Go On the Offensive to Win the War For Talent

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Jan 25, 2019

A growing number of companies face a harsh reality as they head into 2019: talent acquisition is under siege. Record low unemployment rates are enough to intimidate even the best HR leaders, but beyond that, movements like #MeToo have brought companies’ hiring practices and cultures into the spotlight, while job automation has transformed the skills employees need to thrive in the workplace.

Long gone are the days when post-and-pray job postings were enough to attract top talent. Today, candidates increasingly expect carefully-crafted, detailed job descriptions that not only describe the critical skills workers will need for a role, but also provide a glimpse into company culture. More than anything, candidates want rewarding applicant experiences (even if they don’t always get the job) and recruiters that care about more than just filling a seat.

If that doesn’t sound like the experience you’re providing candidates, it’s time to reshape the future of your recruiting, or risk losing out on great talent. Given my solid track record of predicting future trends dating back to 1999 (not bad, if I do say so myself), I ask you to indulge me and allow me to offer three practical steps you can take right now to bolster your recruiting efforts in 2019 and beyond.

1) Build bridges with marketing and IT

To this day, many recruiters don’t understand that recruiting is marketing, and it’s a big reason why they struggle to hire enough qualified workers. HR, marketing and IT have traditionally operated in silos. The separations run so deep that I can’t tell you how often I hear, “We [in HR] try to get both marketing and IT to collaborate, but they never return our call.”

This approach won’t cut it in 2019. In the new year, marketing must help HR optimize each job description to ensure that it clearly describes the required skills (so there are no surprise skills gaps later) and makes a compelling case for why a candidate should want to work there — that means highlighting everything from the great benefits, to the inclusive corporate culture. IT, meanwhile, must then help build a frictionless candidate experience on the backend.

Pro tip: Recruiters have to start acquiring marketing skills like SEO, video, blogging and building email campaigns. Until they become proficient, however, HR must figure out how to engage marketing and work closely with IT to maximize all the resources they can muster to compete for talent in 2019.

2) Make Google your friend

Over the past two years, Google has introduced new tools like Google for JobsGoogle My Business and Google Posts and has unveiled algorithm updates that boost page load speed and optimize job posting results for a mobile-first environment. It’s no secret that Google’s mission is to deliver information quickly and accurately to users — that now also includes delivering accurate, relevant job information to job seekers. It’s time for recruiters to become well-versed in the recruitment capabilities that Google offers, and start leveraging them.

Pro tip: Because three out of four job seekers start their job search using Google, understanding how Google for Jobs and Google My Business can facilitate recruiting is critical. You don’t need to become an expert, but you must know how to monitor Google Analytics and draw insights from it.

For example, you should know your average new hire retention rate and average time-to-fill for open roles. Your job listings rank in Google’s results depends on quite a few factors. Ignore them and job seekers simply won’t see your job listing — out of sight, out of mind.

3) Embrace the candidate experience

A candidate experience built for the 1970 labor market is causing high application abandonment and low candidate flow. This is bewildering given that Gallup reports that 51% of employees are actively looking for a new job or watching for openings. As long as employee disengagement remains high, talent pools should be overflowing, but a poor candidate experience is hindering applicants from entering the funnel.

Pro Tip: Simplify your application. I’m not suggesting anyone compromise their selection criteria. on the contrary, employers should be honest about their expectations for candidates’ skills, given how quickly automation is changing job requirements. But candidates shouldn’t have to fill out dozens of fields of meaningless information and flip through dozens of screens before they hit submit.

Most jobs have less than a handful of critical requirements. Request only that information first, and then if the candidate is qualified, request whatever else you need to make a successful hire. And for goodness sake, don’t ghost your candidates — qualified or not! Every candidate deserves regular updates until a decision is made.

These tips form a rudimentary foundation for dealing with a very ominous labor market forecast. The time is now to incorporate marketing into your recruiting practices, get up to speed on Google SEO and invest in candidate experience if you want to attract top candidates in 2019.

This article originally appeared on ReWork, a publication exploring the future of work

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