New Year = Time to Revisit Your Recruiting Strategy

action-planRemember the days when you needed to fill a position and all you had to do was post a job ad?
You would sit back and wait as hundreds of resumes came flying in.
All you had to do was sift through all of them looking for those few top quality candidates to begin a conversation with.

Those days are certainly over!

Similar to the Real Estate market, the Recruiting market goes through changes depending on current conditions.  From 2008 until the start of 2013, it was very much an Employer’s Market – meaning, there were more candidates seeking jobs than their were jobs to fill.  What we started to see in 2014 is that this shifted to a Candidate’s market.

Candidates have learned a lot of lessons from the recent recession…but companies are still practicing the same recruiting methods. Resumes are not coming in like they used to.  Where one job posting might net about 100 resumes a day, now most are lucky if they are netting 10-20 a week!

So what has changed?  Candidates have been getting advice during their job search, researching companies more closely and not jumping at every opportunity presented to them because now they have their own “criteria” for what is acceptable as their next job.

36% of all jobseekers last year were Millenials – candidates born between 1980-1994, most of which have recently graduated college.  For these jobseekers, a position that provides career growth is what attracts them…not just landing a job.  They are the candidates less interested in the bottom line salary and more interested in their personal growth through company benefits that allow them to achieve that.

But Millenials aren’t the only ones that have changed their job search approach.  Even the most seasoned jobseeker or executive has realized that a title and a paycheck don’t carry the weight in their lives that it once did.  For many of these jobseekers, its all about work-life balance now.  And, thanks to Social Media, they are also concerned about their personal reputation based on what company they associate themselves with.

What are jobseekers today being taught?

1) Research employers before applying to a job.  What is the financial standing of the company? What is there culture like? What benefits and perks does the company offer? Is the company active in the community?

2) Create a “wish list” for your next job.  Jobseekers are taught to sit down and write out exactly what they want in their “ideal” job – position, title, location, salary, benefits, size of company, type of office culture, etc.  They then use this wish list in the same manner that companies use when narrowing down candidates – if you don’t fulfill the majority of their criteria, they move on.

3) Network.  Networking for jobseekers is not only to build relationships with potential employers but also to do research on a company.  They will reach out to previous employees to ask what the company was like.  They will contact the person who used to hold the position to find out the real reason why they left.  They also use networking to help uncover the “non-public” positions so they can connect direct with the Hiring Manager.  They have been told that some companies will post job positions just to “see” what is out in the market without actually having a position open, so they turn to networking to check validity of job openings.

Why haven’t companies changed their recruiting strategy?

In some cases, its simply a matter of not knowing what to try differently.  Many managers still believe that was has worked in the past will still work simply because people need jobs.  They don’t focus on selling the company to the candidate.  “Employer Branding” is only something the big multi-million dollar companies do.

According to a 2011 US Census study, there are 16,455,191 employer-firms (meaning, those that employees on payroll) but only 17,671 were companies with 501+ employees.  99% of companies in the marketplace have less than 500 employees that are all vying for the same talent!  While companies may think that means more jobseekers in the market, the truth is many have gone on to pursue their passion and start their own companies.    There are 3,532,058 firms with 0-4 employees listed.

What have companies tried in the past?

When Social Media began to gain steam, many companies tried jumping on the train but not many really knew what they were doing.  That led to the creation of Social Media Managers in many companies as these individuals, many in their 20s and 30s, used their creative marketing to help “brand” a company.  Many recruiters and HR managers also jumped on to create job-focused accounts in attempts to reach candidates using Twitter and Facebook.  But what many failed to realize is that use of Social Media isn’t about just advertising – its about building relationships with other users.  So while some had success, many others didn’t and hence gave up.

The introduction of the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) was another approach many companies turned to as an easier way to categorize applicants and weed out those that weren’t qualified.  Using an ATS can do just that, if you have it set up properly and don’t have it so complicated that jobseekers pass on applying because of it.  While many have tried to advise and warn companies about this, many haven’t changed anything because they still believe “if the candidate wants the job, they will do it.”

Most companies still rely on the “post and wait” approach to recruiting.  They just believe that candidates aren’t looking at the more popular job boards like Careerbuilder and Monster so they started expanding into LinkedIn, Bullhorn and others.  Yes, jobseekers most definitely still use all those job boards in their research, but they aren’t just blindly applying anymore so while a company may see a small uptick in applicants, it still isn’t the number they were expecting.

So how should you change your recruiting strategy for 2015?

Start by figuring out what kind of candidates you want to attract to your company.  Too many times, we recruit to find a fit for the position.  Focus on finding the “fit” for the company…that is how you will be able to foster new ideas from your employees and extent tenure.  Candidates that may have the background and experience to carry out the position but if they aren’t happy working for you, they will be back on the job hunt.

For example, some companies are recognizing that by 2022, 46% of those jobseekers in the market will be Millenials…and are looking for ways now to attract them to their company.  What that means is that these companies also have to stop and take a look at themselves – their makeup, what they offer, what they need to offer, etc.  Sometimes, you won’t have to do much but slight tweeks to your offerings package….sometimes, its an awakening that you need a major overhaul!

Talk to your current employees.  Just because they work for you doesn’t mean they can’t offer you new insight.  Find out from your top performers what they like about their jobs, what they don’t like and what ideas they would like to see put into action. A happy work environment is contagious.  Candidates will pick up on that when interviewing and your employees will talk about your company in a positive light to others who may be in the market for a new job.

Centralize your recruiting.  Are you letting each manager hire their own person? Keep in mind – your managers are focused on “filling a role” not finding a fit.  If you don’t have an in-house recruiter, let your HR person handle this.  For smaller companies that don’t have an HR person, your Office Manager is usually the next best choice.  When you are trying to find a fit for the company, its best to have someone with a “outside” point-of-view from the department so they can focus on looking at the whole picture and not just whether or not they fit the job itself.  After the candidates have been narrowed down by fit, then bring your manager in to see if they are a fit for the role.

Finally….How are your going to market your open positions?  Yes, market – not just post.  Don’t dismiss the job boards, but you need to also incorporate other methods to reach those jobseekers you really want.  This is where having an HR person on staff really comes into play.  Remember, candidates today are doing more research into companies and looking to develop relationships.  Sponsor your HR person to attend local networking events, encourage them join in on Twitter and LinkedIn group discussions as a representative of your company, allow them paid time off to volunteering at jobseeker events at local colleges such as resume writing workshops and mock interviews…the point is to let them act as your Employment Marketing Specialist.  Jobseekers will be more drawn to companies that are active in their circles than ones that sit back and wait for you to apply based on their “market reputation” or because they just need a job.

Don’t wait until you need to start recruiting your next employee – start the New Year with a new plan in place.  Taking the steps to brand the employee-side of your company will help you when it comes time to fill that role with the best candidate.  You never know, they may be watching you and waiting in the wings for when you start looking for them.

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