Recruiting Trends Survey: Some Preliminary Results

Three weeks ago I ran a survey, as I have for the past three years, gathering input on what you are experiencing in the world of recruiting. We looked at a broad array of issues, from the use of metrics to the number of requisitions you are dealing with. This information helps to identify trends and provide a bit of perspective on the recruiting and HR environment. We will make the full report available to all ERE readers, free of charge, in another week or so. Today’s column will highlight a few of the preliminary findings and share some comparisons with last year’s data. This year’s survey shows very little real change from last year’s. I actually found that surprising, since the “mood” of recruiters is different. Almost everywhere there is a sense of urgency that was not present a year ago, and I hear that there are more requisitions and more hiring. Yet only a little of that is reflected in the survey results. Requisition loads are slightly higher than they were a year ago. Nearly 70% of respondents said the average requisition load per recruiter was at least 11-15, with the greatest number of respondents saying their average req load was greater than 20 (39.7% respondents compared to 31.3% in 2004). The “over 20 reqs” response choice showed the greatest year-over-year increase of all possible choices in the question. Indeed, 48% of respondents said that the average requisition load had increased since the same time the year prior, with another 29.7% saying it was no different. Recruiting staff sizes have increased as well, and that may be why requisition loads have remained fairly flat. Approximately 43% respondents indicated that the number of recruiters in their organization has increased, compared to just 32.0% who said that a year ago. This continues a four-year trend. Only 17.2% said staff size had increased in our 2002 survey. Conversely, just 7.7% of respondents said their staffing department size had decreased in the last three months, compared to 11.7% last year and 32.8% in 2002. Perhaps some stability has returned. Recruiting staffs may have become more efficient because of better use of technologies like applicant tracking systems, referral and screening tools, and so forth. But even so, when asked how the size of the recruiting staff will change in the next six months, 41.9% said it would increase, continuing a four-year trend. Just 6.3% predicted a decreased staffing size in the coming six months. I was pleased to see that our obsession with cost-per-hire has lessened. Just 10.6% choose it as the most important metric, compared to the 17.6% who did so two years ago. The CPH metric is being replaced with quality of hire, with 32.3% choosing it as the most important metric, after just 24.5% did two years ago. While quality of hire may be difficult to measure, it is much more useful as an indicator of recruiter ability and assessment quality than other measures. Recruiting department structures are getting a bit less centralized. There was a slight trend away from centralized departments (45% in 2005 compared to 50% in 2004) and a slight uptick in those going with a hybrid (23.9% vs. 21.1% in 2004) or federal (11.5% vs. 8.2% in 2004) model. Even with this slight shift, most organizations have a centralized approach to recruiting. I will discuss the pros and cons of these models in future articles. Perhaps the most disappointing result, from my perspective, was the continuing decline in recruiting departments developing talent pools or communities. The graph below shows the trend we have seen over the past four years. While the decreases are small, the fact that fewer of you are taking the time to build and nurture pools of potential applicants does not bode well for recruiting success as the talent shortages increase. It takes time to create these talent pools, and organizations who do not have them will find it takes longer and costs much more to find the people they need. Talent communities are the best way I know of to ensure a steady supply of quality talent. The broad-based trends from the survey also show little change. Almost 66% of you said the number of professional hires was expected to increase in the next six months, with another 23.3% saying it would stay the same. Just 4.6% said they expected the number of new professional hires to decrease. When asked about the expected hiring trend for college students, however, 32.4% said they expected an increase in the next six months, compared to just 24.7% who said the same a year ago. This indicates a small but growing increase in new college hiring in the coming six months. When asked to choose from a list of six possible topics respondents thought the most critical facing the organization, respondents were clearly more concerned with finding and retaining talent than they were with developing the talent they have. “Finding skilled talent” was by far the number one issue, with 85.5% of all respondents choosing it, up 5.2% over last year’s 80.3%. The second most selected choice was “retention of key personnel,” with 54.8%, holding steady with last year. The third most selected choice was “management/leadership skills” (31.7%), a decline from 36.7% from last year and 46.2% from 2002, followed by “performance management” (24.4%) and “training and development of needed skills” (23.5%). These figures indicate an organizational disconnect between retention and development, with many recruiters or HR leaders not seeing the value of development. Perhaps it just reflects the reality that development takes time, costs money, and takes resources that are scare or not given a high enough priority. I will bring out more results next week and, as mentioned above, the full survey results will be available for download for ERE readers, at no cost, within two weeks. A sincere thank you to everyone who responded. I would also enjoy hearing your thoughts and getting your interpretation of the results.

Article Continues Below

Kevin Wheeler is a globally known speaker, author, futurist, and consultant in talent management, human capital acquisition and learning & development. He has founded a number of organizations including the Future of Talent Institute, Global Learning Resources, Inc. and the Australasian Talent Conference, Ltd. He hosts Future of Talent Retreats in the U.S., Europe, and Australia. He writes frequently on LinkedIn, is a columnist for, keynotes, and speaks at conferences and events globally, and advises firms on talent strategy. He has authored two books and hundreds of articles and white papers. He has a new book on recruiting that will be out in late summer of 2016. Prior to his current work, he had a 20+year corporate career in several San Francisco area tech and financial service firms. He has also been on the faculty of San Francisco State University and the University of San Francisco. He can be reached at


1 Comment on “Recruiting Trends Survey: Some Preliminary Results

  1. How can I find out what the current requisition load should be per recruiter and per specific positions?

    What resource is the best to quote on this?

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *