Latest selection trends

Updated content - June 30, 2017

Recruitment and selection methods have continued to evolve through 2016 and into the first part of 2017. What does that mean for you, if you’re looking for a job? The current selection trends that we've identified are:

  1. Employers are extending usage of social media as a recruitment tool.
  2. Employers are valuing experience over straight academic excellence.
  3. Employers are looking for ‘heart’, as well as brain and brawn.
  4. Updated - Employers consider the wider capabilities of a candidate.
  5. Updated - The diversity of selection processes used is increasing.
  6. LATEST - Internships increase access to competitive jobs - but at a price.

In the light of these (details are listed below), the top 3 actions you can take that will lift you above the herd and make the biggest difference to your prospects of successful selection are:

1) Manage the ‘chemistry’ during interviews.

  • Plan to also meet expectations on the interpersonal level.
  • Research people beforehand, not just the organisation.
  • Modify your behaviour, showing you’ll fit in perfectly.
  • Strengthen your personal influence and relationship skills.

2) Show your added-value at both application and interview stages.

  • Show strong communication skills when writing or speaking.
  • Illustrate your range of generic management skills.
  • Display good people and team skills.
  • Express an international, or at least outward-looking, dimension.
  • Ensure that you have work experience and show transferable skills.

3) Become your own brand, in terms of career management.

  • Plan the broad steps of your career.
  • Assess what additional skills you will need, now and in the future.
  • Manage your way to getting those skills.
  • Identify the next step along your career path and take it.

Be proactive during your job-hunt and interview preparation.

Those actions are all in addition to your basic need to fully match the advertised qualification and experience requirements for any role that you’re chasing. They've been distilled after reviewing the main selection trends of 2015 and 2016 so far, detailed below. (As always, check out whether they’re relevant to your field of work or type of employer before applying them.)

Trend 1) Employers are extending usage of social media as a recruitment tool.

  • More vacancies are now being announced via social media. Candidates need to be not just online, but actively engaged if they’re not to miss opportunities arising.
  • Most employers are now cross-checking applications against online information for candidates under consideration for interview. Inaccuracies and inconsistencies are counting heavily against them.
  • Candidates are receiving higher credit for having more than just a basic online presence. A rounded LinkedIn profile, an insightful blog and an active Twitter presence all add strongly to a candidate’s chances of reaching the interview stage.
  • Employers now expect candidates to have used online and social media resources to research them (and possibly even engage with them) prior to interview.

Trend 2) Employers are valuing experience over straight academic excellence.

  • A top-end qualification grade always counts, but no longer necessarily makes the crucial difference on selection for candidates still in the frame.
  • Real-life knowledge of a job, workplace or industry most aids selection.
  • Experience of a candidate from a previous internship, project-work or a sandwich-type placement scores very heavily for that candidate.
  • Candidates who have lived or worked abroad, or speak an additional language, are favoured, especially if there’s also a direct relevance.

Trend 3) Employers are looking for ‘heart’, as well as brain and brawn.

  • The buzzword is ‘passion’ (starting to get over-used now) – does the candidate really care about the work offered?
  • A demonstrable (and real) interest or involvement in the role or industry is highly valued.
  • Strengths-based interviews are taking over from competency-based interviews as strengths are judged to engage enthusiasm and that typically leads to a higher performance than that flowing purely from competencies.
  • Employers are looking to see whether candidates have a history of proactively making things happen, rather than simply following objectives set by others.

Trend 4) Employers are considering the wider capabilities of a candidate.

  • It’s now essential to tailor a CV or application if a candidate wants to show the full extent of their capabilities towards a role.
  • Employers are looking more at personal chemistry and how well a candidate might fit in to a team, department or organisation.
  • Previous experience that may even be irrelevant to the current role on offer is being used to judge the future potential of candidates and their longer-term suitability for employment.
  • Candidates able to show a commercial awareness improve their chances of selection, regardless of job function.
  • There's a swing back by employers to looking at a candidate's outside interests in order to get a more rounded assessment of potential, relative to the other applicants.

Trend 5) The diversity of selection processes used by employers is increasing.

  • Telephone and video interviews are now commonly used, even by smaller employers, once the initial application pile has been assessed.
  • Some industries are specifically seeking applications involving more front-end creativity, examples being found in the IT, marketing, sales, online and security sectors.
  • Competency-based interviews continue to filter down to smaller and medium sized employers.
  • Larger employers are drifting towards strengths-based interviews.
  • Motivational assessment of candidates is now in common usage, meaning that candidates need to be able to explain what they expect to contribute to an organisation, why they want to do so and how they might do it.

Trend 6) Internships are increasing access to the most competitive jobs.

Internships are a vital tool, helping people to get valuable work experience:

  • Around one half of all employers now say they won't consider a candidate without work experience.
  • At least one third of graduates taken on by the major employers are already known to the organisation, via an internship, placement or short period of project work.

The Sutton Trust think-tank conducted a study which has confirmed the continuing rise of the value of internships when chasing a job with a major employer for which there is likely to be stiff competition.

The problem is that an unpaid internship for six months can leave a graduate out of pocket by around £5,500, considering rent, transport and subsistence. The study found that a third of all internships appear to be unpaid, some running for as long a s a year. At the end, there's no guarantee of work.

Director of policy at the Sutton Trust was quoted in The Times as saying, "… today's research shows, the cost of taking an internship without pay is beyond the means of the vast majority of individuals."

In summary …

Based on these general trends, candidates will need to work much harder to stand above their peers and swing things in their favour during the various selection processes. It’s more important than ever to:

  • See where an advertised role fits into a wider industry picture.
  • Research the organisation fully before making an application.
  • Research the people at an organisation before attending interviews.
  • Find out which selection processes will be used.
  • Rehearse, rehearse and rehearse before attending interviews.

If you're seeing a trend that we're missing, please email information about anything that you've identified.

For in-depth help addressing all of these trends, read “Winning That Job: A kill or be-killed guide to job-search & interview preparation”. It's a 'must-read' on a job hunt. Pick up it up as an e-book or paperback here on Amazon >>>

Key words: interview, application, rehearsal, odds of selection, CV, added-value, strengths-based, competency, scenario, research, social media recruitment, telephone, skype, passion, potential