Trends & Benchmarks

2023 recruiting trends: talent teams’ priorities, expectations, and initiatives

Lauren Shufran

Lauren Shufran

Content Strategist

Posted on

February 13, 2023

What does the future hold for recruitment? If the past few years have taught us anything, it’s that none of us can predict that—or much of anything—for sure. That’s why we surveyed nearly 700 talent acquisition professionals as 2022 came to a close: to get a collective sense of pain points, priorities, expectations, and goals; along with a shared sense of what 2023 might have in store for us.

Gem's 2023 recruiting trends report

Gem surveyed nearly 700 seasoned talent acquisition professionals about their pain points, priorities, expectations, and initiatives for this year. Want the longer report? It's right here waiting for you.

Get the report

We asked about everything from tech stacks, to executive investment in the recruiting function, to headcount plans, to diversity hiring goals, to employer value propositions and employee benefits, to recruiting KPIs, to key focus areas and challenges anticipated. We also segmented responses by company size in this report, recognizing that recruiting teams in smaller organizations (0-999 FTEs) and larger organizations (1000+ FTEs) may be having different experiences right now. Here’s some of what we found: 

Reasons for optimism: recruiting team—and overall headcount—growth is expected 

24% of recruiting organizations saw reductions in force in the last half of 2022—but 33% of smaller organizations and 54% of larger organizations saw recruiting team growth. The outlook for 2023 appears conservatively optimistic: only 11% of respondents expect their recruiting teams to shrink this year (TA professionals at larger companies are more likely to expect reductions), while more than ⅓ (34%) of respondents say they expect recruiting team growth in 2023.

Recruiting team growth

What’s more, 75% of talent acquisition professionals at smaller organizations and 70% at larger organizations say they expect company-wide headcount increases in 2023. (Only 16% and 20%, respectively, expect decreases.) These numbers explain why more than ⅓ of respondents expect their recruiting teams to grow this year. 

Pipeline-building is the #1 activity talent teams are engaging in, in preparation for a market return

Continuing to build talent pipelines for the inevitable bounceback in hiring is the #1 activity talent teams are engaging in, regardless of company size: 60% of respondents say their teams are in the process of pipeline-building. Data cleanup, evaluating DEI initiatives, and building or strengthening employee value propositions (EVPs) are also high on the list of downturn priorities: 47%, 46%, and 41% of teams respectively say they’re engaging in these activities. (Meanwhile, 31% of respondents say their recruiting organizations aren’t experiencing downtime.)

Downturn recruiting activities 1
Downturn recruiting activities 2

While recruiters at larger organizations are slightly more likely to say they’re prepared for the rebound, 42% of respondents say they’re very prepared, and 47% say they’re somewhat prepared. Only 12% admitted they’d be unprepared if hiring were to rebound tomorrow.

“How are we maintaining our pipeline right now? We have a lot of roles on plan, so how do we nurture our networks so if that person is available in three months when we’re ready to hire, we’re top-of-mind for them? Gem is wildly helpful with this. We’re seeing response rates go up these days—people are victims of hiring freezes or they’re working overtime because their teams have been cut. So people are more receptive right now, which is great for building foundational relationships.”

- Abigail Chambley, Director of Talent Acquisition @ Mission

Meeting diversity goals and initiatives continues to be challenging

Over half (54%) of smaller organizations and over ⅔ (76%) of larger organizations say they have formal diversity hiring initiatives or diversity goals in place. In aggregate, these numbers are smaller than last year’s (when 66% and 72% of small and large companies, respectively, said they had diversity goals and initiatives), suggesting—sadly—that diversity has been deprioritized for some organizations over the last 12 months. Larger organizations are more likely—20% more likely—to make these goals public. 

16% of all respondents, regardless of company size, say they’re meeting their diversity goals and not experiencing roadblocks in their diversity initiatives—meaning 84% of teams see at least some struggle in meeting those goals. The biggest barrier for organizations when it comes to diversity is finding underrepresented talent to begin with (53%), followed by moving underrepresented candidates through the hiring funnel (29%), and retaining underrepresented employees (17%). 

Barriers to diversity

“With Gem, we’ve seen a 54% increase in URG candidates and a 31% increase in female-identified candidates making it to the first-round interview. Offers extended to, and offers accepted by, URGs have increased. That’s been phenomenal to see.”

