Jun 18, 2014

The HR Roundtable in Cincinnati took on a different buzz than normal this month because we were jumping into a hot topic.

The group gathered to tackle “Post Recession Recruiting.” The recruiting landscape has definitely changed since the Great Recession, and it appears to be on the verge of shifting again.

To sate the excitement of the attendees, they took on the following questions:

  1. How has recruiting changed since the recession?
  2. Why should companies care about the candidate experience?
  3. How can both sides (candidates and employers) get better at recruiting?

The energy level jumped once people had the chance to dig into the questions, and the conversations were full and interesting. The answers that came out were fascinating!

How has recruiting changed since the recession?

  • Too much noise going on — It’s harder and harder to identify openings and also available, qualified candidates because there are now myriads of options to source people. Also, with the shift to placement agencies being more of a regular entry point for people, you aren’t clear as to who’s providing people and for what. It takes recruiters more time to get through the noise and it takes away from time to concentrate on finding great people.
  • Technology forums — The biggest shift is that almost all recruiting happens electronically now. That is true with job boards, online applications and social media platforms. Ironically, candidates aren’t keeping pace to be visible where recruiters are looking. The feeling is that the technology is efficient but impersonal. People still want “face time” both as candidates and as recruiters.
  • It’s not “personal” until later in the process — This has been a challenge for both employers and candidates. Even though tech has become more prevalent, both sides want to meet with humans. By the time personal interactions occur, many decisions have already been made in screening and considering people. There isn’t a “right” or “wrong” to this. It’s just a fact of how the recruiting landscape has changed. Candidates have a smaller window in person to show they are the person that should be considered and hired.
  • Turnaround time varies — There seems to be a “hurry up and wait” approach still being used by employers. There are still an incredible amount of people looking for work who are either in transition (without a current job), underemployed (they took jobs because they had to) and folks who genuinely want to change jobs. Because the employer has the edge still, they tend to get openings and move on them quickly initially. However, the placement cycle is still quite extensive. This is starting to shift to a quicker timeframe.
  • The demise of snail mail — You can also quantify this as a result of the generational shift that is rising in the workplace. It’s a fact that postal mail isn’t really a factor in the workplace anymore. However, the shift of generations both internally and externally in organizations is having a significant impact. This will most likely be one of the most critical facets that will impact recruiting in the next five to seven years.
  • More regulations — This is truly the bane of HR in general now. The government continues to place more and more regulatory systems on HR. Some are directly attached to the recruiting process. The real challenge is that so much of HR’s time is being focused toward replying to regulatory work, that they aren’t concentrating as well as they could on recruiting
  • It’s harder — The conclusion from the attendees is that the recruiting process for both candidates and employers hasn’t become easier. In fact, most felt that it’s become more cumbersome. It isn’t being felt by employers yet because there are still people looking and available for work. When this shifts, and it’s coming, the sluggishness of recruiting will have to be addressed.

Why should companies care about the candidate experience?

  • Companies are now lean — The recession allowed companies to shrink their staff size. It hasn’t rebounded to pre-recession levels, and it may not. So, if you are carrying fewer people and considering fewer new hires, the experience they have with your company is critical. Being more focused on both sides allows companies and candidates the chance to check each other out extensively. In the past this was done on more of a courtesy basis. Now it’s part of the process.
  • People are expected to perform immediately — Companies are still training new hires on job related skills and culture factors, but the learning curve is minimal. Candidates are expected to become producers quickly. Also, people aren’t coming just to plug holes. They’re coming to contribute immediately. This has impacted how people are viewed coming into an organization. Recruiters can’t afford to have people just fill job orders anymore. This has been a positive shift for organizations.
  • The focus is now retention vs. attraction — There are countless articles and blogs about the employment brand of a company. There is no doubt that companies are competing for people and they need to be an attractive place to join. The shift has been that companies are now not just trying to get folks in the door. They want people to come and stay. HR is shifting its focus (however slowly) to retention vs. turnover. This is a healthy transition for HR and for recruiting. Looking at how to add contributors is a much more long-term approach that companies can utilize to differentiate themselves from others.
  • People aren’t loyal  … and this is awesome! (Editor’s opinion) Candidates aren’t buying into the “I’m going to work here forever” mentality anymore. They won’t because companies haven’t been loyal to employees, and one of the beautiful attributes of the newest generation entering the workplace is that they don’t feel tied to companies. This is frustrating to the Boomer’s and X’ers who are struggling to force a false sense of loyalty in workplaces still today. People are looking for, and expecting more, from employers. It’s not quite to people being “free agents”, but it’s moving to a more fluid workforce who is willing to act and move from job to job more readily.

 How can both sides get better at recruiting?

  • Check each other out — Candidates and employers should look at the recruiting process as more of a relationship development instead of a job placement. When candidates do this, they tend to land more quickly and assimilate into productive roles easier. Companies also become more attractive to candidates because the word gets out that they have a different approach to their people.
  • Make culture the measuring stick —  The No. 1 reason stay or leave a company is its culture. You can try to wrap it in other descriptive factors, but the company’s culture is the benchmark that identifies and defines how a company chooses to conduct business. If HR folks would see this, they can clearly communicate what their company’s culture is and attract the people who will see the attributes offered and decide to join in. Candidates also have to be culture focused because making that next employment decision should be fulfilling and not just space filling. If candidates don’t check out to see how they add to a company’s culture, they won’t last long in any new role.
  • Remember what it was like to be a candidate — HR, and hiring managers, need to remember what it’s like to be on the candidate side of the table. It’s the old adage of treat others as you’d want to be treated. If your focus is self-centered on the company only, don’t expect people to be rushing to join your company. Candidate experience starts with recruiting, but it also sets the stage for the life cycle of an employee. It’s the starting point for their time with your company, and not just the next entry point through the recruiting process.
  • Be genuine –– This could be said of all facets of candidates and employers and not only when it comes to recruiting. When both sides are genuine throughout all steps of the recruiting cycle, you can see an entirely different result from new hires. Being genuine is an opportunity to step out and truly build your brand. You can measure this when people turn you down, or aren’t chosen. If they felt they were genuinely considered, respected and valued regardless of the final employment decision, you’re on the right path!
  • Network on purpose — Networking continues to remain an elusive art from both sides. Employers are eager to meet people when they have openings, but may remain distant and aloof when they’re full. Candidates are very similar in that they will network like crazy when they’re looking for a job. However, once they land, they fall back into networking anonymity. This is not a good position to take because you don’t know when you may change roles again.

Also, networking is a needed professional skill for all people to possess to improve their business. Networking never was intended to only be a recruiting mechanism. People need to break the trend and history on networking if they plan to be successful businesspeople on an ongoing basis.

With that tidbit, the June HR Roundtable drew to a close. Steve encouraged people to act on the networking aspect and invite people to come to future Roundtables and become regulars. We’ll see if it sticks!