2016 Staffing and Recruiting Trends Survey: What You Need to Know

staffing industry trends

We’ve crunched the numbers from Bullhorn’s 2016 Staffing and Recruiting Trends Survey, and we’re seeing good news for the staffing industry. Revenue is up: 80 percent of respondents have met or exceeded their targets.

That number is the highest ever in the 6-year history of our survey, and it reflects the strong economy and low unemployment rate that the country is currently experiencing. Employers are currently looking for alternatives to full-time employees to meet their staffing needs, and when asked what the biggest industry challenge will be in the next few years, respondents’ most common write-in response was a shortage of skilled workers.

While we found that some numbers around industry performance have softened a little, the key takeaways show that the recruiting industry is benefiting from a booming economy.


The rate of companies that use VMS continues to rise 24 percent compared to 23 percent in 2015. And respondents expect that rate to increase from 24 percent to 28 percent in 2016. The greatest optimism comes from those respondents working in non-executive permanent placement, who forecast a leap from 16 percent of job orders driven through VMS in 2015 to 21 percent in 2016.

Fill Rate

The industry continues to view fill rate as its most important metric. Respondents yet again rated their total number of placements as the most important revenue-driving metric, with 62 percent reporting that it was the top predictor for revenue.

The fill rate for contract firms is up from 40 percent to 49 percent year over year, but permanent fill rate has dropped from 50 percent to 44 percent. Again, low unemployment rates and the embracing of a gig economy have affected these numbers. With the rise of companies like Upwork, it’s not hard to see a bright future for employees who want to work on various assignments across the span of their careers.

Meanwhile, industry hit rate leveled off after a three-year climb from 33 percent in 2013 to 40 percent in 2014 to 42 percent in 2015, remaining at 42 percent in 2016. In some areas, such as STEM fields, the necessary quantity of talent just isn’t available right now. People who do have these skills have their pick of positions, but the limited supply means that a certain amount of permanent positions will continue to go unfilled.

Importance of Technology

The staffing industry continues to rely heavily on technology. A full 80 percent of respondents said that they could not do their job without an applicant tracking system, an increase of 3 percentage points from last year. In fact, the role that technology plays for staffing agencies is an excellent example of the need for STEM skills across our economy. It’s vital that tomorrow’s workers have the skills to get into STEM positions. If we don’t prepare our own workforce for the jobs of the future, we’ll continue to see jobs move overseas and soften our economy.

How does your firm stack up? What changes are affecting your business in 2016? What staffing solutions can help improve business in 2016? Stay tuned for more on Bullhorn’s 2016 Staffing and Recruiting Trends Survey results, or contact us to learn more.

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