3 Trends That Will Shape Recruiting in 2019

3 Trends That Will Shape Recruiting in 2019

Roy Maurer By Roy Maurer February 20, 2019

​In 2019, employers will entice applicants by hiring for soft skills and potential, offering more-flexible work options, and being more open about pay.

When surveyed by LinkedIn for the professional networking site's Global Talent Trends 2019 report, more than 5,000 recruiters and hiring managers in 35 countries identified these three trends, among others, as creating the greatest change in the workplace.

Workers expect more from employers—more transparency, accountability and trust, said Mark Lobosco, vice president of talent solutions for LinkedIn. "And you need more from your employees—not only their technical skills, but also their ability to think creatively, collaborate effectively and adapt quickly."

Hiring for Soft Skills and Potential

While hard skills are important, competencies like creativity, adaptability and ability to learn on the job are crucial for successful hires. They are also among the most difficult traits to accurately measure.

"Soft skills can make or break a hire—and they can also make or break a company," Lobosco said. "As automation and AI [artificial intelligence] continue to reshape entire industries, companies and jobs, strong soft skills—the one thing that machines can't replace—are becoming absolutely vital."

Ninety-two percent of respondents told LinkedIn that they value soft skills as much or more than hard skills upon hire. But while companies agree that soft skills are valuable, most struggle to assess them accurately. Just 41 percent have a formal process in place to measure them. Sixty-eight percent of respondents said the main way they judge soft skills is by observation during interviews.

"Employers should be looking for soft skills more and training for hard skills, but we struggle with that," said Tim Sackett, SHRM-SCP, president of HRU Technical Resources, an engineering and design staffing firm based in Lansing, Mich. He is also author of The Talent Fix: A Leader's Guide to Recruiting Great Talent (SHRM, 2018.) "Organizations still post jobs that are hard-skills-based, because they don't truly know how to interview for soft skills," he said.

Evaluating candidates' technical background is still a priority at EY, depending on the role, said Larry Nash, the director of U.S. recruiting for the consulting firm. "If they have experience, we look to see what their technical background is because that's what our clients are looking for—expertise," he said. "But technical skills are not solely what we look at. We look at the full picture of competencies and skill sets that a person has, including critical thinking, teamwork, a global mindset, diverse thinking. If we're hiring straight from school, in addition to a candidates' field of study, we consider soft skills like listening and the ability to build strong relationships."

Despite the importance of soft skills, interviewers aren't sure how to measure for them, usually relying on behavioral-based questions and observations of candidates' body language.

"Interviewers struggle with pulling out someone's personality, especially because everyone shows up in interview mode," Sackett said. "You need an extended period of time to really find out who someone is, or you could give them work samples, which are hard to manage and expensive to produce. Personality assessments don't really deliver what we're looking for in terms of soft skills either."

Courtney Storz, head of global campus recruiting at financial services firm Citi, said her team uses problem-solving case studies and group exercises to showcase candidates' collaboration, communication and leadership skills, as well as an AI-powered soft-skills assessment, which measures a candidate's strengths and weaknesses. "Putting a premium on soft skills has allowed Citi to significantly expand its entry-level talent pipeline beyond the usual core schools, creating a more diverse workforce and reducing bias," she said.

Those efforts are also helpful to the employers who are hiring for potential when candidates lack experience. Due to the low unemployment rate, experts believe that employers will continue to loosen educational and experience requirements to fill open positions.

Scott Gutz, the CEO of global job site Monster, suggested filtering applicants to ensure they meet the minimum requirements for a role, then searching for the best possible fit based on more flexible criteria. "In a tight labor market, you can't only consider candidates who meet every single requirement," he said. "You also need to consider candidates who might not meet every single one of the requirements but have high potential for impact."

Nash said that as the talent pool becomes more competitive, EY doesn't "shy away from [its] standards but also sees where things can be learned instead of bought." The company offers its employees a talent development program called EY Badges, focused on emerging skill sets like robotics, AI and data analytics.

