Um Yea: Not Another 2018 HR Tech Trends Post.
Here’s a good way to kick off a new year: for the first time in like, a decade, I’m actually not dreading writing one of those annual preview posts. See, if you’re in the recruitment content marketing business (a pretty shit nice, TBH), every year, you’ve got to put out a mandatory forecast into the trends and topics to expect in talent.
I’m about to out myself here – for the last 4 years, I’ve actually recycled the same post – the only modification being the year in question. They’ve been among my more popular articles, despite the fact I run the same copy and “predictions” every. Single. Year.
Except this one.
Hell, I was going to do it this year, too. I had sent the standard post to my friend Ryan Leary, and he liked it. “One of your shorter posts,” he said (true, because I think I originally wrote it for HR Magazine back in 2013, and they actually have a word limit and stuff). “You actually got to the f-ing point in this one.”
His only feedback was to augment my intentionally generic predictions – which, by the way, I’m batting a thousand on, with a few specific examples. You know, make it more, how you say – not complete and utter bullshit.
My forecasts, like fortune cookies, are always right by virtue of their utter ambiguity or that I say nothing even as I say something, like all recruiting bloggers and “analysts.” Like no business I know, I’m telling you.
For the record, for the past four years, my cut and paste job was a fluff piece using three self-evident themes in every “trends to watch in [insert year] here” (this, I suppose is thought leadership): “We’ll Still Be Talking About the Same Stuff,” “Something Will Die,” and “The Roadmap Remains the Same (that one actually will still be true for 2018 at almost every vendor in the HR Technology space, but I digress).
The thing is, #1 is no longer true. For the first time in a long time, 2018 should be actually interesting to watch, because things are actually changing, specious annual preview blogs like this one being an obvious exception, of course.
Back It Up.
In 2019, I might go back to my old standbys, but when Ryan asked me to add a little to a piece but “keep it short,” I decided to do what any writing diva does if given supportive, constructive and superficially slight edits by a supportive “second set of eyes.”
I decided to make it really long, and to finally write a new one of these. I’d been thinking about it ever since the million and a half other ones of these you’ve saw (click here to download our newest white paper!) came out this year.
Mainly because the primary premise in recycling copy in the hope no one ever notices (no one does, and like anyone on a deadline, I’m simultaneously lazy and desperate), that the surest thing since death, taxes and InMails, the fact that nothing much changes round these parts, pardner, well, that’s not exactly true at the moment.
Ever since I entered this industry, when I had hairlines and waistlines and bylines, I swear that the beauty of this business is the more recruiting changes, the more it stays the same (or falls further behind, as the case may be). But in 2018, business as usual is anything but – and it’s actually evolving in a way that almost makes me excited for the future.
So, I decided to retire my favorite inside joke (with myself, which are the best kind), roll up my sleeves, and contribute to the already oversaturated and completely commoditized cannon of Talent Trends to Watch in 2018.
Pop Off: HR Technology Trends Worth Watching 2018.
The thing about being a “futurist” (and sadly, I know way too many people who use that in their actual friggin’ job titles) is you’re never wrong, particularly in HR Tech, where everything is clearly made up and, mostly, aren’t really things at all. You’re always right about the future because we never get there, and “futurists” never have to focus on the short term, the present, the practical.
I may be wrong on these trends to watch, predictions for 2018, or whatever keyword we’re going to target for SEO, but here’s my crack at a brand spanking new list of top talent trends to watch in 2018:
1, Talent Warehousing.
We use a bunch of systems in HR Tech, and while the enterprise market continues to test the HR Tech Waters (Google Hire, Microsoft Talent, et. al), there still isn’t a really great solution for compiling and standardizing all candidate data into one single, simple database.
In theory, that’s what your ATS is for – but sourcing wouldn’t exist if those things worked as promised. And even if they did, they’re not designed to go past point of hire, which you’d think would be a non-negotiable feature, since employee performance and development data should synch with candidates, both for internal mobility and for the predictive power of the underlying analytics.
If we could find our A players just as easily as we could find “passive” candidates using LinkedIn Recruiter search, or use their employee data to help screen and slate candidates (if you already know what a HiPo looks like, finding one is easier), we’d be better at retaining our workers and recruiting what’s long been the #1 source of hire: the people who already work for you. The problem is the data sources rarely synch outside of a spreadsheet.
Recruiters are just starting to get around this problem, and as unsexy as business intelligence is as compared to say, branding or social media or mobile, 2018 should emerge as the year where we stop constantly reinventing the wheel and borrow the book from BI.
Think about it like an Amazon Redshift for Recruiting – where a bunch of different sources of current and historical data can all be quickly queried, and real time analytics actually being actionable.
