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Last year, my predictions for the top three recruiting trends of 2017 were new technologies including artificial intelligence (AI), a focus on workplace diversity and talent rediscovery.

It turned out that 2017 was undeniably the year of AI.

What will the new year bring to the world of recruiting as the economy improves and unemployment dips to a 16-year low? Here are my top three predictions for 2018.

1) AI in Recruiting Will Become Mainstream

Trends and fads come and go in recruiting, though some do actually become mainstream. Over the past year, artificial intelligence-enabled software has become a key tool for sourcing, screening and pre-qualifying candidates. In other words, AI is here to stay.

The technology has gotten a lot of attention because of its efficiency. Plus, the market looks ready for mass adoption—a recent survey from Jobvite found that 43 percent of recruiters believe AI will have a positive effect on their jobs, while only 7 percent believe AI will have a negative effect.

2) Quality Will Trump Quantity in Sourcing

SocialTalent's latest Global Recruiting Survey found that the average recruiter sourced 225 candidates for a single hire, which translates into a 0.4 percent overall conversion rate.

Top performing recruiters, on the other hand, sourced 91 candidates on average for an overall conversion rate of 1 percent, representing a 150 percent increase in efficiency.

In 2018, as hiring volumes continue to increase, recruiters will have to prioritize quality over quantity. This requires adopting AI or smart automation technology that can improve candidate matching and recruiter efficiency by learning a job's requirements, scanning candidate databases and creating a match score to identify the strongest contenders.

With this strategy in place, talent acquisition leaders and hiring managers will have to assign less value to recruiting funnel volume and instead assess how effectively their recruiting teams are optimizing conversion rates and reducing hiring time.

3) Candidate Experience Will Become a Differentiator

Recruiting has a bad reputation for its slow, outdated and sometimes unfriendly practices. But, organizations are starting to realize that a great candidate experience is an important differentiator in the hiring process.

In 2018, more organizations will adopt the "candidate as consumer" mindset. Just like today's consumers want consistent updates on their online orders, candidates want immediate, real-time information about their job applications.

One way to deliver this is through recruitment chatbots. Similar to Alexa, Siri and Google Home, recruitment chatbot use AI to understand questions and answer them as a real person would. Companies can opt to have a chatbot respond to emails, or have the bot carry out conversations via SMS, social tools like Facebook Messenger, messaging apps like Slack and specific application tracking systems.

According to a recent survey by Allegis, the majority of candidates are receptive to chatting with a bot in the early stages of the application process. Sixty-six percent of candidates are even comfortable with a chatbot taking care of interview scheduling and preparation.

While candidates still prefer a human touch, they understand that it's no longer realistic at every touchpoint—they're just eager to gain insight into their application status, and get through the job search process faster.

Photo: Creative Commons