What’s Trending in Talent Acquisition? Overcoming the Perfect Storm

Today at the UKG Workforce Institute, we’re launching a special partner series with Employ, the parent company of JazzHR, Lever, Jobvite, and NXTThing RPO, called “What’s Trending in Talent Acquisition?” Over the next two weeks, industry experts from UKG will dive into new research from Employ and discuss current talent acquisition trends across industries, from healthcare and manufacturing to logistics and the public sector. 
The series kicks off with an article by Michael E. Puck, SHRM-SCP, HR Innovation Fellow at UKG, and it explores how to overcome the “perfect storm” in talent acquisition.
In the ever-evolving landscape of talent acquisition, professionals find themselves at the forefront of a daunting battle for talent. What was once a challenging endeavor has now escalated into a seemingly insurmountable challenge in recent years. Recruiters are faced with a barrage of obstacles. But, amidst the chaos, there are hidden opportunities that can provide some much-needed relief in the quest to attract top-tier talent. 
Let’s delve deeper into the factors contributing to this perfect storm in talent acquisition and outline key areas where companies should focus to avoid the impending talent warfare. 
There’s a Storm Brewing in Talent Acquisition 
To call the current situation facing companies and their recruiters a perfect storm in talent acquisition is far from an exaggeration. One often-overlooked factor that will pour fuel on this talent war in the coming years is the sharp decline in U.S. birth rates over the past 15-plus years. This demographic shift will have a profound impact on an already-strained talent pool, further exacerbated by individuals leaving traditional employment during the Great Resignation. The consequences could be dire for a significant portion of companies in the decades to come. 
New research from Employ, titled “Examining Employer and Job Seeker Realities,” has illuminated a stark reality: the most significant challenge facing recruiters, even today, is the scarcity of qualified candidates, with a staggering 56% citing this as their primary hurdle. To compound matters, certain industries and employer groups find it exceedingly difficult to compete with larger organizations. For example, 41% of small businesses struggle to meet salary expectations, while a similar predicament plagues 33% of companies in agriculture and 59% of government and municipalities. 
Adding to the complexity, Employ’s research reveals that 60% of organizations anticipate having significantly or somewhat greater hiring needs in 2024, compared with 2023. 
As if these challenges weren’t formidable enough, two additional factors are contributing to the perfect storm in talent acquisition. The first pertains to the dearth of unique skills and knowledge required by businesses to operate effectively in the age of rapidly advancing technology. The second factor, as documented by UKG research, is a substantial increase in employee expectations since the onset of the pandemic. 
Weathering the Talent Acquisition Storm 
So, how can companies weather this tempest in talent acquisition? Three possible ways include: 
Upskilling and Reskilling: A top initiative involves equipping the existing workforce with the skills and knowledge necessary to meet the dynamic demands of contemporary jobs. 
Skills-Based Hiring: Companies are rethinking traditional job requirements, opening positions that were once reserved for college graduates or individuals with advanced degrees. 
Eliminating Digital Friction: Streamlining the recruitment process to eliminate unnecessary delays is crucial in reducing talent attrition. Employ’s research indicates that 79% of candidates expect the application process to take 30 minutes or less. 
While these initiatives are commendable, they may not be sufficient in safeguarding companies against the impending challenges. 
Gaining a Competitive Edge in Talent Acquisition 
One critical variable that will determine a company’s success in competing for talent is employee expectations. It’s not a silver bullet, but it allows companies to secure a larger share of the shrinking talent pool. UKG research underscores that 37% of what today’s employees seek relates to fair pay and relevant benefits — undeniably crucial. However, it’s the remaining 63% where the real potential lies. Employees yearn to be seen, heard, and connected, encompassing 11 non-monetary expectations that companies must address to gain a competitive edge in talent recruitment. 
Talent acquisition professionals are navigating treacherous waters in the quest for top talent. While challenges abound, astute strategies such as upskilling, skills-based hiring, and reducing digital friction can make a significant impact. However, it’s the holistic approach of meeting the multifaceted expectations of employees that will set companies apart in this relentless pursuit of talent. Talent acquisition has evolved into a complex art form, and those who master it will emerge as the true champions in the war for talent. 
Want to learn more? Download the full report from Employ, titled “Examining Employer and Job Seeker Realities,” and check back here tomorrow at the UKG Workforce Institute for part two of our new series What’s Trending in Talent Acquisition? — featuring a look at recruiting trends in healthcare.