The Top 16 Articles of 2016: #11 – 4 Recruitment Trends Changing Talent Acquisition

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Dec 21, 2016

Editors Note: For the last 16 days of December, SourceCon will be resharing our most popular articles from the year. 

The Web, recruitment technology, generational changes, and the skills gap have uprooted traditional recruitment strategies practically overnight. With the proliferation of HR tech, the talent acquisition landscape has become something of a shapeshifter, continuously changing and slowing down for no one.

For great hiring to go off without a hitch, it needs the right talent acquisition tech to support it, especially with today’s invariably changing market conditions. What used to be a market for large corporations is now saturated with SMBs (small and medium-sized businesses). In fact, the segment of employers with between 100 and 2,499 employees is 26 times larger than the segment with 2,500 or more employees. This shift in the economy inspired recruiting tech innovators to develop solutions to accommodate smaller companies with unique hiring needs.

The SMB segment of the market is 26 times larger than the Enterprise segment.

Talent Tech Labs focuses on promoting technological developments in the field of talent acquisition. Through ongoing extensive research and analysis of thousands of talent acquisition technology companies, we’re giving you a taste of four significant areas leading trends in the recruitment space and the companies trailblazing them.

Social Networks and Search are Driving Customization

Leveraging social media for hiring and recruitment purposes isn’t a new concept, but how it’s leveraged? That’s a different story. Social network and social search companies have changed how recruiters source candidates, making the recruitment process faster and more efficient.

There is a lot of crossover between the revenue these companies are after and the services offered by job boards, convoluting the talent acquisition tech market, but opening up increasingly unique recruitment opportunities. Understanding the differences between social network and social search companies and the companies driving change in those segments is the first step in optimizing a social recruitment strategy.

Social Networks

The growing prevalence of social networks has catapulted giants such as LinkedIn and Facebook into every recruiting strategy in the country. However, now that social media recruitment is a well-known recruitment tactic to job seekers and LinkedIn’s user agreement restricts data scraping on user profiles, niche players catering to industry specific networks are popping up left and right, providing talent acquisition leaders with more social networks to utilize, some that are even more effectively bringing in top talent.

Social Network Features Roundup

  • Individuals can create a profile to feature personal data / professional accomplishments.
  • Employers can create branded pages to display their employee value propositions.
  • Candidates can share (through broadcast and direct message functionality) relevant content with their contacts and followers.
  • Candidates can access content that prepares them for the job search and interview processes.
  • Candidates and recruiters can easily “make contact” with each other based on relevant job postings or skills and quickly evaluate what common ground (e.g., connections) they might share.
  • Social repository of data where contributors can find new work opportunities and collaborate to develop content.

For example, companies like Github and Dribbble are amassing a significant volume of data and provide more relevant screening content in highly technical job categories than a traditional resume. What’s more is this new approach to how social networks are modeled makes these companies much more interesting and specific for job seekers and recruiters alike.

Masterbranch, for example, is a web development community that allows users to create a profile with their projects and accomplishments, ranks their skills locally and globally, and connects them with recruiters for jobs listed on the site. It’s similar to LinkedIn, except more specific and with much more advanced user features.

According to Jobvite’s 2015 Recruiter Nation, social networks are the second most effective source of quality hires.

If these unique companies continue to grow, there is an opportunity for these digital profiles to take the place of the resume as we know it, opening up an entirely new segment of the HR Tech market.

Social Network Market Contenders 

  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • GitHub
  • Dribbble
  • Stack Overflow
  • Tapfame
  • Masterbranch
  • Treatings

Social Search

Social search companies aggregate all of an individual’s information that lives in the public domain (i.e., through social networks) and provides search access, for a fee, to employers so they can get a more detailed overview of who a candidate is. These technologies leverage innovative algorithms and machine-based learning techniques to produce search results which provide significantly more visibility into the candidate being searched. What makes social search companies so important in social recruitment is in large part thanks to LinkedIn’s user agreement that restricts data scraping.

Social Search Features Roundup

  • Proprietary database(s) of candidates.
  • The ability to search candidates across social networks like Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, Github, Google+,, Xing, etc.
  • Analysis of aggregate social data to identify high-performers and best-fit candidates (e.g., Gild rates developers’ code on Github and provides a score).
  • Technologies which leverage the most searched (i.e., effective) keywords to optimize job requisition language.
  • Organizational tools (e.g., workflow management) to help recruiters stay on top of candidates with notes, stages, tasks, and reminders.
  • ATS integrations to refresh / clean aging resume databases with new social data (including de-duplication processes).

