It’s that time of the year again when we begin to look at the trends that will impact the recruitment landscape. Globally, sourcing high-quality candidates for key roles will continue to be a key competitive advantage. New technologies will contribute to resolve hiring challenges. The key is to maintain the human element in the experiences for everyone involved in the hiring process. It is important to remember while technology will play a major role in the recruitment process in 2018, it doesn’t replace people and the connections we make person-to-person.

Here are some of the most important trends to keep an eye on for 2018:

Talent Relationship Management

Although many organizations have adopted Candidate Relationship Management (CRM) software to create and maintain a relationship with candidates with varying degrees of success, it is critical the focus remain on talent rather than candidates. Talent Relationship Management (TRM) goes beyond just candidates to encompass contingent workers (external talent networks) and current employees (internal talent pipelines) as a strategic approach to identifying, engaging and building talent networks.

In fact, 40% of companies say their highest-quality hires are drawn from internal talent pools. Mercer has found that 79% of organizations are focusing their efforts toward building and promoting their own talent from within, and nearly half (48%) are increasing their recruitment from the external labor pool. However, research from PageUp shows only 41% of organizations have well-established processes for moving talent between roles, and just 37% understand current skill gaps. For 2018, large organizations will invest in recruitment firms to find the right people and tools to support this new way of finding talent. What are the benefits? Recruiters who use proactive sourcing and TRM tools have a higher candidate conversion rate. In fact, PageUp has found they make over three times as many offers and the offer acceptance rate was 93% compared to the market average of 89%.

Social Recruitment

Social networks are rapidly evolving as a recruitment tool more than ever before, and more recruitment marketers are taking advantage of these sites as new candidate sources. Gen Y (Millennials), and even Gen Z, are accounting for a much larger portion of today’s workforce, creating a larger target for your social job ads. The trend is taking off, with Facebook, Google and Microsoft all expanding recruitment tools on their networks. For HR and talent acquisition professionals, this is a welcome trend as they’ll benefit from the increased market competition and innovation as the recruitment marketing space continues to evolve.

Mobile Candidate Experiences

More and more Americans today are using their mobile devices to connect to the internet access, and many are also using their smartphones as their primary job application devices. To keep up with these “digital candidates,” businesses must optimize their mobile candidate experiences, if they haven’t done so already.

Sourcing Passive Candidates

According to a recent survey, 70 percent of HR and talent acquisition professionals point to a “skills gap” as their biggest recruitment challenge. In some industries the gap is so bad that businesses are willing to pay in the high six-figures to bring talent on board. In many cases the best talent is often already employed and happy. It is important to actively reach out and recruit these potential candidates to ensure you have the highest quality talent pipeline possible.

The Bottom Line

The focus in recruitment marketing has evolved to optimizing candidate experiences. Specifically, companies need to focus on conversion rates and the quality of the talent they’re engaging with, in pursuit of creating better, more efficient talent pipelines. Easier online application processes, streamlined mobile experiences and an investment in larger, overall employer branding will ensure a positive outcome when recruiting top talent. Those who are successful will stand out, while those who lag behind will see qualified candidates apply elsewhere.