As we look forwards to 2024, it will be many of the trends we’ve seen emerge in 2023 that will be the biggest in 2024. We’re talking skills-based hiring, the big flexible working divide, a growth in the importance of talent pools, the salary transparency movement, and of course AI, possibly the most used word of the year! We take a look at what to expect in the recruitment world in the year to come as we explore the biggest recruitment trends for 2024.
Navigating AI in recruitment
We’ll start with the trend that everyone’s been talking about this year – AI in recruitment. It may have been the hottest topic of 2023 but it’s certainly not going anywhere in 2024. If anything, the challenges will only grow and it will be the recruitment agencies that successfully navigate them and harness the potential of AI to help boost efficiency that will emerge the winners. There are two major challenges here – how to utilise the power of AI without sacrificing the humanity of recruitment and the issues associated with candidate AI (largely cookie-cutter CVs and cover letters and the ability to submit hundreds of job applications in seconds).
Wave CEO and Founder Dave Jenkins has written about the latter, warning of the very real possibility of the necessity of recruiter AI tackling candidate AI. Ultimately, 2024 will be the year that all recruiters will need to be on top of AI, in terms of the tools that are out there to help them, the pitfalls to avoid, and managing the fallout from candidate AI. Used well and responsibly, AI can help in a number of critical recruitment areas. The challenge in 2024 will be to harness AI in your recruitment strategies without it resulting in bias or dehumanising the process, alongside navigating the challenges that candidate AI will bring.
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Applications may be ticking up but there remains a skills mis-match, meaning that there are still numerous jobs that are hard to fill. This, combined with a growing drive to foster more diverse workplaces, has meant that employers and recruiters are quickly understanding the benefits of hiring for skills rather than qualifications or previous roles held. Wave has found a 19% increase from 2019 to 2022 in those not advertising any qualification requirements and, of those that do, there’s a huge 104% increase in jobs advertised without the requirement of a bachelors degree.
Skills-based hiring is sometimes referred to as skills-first hiring, i.e. you look at a candidate’s skills before anything else. It’s a change in focus from qualifications and set experience to the skills a person might bring to the job. Of course, there are jobs whereby a degree is a requirement for a good reason but, for many roles, a degree might not be strictly necessary if a candidate has acquired skills in non-traditional ways.
As finding qualified candidates remains an ongoing challenge for recruiters, re-thinking traditional recruitment strategies and overhauling outdated mindsets could prove to be vital in 2024. As well as opening up roles to candidates without a university education, it will mean those that want to pivot into another industry can do so if they have the right skills. There are many transferrable skills that could allow people to work in an entirely different sector even if they don’t have direct experience or qualifications.
Once you remove barriers to work, you open up the talent pool hugely, allowing those with the skills to do the job – however acquired – to apply and progress. What does this mean for 2024? Your job ads, interview questions and application screening all need to change to become more skills-focused.
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Talent pool pipelining
When there’s a skills shortage, the ability to turn to your talent pool becomes even more important. To be able to do that, you need to be constantly building and nurturing a pool of candidates that possess the skills your industry needs, so that when a job comes along that requires those skills, you can directly approach one or more candidates before going out into the market. This also requires the right tech – an integrated CRM and the ability to quickly find (or be presented with) candidates that match your job requirements within your own database.
Talent pool pipelining involves not just holding a repository of candidate details on your CRM but properly sorting and coding them as well as keeping in touch – building and nurturing candidates with the right skillsets for the jobs you recruit for. This is where a big shift will happen in 2024 – no longer just placing candidates in immediate roles but planning for future roles. Proactive rather than reactive recruitment.
With skills shortages, an ever-competitive market, and rising job board costs, one of the biggest recruiter new year’s resolutions should be getting into the habit of turning to your database to check whether you have candidates sitting right there that could be the perfect fit for your role. Every. Single. Time.
