This year was a landmark year for hiring. Despite two major hurricanes and political turmoil in Washington, D.C., the U.S. economy forged ahead in 2017, adding 1.9 million new jobs as of November and pushing stock markets to an all-time record high.
However, what are the next big disruptors in jobs and hiring? Our friends at Glassdoor have a unique vantage point on the future of work and hiring, with access to millions of real-time job listings, salaries, and company reviews. That allows us to keep a pulse on what's happening in jobs, recruiting, and company culture, and offers clues about what's coming next for jobs.
We've identified five big trends in the labor market we think are likely to unfold in 2018 and beyond. Some of them are already visible today, and we expect each to accelerate in the coming years -- disrupting the way companies attract, hire, and retain talent.
Here's our list of the top five workplace trends to watch in 2018:
Trend #1: Bracing for AI in HR and finance
When it comes to the future of work, artificial intelligence (AI) and automation are poised to impact nearly every facet of the workforce in some way. But we see two industries as being particularly ripe for big changes in 2018 thanks to AI technology: talent acquisition and finance.
In the HR world, a growing list of vendors like Entelo, Textio, Textkernal, HiringSolved, and x.ai today are offering AI solutions to help recruiters sort through oceans of resumes for great candidates, make predictive matches between job seekers and roles using data, correct biases in the language they use in job descriptions, and even AI bots that handle repetitive and easy-to-automate tasks like scheduling candidate interviews.
A second industry that's ripe for AI-related disruption in 2018 is financial services. On Wall Street, many jobs today still involve routine tasks like suggesting financial bets, developing hedges, and executing trades -- jobs that today can increasingly be done via machine learning software. Greater reliance on AI in portfolio management, credit analysis, and risk management is upending many established roles in finance. We expect this trend to accelerate as prices fall and ease of use improves for AI solutions in finance.
In addition to HR and finance, many other sectors are bracing for AI disruption in 2018. In healthcare, AI is helping radiologists miss fewer cancers in patient imaging scans. In retail, AI is creating seamless in-home shopping via Amazon's Alexa, taking on routine inventory tasks, and making vast improvements in automated check-out systems. And in transportation, AI-assisted trucking and package delivery promises safer and lower-cost deliveries -- all trends we expect to see more of in 2018.
Trend #2: Bringing transparency to the application process
This lack of transparency is a major pain point for job seekers today. In an era when consumers can easily track every step in a FedEx delivery process -- from a mobile device -- it strikes most job seekers today as archaic to be unable to track the status of a potentially life-changing job application in real time.
In 2018, we expect more employers to start embracing transparency in application processes, partly as a way to differentiate themselves in the competition for talent. After all, the technical infrastructure to allow "package-tracking"-style updates on job applications has been in place for many years at most large employers -- it's just a matter of repackaging data from existing applicant tracking software and opening it up to job seekers.
One leader in this trend has been Johnson & Johnson. In 2017, the company announced a new transparent hiring platform allowing candidates to track in real time where they stand in the hiring process. Their new "Shine" platform lets candidates check on the progress of their application, get information on next steps, and browse related information about the role and company that's relevant to where they are in the hiring process.
In 2018, we expect to see more companies following the lead of Johnson & Johnson, bringing more transparency to the process of tracking online job applications -- making online job search less like sending resumes into a black hole, and more like the user-friendly process of tracking a FedEx shipment.
Trend #3: Tapping employee passion through role experimentation
Employees go through a natural career journey at companies. Once hired into a role, employees typically want to mature into new positions over time -- either upward through promotions in the same role, or laterally into a new role as employees develop new skills and career aspirations.
Most companies today have good processes for upward promotion within the same job family. But what about employees looking for horizontal moves into new jobs, such as an operations expert who aspires to become a digital marketer, or an accountant who aims to become a data scientist? While lateral role changes are common, few companies have a formal program in place to encourage and support them. And too often, that creates a lack of perceived career opportunities, prompting valuable talent to leave for outside offers.
In 2018, we expect more employers to begin filling this gap by embracing formal "role experimentation" programs to help facilitate more lateral job changes. By establishing clearer pathways for internal job moves, companies have an opportunity to tap into the changing skills and passions of their workforce, help reduce turnover, and do a better job of matching proven talent with their most productive role inside an organization.
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John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon and Johnson & Johnson. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.