Recruiting Trends for 2016 and Their Supporting Best Practices, Part 1 of 2

© Pete Saloutos -
© Pete Saloutos -

What could be more important in a fast-moving world than keeping up with developing trends? Unfortunately, many in recruiting are so busy that they forget to set aside time to follow or act on these important emerging trends.

The Many Benefits of Tracking Emerging Trends in Recruiting

Not following trends can be a mistake because being first provides your firm with a competitive advantage and a notoriety that helps you build your employer brand. Unfortunately, once a recruiting practice becomes a trend, the opportunity to be first disappears forever. Not keeping up with trends probably also means that you are using dated practices, and as time goes by, they can only produce weaker results. Knowledge of upcoming recruiting trends will also make you appear “forward-looking” to your manager and colleagues. And finally, knowing about growing trends keeps you from being surprised, and if you’re aware of these trends early enough, you will have time to plan on how to best handle them as they eventually get more prominent.

The Top 12 Recruiting Trends That Will Become Dominant in 2016

In Part one of this article, I will cover the first six trends and their related best practices. The remaining highest impact six recruiting trends will be covered in part two, which will be published on 11/23/15.

Trend #12 – Anonymous resume screening and blind interviewing

Why being aware of this trend is critical — because the recent strong push for hiring diverse people and STEM women occurred primarily in the technology industry, there has been much more emphasis on using a more scientific approach to diversity recruiting. As a result, more recruiting leaders have become aware of the significant unconscious biases that many hiring managers and interviewers have. In addition to training that makes them aware of their unconscious biases, hiding irrelevant information from the eyes of hiring managers has also proven to be effective.

Best practices in hiding irrelevant information

  • Irrelevant information on resumes can provide an opportunity to be biased. Background information (like a candidate’s name, grades, their address, or their school) that has not been proven to be valid predictors of new hire success can be removed or obscured from the resumes that are presented to hiring managers. Firms like Deloitte and Google are experimenting with this practice.
  • Visual biases during the interview can be reduced by using more telephone interviews, where the individual is not visible. Another approach is, as many symphony orchestras now do, literally hide the performing candidates behind a screen.
  • Voice biases can be reduced by offering written or questionnaire Internet interviews. This is where the candidate types their answers to the posed questions on a computer screen, so the candidate is neither seen nor heard.

Trend #11 — A significant shift toward finding talent becomes easier but selling talent becomes more difficult

Why being aware of this trend is critical — literally, for centuries, sourcing or finding talent has been extremely difficult. However with the growth of the Internet and social media, it is now possible to find almost anyone who is qualified to do a job. So now the most difficult phase of recruiting will become the “selling aspects.” Top candidates will be harder to sell because the drop in unemployment rate and the creation of more jobs means more choices and competing offers. In order to be successful, recruiters will have to develop much stronger selling skills in the areas of convincing prospects to apply, to come to multiple interviews and to accept your offers.

Best practices in improving the selling capabilities of your recruiters

  • Start by assessing the sales skills of your recruiters, because in many cases, they are under emphasized and extremely weak.
  • Drop the intuitive approach to convincing and adopt a scientific candidate research approach. Survey a sample of recruiting targets in order to specifically identify how they look for a job, where they look for a job, and what factors must be present before they will apply for and accept a job.
  • Consider hiring ex-salespeople as recruiters, because they already have the necessary selling skills. Be aware that you may have to pay them more, because recruiters’ salaries are usually significantly lower than those of the best salespeople.
  • Survey all of your new hires during onboarding and ask them specifically what arguments or sales approaches were effective and which ones had no major impact. Then use that information to improve your selling approach.

Trend #10 — Video becomes prominent in all recruiting messaging

Why being aware of this trend is critical — online videos now exceed 50 percent of mobile traffic and 64 percent of all Internet traffic. And video usage is bound to continue to increase (at least in part because of the popularity of cat videos, LOL). Video usage is increasing because of their high impact. If a picture is worth 1,000 words, think what a video is worth because it is more eye-catching and engaging. Most recruiting leaders find that videos are the very best way to reveal the excitement and the passion that can be found at your firm. If the videos are shot by your own employees on their mobile phone, they are also likely to be considered more authentic and believable.