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A shift in the flexible working narrative
In 2023, we seemed to be witnessing the start of corporate back-pedalling on flexible working. Some of the biggest companies in the world – Apple, Amazon, Disney, Google, Zoom (oh the irony), and Meta to name but a few – began to mandate that their employees return to the office. The reasons for this are many – a perceived lack of remote work productivity during a time of economic instability, a desire for face to face collaboration and mentoring, perhaps a lack of trust from leadership. With an increase in the unemployment rate and Wave data showing an uptick in applications in Q3 and Q4, there is also the beginnings of a shift in the power balance back towards employers.
However, what employees continue to value the most (alongside salary) is flexibility. In the years since the pandemic, people have realised and become used to the benefits of flexible working and many don’t want to go back to a gruelling commute and five days a week in the office. It’s likely, therefore, that we won’t see a complete reversal on flexible working from employers in 2024 but more of a compromise.
With research from Gallup finding that 9 out of 10 remote-capable employees prefer some form of remote work flexibility, offering hybrid working options will become more important, not less, in the race to attract the best candidates. With recent research from Fortune revealing that Gen Z and baby boomers prefer to work in the office at least part of the time, whilst Millennials and Gen X want to work from home more, the ideal solution is to scrap company-wide policies and revert to individual choice.
Whatever the job offers, make it clear on the advert. In 2024, no candidate wants to apply for a job listed as ‘remote’ only to find further down the process that it is actually hybrid with 3 days in the office. That is just a waste of everybody’s time and hugely detrimental to the candidate experience.
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Including salary ranges in job adverts and generally being more transparent about salary has been a topic of much debate for a few years now. There are huge benefits for employers and recruiters as well as candidates, from increased applications from a diverse range of candidates, to time saved on both sides, to boosted candidate trust – and yet there are still so many job adverts that don’t feature a salary range (or that input a range so wide it’s essentially meaningless).
There has been a real movement over the past couple of years in other parts of the world to legislate for salary transparency. Seven states in the US have enacted pay transparency laws since 2020 and more than a dozen others have proposed similar legislation. These laws mandate that all job adverts must include a salary range or that the salary is made available upon request. The EU also approved the ‘Pay Transparency Directive’ this year, though that focuses more on employee rights and closing the gender pay gap (but is far more robust and far-reaching than the UK’s mandatory gender pay gap reporting).
With big change happening in the US and Europe, it is likely that we will see a ripple effect in the UK, which will could start with salaries on job ads. Aggregator Adzuna certainly hopes so. Following its research that only half of UK job ads include a salary, Adzuna have gone as far as to start a petition to make salaries mandatory on job ads by law. Will 2024 be the year that change begins to happen in the UK?
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A rebalance of the labour market
Wave data showed a shift in the market in October, with jobs not just dropping from September’s figures but dipping below the monthly average for 2022. Concurrently, applications rose to 66% over the monthly 2023 average. We don’t think this is a huge cause for concern, more that the market is gradually rebalancing following the hiring surge of 2021 and 2022. Employers are still hiring but more cautiously and the pace has levelled out. This is likely to continue into the following year, with a loosening of the market in 2024 as job pace slows and candidate activity increases.
Recruitment in 2024 will necessitate agility
Recruitment in 2024 is likely to be more data-led than ever, with increased AI adoption, an emphasis on skills-first hiring, a focus on talent pool building, nurturing and pipelining, an ironing out of company policy on flexible working, and a movement for salary transparency. Forecasting what the economy and the labour market might bring feels akin to licking your finger and sticking it in the air at the moment. We have no reliable data from the Office for National Statistics for the time-being, a recession has been forecast for the past couple of years but not materialised, and much of the instability has been down to global events beyond our control and our forecasting.
What is therefore vital is that recruitment businesses and recruiters themselves are agile, that they’re able to pivot when needed. Some trends we can fairly reliably predict but the ability to adjust your recruitment strategies and even your business model if and when the unknown happens will be critical in 2024 and beyond.