Predicting 2024’s Talent Acquisition Trends

How much will AI affect the talent market? Is early career hiring an undervalued advantage? Is CEO empathy the key to attracting and retaining top talent? Korn Ferry’s annual talent acquisition trends report shares the six biggest hiring trends you need to know about in 2024.

November 2, 2023 – No individual can see the future clearly. But when we blend the expert views of global talent leaders with comprehensive data, it becomes clearer. It’s this powerful combination of insights that fuels Korn Ferry’s annual talent acquisition trends report. Each year the search firm, which is the largest globally as ranked by Hunt Scanlon Media, lays out recruitment trends and talent trends you will be seeing in the coming year and offers advice on how to stay ahead of them. “In 2024, it’s your skills that count,” the Korn Ferry report said. “It’s a big win for diversity, equity and inclusion. And widening the talent pool will bring big advantages to organizations. With so many skills gaps to close, we expect businesses to focus on the skills they need to bring on and develop now.”

1. AI and Recruiters. Cautiously, AI and Recruiters Will Find Hiring Harmony.

In one of Korn Ferry’s latest studies, 82 percent of CEOs and senior leaders said they expect AI to have a significant or even extreme impact on their business. But will it be positive? “AI has a lot to offer recruiters,” the report said. “It speeds up processes. It writes job descriptions. It powers pre-screening video interviews and assesses candidates to find the best matches for roles. Recruitment chatbots can even answer candidates’ questions in real-time. Used in the right way, AI saves money and time. It has the potential to improve DE&I by recommending candidates who might not have the ‘traditional’ experience recruiters look for.”

The Korn Ferry report notes that most recruiters would say the benefits of AI outweigh the risks, however, two big risks exist. The first is accuracy. A recent Stanford study says that generative AI tools such as ChatGPT are becoming less accurate. Seventy-three percent of leaders told Korn Ferry they’ll keep a close eye on their tech for signs of security issues or algorithmic bias. “The second is more fundamental,” the report said. “With AI taking an ever-bigger role, if talent acquisition and talent management leaders aren’t strategic in their implementation, hiring risks losing its human touch. Recruiters are close to getting the balance right —but will it last?”

2. AI for Candidates. AI is Helping Candidates Apply Themselves.

AI makes life easier for candidates, too. The days of hunting for roles and endlessly tailoring resumes and cover letters are dwindling as generative AI does the tedious work, according to the Korn Ferry report. “Candidates will also be empowered to seek fairer pay,” it said. “As AI can easily compare salary ranges, candidates will be in a better position to negotiate or walk away if they’re not getting an offer that matches the market. Finally, when they land the role, candidates will go through a more streamlined onboarding process – thanks to the help of virtual training and chatbots on hand to answer questions.”

Related: How Fear of a Recession Impacts Talent Strategy

Still, Korn Ferry says that candidates should be aware of the risks of job hunting in an AI-enabled world. “Scam artists have been leveraging AI to steal personal information, and we’ve seen worrying reports of candidates handing over their social security number, bank details and other personal details to fake AI-generated job postings,” the firm said. “As always, candidates should be careful about the roles they apply for—and double check employer websites to make sure the opportunities are genuine.”

3. Early Career Hiring. It’s Never Too Early: Doubling Down on Early Career Hiring.

Some professional jobs will continue to call for college degrees. But in 2024, the Korn Ferry report explains that recruiters will cast their net wider. “Larger employers will woo candidates while they’re still in high school,” the report says. “Others will search for hires in technical and non-traditional higher education institutions.”

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In a new report, The Conference Board says persistent labor shortages, a possible recession, and then rebound in 2024 could be in store for the U.S. economy. Debbie Gollin of The Bachrach Group’s Jackson Lucas, Gary Erickson of Executive Search Partners, John Arbolino of Boothroyd & Co., and Adam Zoia of Glocap join Hunt Scanlon Media to share their thoughts on the economy and what lies ahead.

Korn Ferry notes that there are a couple of reasons for this. Finance plays a part. Entry-level hires command lower salaries than their more qualified counterparts— making them an especially attractive choice when budgets are tight. “Finding new ideas and building an inclusive business are just as important,” the report says. “The wider the talent pool, the easier it’ll be for organizations to hit their DE&I goals. But young hires today expect more from employers – more inclusion, more balance, more compassion. We’re finding a call for more empathy, emotional intelligence, and focus on mental health at work than ever before. It’s on employers to step up and support their people.”

4. Hiring for Skills. It’s Not About Where You’ve Been, it’s What You Know: Hiring for Skills.

In 2024, Korn Ferry says it’s your skills (not the pedigree of past employers on your resume) that count. “It’s a big win for diversity, equity and inclusion,” said the study. “And widening the talent pool will bring big advantages to organizations, too. With so many skills gaps to close—especially in areas such as generative AI—we expect businesses to focus on the skills they need to bring on and develop now. This will help them align to the long-term strategic direction of the organization. That includes bringing in interim hires who can upskill teams—and allowing businesses to try new roles on for size before hiring into them permanently.”

“A new focus on skills doesn’t just reference the technical ones,” the Korn Ferry report said. “Both technical and leadership skills will be highlighted in job postings and internal opportunities. We can expect to see more sideways moves as businesses reassign roles to unleash hidden potential in their ranks. Recruiters will still be looking out for leadership skills, too—so a seemingly short-term focus now doesn’t leave them with skills gaps at the top later.”

5. Empathy Regains Importance. Listen Up or Step Down. Empathy Regains Importance at the Top.

Are CEOs becoming less empathetic? In a survey of 3,000 HR professionals at the start of 2023, a third said empathy was lacking at the top. And as Korn Ferry’s own research shows, that’s a big problem for any business that wants to hire and hold onto high performing people. As those high performers move on—taking roles in organizations that give them greater work-life integration, or more freedom to share their opinions without fear, CEOs will have to make changes. By 2024, Korn Ferry expects CEOs to listen more to colleagues at every level in their business without judgment. “That doesn’t mean they’ll stop asking teams to return to the office, but it does mean they’ll think more about the culture they create,” the firm said. “And they’ll make more allowances for people’s personal circumstances.”

6. Relocate or Resign. An Impossible Choice is on the Rise

In 1986, 45 percent of Americans packed up and moved across country to follow lucrative careers. Back then, it seemed like a no-brainer, however, not so today. In the first quarter of 2023, one study shows that just two percent of Americans made similar moves.

Why the drop? Moving costs have skyrocketed and company relocation budgets have shrunk, and many people came out of the pandemic realizing they loved working from home, according to the Korn Ferry report. But that’s all about to change. “Now most employers are asking their teams to head back to the office at least some of the time, (including the people they’d hired as remote workers) and tough choices must be made,” the report said. “Either those remote workers leave and hope to find more flexibility elsewhere, or they uproot their families to move closer to workplaces that could be hundreds of miles away. If employers want to hire and keep hold of the best people—and see more of them in the office—they’ll need re-evaluate these relocation policies.”

Related: 3 Reasons For Job Seekers to Work with a Recruiter

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Executive Editor; Lily Fauver, Senior Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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