I’ll certainly remember 2017 as a benchmark year. After all, it’s the year recruitAbility got its start. In just a few short months, we’ve learned a great deal and, thankfully, our instincts on the relationship between recruiting and retention have been spot-on. We’ve also seen some surprising industry trends that will shift hiring in 2018 in several ways.

Here’s what you should know:

1. Inside sales execs are in demand. This year marked the rise of the inside sales executive, which is a trend I see continuing into 2018. Gone are the days when the outside sales guy is king, with a big budget, fancy car and decadent travel lifestyle to boot. Technology has made traveling to face-to-face meetings virtually unnecessary. In fact, according to an MIT study, inside sales hiring is outpacing outside sales hiring by 15 to one. Cities like Austin are benefitting immensely from this trend. Most of the major tech companies like Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon have moved at least a portion of their inside sales to Austin, where top talent is relatively cheap to employ and the central time zone can be leveraged to serve both U.S. coasts. The only problem? Competition in 2018 means positions will be increasingly harder to fill, especially for software and SaaS sales teams.

2. AI is everything. Artificial intelligence (AI) has been emerging for years but, in 2018, it will come into its own. What used to be a skillset reserved for very niche markets is now becoming an integral part of healthcare, manufacturing and other major industries. We’re a long way from robots replacing human jobs, though. Software engineering and development jobs specific to AI will certainly be in high demand in 2018. Then, in the long run, as online magazine recode explains, “as companies embrace AI to stay competitive…in the end, these changes will create more jobs than they destroy.” A recent Capgemini survey found that among organizations investing in AI-based systems:

  • Four out of five have created more jobs.
  • Two-thirds have had no reduction in overall jobs due to AI.
  • 75 percent attribute a rise in sales because of AI deployment.

3. Cryptocurrency skill sets are being rewarded. Another niche skill set that will gain much wider demand in 2018 is in the area of cryptocurrency (or blockchain technology) where jobs have doubled in the past six months alone. A report from AngelList shows that money is pouring into crypto-startups and that blockchain jobs pay 10-20 percent more than traditional financial tech jobs. While these companies would prefer tech (engineers and developers) and non-tech (marketing, business development, operations and customer support) talent experienced in blockchain technology, they won’t shy away from training top candidates themselves (so, those recruiting traditional fintech jobs, beware that competition will heat up). 

4. Data jobs are growing up. We all know the importance of collecting data. Most of us have already started collecting massive amounts of it. But 2018 is the year employers will finally figure out what on Earth to do with all that data. Talented data engineers, data analysts and data scientists are required to work within the data to unleash its powers. Harness your data right, and you can solve big problems across your enterprise, from human resources to sales to operations. The business world has known this for a while but is just now wrapping its head around how to staff up intelligently to make it happen. By 2021, half of all U.S. and European execs see analytics and big data skills as the most important digital capabilities at their companies. As a result, jobs like data engineering will grow 15 percent by 2024.

5. The ground is shifting in other tech areas, too. Oracle recently laid off 108 Austin-area employees while listing 99 open positions and putting finishing touches on a new 560,000-square-foot campus on Lady Bird Lake. What happened? A shift from hardware to cloud computing they say. Significant layoffs at Bankrate’s Creditcards.com, healthcare IT company Athenahealth,  and data-crunching software company Overwatch Systems Ltd. all mar Austin’s otherwise predictably healthy tech landscape. While each cites reasons of changing focus, 2018 will be a telling year when it comes to whether the shifts were made to redirect thriving companies onto even higher trajectories or whether another recession is looming.

6. Recruiters are being held accountable for retention. New hires are notoriously hard to keep. It’s commonly reported that 40 percent of new hires leave within their first six months. HR expert Dr. John Sullivan points out that, according to U.S. Department of Labor statistics, the voluntary job “quit rate” in the U.S. is at its highest level since 2006. Retention has become such an issue that we’ve built the entire recruitAbility business model around it just as much as recruitment, and it’s paid off for our clients. By the end of 2017, our first-year turnover rate for client hires will be at about 6 percent (only three in every 50 hires). It might still seem absurd to hold a recruiter accountable for retention, but it’s not as far-fetched as it used to be. That’s because we understand retention better now. We know what cultural characteristics must be present for retention to happen. We know that recruiting for retention requires a sophisticated understanding of data and analytics. And we know that properly engaging new hires can work magic.

Do these trends scare you? Excite you? Do you disagree with any or have others to add? Let me know—I’d love to compare notes.

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