Feb 6, 2024

The 6 Critical Challenges Recruiters Must Solve in 2024 and How to Tackle Them

In this article
Matthijs Metzemaekers
Co-founder, Carv
A visionary tech entrepreneur with over a decade of experience.

The 2024 recruitment landscape promises to be a thrilling ride for in-house recruiters. The fluctuating job market and evolving candidate expectations are accentuating the typical challenges, from attracting and engaging top candidates to reducing the time-to-hire.

Unlike their agency counterparts, in-house recruiters operate within the specific needs and culture of their own organization, juggling multiple hats to attract, assess, and secure top talent.

So how can they best tackle these challenges, to make sure critical positions don’t remain vacant, and their limited budgets don’t restrict their ability to compete with well-funded agencies?

Let’s dive in.

Talent shortages and widening skill gaps

The war for talent is still ongoing, and there's no end in sight. Korn Ferry projects that by 2030, more than 85 million jobs could go unfilled due to a lack of skilled workers, potentially resulting in about $8.5 trillion in unrealized annual revenues.

The effects are strongly felt already.

  • A recent survey by the ManpowerGroup found that 75% of employers worldwide are experiencing difficulty finding qualified candidates.
  • Also, data from the World Economic Forum found that 70% of companies believe that the skills gap will significantly impact their business in the next five years.

But what is causing the current talent shortages?

According to research, several factors are contributing to this trend:

  • First, we have demographic shifts. The aging population and the retirement of baby boomers have led to a significant reduction in the available workforce.
  • Then, the skill gaps affecting many industries. The rapid advancements in technology have led to a growing demand for workers with tech-savvy skills, and the pace at which new roles are emerging is faster than the rate at which skilled professionals can be trained.
  • Along with these two, we have the always-present high turnover rates, caused by mismatches between candidates and the roles they’re hired for. The Great Resignation and Quiet Quitting phenomena have made this matter worse, with many employees quitting or disengaging and becoming less effective in their work.
  • Adding to these challenges, younger generations, often referred to as digital natives, show disinterest in full-time jobs, favoring the booming creator economy. This is prompting recruiters to turn their attention back to older employees, where they face the problem of the skill gap.

As you can see, these factors overlap and interact in complex ways, perpetuating the problem of talent scarcity.

But the impact goes beyond the numbers listed above. These shortages translate into longer hiring times and frustration for hiring managers. In-house teams often lack the expansive reach of agencies, making it even harder to find suitable candidates internally, let alone externally.

How to tackle this challenge

To navigate this challenge, organizations can:

  1. Conduct comprehensive workforce planning to anticipate future skill needs, identify critical roles and skill gaps, and proactively address potential shortages.
  2. Develop robust training programs to upskill existing employees, and prioritize reskilling initiatives to align the workforce with evolving job requirements.
  3. Rethink recruitment strategies to focus on potential and adaptability rather than strict job requirements, and leverage technology for targeted and efficient recruitment campaigns.

By combining these strategies, organizations can proactively tackle the first challenge recruiters face in 2024.

Now let’s move on to the second item on our list of 2024 hiring challenges: Attracting the right talent.

Attracting and engaging top candidates

As said, we’re currently dealing with a tight labor market, boasting 1.4 job openings for every unemployed person. While this is an improvement from the peak of the Great Resignation in March 2022, when there were 2.0 job openings per unemployed person, it hasn't yet returned to the pre-pandemic level of March 2020, which stood at 1.2 job openings per candidate.

This grants candidates the power to be selective, and makes it more difficult for recruiters to attract top talent and engage passive candidates.

One-size-fits-all recruitment strategies no longer suffice, as modern job seekers demand a candidate-centric approach. They have grown indifferent to generic job postings and mass recruiter outreach, and are no longer looking just for a job - instead, they’re looking for an experience.

Today’s job applicants want to work for companies that they respect and admire, and they want to feel valued and appreciated throughout the recruitment process.

Although most companies claim to take a candidate-centric approach to hiring, the reality is that modern recruitment processes are vacancy-driven. Hiring is structured around organizational needs, not candidate experiences, and recruiters’ performance is measured on metrics such as time to fill and time to process.

With many organizations focusing mostly on how quickly someone moves through the hiring stages and on how efficient the hiring team is, hiring velocity takes the front stage, leaving candidate experience on the back burner.

This also means that recruiters can’t take that much time to build relationships with candidates, build a strong employer brand, or ensure they reach the best candidates out there.

How to tackle this challenge

To navigate this challenge, organizations can:

  1. Move away from generic recruitment approaches and adopt AI tooling that understands candidate behavior and preferences, and can personalize the outreach to fit each potential candidate.
  2. Invest in creating visibility for the brand through employee referral programs and by leveraging social media for employee testimonials, to communicate the unique aspects of the company and employer brand.
  3. Invest in technology solutions that contribute to a positive candidate experience, from user-friendly application interfaces to AI-driven chatbots for real-time engagement.