Offering Work Flexibility

The squeezed labor market will move more employers to increase wages and offer creative benefits, such as unlimited paid time off or flexible work schedules, to differentiate their brands and create a more attractive workplace.

"Work flexibility is becoming the norm," said Jason Phillips, vice president of digital HR and global chief of staff at computer technology firm Cisco. "The challenge is how fast can organizations provide it. Those that can are going to be in a far better position to [attract] and retain top talent over the next three to five years."

Technology has taken work beyond the traditional 9-to-5 office hours. And as the younger generations become a larger presence in the workplace, employers will have to adapt to those workers' preferences for nontraditional work experiences. Greater flexibility to work where and when they want has become a top priority for candidates, and employers are increasingly promoting their flex options in job posts. Since 2016, there's been a 78 percent increase in job posts on LinkedIn that mention work flexibility.

A recent Indeed survey found that nearly half (47 percent) of employees say remote work policies are an important factor in choosing a job, and 40 percent of employees whose employers don't currently offer remote work say they would consider taking a pay cut for that option.

"Across most industries, companies have started to adapt to a more agile work environment and offering greater workplace flexibility has become commonplace," said Jodi Chavez, group president of Randstad Professionals, a staffing and recruitment provider of finance and accounting talent. "It's now common for employees to engage with social media during work hours and do work during off hours," she said.

Nash said EY "offers a full array of formal flexible work arrangements like remote work or reduced schedules." He added that more importantly, the idea of flexibility is baked into the culture. "It's OK to talk about flexibility among teams, so people don't feel like they can't talk about it. We embrace flexibility."

He added that flexibility is also about acknowledging that people at different stages of their careers prefer different types of work relationships, so the company created a site listing project-based work opportunities to make it easier for those seeking gig work to find it.

Being Transparent About Pay

As it becomes easier for people to see and share salaries on sites like PayScale, Glassdoor and LinkedIn, more companies will choose to own the conversation by sharing salary information.

But the taboo of talking about salary is hard to break, and employers are concerned that disclosing compensation will encourage talent poaching and limit their ability to negotiate.

Seventy-five percent of the respondents to the LinkedIn survey who work at companies without pay transparency say it would ignite salary disputes.

In 2017, EY decided to stop asking about candidates' salary history—and basing compensation on the applicant's last job—but "we're not at the point where we publish salary in our job descriptions," Nash said. "There are a lot of factors that go into compensation that would raise more questions. Maybe that will change over time."

Lobosco said that employee pay has always been a confidential topic in the workplace, "but leaving people in the dark can make candidates uneasy and employees distrustful because most people incorrectly believe they're being underpaid relative to their market position."

A majority of organizations (73 percent) are still not ready to share salary information during the hiring process, according to LinkedIn. Of the 27 percent of respondents who said their company is transparent about pay, 67 percent share salary ranges with candidates early in the hiring process, 59 percent share ranges with employees, and 48 percent share ranges publicly on job posts. "Those who do share salary ranges cite many benefits—especially when it comes to speeding up the hiring process," Lobosco said.

In addition to streamlining negotiations and filtering out applicants who would eventually drop out of the process, job posts with salary information will get more traffic than the same post without salary information, Sackett said. "Google is saying that if you want your jobs to show up higher on search results, you better have a salary in a structured data field," he added.

Finally, advocates believe that salary transparency helps ensure fair pay across the organization.

"Right now, transparency is a competitive advantage for us—it's the right thing to do, and employees and candidates want it," said Jeremy Tolley, chief people officer at CareHere, a Nashville, Tenn.-based company that manages more than 200 employer-sponsored health and wellness centers in 26 states.

Tolley said that CareHere adopted a three-year pay transparency plan in 2017 to build the company's employer brand and boost retention. "Despite their above-market salaries, employees often assumed they were being paid unfairly—concerns that managers didn't know how to address," he said. "In 2018, we started telling employees the salary range for their own role, sharing ranges with candidates, and training managers to discuss salaries. By the end of 2019, CareHere hopes to have open salary ranges for all roles internally and on job posts. Most importantly, we want employees to have open, honest discussions with their managers about pay—especially if they're thinking about leaving."



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