<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=1135231183582824&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">
Industry Insights | 7 minute read

Talent acquisition trends for 2020

November 21, 2019

Low unemployment rates, uncertain market conditions, and generational workforce shifts will continue to challenge organizations in 2020. Such external pressures are raising concerns for CEOs and their executive teams: “How should I build and manage my workforce to reach business goals?” While you can’t control external factors, by focusing on building a strong workforce strategy, you can build confidence that your talent acquisition team is prepared for whatever 2020 brings. 

Here are some key trends that talent acquisition professionals need to be aware of in 2020:

Total talent 

Today’s workforces are made up of both permanent and contingent staff, with temporary, contract, and freelance workers now a constant fixture in most talent strategies. Talent is talent regardless of whether it’s permanent or temporary and organizations must view talent holistically. By doing so, talent departments will be able to gather more comprehensive employment insights and make better informed future talent decisions.  

When considering employment branding, some organizations fail to consider temporary employment opportunities. But efforts need to consider all different types of talent. Recruitment marketing approaches will differ for applicants looking for permanent roles versus temporary work. And it’s important that all workers are catered for. This applies to candidate experience too. It needs to be consistent for all types of talent. Don’t forget that all employee reviews are written by anyone working for your organization so providing a good employment experience is paramount regardless of the type of talent. 

Intelligent technology

In the past, recruitment technology was centered around an applicant tracking system (ATS) but the use of intelligent technology in talent management is growing in popularity by the day. Artificial intelligence (AI)-based sourcing tools, recruitment marketing and talent engagement platforms, and automated scheduling bots all help drive candidate engagement. 

Talent acquisition technology is moving an agile system at which candidate and employee experience are at the core. Cognitive and robotic technologies, such as machine learning (ML), AI and robotic process automation (RPA) will all play a role in workforce strategies in 2020. They can deliver significant improvements across the entire recruitment process, from sourcing and engagement through to selection and onboarding. While the obvious advantage is the time saved from human intervention, the true benefit is that recruiters have more time to spend with better quality candidates in the latter stages of the recruiting process. Tech should, however, be chosen based on business needs, not on popularity within the market. And an agile approach is required so that alterations can be made to coincide with changing business requirements. Be careful committing to long-term technology contracts as the evolution of technology in the talent space is moving fast.

Chatbots are an example of tech that has advanced at a fast pace. A few years ago, they were basic and limited in terms of capability, But, now, they are being used at the top of the candidate funnel to move the candidate journey along in a timely and personalized manner. In addition to answering candidate questions, they can conduct initial screenings, freeing up more time for recruiters while still providing a personalized candidate experience. 

When it comes to technology, a strategic, collaborative approach is required. Human resource leaders must work with executive and tech leaders to map which recruitment activities could benefit from the involvement of tech versus the value human interaction would bring.  

Predictive analytics

Human resource teams have been collecting masses of data for years but continue to miss out on valuable insight that could transform their talent acquisition efforts. The rise of intelligent technology means there will be an increase in the number of organizations leveraging data more strategically to better ensure they have access to the talent they need to reach their business goals,

Predictive analytics can be used to measure and forecast what talent will be needed, whether this talent should be developed internally or recruited from the outside, and when and where that talent will need to be applied based on the demands of the business.

“Data can help to build a better business case and provide the insight to make strategic decisions.” -- Libby Herrmann, VP Client Solutions, WilsonHCG

When it comes to predictive analytics, there are three different categories of metrics:


This data provides insight into what has already happened. Historical metrics are gathered and aggregated to provide information that helps talent acquisition teams understand the past.


This data helps organizations understand what is likely to happen in the future. It makes predictions about future events based on current data, statistical modeling, and forecasting techniques.


This data informs what organizations should do in certain situations. Both structured and unstructured data are combined with business rules, simulation algorithms, ML and computational modeling procedures to recommend several outcomes for companies to further assess. Often used as a more advanced form of predictive analytics, it tells organizations how they should run their businesses - not just predict what will happen but telling them what they should do.

Having data to support talent decisions provides full transparency, accountability, and peace of mind that you’re on the path toward outpacing your competition and exceeding business objectives.

Keep in mind the importance of the quality of the data. If the right data isn’t going into your systems, the output can lead to poor decisions. Success requires the ability to turn a vast supply of information into relevant and actionable knowledge. This is how the human resources function can be transformed from a traditionally administrative function to a strategic partner.

Diversity and inclusion

Leadership teams know environments with diversity are essential to allow individuals to grow and thrive. But many companies are still struggling to fully implement inclusive cultures. The only way to fix this is to ensure that change comes from the top down and is driven through cultural mentoring and training.

The shift for inclusiveness will result in workplaces prioritizing communities of engagement as opposed to structured expectations. Diversity quotas are not the way to achieve an inclusive employment environment. 

Companies are beginning to naturally evolve into communities now with multigenerational workforces. Five generations (traditionalists, baby boomers, gen X, millennials, and gen Z) are all part of the workforce and each has experiences unique to their generation. This spread of employees, plus a focus on including individuals of all backgrounds, will require talent leaders to break down biases for the future benefit of the total workforce.

Unconscious bias

Another critical issue that will become more pervasive is raising awareness of unconscious bias. Many of the technologies used in talent acquisition such as AI, claim to reduce unconscious bias, but this is not necessarily the case. AI feeds on our practices to think and act like we do, to source and select candidates based on the decisions talent acquisition professionals make every day. This creates hiring efficiencies, however, intelligent systems can also adopt human prejudices. Organizations need to engage and educate recruitment teams about unconscious bias and the detrimental impact it can have. We must continue to build awareness and train around its presence in human nature.

The new era of employment branding 

Today’s jobseekers want meaningful careers and flexibility. They want to know exactly what employers have to offer, what companies stand for, and how their values align. The emergence of multigenerational workforces and global skills shortages means employers have arguably never had to be more creative with employment brand to successfully attract top talent.

Several different generations now work alongside each other. There’s traditionalists, baby boomers, gen X, millennials and gen Z. Each has different desires when it comes to jobs so it’s important that employment brand appeals to all of the generations. For example, compensation and benefits are still an important driver but there’s been an increased emphasis on CSR, particularly from millennials and gen Z. 

Organizations should regularly assess candidate experience and actively map out the experience each category of talent has to gain an understanding of what those processes are and how they vary. Think about your sourcing, recruiting, hiring, and onboarding processes. Are they consistent across the whole organization? If not, where do you see the most successful process?

Robust and relevant employment brand strategies will help organizations to secure top talent and be seen as an employer of choice, an advantage over their competition and a balance to potential public crises. 

If you want to win the war for talent in 2020, be sure to choose your talent technology carefully, create agile talent processes, and adopt a total talent approach to talent attraction and employee experience. 

Learn more with our whitepaper about integrated workforce management.


About Libby Herrmann

As vice president of client solutions, Libby Herrmann partners with our clients to drive optimal human capital solutions and offer insight into best practices for building effective and engaged teams. Libby has built her career with the intent to learn from and partner at all levels of the organization, both with clients internally and externally, to best employ that knowledge to drive results for her own clients, teammates and colleagues.