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It’s been another busy year for the USA recruitment sector in 2018, but to be honest when isn’t it? Indeed, change is inevitable, and every new year brings its own new trends and challenges which influence not only how we source and attract top talent but also, how we develop and retain it.

On many levels, according to the latest reports, the economy is booming with business confidence continuing to grow as stock markets remain at near record highs and levels of unemployment remaining under 4%. This being the longest sustained period since the Vietnam war and the USA has continued to add new jobs every month for the last 97 months, the longest run on record.

Here’s a closer look at the key trends and challenges that the USA recruitment sector has faced in 2018:



Ongoing Skill Shortages

A strong economy, historically low levels of unemployment, and continued new jobs have significantly created an even smaller pool of available talent; especially, in key areas such as IT, healthcare, and education.

In 2018, recruiters have needed more than ever to stay at the forefront of existing and emerging trends and hone their ability to adapt current strategies and methods to remain relevant and affordable in these ever-challenging times.

Retaining and developing existing talent has become increasingly valuable to guarantee both imminent and future demands can be met.

The healthcare sector has again faced a year, where key personnel are hard to find and although, there have been shortages of nurses many times before, the current nursing crisis in the USA is far worse than ever experienced before.

According to the latest figures, from the Bureau of Labor Statistics the real problem lies in the numbers needed to replace those that are leaving the nursing profession due to high volumes of nurses nearing retirement age and losses seen throughout the profession due to increased stress levels and low levels of job satisfaction.

An aging and growing population is also increasing a growing challenge and the Bureau projects that the USA will need 649,100 extra nurses in the workforce, which will bring the total number of job openings for nurses due to growth and replacements to 1.09 million by 2024: twice the rate seen in previous shortages.

Recruiters are trying anything to recruit and retain nurses rather than, turning patients away, resulting in many nurses being offered higher salaries, signing and retention bonuses, and ever-increasing perks including student loan repayment schemes, free housing, significant career development funding, career mentoring, free medical and even tuition payments for their children.

Many recruiters are also choosing to get support from Offshore Recruitment Service (ORS) partner to help them meet their recruitment needs and are also using new recruiting methods such as geotargeting, which allows nursing recruiters to deliver cost effective recruitment advertising to people who meet a specific target criteria, which could include targeting locations, interests, demographics or even certain behaviors. For example, if a nursing conference is being held in a certain location you could target nurses on their mobile phones as they arrive at the venue.

IMS People Possible serves over 150 Leading Staffing Companies with 12 years of experience in the recruitment industry

It’s Still a Candidate-driven Market

The ongoing skill shortages has of course assured it is still very much a candidate driven market and the best candidates have unprecedented levels of power over the whole process, which in turn has quickly placed ongoing Candidate Relationship Management (CRM) as a vital trend to follow.

Candidate Relationship Management (CRM) is a relatively new system for attracting talent and for managing and ultimately improving relationships with current and potential future job candidates by automating the communication with candidates to encourage more engagement and to offer an improved candidate experience.

The importance of the candidate experience has become an extremely important recruitment trend, especially, as it isn’t just lost candidates but potential customers that it can impact as highlighted by this Virgin Media case study, which highlights that a bad candidate experience cost them $5.4 million annually.

Employer Branding  

A candidate driven market has also made employer branding of great importance. Employers are under constant pressure of maintaining the organization’s reputation and their popularity as an employer of choice.

Since, more and more candidates research a company’s reputation and employer brand before applying for a role, companies with a bad reputation not only struggle to attract candidates but also struggle to retain employees.

GDPR and Compliance

2018 has also seen USA recruitment businesses need to comply with the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a new piece of EU legislation aimed at giving European citizens greater control over the use of their personal data.

This has again added even more burden and cost to already stretched admin and accounting teams who have had to update their existing processes and fundamentally change how they gather, manage, process, store and secure candidate data.

The addition of GDPR to recruitment agencies worries has certainly made compliance a hot topic and made thriving in an already competitive and demanding marketplace all that harder.



