As hiring managers and recruiters know, the real estate market isn’t the only hot seller’s market these days.
The pandemic has brought about a set of conditions that have put a severe squeeze on the talent market. While some sectors of the economy were hit hard by the pandemic and are recovering slowly, others have roared back. So, many organizations are growing and searching for talent.
Meanwhile, as the flow of immigrants and new graduates has slowed, and workers have favoured stability over new jobs, hiring managers have found that the supply of willing and qualified candidates has dwindled sharply.
Pre-pandemic, it was common enough to post a job, receive 150 applications, interview eight good candidates, and hire a great new employee. Start to finish, maybe six weeks.
But for the past year and a half, recruitment campaigns have been playing out much more like this: post a job, receive 25 ordinary applications, conduct zero interviews, and six weeks into it you’re nowhere.
Employers, here’s the bad news: there’s no quick fix; no talent genie.
Here’s the good news: there are things you can do to compete more successfully in the talent market…
Shift Your Perspective
Let’s start by shifting how we think about companies, job opportunities and candidates. When the talent market is flush and hiring is easy, as hiring managers we tend to think of our job openings as rare, precious honours that any number of qualified people are highly motivated to win. We expect great people to line up around the block, to jump through hoops, to put in a big effort to show how much they want it. We act like judges at a competition, or coaches at tryouts, or kids in a candy store. Whatever metaphor you favour, it’s easy to be a buyer in a buyer’s market.
Of course, we’re no longer in a buyer’s market, so let’s open ourselves up to some new thinking. Yes, the job we’re trying to fill is an excellent opportunity, but there are lots of excellent opportunities out there. Yes, our company has a great culture, but there are lots of great companies out there. This stuff sounds obvious but it bears mentioning because the first step in getting better at recruiting is acknowledging that we are now the competitors; not the judges.
Communicate To Talent Effectively
Now that we’ve shifted the perspective, let’s think about what to do. First, the simple things:
- Write a compelling, clear, accurate job posting. Put effort into it. Talk about the job in real terms. What does a typical day look like? Who will the new hire work with and report to? What’s exciting about the opportunity?
- Get the job out there effectively. That means JSEO – Job Search Engine Optimization. The easiest and best way to ensure good JSEO is to implement an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). These systems are inexpensive and intuitive, they make you more efficient, and they’re almost always automatically linked to the major job aggregators (search engines) like LinkedIn, Indeed, Glassdoor and others.
- If you’re still posting jobs manually to a custom-built careers page, ensure that the aggregators can find your postings. If they can’t, that means no job-seekers are going to see your jobs. If you’re not sure about your JSEO, get on the Internet and be a job-seeker – how easy is it to find your job? If it’s not easy, tweak the structure of your careers page. Be sure that your job postings are individually hyperlinked. In other words, each posting should have its own URL. It also helps to include a location next to the title – for example, “Marketing Coordinator – Ottawa”
- Another JSEO essential: advertise the job with a title that your ideal candidates will search for. Avoid using titles that are unique to your organization.
- Please ensure the text of your posting is formatted nicely. Disorderly bullets and odd spacing make your job look ugly.
- Make it easy to apply. Remember that in this market your top candidates might not start out hot for your job. They might be lukewarm at first. But as they meet you and learn more, their interest and motivation heat up. So make it easy for them to get into your pipeline. There will be plenty of opportunity to grill them in the latter stages of the process. No need to do so right off the bat.
- Similarly, do your best to respect candidates’ time and energy, and make decisions efficiently. That means do what you need to do to make the right decision, but try to eliminate gratuitous tests and interviews. The selection process shouldn’t be gruelling just for the sake of it, like Navy Seals tryouts. If it takes five interviews to make a decision, your process is flawed.
To be clear, none of these tactics on their own will revolutionize your recruiting and solve all your problems. The lesson here is to think of your recruitment operation as an engine comprising many parts, all carefully tuned for optimum performance.
Don’t Stop Yet!
Now, finely tuned processes, systems and JSEO, while essential in a tight talent market, often aren’t enough on their own to ensure that you’re able to hire the people you need. That’s because they represent a passive approach to sourcing candidates; an approach sometimes called ‘post and pray’.
Many recruitment campaigns these days require a more active approach to sourcing. That means diving into LinkedIn (and/or other databases), finding good people, then convincing them to get excited about your jobs. Succeeding at this is really hard, but your new, more enlightened perspective will serve you well here.
Some key considerations on this…
- Remember that LinkedIn isn’t a database of people looking for jobs. So, the people on LinkedIn are not candidates. Call them targets or prospects.
- Similarly, LinkedIn profiles are not resumes, so don’t be annoyed when profiles are brief or vague. Those individuals could still be viable prospects.
- Don’t be disheartened or incredulous if very few people are interested in your opportunity. It’s a numbers game – you typically have to contact a lot of people to elicit interest from a few individuals.
- Your contacted : interested ratio will be particularly low if you’re targeting people with highly sought-after skillsets and/or you’re proposing to people that they make a lateral move to your organization. Upward career movement is generally more attractive than lateral movement.
- Think about how you make the approach. It’s basically a sales call/email, so what’s likely to work? Perhaps offering an initial call with the hiring manager or a senior manager. This is typically more attractive to a prospect than having to speak first with a recruiter or HR person.
- Don’t be disheartened if a prospect engages with you but doesn’t immediately volunteer a cover letter and resume. Remember that you reached out to them. It’s common for such individuals to start on the fence. It will likely take a bit of work to reel them in and sell them on the idea of applying. Be delicate with your courtship, like you would with any important sale.
I hope these insights and key considerations aid you on your recruitment journey, help hire the right talent and improve your processes.
At Business Sherpa Group, we are always happy to help. Follow us on social media (LinkedIn or Twitter) for news about upcoming presentations and open roles. You can also check our job board for the latest openings! If you’re an employer, our Managed Recruitment and Human Resource teams can help support your recruitment needs.
About the Author
Zack Fleming leads our Managed Recruitment practice area. He joined the Business Sherpa Group in 2013 after earning a post-graduate Certificate in Human Resources Management from Algonquin College.
He and his team provide recruitment and selection services to clients representing a broad range of sectors – from high-tech to not-for-profit. As our in-house recruitment expert, Zack stays current on the latest recruitment tools, technologies, best practices and market conditions.