87 per cent of recruiting pros surveyed agree that talent acquisition has become a more strategic function over the past year.
The remit of recruitment leaders will continue to grow in both breadth and depth. You’ll be working with broader teams, such as learning and development, across the employee lifecycle, while also becoming more sophisticated in recruiting tactics like skills-based hiring.
“In the past year, I’ve seen more and more talent leaders get hired with a scope that goes beyond talent acquisition,” says John Vlastelica, founder of Recruiting Toolbox. “They’re expected to connect different pieces together and lead with a more holistic perspective.”
“In the next 18 months, recruiters are going to be asked to do everything,” he says. “Instead of aligning to one goal, you’ll be aligning to 10 business goals, and they may change every week. That’s why a recruiter’s learning agility is so critical.”
The upside of all this new responsibility? Recruitment teams will be able to profoundly influence the business in ways they couldn’t just a few years ago.
“Recruiting professionals have never been able to make a bigger impact than right now,” says Brett. “You used to be able to say, ‘These hires helped our company.’ Now you can say, ‘I changed the makeup of our company, I changed where we work, I changed what we look for, and I changed how we hire.’”
2. Prediction on economic uncertainty: Employers will hire more contractors to hedge their bets on the business cycle
The labour market has confounded prognosticators time and time again over the last few years – for many, it’s never been so difficult to see around the corner.
To stay nimble and hedge their bets no matter which way the market moves, recruitment teams might increasingly turn to contingent talent, like contractors who work for a specified amount of time. This gives the business more room to react to changing market conditions without long-term commitments.
“On the rebound of any crisis, organisations usually learn a lesson about flexibility,” says Marc-Etienne Julien, Chief Talent Officer at Randstad Global. Even as the market starts to improve, wary employers may still be drawn to contractors, he says.
“When bouncing back from a crisis, demand for contingent work will spike quicker than demand for permanent staff, because employers don’t know yet whether the recovery will be sustained.”
LinkedIn’s own Vice President of Global Talent Acquisition, Jennifer Shappley, believes that this goes beyond just contractors. “This is part of a larger trend of getting more flexibility in how you scale your team,” she says. “It’s not just more contract workers, but also more flexible work arrangements, and more gig assignments internally that enable mobility and upskilling.”
3. Prediction on employer brand: Recruiting will double-down on employer branding as talent regains leverage
While the economic outlook may be cloudy in the medium term, recruitment professionals appear more optimistic about the long-term prospects for candidates: 64 per cent predict that, compared to recent years, the next five years of recruiting will be more favourable to candidates and employees rather than employers.
That means companies need to stay focused on building talent pipelines, even if their hiring has slowed for the moment. That may be why many companies are taking this opportunity to refine or reinvent their employer brand.
Randstad’s Marc-Etienne sees it as a prudent step to take in anticipation of a stronger economy. “When the economy recovers, the competition for talent is going to spike back up very quickly,” he says. “So it’s really important for companies to make progress in how they position their employer brand and, more importantly, how they bring it to life.”
Though employer branding is but one of many line items in a recruiting budget, it was anticipated to grow even as budgets shrink overall. While most in-house corporate recruitment professionals believe their overall budget will stagnate or decrease this year, an ever-growing share (60 per cent) believe their employer branding budget will increase.
Of course, regardless of how much you budget for employer branding, it won’t be effective if it’s not an accurate, authentic reflection of your company culture.
“When you think about employer branding – how you articulate your culture to attract, engage and retain talent – you need to go beyond the performative,” says John Graham Jr., Vice President of Employer Brand, Diversity, and Culture at Shaker Recruitment Marketing.
“Candidates can see through it. They’re tapping into their networks to understand who you really are, beyond what your career site says.”
4. Prediction on skills-first hiring: Recruiting for skills, rather than pedigree, will become the gold standard
Skills-first hiring is the practice of valuing a candidate’s actual skills over more traditional signals, like an impressive alma mater or a decade of experience at a blue-chip employer.
Whether you look back at recent trends or look forward to future priorities, the skills-first hiring practice is on the rise and will be regarded as the gold standard.
Looking back, we can see that recruiters searching for candidates on LinkedIn are increasingly filtering by skills more than they were just three years ago. Looking forward, three out of four talent professionals (75 per cent) predict that skills-first hiring will be a priority for their organisation over the next 18 months.
Critically, hiring this way can make it easier to surface talented candidates who may not have the flashy experience or elite qualifications that often catch hiring managers’ eyes.
“Recruiters have been trained to copy and paste a job description so they can hire really, really fast. They’re not really looking at what the work requires and what skills are needed. That’s starting to change.”
Alex Fleming, Regional President of Northern Europe at Adecco, has also noted this recent change. “There’s been a real shift in the past year,” she says. “We are in a scarce talent market, and recruiters need to think differently and be more flexible, thinking about potential and skills rather than qualifications and job titles.”
5. Prediction on internal mobility and upskilling: Recruiting will collaborate more with L&D
Recruitment teams are already starting to partner with learning and development (L&D) teams – but there’s still a long way to go. While 62 per cent of recruiting pros say they already work closely with L&D, 81 per cent say they need to work even more closely going forward.
According to the LinkedIn 2023 Workplace Learning Report, L&D professionals are seeing the same trend: Most (56 per cent) say they’re already working more closely with talent acquisition this year.
Many companies are using this moment to strengthen the bonds between their two teams. “As hiring slows, now is the time for companies to review their workforce strategies and see how they can find and fill these gaps internally,” says Elsa Zambrano, Senior Vice President of Talent and Culture at NXP Semiconductors.
But even when hiring speeds back up, L&D teams will have a critical role to play – particularly when many companies are competing over a scarce talent pool with in-demand skills.
“In the future, companies won’t always have the luxury of hiring someone who has already done the job,” says Randstad’s Marc-Etienne. “Employers will have to really distinguish between what skills are good-to-have versus must-have, and how they can help employees learn more. That’s probably the most important adjustment companies need to make in the future.”
Again, every prediction LinkedIn put forward may not play out precisely as described. But recruitment and business leaders still need to look forward, anticipate what’s ahead and help steer their company through the uncertain future.
“As recruiting leaders, it’s so important that we meet at the moment,” says Jennifer Shappley, LinkedIn’s Vice President of Global Talent Acquisition. “We can’t rely on the strategies of the past to build our future.”
Change is inevitable, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be a passive observer as recruiting evolves. You’re in a position to reshape the way the world works – and ensure it works for everyone.
This blog post is just a preview — you can read the full global report online (or download it as a PDF) to see all 17 predictions on the future of recruiting. The Australian edition also available here.