5 Recruiting Trends in 2017 (and the 9 ATS Features You Need to Capitalize on Them)

By: on February 24, 2017

It’s March, which means we’re already—by my count—3 trillion blogs and articles deep on the topic of 2017 recruiting and hiring trends.

Here’s one from The Undercover Recruiter.

Here’s another from Forbes.

Here’s one in French, if you’d prefer that instead.

These are all great, but they’re missing something: They’re not telling you how you can actually take advantage of these trends to meet your hiring goals. We’re here to change that.

Below we look at five major recruiting trends in 2017 and the relevant applicant tracking system (ATS) features you should invest in to capitalize on them.

Trend #1: Diversity Takes the Main Stage

Relevant ATS Features: Job Board Integration & Automatic Candidate Scoring

Why it’s trending: The numbers are in, and they say diversity is more important than ever.

Two-thirds of job seekers think diversity is an important factor when considering companies and job offers, according to a Glassdoor survey. A study by Gallup adds that business units with a more even mix of men and women have higher profits than their less diverse counterparts.

gallup chart

Source: Gallup


In other words, diversity hiring is no longer a “nice to have” side initiative. In November 2016, Microsoft announced it was tying executive bonuses to diversity hiring goals. Apple shareholders are demanding more diversity in the company’s workforce, too.

Small businesses need to follow suit if they want to remain competitive.

The ATS features you need: If you want more diverse hires, your job postings have to be seen by a more diverse set of job seekers and any diverse applicants need to be fairly considered for positions. Here are two ATS features to help you do exactly that:

  • Job board integration: Besides the big guns like Indeed and CareerBuilder, look for ATSs that can integrate with smaller job boards, such as DiversityJobs.com and EmployDIVERSITY, to increase the diversity of your candidate pool.
  • Automatic candidate scoring: Recruiters and hiring managers have a natural tendency to hire people just like them. ATSs with automatic candidate scoring or ranking capabilities can eliminate this bias by focusing solely on the qualities that an applicant needs to succeed in a specific role.

This is just the beginning. Learn more about how software can potentially solve your diversity issues here.

Trend #2: Job Seekers Expect More When Applying on Mobile

Relevant ATS Features: Mobile Careers Page and Apply Via Social Media

Why it’s trending: According to a November 2015 study by the Pew Research Center, 28 percent of all Americans have used a smartphone for part of their job search. For 18- to 29-year-olds, that number jumps to 53 percent. And they’re not just reading job descriptions—more and more want to apply for a position right then and there on their phone while they’re waiting for coffee.

Unfortunately, most companies don’t make this easy. Smartphone job seekers are often plagued by issues like having to read non-mobile optimized content, being forced to enter a ton of text using their tiny keyboard and not being able to submit their resume directly via their phone.

mobile job seeker research


If your application process isn’t optimized for mobile users in 2017, expect major consequences.

For example, three out of four job seekers will abandon an employer’s mobile application process entirely if the mobile website doesn’t load fast enough.

The ATS features you need: Look for those specifically catered to a mobile audience, such as:

  • Mobile careers page: Many ATSs can assist with creating a mobile-optimized careers page to ensure easy reading and navigability. Buyers should also make sure that the transition from their mobile careers page into application workflows within the ATS is seamless on every device.
  • Apply via social media: Casey Ferguson, vice president of marketing for recruiting platform TrackerRMS, recommends systems that can proactively fill out information for candidates by pulling their information from sites like LinkedIn.

      “These ATSs can pre-populate candidate information directly from an individual’s online profile and condense job applications for easier completion on mobile platforms,” Ferguson explains.

    Is your careers page in need of an overhaul? We looked at 10 of the best careers page examples from around the web to glean best practices.

    Trend #3: The Gig Economy Continues to Grow

    Relevant ATS Features: Customized Workflows and Skills Categorization

    Why it’s trending: If you only think of graphic designers and Uber drivers when it comes to contract workers, think again.

    A variety of factors—corporate downsizing, new platforms like Fiverr that pair talent with businesses, the growth of coworking spaces—is causing the contingent workforce to grow and spread across industries.

    According to a 2016 report published by The Brookings Institution, the number of gig economy workers over the past 20 years has increased by 27 percent more than the number of standard payroll employees during the same period.

    gig economy chart


    This trend is unlikely to reverse anytime soon. In fact, a study by Intuit predicts gig workers will make up 43 percent of the U.S. workforce by 2020.

