Attracting today’s talent requires a customized experience.
By Jim McCoy
Pendulums swing. Paradigms shift. Business cycles fluctuate. With the economy recovering and employment levels picking up, the flow of qualified candidates, with precisely the skills employers need, has slowed to a trickle. Challenged to find the right talent, employers must rethink traditional, time-tested candidate sourcing methods and apply creative strategies that will allow them to dive deeper into talent pools and engage with candidates on a more personal level. In this competitive landscape, employers must understand what makes candidates tick and how to attract them to the roles they need to fill. Here are five strategies to consider:
1. Blend high-tech with high-touch. Technology is a great enabler of the recruiting process. It improves recruiting efficiency, speed, effectiveness, and precision. It lowers recruiting costs and broadens its reach. Tech platforms help cast large nets over vast candidate pools, scan scores of resumes for hard-to-find skills, and zero in on specific talent. Yet, technology is only a tool and not an end in itself. In fact, as recruiters have access to the same set of tools, technology becomes an equalizer that levels the playing field.
With a broad availability of technology, an important differentiator is the human touch: the ability of recruiters to create relationships with candidates and connect
with them on a personal level. Technology can make face-to-face, phone, online, social media, or video interactions with candidates possible, but it is ultimately the recruiter or a hiring manager who can turn these interactions into truly valuable and memorable candidate experiences. Without high-touch services, recruiters aren’t able to identify candidates’ transferable, soft skills that differentiate them and tell their unique, personal stories. The value that personal engagement and human interaction brings to the equation cannot be overstated. So while reliance on technology and the ability to maximize all available tools is necessary in the talent acquisition process, there is no substitute for a personalized pitch. Employers who recognize this fact will have the upper hand.
2. Create unique candidate experiences. Everybody likes to feel special—candidates are no different in that respect. They are more likely to engage with employers who “get” them and relate to them on a personal level. Employers can infer a great deal about a candidate from what they chose to share on social media—like career aspirations on LinkedIn. Employers who can effectively communicate a career opportunity story that is specific to an individual candidate will likely heighten the prospect’s interest in their opening. This will humanize the relationship between recruiter and recruit.
ManpowerGroup’s 2014 Candidate Preferences Survey found that while nine out of 10 candidates review employers’ websites for information about positions expecting the content and functionality of these sites to be targeted to their individual needs, a third of candidates think the sites miss the mark in providing job information relevant to them. Clearly, websites are the first touch point between candidates and organizations. Since an effective online presence can attract the right candidates, employers should review their current content from a candidate’s perspective and take a critical look at job descriptions.
The same survey found a consistent theme across all generations: Candidates prefer the tried, but true methods of in-person and phone interviews. In fact, 72 percent of candidates prefer in-person interviews with hiring managers, and 15 percent prefer initial phone screening interviews with recruiters. The value candidates place on face-to-face communication and personal interactions with recruiters or hiring managers is undisputable. It is still by far the best way to connect with talent and can be a make or break for candidates. For that reason, employers must ensure that recruiters and hiring managers are the proper cultural fit for their organization, can act as ambassadors for employer brand, and are capable of articulating values, mission, and goals. They must also be good listeners who can connect with candidates on professional and personal levels and allow them to showcase their unique skills and strengths.
3. Use technology strategically. The marketplace is saturated with candidate sourcing platforms. Knowing how to navigate the technology clutter is essential for recruiters and employers alike. Organizations must adjust and customize sourcing tools and platforms for roles they want to fill. Employers who are agile and flexible in how they apply sourcing technologies have more efficient hiring processes and engage with talent faster. They respond better to shifts in their hiring demands and to the rapid changes in the world of work.
ManpowerGroup’s A Technology Roadmap for Smarter Sourcing whitepaper identifies five components of a well-planned sourcing a strategy that aligns technology and business:
• Employers must identify their own business objectives and assess the talent required to achieve them.
• A thorough understanding of available in-house technology is necessary to avoid duplication.
• Companies must understand technology’s impact on their brand and on a positive candidate experience.
• Passionate recruiters that are willing to embrace new opportunities and think creatively make a big difference.
• Organizations must budget for a balanced mix of well-tested solutions and innovative experimentation to address the needs of diverse groups who use technology differently.
Employers who follow this roadmap and take a one-size- fits-one approach will achieve their sourcing objectives faster, cheaper, and more effectively.
4. Approach recruiting as a marketing function. Talent continues to drive business success, yet it can be elusive. ManpowerGroup’s Talent Shortage Survey revealed that 36 percent of employers globally reported difficulty filling jobs. Since having the right talent is a key business imperative, employers must create the right value proposition to attract the talent they need. Organizations can achieve this by looking at talent acquisition through the lens of marketers and apply marketing models to their sourcing and recruiting processes. Acting as marketers when it comes to talent, organizations should address the needs of their customers—candidates and employees. Treating candidates like customers who deserve the best possible service helps organizations determine whether they offer value the candidate- consumers really want.
Employers who act as savvy marketers, who are in the selling mode, and act upon relevant market information, will be more successful in attracting the right talent. Organizations should consider this type of thinking: Does our business know what skills we need and how to go about finding the right talent? Do we listen to the marketplace? Do we provide the right candidate experience and share relevant information? How frequently and where should we interact with candidates? Do we speak the language candidates can understand and relate to? Powered with this information, organizations can make relevant changes to their processes.
5. Don’t underestimate the value of the employer brand. Each recruiting experience creates a lasting impression on a candidate. Today’s job seekers are connected. ManpowerGroup’s Talent Shortage Survey shows that candidates use their social networks, especially Facebook, to share informal information about employers. These opinions impact the value of employer brands. For that reason alone, employers should look at recruiting as an important brand-building component. Employer websites, career sites, and social media channels must create a positive impression. In fact, there is a strong correlation between how employers show up on social media, websites, and career sites and the strength of their brands.
The cultural fit of hiring managers and recruiters cannot be underestimated either. Their ability to deliver a positive candidate experience affects employer brands. According to the Candidate Experience 2013 whitepaper, candidates who feel that an organization communicated well with them or offered them an opportunity to fully present their skills, can become brand ambassadors, regardless of whether or not they were hired. Smooth onboarding drives higher engagement and overall employer rating. Conversely, candidates who feel they were treated badly by an organization have a tendency to disparage it to their networks, which negatively impacts the employer’s brand reputation. Disgruntled candidates do not buy the products or use the services of organizations they perceive as having failed them and encourage others to do the same. Clearly, as candidate opinions have significant economic and reputational implications, creating positive candidate experiences should be vital to employers who value their brands.
Understanding the changing world of work, and the unique expectations and preferences of job seekers are necessary steps employers can take to attract the right talent. When employers optimize the channels they use to communicate with candidates and customize their candidate interactions, they create a unique value proposition that helps them acquire the talent they need to achieve their business objectives.
Jim McCoy is Manpower’s vice president and RPO practice lead, North America.