As social networks became an integral part of talent acquisition strategy, talent acquisition tech innovators saw the opportunity and need for social search technology. There are significant expansion opportunities for social search companies to scrape and capture data around the individual to better understand his / her preferences and goals and create hyper-focused or personalized recruitment campaigns, similar to how advertising technologies are able to target prospects based on individuals’ online behaviors, searches, and posts.

Job Advertising is Getting Outsourced

Job advertising is a component of talent acquisition that has always and will always be necessary, but until recent years, it required little upkeep. The mid-2000s proved a tough job market for candidates and easy recruitment for talent acquisition teams.

Today, the job advertising vertical is one of the largest in terms of market size (consolidated revenue of all companies) and in terms of the number of players. This broad area is broken up into three segments: Job Boards, Job Board Aggregators and Job Marketing and Distribution, all of which are seeing an increasing number of users every year.

Job Boards

There are a large number of job boards in business, with varying levels of scale and success. Oftentimes, an entering job board player will identify a market niche or segment (e.g., tech talent in Untapt) and focus on building a talent pool in that category to gain scale and relevance. Most job boards offer job seeker solutions for free to attract candidates to their respective platforms, likely why they are the most used search channel for job seekers today.

The top channel job seekers use to search for new jobs is job boards. In fact, 60% of job seekers use online job boards for their job search.

The current trend of crossing over social network recruitment with job board recruitment is stirring things up in this area of talent acquisition. As a result, job board companies are stepping up their game and putting a greater focus on the candidate experience. Innovative companies leveraging mobile functionality are reinventing the job board model by introducing gamified elements and features of successful mobile apps (e.g., swipe right for “yes”) to improve the candidate experience. Big data continues to be a competitive differentiator for companies that can successfully leverage it to offer more personalized, data-driven solutions to individual and recruiter customers. Many of the job boards are moving to a pay per click model following Indeed’s success.

Job Board Contenders

  • Monster
  • Untapt
  • Careerleaf
  • Dice
  • Workpop
  • Careerbuilder
  • The Ladders

Job Board Aggregators

Job board aggregators provide solutions to both individuals and employers. These companies aggregate job listings from job boards, niche job sites and directly from employers. Similar to job boards, employers are able to pay to post jobs through these aggregators or to search through candidate databases.

According to a 2015 Talent Board survey, taken by roughly 250,000 people, found 60% of respondents who say they had a positive candidate experience admit they will go out of their way to encourage others to apply to the company. 25% of respondents who say they had a negative candidate experience admit they will go out of their way to discourage others from applying.

These companies run into the same issues as traditional job boards with social recruitment. For that reason, many job board aggregators are enhancing the customer experience with candidate-focused features. For example, many companies are ramping up advanced search functionality and customizing email alerts for users.

Job Aggregator Contenders

  • Indeed
  • Jobrapido
  • Jobs2Careers

Job Marketing and Distribution

This segment is employer-focused and is generally meant for companies doing a significant volume of hiring, including job boards and staffing firms. These companies offer a plethora of features that help larger companies streamline their talent acquisition efforts to optimize the promotion and distribution of their jobs.

What makes these companies unique is their data-driven approach to job advertising. For example, users:

  • can source candidates who rank high on predetermined matching criteria.
  • have access to reporting tools and analytics to allow recruiters to track performance leveraging real-time data.
  • have access to predictive analytics / benchmarking software to identify the attributes of company’s top performing employees in order to hire more employees who share these winning attributes.

Job Marketing and Distribution Contenders

  • ZipRecruiter
  • ClearFit
  • Smashfly
  • Clinch
  • Seedjobs

CRM is Enhancing the Candidate Experience

Companies in the candidate relationship management (CRM) segment are focusing at the top of the candidate engagement funnel by interacting with potential and future hires to build a talent community. With such a growing emphasis on the candidate experience, effective CRM solutions are critical to building up rapport with candidates prior to selection and, hopefully, engaging them enough to want to apply with the company.

While some aspects of the basic feature set of CRM platforms are included in applicant tracking systems (ATS) (e.g., candidate profile development, search and apply, hiring manager profiles), CRM tools are innovating the front-end of the talent acquisition process in how they capture candidate leads and execute ongoing engagement strategies with talent.

           70% of the global workforce is made up of passive talent.

