How To Get Set For Success: 2017 Hiring Trends

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Trends affecting employers today shed light on the key areas small and mid-sized companies should focus on for growth in 2017.

The 2016 #HRWINS employer research uncovered hiring trends and innovation in some unexpected areas, especially for small and mid-sized businesses that are trying to grow. This segment, made up of companies with less than 5,000 employees, is increasingly indicating the future of HR, hiring, and HR tech.

That's because cultural shifts – with Generation X in senior leadership and millennials entering leadership – happen faster and have more immediate impact in this segment. Business cycle times are accelerated, and employers of this size are innovating the practices in HR along with their use of HR technology. They're leading the market and setting the trends – not following them.

One of the more surprising findings in the research is the impact of employment background checks on hiring.

The Gig Economy Expands

As we enter 2017, we see the speed and effectiveness of running a background check surprisingly affecting a business’ ability to scale.

As the gig economy continues to gain in popularity, the need for fast and thorough background checks follows. Employers leveraging this model provide myriad on-demand services: transportation, home cleaning, dog walking, babysitting, and more.


These categories all bring people into close contact with consumers or involve entering consumers' homes. One thing is key: The ability to quickly vet a potential worker’s background in compliance with federal, state, and local regulations is paramount for their ability to scale.

The Contingent Workforce Grows

Simultaneously, the contingent workforce in corporate America is growing rapidly. Staffing Industry Analysts has predicted that 50% of the Fortune 100 will be contingent by 2020. In our work in the field, we see the middle market following suit to compete and find available talent.

In the past, contingent workers were focused in back-office areas like information technology and administrative support or on the shop floor or day labor-type functions. This is no longer the case.

We see an increasing number of contingent workers and freelancers across the enterprise in strategic and critical areas like finance, marketing, and consumer-facing positions. The need to quickly and effectively vet a job candidate’s background for critical positions at scale increases as workers enter and depart teams, having access to customer and consumer data, financials, and so on.

Employment Background Checks Affect Scale

Both examples speak to the critical need for speed and effectiveness in background checks to enable employers to scale businesses that depend on quickly finding and assessing available talent. Which describes all businesses.

This need is not exclusive to gig economy or contingent roles. We’ve found scale to be one of the most frustrating factors for employers. In a recent survey of middle market U.S. employers, we found that 38% are preparing to invest in background check technology in 2017, with a startling 19% of those purchases representing a replacement of existing systems.

Employers state that the biggest challenge associated with this technology is the ability to integrate background check data into the hiring process and systems used to support it. This data integration challenge impacts employers' ability to scale.

More Complete Data Means Faster, Better Decisions

Historically, the background check data that's leveraged in hiring decisions has been the equivalent of a “pass/fail” metric added to the recruiting system profile along with a PDF attachment of a results summary. The data acts as a “gate” on the track the candidate is on, provides little to no perspective, and can take days to accomplish.

A new breed of technologies focused on the small and medium business segment are entering the market at an accelerated pace. This new type of background check provider leverages technology and infrastructure to speed up the process of running background checks.

These technologies are also built supporting seamless integration to recruiting systems for hiring at scale. Some offer additional insights for employers, like candidate-provided context on results.

Most also offer a more modern employer interface for those needing ad-hoc access to the system.

Employment Screening Innovations To Continue

Leveraging these new technologies, employers can screen more candidates faster and more cost effectively earlier in the hiring process, while getting more context to support the decisions made for each hire.

We look for 2017 to bring further innovation in this category.

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George LaRocque

George LaRocque


George LaRocque is an HR Tech analyst and advisor and founder of #hrwins reports on Innovation in HR Technology. George speaks frequently on trends impacting HR and HR technology.

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