- En-Szu Hu-Van Wright, Talent Operations Manager @ Chili Piper

Best source of hire is the #1 data point teams are tracking in 2023

The top-4 KPIs recruiting teams were tracking as 2022 came to a close were the same regardless of company size: time to hire (73% of teams tracked this), source of hire (70% of teams tracked this), offer-acept rate (66% of teams tracked this), and offer rejection reasons (55% of teams tracked this). The top 3 KPIs haven’t changed since last year—though diversity has lost its place as #4.

Looking ahead to 2023, the top-4 use cases for data are also the same regardless of company size: 61% of teams will use data to uncover best sources of hire; 58% will use data to track passive candidate outreach; 57% will use data to report on time-to-hire and cost-per-hire; and 55% will use data to track diversity hiring. Tracking passive candidate outreach is seeing a new emphasis in 2023—fewer teams focused on this KPI last year, suggesting a new urgency at the top of the funnel around attracting passive talent. 

data-driven recruiting 1
data-driven recruiting 2

“At Affirm, our ATS is deeply integrated with Gem. So I can track everything—top, middle, bottom of the funnel, you name it. Whatever I need to know—pipeline conversion by department, by sourcer, time-in-stage, time to fill—it’s there. We’re bringing leadership proactive, predictive considerations that can be actioned upon, rather than reactive observations. We can accurately predict time-to-hire, for example; or forecast how many candidates we need in each stage of the funnel to see an offer-accept. That drives conversations around allocation.”

- Emily Stellick, Head of Global Sourcing @ Affirm

Engaging passive talent is a top priority in 2023

Recruiting teams are recognizing the value of passive talent in 2023: sourcing tools and tech are the #1 technology recruiting teams will invest budget in this year. Recruitment marketing platforms and technologies are #2, and the ATS is #3—regardless of company size. (Last year, budgets went to employer branding initiatives, sourcing tools and tech, and talent team headcount, in that order.) 

talent acquisition budget 1
talent acquisition budget 2

Diversity hiring takes the #1 place in terms of talent team focus

While talent teams will invest the most budget in sourcing tools and tech, diversity took the #1 place in terms of talent team focus: 54% of respondents say DEIB should be a top hiring focus this year. (Talent sourcing came in at #2: 51% of talent professionals think recruiting teams should be focusing here.) 

recruiting team focus 1
recruiting team focus 2

Finding qualified candidates is 2023’s top challenge

Regardless of company size, the top-3 recruiting and hiring challenges talent acquisition professionals anticipate in 2023 are the same: difficulty finding qualified candidates (53% anticipate this challenge), uncompetitive offers (37% anticipate this challenge), and nurturing passive talent over the long term (31% anticipate this challenge). The top-3 challenges have not changed since last year: in 2022, 55%, 44%, and 35% of TA professionals respectively anticipated these same challenges.

This year, smaller organizations are more likely to anticipate difficulty meeting diversity goals (it’s their #4 anticipated challenge), while larger organizations are more likely to anticipate recruiting process delays. 

biggest recruiting challenges 1
biggest recruiting challenges 2

“We’re building nurture campaigns with emails along the lines of: Hey, it’s been awhile; I’d love to reconnect. Here’s the latest on Mapbox; check out our ERG spotlights, and so on. So much happens in the months between reachouts that you lose context, but Gem’s Activity Feed gives an important bird’s-eye view. Often it’s enough to base my re-engagement on. This humanizes the process; it makes talent feel heard and their lives respected.”

- Brie Bastidas, Head of Technical Recruiting @ Scale AI (formerly Technical Recruiting Manager @ Mapbox) 

The challenges ahead for recruitment may be changing, but the challenges themselves aren’t going anywhere. We hope this resource helps you better understand the broader recruiting landscape, assess your company’s place in that landscape, and anticipate what may lie ahead. It’s as important as ever to keep a finger on the pulse of the industry. Check out our 2023 recruiting trends ebook for more about what your peers are thinking about, and what they’re up to.

Gem's 2023 recruiting trends report

Gem surveyed nearly 700 seasoned talent acquisition professionals about their pain points, priorities, expectations, and initiatives for this year. Want the longer report? It's right here waiting for you.

Get the report


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