The point of a data warehouse is simply to restructure data so it’s easier to find, makes more sense to the end user, and has been standardized so that there’s actually some consistency and quality in the reporting and decision making support capabilities. If this sounds a lot like an ATS, it should – they just weren’t built as BI tools.
We should soon see the congruence of both ATS and data warehousing to create “talent warehousing,” which should emerge as the new sourcing, because propriatary information generally leads to better results than pubic profiles; finding candidates isn’t actually a problem, getting the right ones through the process is. Which is kind of the point of recruiting, with apologies to Twitter.
Talent Warehousing must increasingly become not only an integral part of every HR Tech stack, but where talent sourcers need to spend their time (Boolean strings are BS in 2018, btw) – searching the data they already have for the best candidates they already own, coupled with the ability to predict future employee performance, instead of constantly trying to compete against every other company out there for the same candidates on the same platforms (looking at you, LinkedIn).
We already have the data to do this. Most enterprise employers have thousands of workers in addition to millions of historical candidate records. Yet most recruiters would rather try out some silly Chrome extension than mine the treasure trove under their noses.
Given the market today, that’s an approach we all need to rethink – and why talent warehousing will become the new sourcing in the year to come.
2. The Death of Candidate Experience.
Recruiters overemphasize candidate experience as a talent acquisition imperative, but increasingly, the candidate experience lies directly in the hands of the candidates themselves. A large contributor to this is the growth of “candidate marketplaces” (there are dozens, Upwork being the most prominent), where skilled workers can have companies do a dog and pony show for them instead of the other way around.
That’s because with the rise of the freelance worker, while not as statistically prevalent as they’re made out to be (about 15-20% of the overall workforce, give or take), is directly correlated with the growing skills gap.
Talent today has moved from freelance being that thing you did between real jobs into a way more lucrative, way more flexible way for workers, not employers, to create their own candidate experience.
More workers are voluntarily opting for project work (around 38% of all freelancers) than ever before, a trend that’s going to grow primarily in white collar, skilled positions, as talent marketplaces gain traction among employers and job seekers alike, many of the best and brightest are opting out of the recruitment process entirely. You can’t blame them – it’s always been a necessary evil.
Until now. And based off YoY growth of the Top 10 candidate marketplaces in terms of MAUs and valuations, what’s been a pretty solidly evident trend looks ready to step out into the spotlight and into the new world of work.
3. Stay Calm, Don’t Worry About GDPR.
A lot of recruiters and organizations seem very concerned about the impending implementation of GDPR, or the General Data Protection Regulation. It’s like SOX was in 2002, or Y2K consulting a couple years before that – it’s kind of the hot thing, compliance wise, but it’s mostly fear of the unknown mixed with extraneous risk mitigation.
I know, you’ll tell me how big a deal it is, and how many companies face strict penalties, and blah, blah, blah – but the EU has the tendency to give big multinationals (please, it’s not like the austere powers that be in Brussels give a shit about your startup) kind of an easy ride. Google and Microsoft got slaps on the wrists, and that was after years of legal maneuvering and a ton of money spent by both sides in a war for attrition.
If anyone’s the target, it’s major multinational tech companies, and I’m guessing they’ve already got their compliance in line. Your ATS should avoid similar scrutiny, because the strongest thing that the European Commission has to enforce GDPR is the dramatic warning in the text of the legislation.
They have neither the auditors nor technical expertise to aggressively go after violators at scale for not having double opt-ins or something, so by the end of 2018, GDPR will still be the law, but you’ll realize that you can keep calm, carry on, and worry about more important stuff.
4. The Roadmap Remains the Same.
Remember a year ago, when that feature that you really need was a quarter away from being rolled out? Chances are it’s still there on the “roadmap” that doesn’t really exist, but your vendor rolled out a bunch of stuff you didn’t actually need in the first place.
That’s the great thing about SaaS: vendors never actually have to produce what the customer wants because the delivery model can always hide product and process deficiencies.
That’s also why the term “roadmap,” which is completely irrelevant to SaaS, has replaced “I’ll talk to my boss and see what we can do” as the biggest lie enterprise sales guys tell customers. But unless he speaks Urdu, that account rep probably isn’t in close contact with product – not that he’d try, because, well, he’s heard it before.
So have you, which is why a year from now, you’ll still be waiting for a feature or integration that hasn’t happened. Unless, of course, you’re a Fortune 500 account up for renewal.
Then, you might have a shot at making more than a roadmap.
Oh, and one more: Diversity. It’s going to be the new black this year.
Uh, well, you know what I mean.