Opportunities for Recruiting Talent in 2022
I’m always ready for the excitement of starting a new year, of looking ahead to the possibilities that come with a fresh start. There have been many challenges for HR professionals and talent acquisition experts in the past 12 months, but I’ve seen positive signs that 2022 will offer new opportunities for organizations eager to recruit the best candidates to contribute to their ongoing advancement and success.
That’s why I get frustrated with doom-and-gloom reports of stagnant growth and uncertainty that seem to pop up whenever a new jobs report is issued. When the Labor Department issued its monthly report a few weeks ago, the headlines largely seemed to focus on a single statistic: only 210,000 jobs added. “Job growth disappoints” was CNBC’s bleak summation of the November report.
Maya Angelou has a quote that seems appropriate for this moment: “There’s a world of difference between truth and facts. Facts can obscure the truth.”
So, let’s spend just a few moments on that truth. A more thorough study of the latest jobs report shows that job growth is not really slowed. There are plenty of jobs available for candidates; companies have wisely decided not to create additional jobs when there are so many existing opportunities available. This tight labor market is an indication that recruiters and talent management professionals need to be smarter and more strategic in the months ahead.
That same report showed a falling unemployment rate—not triggered by people dropping out of the labor force, but actually by the opposite trend. The number of people working rose by more than a million individuals, and among those workers aged 25 to 54, 78.8 percent were employed, a number that is moving ever closer to the pre-pandemic level of 80.4 percent, according to the New York Times.
I think that we’re all ready for some good news, and these trends suggest that we can start 2022 aware of the ongoing challenges posed by COVID variants and their impact on organizations and employees, but prepared for the opportunity to match candidates eager to work with organizations that need their skills and expertise.
New trends to watch
Part of that preparation is recognizing that many of the traditional approaches to recruiting are no longer the most efficient or cost-effective paths to identify the right talent for each opportunity. The hiring leaders I work with understand this and are pivoting to implement more rapid and targeted strategies to source and hire top candidates for their opportunities.
As I work with clients to identify the talent management strategies that make sense for them and their organizations, a few clear trends have emerged that I expect to shape recruiting in 2022:
- Data, data, data: It’s worth repeating: data-driven recruiting certainly had an impact in 2021, but it will continue to impact all aspects of recruiting in the year ahead. Analytics can highlight everything from job acceptance rates to retention and turnover trends in specific positions or departments. Key metrics can equip organizations to adopt more efficient strategies to hire top candidates quickly. And data can narrow a broad search to a targeted identification of a curated talent pool with the right skills and expertise.
- Relationships matter: While acknowledging that artificial intelligence and data-driven recruiting have been and will continue to impact recruiting, I continue to hear from candidates that a personal touch often is the deciding factor in whether or not they choose to accept an offer. When organizations outsource their recruiting to automated software, the result is often a greatly expanded pool of ten or even twenty times as many potential candidates. This may sound appealing to an HR professional struggling to recruit nurses for a busy healthcare facility, for example, but what if those nurses don’t have the specific skills you need, or aren’t willing to commute to your location? Top candidates need to understand what is unique about your opportunity; they want to know that they are not one of 100 or 1000 people you’re talking to, but instead, feel that you are seeking them out specifically because of what you know they can bring to your organization. They want to feel recognized and valued. A skilled recruiter will strike the right balance of leveraging data to build key relationships with the best talent and dedicating time to nurturing that relationship to ensure a successful transition from candidate to new hire.
- Increase your speed: The tight labor market means that the best talent may be considering multiple opportunities. I’m encouraging my clients not to waste time if they find a candidate that is the perfect fit for their opportunity. We prepare ahead of time, pre-screening candidates and assembling the information that’s needed so that they don’t need days to put together a competitive offer. Many candidates are receiving offers at the end of an interview, and I suspect that this will become an expectation this year.
- Nurture your internal talent: One of the most strategic actions organizations can take is to implement a comprehensive program to retain their best contributors. It starts by identifying those key employees whose departure would significantly impact your organization and then creating a clear path to grow their skill sets and equip them to advance. It’s not simply a matter of increasing salary or benefits—although these do have an impact. Equally important is demonstrating your commitment to training, mentoring, and offering pathways to ongoing professional development. Many of the candidates I speak with who are looking for new opportunities are doing so because their current employer failed to offer the resources that would keep them motivated and engaged.
I welcome these trends because they underscore the importance of smart and strategic recruiting. The organizations I work with, and the candidates I speak with every day, are energized by the opportunities ahead.
Yes, it is definitely time for some good news, and for beginning to implement a few key steps to attract and retain top talent.