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The Changing Face of Recruitment: A Candidate Driven Market

RecruitmentBuzz delivered survey results from Totaljobs confirming that it’s a candidate driven market at the moment. And this brings with it a set of challenges. Below, recruitmentrevolution.com list a number of findings.

Problem 1: Candidates are dropping off the radar and not showing up for interviews.

Whilst it seems that this shows a lack of candidate decency, clients need to do their best to attract candidates and retain their interest. Companies need to consider:

• Their Interview, Communication and Interaction Etiquette; the Efficiency of their interview processes – how swiftly and effectively are they conducting the whole process?

• Engagement; Good candidates don’t hang around. By both actively engaging with the candidate, and being an engaging enough company / brand to attract the candidate, he or she is less likely to drop off and not turn up for an interview. Professionalism across the board is recommended.

Problem 2: Restricted growth due to a mismatch between the skills recruiters want, and the candidate skills available to them.

At RecruitmentRevolution.com, we educate our clients in the need to work quickly and present themselves in the best possible light given that ‘almost a quarter of British businesses (23%) say they’ve experienced restricted growth due to a shrinking talent pool’. Talent is scarce – and you need to be quick to secure it.

Problem 3: We’re in a candidate led market, so more candidates are being picky about the roles they go after.
The solution to this lies in making your company as desirable as possible a prospect to work for. Companies need to consider their branding, brand perception and how they communicate with candidates in the interview process.

Problem 4: 65% of jobseekers think it has been more difficult to get a job compared to the last time they were looking for a new role.
As mentioned above, there is a mismatch or “entry level dilemma” occuring in today’s market as reported by the IPPR and Totaljobs report. Engaging candidates early on is key once you find one with the right skills. Top of candidate’s irks is repetition and filling out a lot of information over again as they apply to different positions. Rather than trying to ascertain candidate skills prior to interview therefore, if you want to test their skills, do it once the candidate is already engaged, don’t put them off at the application stage with lengthy application forms and questions, assessment centres or filtering tasks. Save these for a point later in the process once the candidate knows you are interested.

Recruitment agencies are realising how a niche and specialised service can increase value

According to Thomas Bray, Content & Marketing for Talem Recruitment,  the term ‘spot business’ – where a hasty solution is provided instead of looking at the long-term, has tainted the image of some agencies and unfortunately shaped the perception that recruitment agencies can be vague, cold and rushed.

YhplfNMBwJ-1920x1200 black pawnAs a result, more recruitment agencies are realising how a niche and specialised service can increase value and improve focus. The traditional agency usually has numerous consultants, who work on various desks, which span across most employment sectors. And although some remain successful in what they do, many lack precision and fail to supply both clients and candidates with a sophisticated service that can really tap into a customer’s needs.

A rise in technology has completely overhauled the recruitment industry – for consultants working in an agency, for clients looking to work with an agency and for candidates looking for work from an agency. Nearly all job searches take place online, which has seen the footfall into brand branches seriously decline. The bustling scene of a 90s agency has been replaced by online job boards and social media, and following this change many recruitment agencies have either changed tact or faltered.

In metropolitan cities such as Manchester, Bristol and London, there is a real appetite for specialist recruitment agencies that offer bespoke services. Instead of having a variety of desks that every agent is comfortable to cover, agencies have spent time investing in consultants who are experts in their field and can provide a more analytical approach. Some of the more innovative recruitment agencies have added further client services to their arsenal, including the deliverance of business development packages – involving the likes of organising candidate assessment centre days or providing help to improve a company’s presence online. The merge of traditional recruitment solutions with additional services that aim to improve other parts of a client’s business has helped to reshape an agency’s relationship with their clients. There is a lot more trust and an added feel of consultancy involved than before, which in return sees an agency & client relationship last longer.

More emphasis has been put on understanding a client both personally and commercially. It’s now a major advantage if an agency can really get to grips on a client’s history, heritage, culture, identity and goals. The same goes for candidates too – there’s a greater understanding about who they are and what they want, and candidate care is paramount for an agency to thrive, especially when reputations are at stake and there are so many more avenues for feedback to be given and seen – e.g. social media and review websites.

Before the surge of social media, recruitment agencies would leave much of the onus on people coming to find them, with word of mouth or previous experiences determining whether it was a good agency to visit or not. And although this process is still evident, recruitment agencies have had to become a lot more pro-active by reaching out to candidates rather than waiting for a CV to land on a desk. Social media sites, such as Twitter and LinkedIn, help consultants to seek suitable candidates (and clients). So instead of printing out 100 flyers that advertise current vacancies, agencies are using social media tools such as paid promotions to pin-point their intended audience with the help of candidate behaviour analysis and targeted keywords.

LinkedIn offers a simple yet effective way to search for and connect with potential clients and candidates. The great thing about a platform like LinkedIn is that you can acquire a decent understanding of an agency within seconds, simply by viewing recommendations from previous clients/candidates and monitoring what kind of information they promote. With so much of recruitment being achieved online, it’s no surprise that more and more agencies are employing marketing executives to help them stand out in a highly saturated market. Whether it’s social media gurus, website copywriters, graphic designers or PR experts – these positions have never been more relevant than they are today.

Maintaining contacts and a regional stronghold on a particular high-street is no longer enough for an agency to thrive. The ability to stay in touch with the modern business landscape not only remains desirable but is now pretty much a necessity. It’s never been easier for a recruitment agency to become lost, so if the past five years have taught us anything, it’s that the market requires accuracy, specialism, a willingness to understand a client or candidate, and at least one employee that can spearhead marketing campaigns online.

What are some of the smart daily choices and actions that are consistently being made in your business?

