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University Recruitment | 11 minute read

What are the top talent acquisition trends for 2022?

November 25, 2021

The talent market has evolved rapidly over the past 12 months. In fact, it’s not just evolved, it’s transformed irrevocably. Widening skills gaps, changing candidate expectations and record job openings are all impacting talent acquisition. And the way we work has also changed. Working remotely, for example, used to be a rarity, but now it’s the norm. Two-thirds (66%) of employers are redesigning their workplaces to accommodate hybrid work arrangements, according to Microsoft’s Work Trend Index. All these elements are contributing to what is the most competitive talent landscape in history. And it’s showing no signs of abating anytime soon. In this post, we’re going to outline the top talent trends to look out for in 2022 and beyond.   

Internal mobility programs will become a business imperative

Internal mobility programs will play a pivotal role in talent acquisition strategies. They speed up time to hire, reduce recruitment costs and ensure culturally aligned candidates. And by giving employees the chance to move careers (rather than employers), retention levels will be boosted.

Companies that invest in employee development experience 11% greater profitability than organizations that don’t invest, according to research from Gallup.

Internal mobility programs also have a positive impact on employee referrals. The happier employees are, the more likely they are to recommend your company as an employer of choice among their networks. Today’s employees (and candidates) want to continually learn and progress in their careers. In fact, 94% of employees say they would stay at a company longer if it invested in their learning and development, according to research from LinkedIn. So, if you want to boost loyalty, you must demonstrate loyalty yourself by investing in learning and development. Don’t forget to promote the different career pathing opportunities available at your company within your recruitment marketing materials to show potential candidates what their future career paths could look like.

Takeaway: One of the largest barriers to internal recruitment is managers who don't want to let go of good talent. It’s not surprising – I mean, how would you feel if your top-performing team member wanted to move to a different department? To combat this, make managers aware of the wider business benefits of internal mobility. Consider training and incentives to help persuade them to put forward employees they know would excel in other roles within the business.

Companies will be prioritizing entry-level talent programs

More organisations are prioritizing entry-level talent programs. In fact, 56% of employers in the UK said apprenticeships and work-based learning will be vital for the future of their organisation, according to The Open University Business Barometer 2021. Aside from helping to counteract crippling skills shortages, entry-level talent programs help to speed up time to hire and reduce recruitment costs. Companies that invest in entry-level talent benefit from increased employee engagement, well-stocked talent pipelines, reduced costs and heightened employment brand awareness. So, what does an effective entry-level talent program look like? They must be multifaceted and target students, graduates (internships) and apprentices. One of the most important aspects of an entry-level talent program is learning and development (L&D). Because entry-level talent doesn’t have a raft of experience in the working world, it’s important you provide the tools and training they’ll need to succeed.

37% of businesses in the UK said that recent graduates or students are the group they plan to upskill or reskill most, according to The Open University Business Barometer 2021.

Takeaway: Hosting leadership summits at universities and colleges and getting into classrooms to provide introductory courses are examples of how you can tap into early talent pools. Consider an ambassador program to generate referrals and grow your brand in universities and colleges. A company ambassador could be a recent intern who now works for you full-time. Ask them to attend campus events, share employment branding materials and illustrate first-hand their journey from student intern to full-time employee; it can help elevate your entry-level talent program.

More companies will offer sign-on bonuses

There’s been a huge rise in roles that now include sign-on bonuses to tempt candidates. The number of positions offering this perk increased by 454% in the last year, research from GlobalData revealed. In the past, sign-on bonuses were typically used for high-skilled, niche roles but have become commonplace in almost all sectors and roles – because of the tight talent market. Amazon recently announced sign-on bonuses of up to $3,000 as part of its recruitment drive to fill 150,000 seasonal jobs in the US. There are pros and cons to consider if you’re thinking about offering sign-on bonuses though. Because they are a one-off payment, it reduces the long-term financial burden on your company. However, by year two, if employees no longer feel fairly compensated, they may be at a higher risk of leaving. A sign-on bonus may have the short-term effect of candidates choosing your job over other offers, but you need to commit to upholding an engaging culture for them to stay.

Takeaway: Be creative with your compensation packages and offer non-financial incentives too, such as hybrid or remote working opportunities and even unlimited paid time off (PTO) policies. Be sure you have robust well-being and employee engagement programs as this will help raise employee satisfaction and reduce the chances of employees feeling underappreciated (after receiving that sign-on bonus the first year). It’s important to not only bring the right talent in the door but keep them for the long-term.

Hiring processes will be expedited

A lengthy hiring process is a major mistake, especially in a candidate-driven market; it could put your business at risk. Today’s candidates won’t hang around if they think your hiring process is too slow. There are just too many opportunities out there! Don’t just take our word for it though: 49% of candidates have turned down a job offer due to a bad recruiting experience, research from PwC found. The report also revealed that 92% of candidates have experienced poor recruiting practices at some point in their careers, while 67% of job seekers have been involved in hiring processes that take longer than a month. If your company provides a poor candidate experience, you risk damage to your reputation and employment brand. We live in a culture of sharing and people will spill about their experiences – good and bad – among their networks. Make it so the experiences job seekers share about your company are positive.