Inbound Recruiting

Another increasing trend for 2018 is inbound recruiting- a recruitment marketing strategy where you continually and proactively try to appeal to candidates with the end goal of being able to attract, engage and convert candidates, rather than just communicating with them when you have an open position.

Enhanced Work-life Balance and Flexible Working

During 2018, businesses continue to place an increasing emphasis on the personal welfare of their existing employees to prevent high levels of stress, which can lead to burnout and increase employee retention problems.

Indeed, in many cases employees would prefer to have the freedom that flexible working offers over an increase in wages, as they try to juggle the demands of a career and having a family.

Upsurge of Workforce/HR Analytics

2018 has also seen an increase in the utilization of predictive workforce/HR analytics software that provides more detailed employee performance data and a better understanding, which in turn can assist in overall HR management and the development of HR strategies, improving recruitment strategy, driving diversity and inclusion and encouraging internal collaboration.

The real power comes when you can transform the raw data into actionable information that, for example, can help HR develop strategies to impress those employees that are showing signs of leaving.

Indeed, Josh Bersin, Principal and Founder of Bersin by Deloitte, went as far to say in a recent article that such tools are a “must-have” for organizations around the country.

Future-proofing Employees with Continuous Learning

In another attempt at improving retention rates and future proofing, 2018 has seen more and more organizations embrace investing in their current employees in the form of continuous learning.

Employees value continuous learning. Indeed, a recent survey found that 91% of high performers listed learning opportunities as extremely or, somewhat important to staying in their jobs. Of course, the business benefits as their employees become more adaptable to changes in their roles and grow with the organization.

Recruiting Millennial Talent

The latest research highlights that this emerging generation of professionals now accounts for 35% of all employees in the USA, making them the dominant age bracket in the nation’s workforce.

With their redefined expectations, more and more companies are responding by encouraging a more collaborative workplace with less structured hierarchy and more transparency where the Millennial voice can be heard.

Data-driven Recruiting and AI

2018 has seen data and AI in recruitment become a new global influence and is helping in key areas such as candidate sourcing, selection and management.

They are helping recruiters build stronger relationships with candidates, identify areas to improve retention and ultimately, allow more time for recruiters who use them to assist with the more mundane tasks.

Development of the Gig Economy and Remote Working

2018 has continued to see the gig economy grow as more and more organizations see the advantages of not maintaining a permanent workforce with all the associated costs of employees such as recruiting and onboarding costs, health insurance and retirement plans.

Indeed, The Freelancer’s Union predicts, the majority of the American workforce will be freelance by 2027 and about 50% of people are already pursuing freelance careers.

Plus, remote working has been a growing trend throughout 2018 and is tipped to be “one of the biggest drivers of transformation in the workplace”, according to the World Economic Forum. In fact, Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report found 43 percent of Americans spent at least some time working remotely this year, up from 39 percent in 2012.

Social Recruiting and New Sourcing Tools

2018 has also seen an increase in the use of social media channels for proactively searching, building relationships and recruiting with Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube becoming ever more popular for finding, attracting and hiring talent.

Both Google and Microsoft, have made their long-awaited move into the recruitment sector in 2018 and it looks like even Uber won’t be far behind.

More Diversity and Inclusion and a Focus of Sexual Harassment

Diversity and inclusion have been hot topics throughout society in 2018 and this year companies are finally taking steps to have a truly diverse and inclusive workforce.

Plus, significant measures have been made to make the workplace a safer environment for women and reduce the abuse of power in the workplace that has been sadly too common.



Above all else, 2018 has certainly been another busy year in the world of recruitment in the USA as younger and more global employees enter the workforce and greater focus is placed on areas such as retention, diversity and inclusion.

There is no doubt that the ongoing skill shortages have dominated recruiters time and have created a need for recruiters to create smarter and more strategic ways of working to attract both clients and candidates alike.

Indeed, 2018 has seen a need for those working in recruitment to embrace a new wave of tools to ensure they can work more efficiently and quicker to allow them to focus on the ‘human’ element of the role and be ready for the challenges that 2019 is sure to bring.