Since the Great Recession in 2008 and especially over the last several years, the economy has moved from recovery mode to consistently maintaining strong growth. The latest news release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the national monthly unemployment rates have been remaining steady at 3.7%, while at the same time, job numbers continue to stay positive. Many financial experts see that trend continuing for the foreseeable future.
So, what does that mean? First, it means that all job seekers have more opportunities and professional options to choose from. More importantly, though, it means that the top tier candidates have the most leverage for the best opportunities. Secondly, it means that you can no longer use the same old hiring practices that you’ve used in the past when there were more candidates than there were jobs.
The easiest solution to this problem would be to simply raise wages and increase benefits to attract the top tier talent or have employee sign-on bonuses or other incentives. For most companies though, that simply is not an option. So, what can employers do to improve their ability to compete in these tough, competitive markets that are cost-effective and simple to implement?
Below are some best hiring practices and strategies for hiring top tier talent in a candidate driven market:
Write clear and concise job ads that promote both the position and the organization. Include information and links to the company website and other social media outlets that display your “employment brand”. This is usually the first impression a candidate sees when introduced to your organization, so make it a great one.
Focus on candidate experience! In this market, the difficulty of the hiring process can have the most detrimental impact on a company’s ability to hire top tier candidates. There are several simple and easy steps to create a strong candidate experience:
Utilize readily available technology to find alternate ways to reach out to candidates. In today’s world, people are always on their phones. As a result, utilizing text messaging is an effective way to communicate with candidates. This is especially true if a company has a lot of high-volume recruiting. Texting is a great way to reach a lot of candidates quickly and effectively. It boosts candidate engagement and may cut down on time spent playing phone tag.
A recent study completed by Glassdoor found that 58% of job seekers search for new opportunities on their mobile devices, and 35% prefer to apply to positions on those devices. Be sure to offer options on your postings for candidates to easily provide links to their LinkedIn profiles or other social media.
Simplify the ability of the candidate to post/apply to positions. Remove any unnecessary steps that make the application process lengthy or complex, which may turn off the candidates from even applying in the first place. Wait until after initial conversations with a candidate before making them complete lengthy applications or assessments. This allows for an opportunity to “sell” the position and the employment brand of the company, and to get the candidate to keep moving forward through those tasks.
Implement internal best hiring practices or set expectations to ensure that new candidates are contacted within the first 24 hours after applying to a job. This can be a simple email that thanks them for their interest and includes an explanation of what the next steps in the process will be. In today’s environment, with the use of technology to apply for positions, candidates can easily feel that they are sending their resume into a black hole, never to be seen again. If the candidate doesn’t meet the qualifications, send an email letting the candidate know. The candidate will appreciate the follow up which will also help protect the employment brand of the company.
Simplify the interview process as much as possible. Avoid having candidates come on-site multiple times for interviews. Top tier candidates are usually currently employed, which makes it very difficult for them to take time off to interview. Try to schedule as much as possible in one trip. The more that the interview process is dragged on and delayed, the more likely the candidate will get frustrated and find another opportunity. A lot of time and money is spent in the recruiting process, even up to the point of scheduling interviews and it is always costly to restart that process. If you have a good candidate, make sure that you maintain a high level of engagement and keep them interested throughout the process.
An increasingly popular trend is to offer candidates an option to spend part of a day job shadowing with current staff in the role. Depending on the role and ability for a company to do so, this may be a great opportunity for the candidate to spend time with the team and to get a sense of the culture of the organization.
Be proactive in your searches. Don’t wait for the candidate to come to you. Research organizations, social media outlets, or other networking options that are relevant to the position or company. Routinely connect with your network, share news, and let them know that you are hiring.
Sell the position to the candidate! As previously mentioned, if you are competing for the same candidates as other competing organizations, be ready to sell to the candidate on why your company will be their best choice. This is not just a discussion of pay and benefits, but more about the culture, mission of the company, and potential career growth. This is especially important when interviewing Millennials. A 2016 Gallup report, found that a full 87% of Millennials say that professional development and career growth opportunities are what is most important to them. So, if your organization does a great job of providing career paths and development opportunities, be proud of that, put that message first and foremost ahead of pay and benefits.
If your organization is utilizing a recruiting agency or firm to supplement recruiting efforts for those tough to fill positions, it is imperative to provide feedback and stay engaged in their recruiting efforts. If the agency does provide a qualified candidate, be sure to act quickly and move the candidate through the process. These are often currently employed, passive, candidates that have been sourced by the agency. They may require being sold on the company and may take more effort to make them want to leave their current jobs.
Hopefully, these tips and best hiring practices have sparked easy and simple ideas for you to strengthen your ability to compete for top tier candidates in a very competitive market without having to spend a lot of money. In fact, many of these are great hiring practices to implement in any market!
Strategic Human Resources Inc. is a national full-service HR management firm based in Cincinnati, Ohio. Its president and founder, Robin Throckmorton, can be reached at Robin@strategichrinc.com.