This brings us to the next challenge faced by recruiters in 2024.

Long time to hire and low quality of hire

In many companies, there's a misalignment between what hiring managers expect and what recruiters can deliver.

Companies don't just want quicker fulfillment to drive their growth and keep operations running; they also expect the right candidates who perfectly match the job requirements, can swiftly onboard, and start producing results from day one.

However, recruiters don't operate in this ideal world. Talent is scarce, competition is high, and most hiring teams use similar methods to reach candidates. Good but passive candidates often remain disengaged, while available talent isn't always the best fit for the role.

As a result, the time to hire is often longer than ideal, and the quality of hire is low.

  • The average time to hire in the US is 36 days, and even a one-day increase translates to $5,000 in lost productivity per open position.
  • Most candidates are off the hiring market in just 10 days, and about 28% of candidates drop out of the hiring process due to its length.

The situation could be different if recruiters had sufficient time for sourcing, screening, and interviewing candidates. Yet, in today's tight market, recruiters must work with the talent available by the time they can make a hiring decision.

Unfortunately, the long-term impact extends beyond slow hiring. Bad hires, who aren't a good fit for the role, lead to higher attrition rates, damage brand reputation due to early turnover, and perpetuate a never-ending sourcing cycle.

Consider these examples: The average global turnover rate is approximately 12-15%, but the numbers vary significantly across industries and regions. Construction, professional and business services, and leisure and hospitality industries have the highest turnover rates.

In the United States, the turnover rate averaged 17.3% between 2022 and 2023, showing a decrease from the 24.7% recorded in 2022. Notably, voluntary turnover, resulting from employee resignations, accounted for a significant portion at 17.3%, surpassing the involuntary turnover rate of 4.8%, where the company terminated employees.

This underscores the importance of focusing on quality candidates and prioritizing the quality of hire. Surprisingly, according to the Global Recruiting Trends report by LinkedIn, only 48% of companies currently use the QoH metric as a primary indicator of recruitment performance.

How to tackle this challenge

To navigate this recruitment challenge, organizations can:

  1. Collaborate closely with hiring managers to set realistic expectations and align on requirements, skills, and competencies needed for each role.
  2. Regularly assess the success of placements based on performance, cultural fit, and long-term contributions.
  3. Build and maintain diversified talent pipelines to ensure a continuous pool of qualified candidates.

This can solve the next challenge on our list too: Ineffective recruitment processes.

Ineffective hiring processes

When we examine the modern way of recruiting, it's not necessarily the speed of execution that's lacking, despite the extended time to hire:

  • They can make use of programmatic advertising strategies to post job ads across different job boards in minutes, to fill their vacancies.
  • Also, hiring teams can delegate administrative tasks like screening resumes, scheduling interviews, or writing follow-up emails to recruitment software, freeing up time for candidate interactions.
  • Automated assessment tools make shortlisting candidates a breeze, and outreach templates can be used for engaging with good candidates at scale.
  • Finally, most applicant tracking systems offer out-of-the-box integrations to make data transfers across the recruitment stack as smooth as possible.

As you can see, many operational aspects can be streamlined with the help of recruiting software.

Yet, companies still grapple with ineffective recruitment processes fuelled by manual tasks and inconsistent data formats. This results in incomplete candidate profiles and misalignment between recruiters and hiring managers, hindering informed decision-making.

Why does this happen?

Because automation, as we know it, has its limitations. Applied in the wrong touchpoints, it only addresses symptoms but not the root cause of ineffective processes.

Consider these examples: One-way interviews, one-size-fits-all knockout questions, and mass sourcing emails make it easier to source, screen, and shortlist candidates. However, the approach is so impersonal that candidates either don't bother to reply or drop halfway through the process.

Templated job descriptions attract the wrong candidates or discourage qualified individuals from applying, leading to a role-candidate mismatch. Over-reliance on keywords when screening candidates overlooks potential, missing opportunities on both ends. Additionally, non-existent or scattered talent pipelines hinder recruiters' sourcing effectiveness, resulting in prolonged vacancies.

The consequence of all this is that instead of focusing on interviews, which should be their main focus, recruiting teams spend most of their time overcoming the limitations of technology and the failure modes of the hiring process.

So how can companies tackle this challenge?

How to tackle this challenge

To navigate this challenge, organizations can:

  1. Conduct a thorough evaluation of the entire recruitment process, identifying friction points and bottlenecks.
  2. Set aside time and budget for restructuring the workflows that don’t work, and consider replacing the ineffective tools with software that enables recruiters to do their best work.
  3. Prioritize areas where technology can enhance efficiency without sacrificing the human touch and implement AI-led automation selectively. For example, invest in AI-driven tools for interview-related admin to free up recruiters, so they can focus on finding the best talent.

