5 Powerful Talent Acquisition & Recruiting Trends for 2016

This blog is part of a 2016 Trends Series. Click here for my HR Tech 2016 Trends

I mentioned in my HR Tech Trends piece the market is booming. It’s crazy the number of conversations I’ve had with HR and recruiting practitioners I’ve spoken to in Q4 are telling me their staffing goals and headcount numbers are on the rise in this quarter and even more so in Q1 of 2016. It’s a good time to be in recruiting and HR. The need and demand for talent is huge if not overwhelming. It’s also a good time to be in recruiting consulting like me and some of my friends including Lars Schmidt of Amplify Talent, Will Staney of Proactive Talent and Stacy Zapar of Tenfold. 

Our senior business leaders are staffing up and taking advantage of this bull market. We  need to create differentiation among not just our product competitors but talent competitions as well. History shows that for the last 75 years, when the market is good, the economy maintains during an election year, which is why I’m betting on this bull market continuing into at least 2017.

2016 Recruiting vs. HR Trends

This year when it comes to talking about HR trends, I’ve chosen to divide them up into four separate areas:

  • HR and Recruiting Technology 
  • Human Resources
  • Recruiting 
  • Leadership 

I chose to discuss and outline each separately in a series of posts because each has unique focuses, challenges and opportunities. I acknowledge that recruiting is very different from human resources although they are symbiotic. We really need great leadership, HR, recruiting and technology to gain a competitive advantage when it comes to the employment life cycle and our employees.

Recruiting & Talent Acquisition 2016 Trends

My perspective is squarely focused on the practitioner and employer especially when it comes to 2016 recruiting and talent acquisition trends. Practitioners are in the driver’s seat in that senior leaders are looking to us to provide guidance, process and strategy in identifying current and future talent for our organization. Because of the increased number of recruiting products and services especially those in early funding and development (angel, seed, series A and even series B), we have a huge opportunity to influence the future of technology we use. There is more competition than ever before in this area. Talent acquisition leaders can work with technologies in early development and help influence them instead of relying on product developers, CEOs and engineers to know exactly the types of features, enhancements and workflows we need.

#1 – Not Just Candidate Experience but a Focus on Pre-Candidate Engagement

Speed to fill is so important in this market. Business leaders know these kind of economic conditions don’t last forever, and they want to squeeze in every last revenue dollar they can. While we’ve seen the use of sourcing increase – CRMs and talent networks to grow our candidate pools – talent acquisition leaders are focused on pre-candidate communication and resources. Onn building a relationship before they have an authorized headcount in their organization making the hiring cycle shorter. This extends beyond employment branding to looking at pre-candidate communications and marketing strategies.

#2 – A More Refined Mobile Strategy

Because of the increased competition for highly qualified candidates, talent acquisition leaders are looking at not just a mobile optimized or rendered career site but they are adding new mobile tools, techniques and strategies to their current candidate engagement cycle including SMS, mobile apply, social media, mobile retargeting, and mobile messaging. Companies like AT&T are using mobile messaging, particularly SMS text messaging to enhance candidate communication during the application process and encourage them to finish their application or their asynchronous video interview.

# 3 – A Clear Focus on Existing Candidate Pools and Communities

Because companies are focusing on pre-candidate engagement strategies, talent acquisition leaders are looking at existing communities and candidate pools to re-engage prospective employees using their pre-candidate communication. Employers are looking at communities like employer alumni, candidates who have already applied previously within the ATS and college and university or military communities. Employers can re-engage these existing relationships and focus on strategic messaging, leading to better candidate to employee ratios, faster time to hire and improved retention rates.

# 4 – Taking Better Advantage of Existing HR and Recruiting Tech

Senior leaders are opening their budgets, adding and expanding on recruiting technologies. The best talent acquisition leaders have been through bull markets and recessions and are making technology selections with this in mind. As we become more familiar with different types of HR and recruiting technology, there is an increasing need to better leverage the tech, personalizing it to our needs. Recruiters are diving in deeper into their current analytics and reporting dashboards to help improve and enhance their current processes and strategies.

#5 – The Flattening of Customer Service Departments and Its Entry into HR and Recruiting

In 2015, I first wrote about the era of personalization where employees expect personalized training and onboarding programs. This goes beyond the idea of the candidate experience, flattening the entire organization so that  every employee is a brand ambassador and a de facto recruiter who also plays a role in the customer service of the company.

We’re living in a hyper connected world that moves at the speed of push notifications, tweets and text messages. Recruiters can no longer see a candidate as just a candidate. Instead they need to see candidates  as potential customers, partners and future employees regardless of their current experience level or fit within their company.

What does 2016 have in store for talent acquisition leaders? Based on current economic indicators, our hiring needs won’t be slowing any time soon. It’s a good time to be in the business of talent, recruiting and hiring. We have the ear of  senior leaders and HR technology developers who are keenly aware of how critical talent continues to be ins revenue projections and future success. 

I’m looking forward more than ever to the new year and 2016.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.

Reader Interactions


  1. Dana Cole says

    Thanks for the post Jessica. From what I’ve read, it seems like tech and mobile are driving recruitment for 2016. . Here’s something useful I found for interviews at http://www.interq.io. Look’s like a interesting tool for recruiters to test out during the interview.

    • Jessica Miller-Merrell says

      Thank you Shivangi. I do think the employment branding movement is growing. It’s still new. I’m loving learning about all the new technology being created to help this important area of HR and recruitment grow.



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