Best practices involving the use of videos

  • Deloitte started a major trend with its “film festival,” which offered its employees a chance to shoot short videos from their cell phones revealing the fun inside the company. More than 2,000 employees participated.
  • With the widespread availability of smart phones, recruiters and hiring managers can now make personalized recruiting videos to send to high-value candidates.
  • Video job descriptions and even video job offers can have a profound impact on selling candidates.
  • “How-to videos” on a technical topic posted on YouTube have proven to be a great attraction tool. When the employee is contacted, they can eventually turn that contact into an employee referral.
  • Placing actual recruitment ads on TV has been recently popularized by GE, Walmart, and Koch. Coors offered a compelling TV ad that linked fun work and producing a great product. The ad included these lines: “A story about loving what you do”; “When you love your job, you never work a day in your life”; “When beer is your calling, you never clock out.”

Trend #9 — Improve the selling capability of your job descriptions

Why being aware of this trend is critical — many candidates who were initially interested will turn away after reading dull and poorly written job descriptions. They demand an exciting job and they assume that the dull job description is accurate. Misleading job descriptions can also increase new hire turnover when they realize that the job described in the outdated description is completely different than the job that they discover on the first day.

Best practices for increasing the selling capability of job descriptions

  • Start by testing if your firm’s job descriptions are superior to the ones offered at competitive firms. Simply conduct a blind side-by-side test (where the job descriptions have no company name on them). Then in order to find out how relatively attractive your description is, simply ask a sample of people in the field to rank the most exciting job descriptions for similar jobs. Borrow some of the terminology from the most attractive descriptions.
  • You should also survey potential applicants to develop a list of the words and phrases that definitely would excite them about this job.
  • Video job descriptions involving the team are becoming quite popular because they reveal much more excitement than any written job description can. Firms like Quickstop, Accenture, and Deloitte have all used them.
  • Obviously you should change the ratio of the words used so that the percentage tilts toward the selling aspects of the job description.
  • If you’re having difficulty finding diverse candidates, consider an approach that Google has tried. Allow a team of your own diverse employees to rewrite the job description so that it is friendlier to your target diversity group.

Trend #8 — A focus on recruiting innovators

Why being aware of this trend is critical — the most innovative firms like Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon produce a significantly higher workforce productivity (i.e. revenue per employee) than the average firms in the industry. This is because they focus on hiring innovators, who produce at least 10 times more than the average worker in the same job. Innovators also allow a firm to be first in the marketplace, which builds the product brand and often produces high margins.

Best practices for recruiting innovators

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  • Because innovators know other great innovators, referrals are the best way to identify and recruit additional innovators.
  • With the growth of the Internet, blogs, and slide sharing, video, and picture sites, it is now amazingly easy for your employees and recruiters to find the ideas and the work of innovators.
  • Put together a process for identifying innovators within the large volumes of resumes or LinkedIn profiles.
  • Don’t lose innovators during the early stages of the interviewing process because of their tendency to be slightly arrogant. Train recruiters and managers not to instantly reject individuals because they abruptly answer interview questions with phrases like, “no, I would never do it that way!”
  • Be aware that innovators also expect different things before they will accept a new job. They are likely to want the job customized to them. And they would want lots of freedom and the ability to take risks and to try new things.

Trend #7 — Take a forward-looking approach to recruiting

Why being aware of this trend is critical — in business, it is better to be prepared … than to be surprised. But unfortunately, rather than being forward-looking, 100 percent of all current recruiting metrics are historical and backward looking. So shift to a future-focused approach because warning others about upcoming talent problems allows them time to prepare and to mitigate the potential damages. Being forward-looking may also help your career because others will view you as strategic because you continually look and plan ahead.

Best practices for becoming forward looking in recruiting

  • Conducting workforce planning helps you prepare for the future by knowing what types and amounts of talent your firm will need in order to meet business needs.
  • Offering effective succession planning will help you fill your leadership openings with better prepared internal candidates.
  • Forecasting possible turnover and then alerting your managers before a key employee become serious about quitting can improve retention. Alerting hiring managers to the fact that a great talent is suddenly on the job market can improve recruiting results.
  • Using predictive metrics allows you to prepare for next year. Predictive metrics can warn you about next year’s turnover and offer acceptance rates and the number and quality of applications that the firm is likely to get in the near future. Firms like Google are now even predicting which employees are likely to quit because they feel underused.

