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The start of a new year is always an opportunity to evaluate the state of affairs in our industry. It’s a great time to take a look at what is shifting and emerging. So, in the spirit of trend spotting for 2016, the team at SmashFly, along with our friends at Aptitude Research Partners, have identified six major trends to be on the lookout for (and get ahead of!) in 2016. Catch me and Madeline Laurano talking recruitment marketing trends and recommendations in this recent SmashFly webinar.


  1. EVP is King

The Employee Value Proposition is not new in our lexicon (in fact, it’s even older than Facebook!), but never before has the EVP been more important. As people are becoming savvier job seekers, standing out as a great company to work for is the key differentiator. This is true for three reasons.

First, when you invest in your EVP, your employees inherently believe you’re a great company to work for and your workforce is thus engaged in the EVP. Your great, engaged employees know other great people, so when they believe in your EVP, they are more likely to amplify your message as well as a refer other great talent they know.

Secondly, a strong EVP attracts talent to your company, not your jobs. Your company is what will set you apart, which means you can attract people even when you don’t have a job open for them right now. This is the future of recruitment marketing: it’s about attracting the right talent to your company first and then matching them to a position.

Finally, your EVP is the single best way to differentiate one job from another. The world needs software engineers, they need sales people, they need marketers. The top talent can do their job at many companies, but they will choose a company that fits with their needs not based on the job, but based on the EVP. You need to be radiating your mission, your culture, you brand first and be answering, “Why is it great to work for this company, and why do other amazing people work here?”


  1. Lead Generation

The shift in talent acquisition to think more like marketers has bourn one of the most interesting developments in the last couple of years: the idea of generating leads. Just like marketers, we have started looking at the buyer’s (or candidate’s) journey and the marketing (or talent acquisition) funnel. The parallels are evident! In looking at the funnel, talent acquisition has been really focused on the bottom of the funnel: apply. For most companies, it may be the only call-to-action they offer a candidate, with no other way of engaging or showing interest. In fact, so many companies have invested heavily in assessments and solutions for onboarding and hiring the right individuals, but many neglect how they get applicants in the first place (which is more qualified leads!).

What’s fascinating is that the top of the funnel―recruitment marketing―is where candidates make the decision to apply. In fact, 80% of the decision to apply happens before they talk to a company.

Giving candidate leads a way to opt in to learn more, without always having to apply right away, is the way forward. A talent network is one of the most important assets a talent acquisition team can have today: a living, growing database of warm, interested leads who have opted in to communication from your brand. Goodbye starting from scratch evey req!

Making sure there are other avenues to learn more, opt in and build a relationship is just good business. In order for recruiters to do their jobs effectively, they need more qualified applicants to choose from, which means they need more qualified candidate leads coming in to convert. It doesn’t work without investment in the top half of the funnel!


  1. It’s a Journey

We talk a lot about candidate experience in our collective world, but what about the talent journey? Back in the day, people wanted a new job, searched the job boards and applied into the ATS (Applicant Tracking System). We’ve approached recruitment in this way for years: advertise to gain applicants. But talent has changed. There are fewer highly skilled people, and they, along with nearly every other candidate, are not looking for jobs the way they used to. The journey to finding a new job is just that―a journey! It’s not linear. Today, the average talent in the market takes in 12 (TWELVE!) sources of information before making a decision to apply.

But those twelve touchpoints aren’t about getting from point A to point B. It’s more disparate. It’s all over the place. Every candidate goes through this research and their journey their way. And because it isn’t linear, it’s time to look at how we measure the candidate experience and path to hire a little differently. We need to look at not only the source of hire, which is important, but all the sources that influence the candidate throughout their journey. What source brought the company a lead? What source converted to apply? What were the sources of influence, or where might have a candidate returns multiple times for information? They all matter in this journey-based talent experience.


  1. Dual Goals

It’s no longer one main goal! This is going to make talent acquisition more exciting and interesting. There’s the goal of filling reqs that are open today, and there is also another goal to pipeline talent for future opportunities at the company. Some may see this as a challenge, but all I see is opportunity. You see, these two goals go hand in hand. Filling positions are a lot easier with a strong pipeline of talent you’ve already paid to attract. It means that you’re using a talent network form to capture leads through a variety of channels, and you’re emailing people to automate and execute targeted nurturing strategies to your pipeline. These pipelines, along with job marketing channels, will then provide the foundation for how you fill future job positions.

The cool thing is that the channels you’re using to fill immediate, open reqs, will also help generate pipelines for  future roles. Remember, not everyone is ready to apply, so we need to provide simple ways for people to raise their hand to learn more.


  1. Shifting Metrics

While we are talking about goals, it’s a perfect time to talk about how metrics are changing. With the influence of marketing on talent acquisition, it’s no surprise that we are seeing a surge in focus on meaningful data and the technology that can help provide this data.

It used to be that the goal of talent acquisition was to hire someone … anyone. But, really, that shouldn’t be the goal—the goal should be to hire the right person for the role, who will be retained a long period of time and further company culture. We need to look at quality! A hire is not a hire. A good hire is what it’s all about. We can fill roles really fast, or we can focus on filling roles with quality. The latter may take more time, yes, but in a time when speed and cost are budget drivers, we need to find new ways to measure quality.

According to Bersin, companies that spend more on talent acquisition retain hires longer. It’s like I’ve always said as a consultant: your choices are cheap, fast and good, and you can only pick two. If you want good talent, if can either be cheap or fast, but not both.


  1. Rise of the Specialists

Over time, we see professions begin to specialize. And that’s happening today in recruitment marketing. Look at our peers in marketing. Once there was someone who ran marketing, all of it! Today, there are specialists within marketing: digital, social, mobile, brand, data, content and so on. Now, slowly but surely, we’re seeing a shift to specialization in our space as well. There’s now roles like talent advisors, focused on applicant and hiring manager relationships; recruitment marketers focused on lead generation and engaging candidates through a myriad of different tactics; sourcers focused on pipeline building; and employer branding specialists who create that unique value prop. The teams are diversifying in terms of skills, and they are better for it.

What shifts are you seeing in the recruitment marketing space that are interesting to you? Hit me up on Twitter to share your ideas: @tparsons @smashfly

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