Meet & Engage

Key themes in talent acquisition for 2023

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This task seems to get harder every year. Is it simply that we live in a more unstable world, along with all the associated economic and human factors that entails? That certainly could be said of the last twelve months and moving into 2023.

To make some sound predictions for next year, I’ve drawn on the experience of several practitioners and industry experts, including those who contributed to our Predictions for 2023 Webinar, along with a good dose of educated guess work.

The good news is there are some themes and key trends emerging. So, let’s start with:  

Rehiring, Retention, Reskilling & Internal Mobility

A CIPD report earlier this year found that the top response from employers to recruitment challenges was to focus on retention, upskilling and training. We’ve seen our engagement technology deployed in the employee engagement space more than ever this year, showing a focus on ensuring people are developed and mobilised to meet both individual and business needs.  

Alumni programmes have long been a source of candidates and at the very least brand advocates. Having previously been somewhat of an after-thought, there’s now a sense of alumni or boomerang hires being a key source of talent – particularly given the Great Resignation of the past 12-24 months. There are plenty of upsides to rehires; they’re likely to hit the ground running, and arguably will need far less time to reach productivity than someone brand new to the business.  


I recently attended the ISE’s ED&I conference in London. It was jam-packed with fantastic speakers. One recurring theme was ‘terminology’; how the words and phrases we use during the hiring journey prove to be off-putting for some underserved audiences. For example, we ask candidates to ‘disclose’ a disability or to let us know what ‘reasonable adjustments’ they need us to make. One presenter simply rephrased this as ‘what can we do to help you be your best in this recruitment journey’? I liked this – it felt more like an invite or welcome to succeed, as opposed to a finger being pointed.

This mirrors Radical Recruit’s Emma Freigovel’s approach: urging employers to revisit the basics, be human centric, and empathetic – in short, setting candidates up for success. Emma also called for organisations to ‘retire the rhetoric’ and show action not words.

This approach is echoed by Dr Iwi Ugiagbe-Green, who spoke at the ISE conference with the plea to organisations to either put resource behind their DE&I efforts, or admit that it’s not a priority.

When it comes to DE&I, co-working on initiatives and programmes with those who have walked in the audiences’ shoes is surely a smart way to fast-track your efforts. Emma’s team at Radical Recruit, James Fellowes’ Bridge of Hope, and Lexxic are all great examples of expertise borne of experience.

The Unretirement Movement

Also known as the Unretirement Uprising and the Great Unretirement, this is a fast-emerging trend that highlights two important issues. The first is age discrimination. According to the latest findings from 55/Redefined:

·      66% of over 50s predict that their age will work against them in the recruitment process

·      30% of retirees felt forced to cease working.

The second challenge is that the UK still have one of the lowest rates of unemployment and here we have an untapped pool of talent feeling alienated. How do we fix this broken relationship between this demographic and the workplace?

Employers who want to improve age diversity need to look at attracting and retaining the over 50s and give options to those reaching retirement age of remaining, leaving and/or re-entering the workforce.

This is an area we are keen to observe and can think of many ways that our engagement technology can support communications and outreach to this target audience.

Balancing a Hybrid Approach

Whilst there were several upsides to a 100% virtual approach, there has now undoubtedly been a shift, which is set to develop into a more hybrid way of interacting with candidates. From pre-apply to in-process and right through to onboarding, we are seeing a combination of in-person and virtual activities and assessments being offered.

Campus Engager is a new solution we’re launching in January, which supports early careers talent teams. It’s designed to engage students and candidates from the point of meeting them, be that face-to-face on campus or at a virtual event, moving them through to the point of apply with engaging branded content and interactive, asynchronous chat.

I think that the accessibility and social mobility advantages of virtual hiring events will always be welcomed, but that offering these combined with in-person activities is a productive blend.

Live Online Events can blend seamlessly with both online and in-person content, offering an engaging experience for all candidates, whatever their circumstances.

The Role of Recruiters

The sense of uncertainty in the latter part of this year has led to businesses making different demands of their recruiters and TA teams. In extreme examples, organisations have switched hiring off in recent months after a couple of years of rapid recruitment.

After hiring as many recruiters as the market allowed when hiring was switched on, the risk could be that reducing team size would leave operations exposed when an inevitable upturn does occur again.

Tush Wijerante, Head of EMEA Talent Acquisition, shared that his approach at GroupM has been to upskill his team in agile methodology and adjust their roles, to cover a combination of project work and secondments, in addition to talent acquisition. All of which is building the agility, skills and consultancy mindset that the business needs. If Covid-19 taught resilience, let’s now be more agile.

To conclude I’d like thank Emma Freivogel of Radical Recruit, James Gordanifar of WTW, Tush Wijeratne of GroupM, Charlotte Johns of Elida, James Fellowes of Bridge of Hope and Dr Iwi Ugiagbe-Green of Aspire and Manchester Metropolitan University, all of whom have contributed to or unknowingly influenced my thinking!

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