Big data has taken root in today’s workplace. From employee engagement to time-to-fill, more and more businesses are tracking metrics and developing data-driven strategies. This unprecedented access to data has provided hiring managers the world over with the ability to look under the hood of the recruitment process. Here are just a few of the key takeaways from hiring trends in recent years, to help you hire smarter.

Unemployment at a low: As of this writing, the unemployment rate is staying relatively steady at around 4.7%, down from a whopping 10% at its peak in October of 2009.

What does this mean for my business? While the low unemployment rate is stellar news for the US economy, it has a downside when it comes to recruitment. Most notably, the War for Talent is hotter than ever. The competition for jobs is higher than it has been in well over a decade and the cost of attracting top talent has risen in turn. While it’s certainly still possible to find a great candidate in today’s market, you may have to search longer, pay more, or hire more strategically to meet your talent needs than you did 10 years ago.

Technical skills at a premium: LinkedIn released a list of the 20 Most Promising 2017 Jobs and over half of the jobs that made the list are in the tech space. They also found that the Engineering category is the 2nd most difficult category to hire for in the world.

What does this mean for my business? Organizations around the world are hiring employees with strong technical skills, such as Developers, Engineers, and Analysts. This means that you’ll have competition if you’re looking to build your technical bench strength.

People are receptive to new opportunities: In recent years, the number of people willing to consider making a job change has risen steadily. Over half of all candidates are considered “warm passive,” meaning they are willing to entertain recruiting conversations.

What does this mean for my organization? This is good news for hiring. It means that, despite the falling unemployment and increasing market competition, people are predominantly receptive to at least entertaining the idea of a job change. You may have to dazzle them if you hope to beat out the competition, but candidates will likely be open to being approached with new opportunities

Career track is key: In 2015 the number one reason employees left a job and the top reason employees joined an organization both told a very specific story: employees want developmental opportunities and a strong career path.

What does this mean for my business? If you wish to attract and retain top talent, you will need to provide them with advancement opportunities. This factor was more important than even compensation packages, so hiring managers would be wise to invest in their career pathing and employee development programs and to speak of growth opportunities when courting candidates.

Referrals are effective: According to LinkedIn, the number one way people learn about new jobs is through referrals, followed by staffing agencies and 3rd party recruiters.

What does this mean for my business? The most effective route to hiring can be found right in your own network. Investing in referral programs and utilizing recruiters as a resource may give you an edge in finding the best hire. While job boards, social recruiting, and direct hiring manager reach-out also made the top five, the most successful channels were still good old-fashioned referral networking and the tried and true recruitment industry.

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