The most significant talent acquisition trend in this area is that CRM tools are trying to tap into the passive candidate population and focus on expanding the candidate pipeline to speed up hiring processes with quality talent. Passive talent is not only the most challenging and costly to recruit, but they’re the cream of the crop.

Cream of the Crop CRM Features Roundup

  • Automated active and passive candidate profile development.
  • Ability to search candidates and extract profile data from external sources such as job boards, social media sites, and ATS.
  • Relevant, curated content sent to candidates to nurture engagement with the company.
  • Automatic, targeted (or personalized) email campaigns and social advertising e.g., on Twitter and Facebook.
  • Analytics and reporting to track campaign and outreach effectiveness.
  • Customizable and mobile-optimized career sites that can be deployed onto social platforms.
  • Integration with Applicant Tracking Systems and other enterprise technologies.
  • Collaboration and workflow tools for talent acquisition teams as well as hiring managers.

Progressive organizations treat their candidates and employees with the same attention they give to their customers. CRM tools and processes have evolved from a static approach to capturing inbound candidates’ basic information to powerful systems for acquiring, engaging, nurturing and retaining quality candidates who may start out as passive candidates. With the current and growing skills gap and an increasingly picky workforce, having CRM solutions that go above and beyond to establish and keep relationships with candidates are vital to a strong passive candidate recruitment strategy.

Candidate Relationship Management Contenders 

  • Avature
  • Innovate CV
  • TalentCircles
  • Talemetry
  • HireNurture
  • TalentHook

Online Staffing is Engaging Contingent Workers

Online staffing companies are leveraging technology to disrupt the traditional staffing model.  Unlike staffing firms, these companies deliver talent exchanges through marketplace models. These web-based platforms let individuals buy and sell various services and provide features that enable online project engagement and self-service options (e.g., billing, rating, scoping, and feedback). We’ve broken down online staffing into five subsets.

The Five Subsets of Online Staffing

  • Crowd-sourced recruitment
  • Temporary Labor Marketplace
  • E-Staffing
  • Recruitment Marketplace
  • College Recruiting

Crowd-Sourced Recruitment

These are task-based services or scoped work projects. They let you set your own budget and get the product you want without the hassle of having to go and find someone on your own. Employers share tasks and let individuals create and submit their own unique solutions of which the employer selects the winning solutions.

Temporary Labor Marketplace

Similar to crowdsourced recruitment, the temporary labor marketplace companies consist of task-based and/or scoped projects. The difference is that these platforms include one submission for every project posted. Many of the companies in this segment have found success focusing on vertical-specific or job-specific offerings because they are able to scale much more efficiently.


E-staffing companies have been in the limelight recently. recently closed their series A round of funding at a $200 million  valuation. These technologies are reinventing how traditional staffing works by leveraging technology to reduce their cost base (which reduces the price for employers) and scale extremely quickly.

Recruitment Marketplace

Recruitment marketplaces are narrowly focused temporary labor marketplaces. These platforms have pools of thousands of independent recruiters.  Some of these platforms allow you to hire a recruiter per hour and others allow you to crowdsource your recruitment so that many recruiters can work on the same job, ideally reducing your time to fill.

College Recruiting

The companies in this Segment offer a number of different ways to connect students in college, or recent graduates, with work (full, part-time and internship).

Online Staffing platforms are generally not the employers of record for the contingent talent who use their software, rather they are brokers of talent. While currently a strategic advantage that reduces these companies’ cost profiles and risk,  these companies are beginning to, and we believe will continue to, encounter headwinds as worker classification comes under increasing levels of scrutiny.

           The number of freelance workers is expected to reach 60 million by 2020.

On the other hand, online staffing has experienced explosive growth. In fact, 34% of the U.S. workforce is classified as contingent and the number of freelance workers is expected to reach 60 million by 2020. As this market continues to grow at a rapid rate, we expect the winners who emerge to be the companies that can effectively capture and sustain talent pools.

Online Staffing Contenders

  • Gigwalk
  • Amazon Mechanical Turk
  • Laterally
  • Hourlynerd
  • Fiverr
  • BountyJobs
  • Looksharp
  • Hire Canvas


The talent acquisition landscape is fast-paced and ever changing. With the advancement of hiring tech, how employers seek out top talent has become more focused and specialized, even among large enterprises. The biggest trends today revolve around customization; creating an unforgettable candidate experience, personalizing recruitment campaigns, and job advertisements and cultivating relationships with active and passive candidates alike.