Final Thoughts

Every company is different, so trends don’t impact every firm the same. However, if your firm must dominate your recruiting marketplace, you have no choice but to follow and to occasionally start trends. One way to continually become aware of trends is to create a Google alert covering “recruiting trends.”


Note: Next week’s, Part II of this series will cover the remaining six most powerful recruiting trends in their best practices for 2016


© Dr John Sullivan 11/16/15


tags: recruiting, recruiting trends, best practices, predictions


Dr. John Sullivan, professor, author, corporate speaker, and advisor, is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high-business-impact talent management solutions.

He’s a prolific author with over 900 articles and 10 books covering all areas of talent management. He has written over a dozen white papers, conducted over 50 webinars, dozens of workshops, and he has been featured in over 35 videos. He is an engaging corporate speaker who has excited audiences at over 300 corporations/ organizations in 30 countries on all six continents. His ideas have appeared in every major business source including the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, BusinessWeek, Fast Company, CFO, Inc., NY Times, SmartMoney, USA Today, HBR, and the Financial Times. In addition, he writes for the WSJ Experts column. He has been interviewed on CNN and the CBS and ABC nightly news, NPR, as well many local TV and radio outlets. Fast Company called him the "Michael Jordan of Hiring," called him “the father of HR metrics,” and SHRM called him “One of the industry's most respected strategists." He was selected among HR’s “Top 10 Leading Thinkers” and he was ranked No. 8 among the top 25 online influencers in talent management. He served as the Chief Talent Officer of Agilent Technologies, the HP spinoff with 43,000 employees, and he was the CEO of the Business Development Center, a minority business consulting firm in Bakersfield, California. He is currently a Professor of Management at San Francisco State (1982 – present). His articles can be found all over the Internet and on his popular website and on He lives in Pacifica, California.



9 Comments on “Recruiting Trends for 2016 and Their Supporting Best Practices, Part 1 of 2

  1. I would love to share this great article on LinkedIn, but don’t really want to share beer cans as the photo. While I love beer, LinkedIn is my professional image and would prefer to not have that. Any way to have a second photo that we can use during the share?

  2. I was a manager at an international bank for 3 years and was very successful at it. I started seeking alternative employment due to trends and issues at my employer. I was eventually let go yet had still not found another position. For over a year and a half not one potential employer has viewed my social media, professional networking, blogs, nor my website. I applied to hundreds of position of which I have been not only qualified for, but one of only 4 people who have a unique training in some very specific areas of regulatory compliance of which we helped create. Yet I have only had 3 interviews and I am now working in data entry at 12.25/hr. I would love to know where any of these trends are being followed and where the competent recruiters actually are.

  3. It would be practical for businesses to understand the implications of using advanced HR technology for recruitment purposes. However I wonder what would be the technique to influence the decision making authorities understand the importance. All the techniques you mentioned are extremely helpful but it depends on how convinced the above mentioned individuals are.

  4. Great post, thanks for the detailed tips. Here’s something useful I found for interviews at It looks interesting enough… and I guess the questions in there are worth trying before an interview too.

  5. Great article. It is true that there are some key benefits to hiring an outside recruiting agency to fill a position for your firm. After all, your growth and success as a company relies upon obtaining the best possible talent in your industry, and retaining them!

    Our firm specializes in these types of searches for the IT industry. As a “boutique” recruiting agency, we spend the time to truly get to know your needs, then translate that into attractive job descriptions as part of our process.

    Our mandate is that we only send you the candidate after we’ve spent hours of time speaking with them about their experience, talents and most importantly, their desires in an employer. Like the article above mentions, you can expect a true “candidate” rather than simply an applicant.

    Be sure to have your Human Resources staff post the job to the big job boards, but certainly give us a call when you have a unique need. Remember, the perfect employee for your firm may not be browsing the job boards – we reach out directly!

    Thank You

  6. Great compilation of popular recruiting trends! I agree that there should be a focus on recruiting innovators for companies; and in order to that, companies should be innovators themselves in latest recruiting practices.

    I actually just published a post on mobile recruiting for hiring millennials:

    Rakuna Recruit is a perfect campus recruiting solution suitable for campus recruiters who are likely to travel to various campus job fair and events for candidate sourcing. With this mobile recruiting app on hand, recruiters can capture and qualify candidates instantly anytime, removing all data entry and middle work and reducing chances of losing a university candidate lead.

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