    The ATS features you need: Gig workers are often hired to fill an immediate need with a specific project. There are two ATS features to consider in order to cater to this type of employee:

    • Customized workflows: Set up a customized workflow specifically for gig positions to quicken the hiring process. You might remove in-person interviews in favor of a contract assignment, for example.
    • Skills categorization: With gig workers, it’s handy to keep tabs on the ones you’ve used (and liked) in the past and what skills they bring to the table. Some systems allow users to leave notes on gig workers and categorize them by skill set.

        “By tracking, sharing, and evaluating these applicants, systems can build a candidate pool specific to this category and save time with future openings,” Ferguson says.

      If you’re growing your contingent workforce, you need the right tools to manage them. Our friends over at GetApp highlight some top-rated apps to consider.

      Trend #4: Employee Referrals Are More Vital Than Ever

      Relevant ATS Features: Employee Referral Portal

      Why it’s trending: As of now, the labor market isn’t showing many signs of change in 2017. The unemployment rate in the U.S. has been under 5 percent for nine straight months now, meaning there simply aren’t that many workers on the market.

      At the same time, demand is at an all-time high: As of December 2016, there were over 5.5 million job vacancies open.

      job openings chart


      In these trying times, you can depend on your current employees to keep you afloat through referrals. According to a LinkedIn survey, 48 percent of recruiters say referrals will be their top source of quality hires this year.

      If you haven’t focused on increasing referral hires before, now’s the time. Referrals are hired faster, perform better and stay longer at a company than your standard applicant.

      The ATS features you need: If participation in your employee referral program is lagging, there’s an ATS feature that can help:

      • Employee referral portal: Attached to your ATS, a portal can allow current workers to connect their social media accounts and broadcast job openings to friends, family and acquaintances with ease.

          If an employee referral applies, many ATSs can track their progress in the hiring funnel and notify the referring worker as changes occur. Some systems can go even further and track how many referrals individual employees bring into the company to calculate referral bonuses and rewards.

        We surveyed employees to find out what would encourage them to refer more people for jobs at their company. Check it out here.

        Trend #5: Companies Are Pouring Resources Into Employer Branding

        Relevant ATS Features: Branding Customization and Multimedia Integration

        Why it’s trending: If money weren’t a constraint in 2017, what would recruiting leaders spend more on: new technology, hiring staff or blasting job advertisements?

        The answer: none of the above. Fifty-three percent told LinkedIn they would instead pour money into employer branding.

        With the war for talent being waged harder than ever, companies are increasingly looking to employer branding to stand out from the pack and catch job seekers’ attention. They’re doing this a few different ways:

        • Developing a strong employee value proposition
        • Blogging about company initiatives and awards
        • Posting on recruiting-focused social media handles
        • Managing their reputations on employer review sites

        All of this is being done to convey a simple message: You want to get a job here.

        Companies are banking so heavily on employer branding, in fact, that one survey by Universum Global found 40 percent of CEOs and HR leaders expect this strategy to secure their company’s long-term recruiting needs by 2020.

        employer branding chart


        The ATS features you need: It used to be revolutionary if your ATS allowed you to upload your company logo. That’s not enough in 2017. Consider these two features:

        • Branding customization: Look for ATSs that allow you more options around branding customization—including color schemes, logos and fonts—for increased brand consistency between your website, social media and ATS.
        • Multimedia integration: If your job postings themselves are unengaging, consider systems that allow you to upload images and video to increase the likelihood of applying. If your ATS options are underwhelming here, consider investing in an integrated recruitment marketing platform.

        Having a great candidate experience is key to developing a competitive employer brand. Learn where job seekers think companies should focus candidate experience improvement efforts here.

        Next Steps

        Of course, finding an applicant tracking system that can do all of these things well is easier said than done. Here are a few steps you can take to find recruiting software that fits all of your needs:

        Head to our applicant tracking system software page. There, you can sort and filter products by reviews, cost, number of employees and more and click on product profiles to learn about each system.

        Call our advisors at (855) 998-8505 for a FREE consultation. Tell our team of software experts what you’re looking for in new applicant tracking software, and they’ll recommend a shortlist of highly-rated products for free. It only takes a few minutes.

        Email me at brianwestfall@softwareadvice.com. Whether you have a question or just want to talk recruiting trends, shoot me an email.

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