56% of candidates would discourage others from applying due to bad recruitment practices, according to PwC.

Takeaway: Use technology to speed up the hiring process, but don’t rely solely on it. The human touch is still a critical part of the hiring process and is even more important as the candidate journey progresses. The hours saved using tech for time-consuming and transactional tasks, like scheduling, can then be used further down in the process to get to know candidates better.

[Guide] Taking control: Optimising talent acquisition technology at every step of the candidate journey


Companies will be stepping up their learning and development programs

The desire candidates have to learn in their roles is not a new trend by any means, but it has become a key driver for many when considering new roles. Almost two-thirds (59%) of respondents in APAC cited a lack of career growth and developmental opportunities when asked why they would leave their current organisations, according to our 2020 Working in APAC report. Learning and development programs don’t just help to entice candidates though; they help your organisation to develop skills in-house. And that’s key for businesses overcoming the skills shortage. In addition, 37% of candidates said they’d be willing to take a pay cut for a chance to learn new skills. This means that if you can’t be as competitive with compensation, you won’t necessarily miss out on top talent if you provide the opportunity to continually learn and progress at the company. That same percentage, according to the report from PwC, said they see upskilling opportunities as the most important factor when considering a new job, after salary and benefits.

Takeaway: A comprehensive learning and development program should begin on each employee’s first day and should be built into your onboarding program. Consider asking your employees to host training sessions as learners will often be more engaged by someone who is already in the role and sharing real-life experience. A virtual buddy system is also a way to provide informal development opportunities while giving employees the chance to network with people in the business that they might not otherwise interact with.

Retention programs will be of growing importance

We all know people are leaving workplaces in droves, but The Great Resignation will not be the topic of conversation next year. It will be “why” employees are leaving. Companies that focus all their efforts on hiring replacements for those who've left are not solving the challenge appropriately. Instead, they need to work out why employees are resigning and then take action to remedy this. People have realigned their values and work should be satisfying and fit into employees’ desired lifestyles. During the pandemic, people re-evaluated their priorities and cared about restoring a healthy work-life balance. You need to ask your employees what they want from their job, and more importantly, act on their responses.

Claro Analytics' labor market intelligence platform can help HR leaders understand where employees are going right now and staunch the outflow of talent before it becomes too big of a problem. 

The opportunity to work remotely is a key driver for many candidates. The number of job searches for remote opportunities grew by 460% between June 2019 and June 2021 and it’s still rising, according to research from Glassdoor. If you haven’t already, consider offering remote working opportunities or a hybrid model at the very least. Expand your well-being program, make sure you include mental health and be transparent about what your environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) program. Almost two-thirds (59%) of respondents under the age of 30 who currently work for organisations with more than 1,000 employees said they strongly agree that “the more socially and environmentally responsible my company becomes, the more motivated and loyal they become (as an employee),” a global study of more than 27,000 respondents by GlobeScan and BBMG revealed.

Takeaway: Promote your well-being programs internally and externally so job seekers can see how seriously you take it. Whether it’s virtual exercise sessions, money management webinars or healthy eating incentives, all can help reduce stress while improving health and well-being.


Companies will increasingly take a long-term approach to talent acquisition

More organisations will realize the benefits of taking a long-term, holistic approach to talent acquisition. The pandemic-induced recession brought to the fore the pitfalls of only thinking short-term when it comes to talent. Many businesses paused recruitment and even reduced the size of their talent teams during the pandemic in a bid to reduce expenses. However, this left many companies struggling to hire the talent they needed for the rebound. If you don’t have a robust talent infrastructure in place, you need to redesign what you have. Think carefully about what objectives you’re trying to achieve and how you will get there. If you don’t have the resources, consider outsourcing. Think about the long-term of your talent acquisition function, rather than just the here and now. And if you have a large, complex talent acquisition program with various owners and talent pools, consider taking a total talent approach. By combining contingent hiring efforts with permanent placement, you’ll get a result that aligns more closely with your organisation’s overall business objectives and company culture.

Takeaway: Start with an audit. Speak to procurement and finance, as they traditionally own the contingent segment. Then use the information you’ve gathered to develop a new, more comprehensive strategy. Talent acquisition teams will benefit from being able to look at their entire workforces in one glance since total talent program centralize the hiring for all talent, including temporary and contingent.

As 2022 fast approaches, the need to finalise your talent acquisition strategy has never been more pressing. The above trends will, hopefully, help provide some guidance on what you need to prioritise to give your organization a competitive advantage in what is going to continue to be a candidate-driven talent market.

About Craig Sweeney

As executive vice president, global strategic talent solutions, Craig leads WilsonHCG's growth strategy and new partnership cultivation across the globe. Alongside the trusted consultants at WilsonHCG, he builds market-leading, scalable and customisable RPO solutions. Craig's relationships span all industry verticals and geographies with expertise in technology, business services, financial services, engineering, manufacturing, retail, and media.