It’s a digital world. Here’s some advice from guest poster Michael Overell, CEO and founder of RecruitLoop (an online platform of independent recruiters) on how today’s HR pros can survive – and even thrive – in this ever-changing recruiting wilderness.  


To remain competitive — and even pull ahead in your industry — it’s essential your HR department stays ahead of the digital curve. This is no easy task when it seems like new technology and tools pop up every other day. But if you can understand the current trends, you’ll have a much stronger ability to keep your recruitment strategy relevant.

We’ve seen a few major trends in recruiting driven by changes in technology:

  • Candidate sourcing has become a distinct profession. Almost every person has an online profile that often replaces a résumé. As a result, you can find an incredible amount of information about almost anyone online.
    In recruiting, this dynamic has driven the emergence of a distinct activity called sourcing. Sourcing involves proactively identifying and qualifying potential candidates for a role, regardless of whether they’re actively looking for jobs.
    This is very different from recruiting. Sourcers don’t usually work with hiring managers. It’s a complementary role, but one that often functions separately. It’s also usually a technical, research-driven job that requires the creativity to know where and how to search for unique talent.
    This role has developed into an entire category of professional sourcers, with its own conferences and meetup groups focused exclusively on the activity of sourcing.
  • New technology focused specifically on sourcing. Following the emergence of “The Sourcer,” there has been an explosion of specific tools and technologies to aid this work. This ranges from profile aggregators, like Aevy and Entelo, to tools that search the web for a person’s email address like Email Hunter.
    Sourcers and recruiters are investing heavily in any of these tools that will give them an edge in identifying, contacting, and engaging top talent.
  • Inbound marketing practices are being applied to recruiting. Inbound marketing aims to attract customers through compelling content that builds trust and awareness, rather than through interruption-style advertising. The trend was pioneered by companies like HubSpot and has come to dominate the field of digital marketing over the past 10 years.
  • Innovative companies are applying inbound marketing to their recruiting pipelines. They’re using quality content to attract potential candidates, building communities of people engaged in their brand, and slowly nurturing them over time to a point where they may be interested in a specific job opening.
  • Employer branding is forced on companies of all sizes. Employer branding was once limited to the biggest companies and budgets and envied by smaller companies at HR conferences around the world.
    Now companies of all sizes are forced to take their employer brand seriously, thanks to tools like Glassdoor, which are bringing unmatched — and sometimes uncomfortable — levels of transparency to the employee experience.
    Employer branding has become a price of entry in the battle for talent. This can be an opportunity and a threat. If you develop a bad reputation, potential employees will know, and they will likely avoid your company.
    Sixty-nine percent of people say they wouldn’t even consider a job at a company with a bad reputation if they were unemployed.

Incorporating the Trends

These trends are significant to the recruitment landscape, but identifying them is only part of the challenge. You need to incorporate the insights and adapt your existing recruiting process to not only keep up, but to also take advantage of these trends.

Here are the four most effective ways to do that:

  1. Segment your recruiting team and process. The skills required to build rapport, negotiate, and close with high-level candidates are completely different than the skills required to source top talent for a role online. The best recruiting teams are following the example sales teams have been setting over the last 10 years: segment and specialize.
    Segment your recruiting team across the specific stages of the hiring process (research, sourcing, recruiting, onboarding). Hire or engage specialists to perform each of these stages. If your company isn’t big enough for multiple people across the process, consider outsourcing parts of it, such as candidate research, or at least be cognizant of the range of skills needed to be an effective recruiter in today’s market.
  2. Track metrics across each stage of your funnel. When a hiring team is segmented across activities, it’s much easier to track metrics and productivity in each stage. Sample metrics that should be tracked for every recruiting team, sourcing channel, and cost of hire. You need to know where your candidates came from, and chances are you have multiple avenues they travel through to end up at your doorstep.
    You also need to know what you’re spending to bring them in. This may seem obvious, but many companies overlook costs. Consider every step from recruiter fees to the time devoted to interviews. And you should also track more granular productivity metrics within each stage of your hiring process — e.g., interview-to-offer rate, the number of interviews per week or month, offer to acceptance rate, etc.
  3. Make employer branding a priority. Employer branding is often lost in the void between HR and marketing. Instead of assuming the other department is taking care of it, work together and make sure the efforts of both departments are aligned. Every potential candidate is researching companies using tools like Glassdoor. Ignore them at your peril.
  4. Utilize social media integration tools. You can augment a stack of résumés with social media integration tools to paint more accurate pictures of the people you’re considering for jobs. Some recruitment software companies have even developed tools to draw information not only from LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, but also from Dribbble, Behance, and Github. So wherever great talent is online, you can find it.

Simply sitting back and watching trends develop so you can take your cue from others won’t keep you ahead of the curve. But diligently tracking trends, recognizing where the industry is headed, and reacting faster than competitors will keep you on the cutting edge of recruitment tactics. With a little creativity, you may even set those trends in the first place.

Michael Overell is CEO and co-founder of RecruitLoop, an online platform of independent recruiters. He relocated from to the Bay Area from Sydney in 2013 and currently leads a distributed team across six countries. Michael previously worked with McKinsey and PwC after graduating from University of Queensland in Australia.


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