This brings us to challenge number 5: The limitations of current recruitment technology.

Recruitment tech limitations

Many of the tech limitations companies grapple with today are considered a given, and rarely challenged.

Take interviews, for instance. They should be the most important step in the hiring process, as that’s when candidates and recruiters build rapport. But preparing the interviews takes time, and automated workflows can’t solve this problem yet.

The intake calls with hiring managers, during which job requirements are discussed, are also time-consuming tasks that recruitment software can’t take over. Transferring all the candidate data to the ATS after an interview can’t be automated by current technology neither, as interviews are unstructured data. So instead of dedicating most of their time to interviewing candidates, recruiters often have to rush this step and prioritize all the admin work - both prep and follow-ups.

The rush for speed in interviews compromises the quality of hire as recruiters focus on checklist tasks rather than understanding candidates. Again, this happens because today’s recruitment software has built-in limitations. It can automate process steps but can't grasp the logic of hiring, particularly with unstructured data.

Given that most information collected during live interviews is unstructured data, and regular tools can’t translate it into structured information to be used by other systems, today's recruitment tech stacks are unable to operate similarly to a human.

But these limitations go deeper and represent one of the biggest challenges recruiters have to deal with on a day-to-day basis.

  • Most applicant tracking systems offer a limited number of fields for candidate data, so candidate information is lost if the interview recordings aren’t stored and reviewed by the hiring team.
  • Talent pools rely on keywords stored in candidate profiles or CVs, but can’t scan for transferable skills, leading to missed opportunities.
  • Process-focused tools can’t adapt to market changes, so a spike in applicants leaves recruiters overwhelmed, while a drop in job seekers means they’ll need to source new talent.

These limitations have a tangible impact on recruitment processes, slowing down workflows and impeding data-driven decision-making. It therefore comes as no surprise that figuring out how to use generative artificial intelligence in talent acquisition and how to adopt AI-driven automation are listed as top priorities when it comes to 2024 investments.

How to tackle this challenge

To navigate this challenge, organizations can:

  1. Identify the process steps that are still heavily manual and time-consuming due to improper data formats and flows.
  2. Rethink the recruitment tech stack and invest in tools that leverage AI, as these can work with unstructured data and automate repetitive tasks, allowing recruiters to focus more on strategic aspects of talent acquisition.
  3. Explore systems that allow for scalability, ensuring that the recruitment process remains efficient during both spikes and drops in applicant numbers.

This leads us to the last challenge on the list: The adoption of AI technology and its practical implementation within existing ways of working.

Adoption of AI recruitment technology

The integration of artificial intelligence (AI) into recruitment practices holds the promise of addressing most of these challenges faced by organizations.

Unlike traditional tools, AI possesses the unique capability to effectively handle unstructured data, so it can take any type of information - be it written text, voice messages, or video interviews - and turn it into structured output.

This means that AI recruitment software can take care of most of the admin work, from debriefing intake calls and writing follow-up emails or job descriptions, to turning the candidate interview into a proper profile and populating the ATS with the right information.

This can help companies not only streamline their operations and improve the efficiency of their recruitment process, but also ensure they reach the right candidates with personalized messages, to improve conversion rates and quality of hire. However, many businesses perceive AI as complex and challenging to implement, and this perception hinders its adoption, leading to a widening adoption gap between early adopters and laggards.

Some stakeholders lack a clear understanding of how AI works and how it can benefit the recruitment process, leading to skepticism and hesitancy. The uncertainty about compliance, data privacy, and legal implications also deters organizations. Next to these, the fact that integrating AI into existing recruitment systems may require workflow adjustments, and the lack of a universal playbook for implementing AI in recruitment, leads to organizations postponing such initiatives.

However, AI adoption remains one of the top priorities for companies this year. So here’s how companies can tackle this challenge.

How to tackle this challenge

To navigate this challenge, organizations can:

  1. Demystify AI complexity by educating stakeholders, including hiring managers, recruiters, and decision-makers, on the fundamentals of AI and its applications in recruitment. A starting point could be understanding the differences between AI-enabled recruiters and AI recruiters.
  2. Establish transparent guidelines and policies regarding AI implementation in recruitment to address concerns related to compliance, data privacy, and legal implications.
  3. Start small and solve one problem at a time, either by initiating pilot programs to demonstrate the impact of AI in a specific area, or by using free tools that work with your current tech stack. This approach helps build confidence and support for broader adoption.

By addressing these aspects, organizations can bridge the gap between AI technology and successful adoption in recruitment, fostering a culture that embraces innovation and leverages the transformative potential of AI-led recruitment.

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