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Three surprising trends that talent leaders are embracing

We are just about a month away from HR Tech, where leaders in talent and HR will come to eat, drink, and see a lot of AI companies.

I’m speaking twice at the conference this year (including one talk with our all-star customer Atlassian). Ahead of the big event, I’ve spent some time talking to talent and diversity leaders about what they’re looking forward to, and more generally, what they’re excited about in the industry right now.

Some of it is unsurprising to anyone who follows industry trends. Lots of talk about AI. Continued focus on candidate experience and how to make it better. Everyone talks a good game about diversity (even if execution is sometimes another matter).

But some of what I’ve heard feels new, and I’m not reading about it elsewhere. I’ve chatted with close to 100 different talent leaders over the last few weeks, and there are definitely a few patterns. These are trends worth watching.

Tech is coming in-house.

Traditionally, HR and Talent teams work closely with their IT departments to implement new systems. For many projects, they have worked with external consultants to get things up and running. In general, for projects like web portals, surveys, and data analysis, talent teams have worked with external consultants, while in-house IT teams have been responsible for implementing the solutions that the team will be using every day.

This is still the case in many places, but it has begun to shift. Work that has typically relied on external consultants is increasingly coming in house.

This started with the rise of people analytics, as more and more companies have come to believe that data analysis isn’t a one-time task but rather a recurring one. When you need work done every day, and that work is central to your success as a company, you begin building in-house expertise in the area. And not just in-house, but in-department; companies now include dedicated analysts that sit in the talent team rather than in an independent data science engineering function.

What started with people analytics isn’t stopping there. More and more talent teams have their own designers and developers to build things directly without recruiters needing to compete for limited resources from the central IT department. Candidate experience portals, ATS plug-ins, and interview feedback tools are just a few examples in the last month where this has come up.

Brand is leaving the house.

It’s 2012, and talent teams everywhere are rushing to hire employment brand experts inside their team.

Fast forward five years, and those brand experts are working for the CMO.

As talent leaders have hired more and more designers, data analysts, and developers directly into their teams, the marketers are leaving. Not leaving the company, but relocating into the central marketing team.

So many companies are recognizing that potential customers and potential employees are the same people. A great customer brand is hugely effective in drawing job applicants. As organizations embrace this, the boundary between customer brand and employment brand becomes less about strategic content differences and more about channel opportunities.

Understood in this light, it makes sense for a company to organize the various kinds of marketing work under the same executive leader — a leader who is an expert in marketing.

People are high on automation.

So much has been written about job automation. Maybe it’s our economic savior! Maybe it’s an economic disaster! Maybe it’s inevitable! Maybe it’s impossible! To believe the press, the average American worker is on the whole pretty freaked out about it all.

So it’s fascinating that the majority of talent leaders I’ve spoken with not only aren’t freaked out, they’re eager to hurry the process along.

A recruiter’s day is filled with a huge variety of tasks. Some of these are super high value, such as talking to applicants, selling a job offer to a great candidate, or attending industry events to meet potential hires for specialized and hard-to-fill roles.

But lots of other tasks are more repetitive and mundane: scouring the same LinkedIn profiles over and over again, uploading jobs for media distribution, tracking status for open reqs, and many more. Few people enjoy these tasks, yet they take hours out of every day and you can’t just skip them if you want to succeed.

Many talent leaders are looking to automate these more repetitive tasks to free recruiting teams up for higher-value work. Few have implemented all the automations they want, but nearly everyone is looking. More time to focus on the important stuff makes for better hiring.

What do you think is next?

Do these trends ring true for you? What trends do you see emerging in the talent landscape? If you’ll be at HR Tech, I’d love to meet up and talk about it.

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