According to Tsen Wharton, founder of OpusPro, for the recruitment professional, every decision no matter how slight, alters the trajectory of their current search assignments, their pipeline, their month, year and so on. Whether or not to stick to the daily ritual of proactively sharing value with your network, to make a blind reference call before submitting a candidate, to follow up with a candidate you had given up on reaching, to make one more call or finish up for the day. Every choice has an impact on the ‘compound effect’ of your recruitment business success.

Such an approach is inspired by Darren Hardy’s book, The Compound Effect where Hardy emphasises the point with this simple question, “Have you ever been bitten by an elephant? How about a mosquito? It’s the little things that will bite you.”

Perhaps questions you failed to ask at the client briefing meeting, the un-briefed client failing to sell the candidate on the opportunity at interview, the counter-offer conversation you didn’t have, the relocation questions you didn’t ask. The list of seemingly small things that bite in the recruitment world goes on, and we’ve all had our fair share.

Many people miss out on the compound effect because of its simplicity, and therefore haven’t experienced the payoff yet, and the recruiter starts to cut out a best practice because missing it hasn’t caught them out before. What they don’t realise is that these seemingly insignificant steps completed consistently over time will create a radical difference.

Here are some action steps inspired by the compound effect that you can take today, both as an owner or with individual consultants:

  1. Write down one of your recruitment goals.
  2. Now write out the handful of small, seemingly inconsequential actions you can take every day that will lead you to that goal.
  3. Additionally write down the small, seemingly inconsequential actions that can lead you away from that goal.
  4. Do the small positive steps. Don’t do the small negative steps.
  5. Repeat.


A mobile-led recruitment strategy is a smart move

A recent seminar held in the UKs top tech hub in Old Street and hosted by two mobile leaders – Swrve and Mediacom – lent some fascinating statistics and ways in which mobile can be leveraged, and that your mobile strategy should be completely separate from your desktop strategy, and take advantage of and conversational UI, allowing live messaging interactions between candidates and recruiters.

Most recruiters now have a mobile-ready site that loads and functions appropriately for users visiting on a mobile device.

However, despite this progression, 65% of jobseekers think it has been more difficult to get a job compared to the last time they were looking for a new role.

• A functioning mobile application process for recruitment needs to feel native – that is, natural and seamless. For this, mobile specialist developers and resources need to build it. They’re not cheap, but with 60% of traffic now coming from mobile and job seekers wishing to apply quickly and on the move, it seems a worthwhile investment.
• Avoid pinch and zoom in your mobile application system. Users are put off by having to zoom in to read part of a page, then pinch out to navigate the rest of a mobile website.
• Build a mobile application portal as just that – don’t try and move a desktop job application portal across to mobile. Start afresh.
• Should you wish to use video, know that 98% of videos are watched in portrait, and 90% of those are watched on mute.
• Having to input the same details over and over irks candidates – as Apple Pay allows you to save credit card details and never enter them manually again, having the ability to save candidate’s personal information and resumes on your mobile application site will mean less candidates leave the process out of frustration.
• Geotargeting is an option available for use on mobile that isn’t available to desktop, if candidates are searching for jobs in a specific geolocation you could even tailor your mobile recruitment process to enable candidates to search jobs by their “current location”, or a “saved” favourite location.

The seminar takeaways for mobile recruitment and its future are as follows:

• Have a mobile strategy separate to desktop
• Make applying for jobs easy on mobile – reduce the information needed and try to autosave personal details and resumes if possible to reduce drop offs
• Consider geotargeting and text messaging options to capture candidates’ attention whilst their mind is on the job
• Get mobile-trained talent to ensure your mobile website or application feels native and natural.


Improve your employer brand

According to Glassdoor Team a positive employer brand means your company is a best place to work for your target audience. But what if your company is not a best place to work? .

Here are six steps to help you turn around a negative employer brand:

Develop the message. Start by determining what new messages you want to send about your workplace. Consider making a list of your company’s strengths and weaknesses as an employer. Then develop a message to highlight your strengths and to counter your weaknesses. Develop a list of frequently asked questions and answers to post on your careers website and to share with employees, recruiters and candidates. Test your new message with employees, and use external focus groups and surveys to refine your message.
Address the culture. If your negative employer brand is a result of an undesirable corporate culture, first take steps to change the culture. You’ll need buy-in from top management, but you must create the culture you want to promise to potential employees.
Incentivise employees to make referrals. Getting referrals from current employees is one of the best ways to build a strong employer brand; if current employees are referring others to your company, they are likely sharing positive information about your workplace. Encourage them to do this by offering rewards for every hire who was referred by a current employee. See video: Get Social and Get More Referrals
Develop an internship program. By building a strong internship program that gives interns a valuable work experience as well as a fun opportunity, you’ll help establish your company as a student-friendly environment and encourage positive word-of-mouth communication about your workplace among students, college faculty, former interns and their families.

Partner with public relations and marketing. Join forces with the public relations and marketing departments to communicate the messages you want to send about your workplace. Explain how establishing your company as a best place to work can positively affect the entire organisation, and a positive employer brand can help cement a positive consumer brand. Public relations and marketing professionals can help you craft the right messages for the right mediums to reach your target audience. That might include crafting employee-friendly copy for ads, or placing articles about positive things your workplace is doing in local or industry publications.

Build an online presence. In addition to your company’s careers website, take time to develop an online presence on the sites where your target audience spends time. Those will likely include Glassdoor, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest. Develop profile pages that tell the story of what it’s like to work at your company. Use videos, photos and text to share who your employees are, who your leaders are, what your workplace is like and what your company values are .Continually maintain those pages, interacting and participating in conversations with your potential candidates.

Remove Bias to get the best candidate for the job

According to Lily Zhang, people are naturally biased, and when it comes to interviewing, you may let one major accomplishment overshadow a candidate’s shortcoming, only remember the last thing the interviewee said, or even favor better-looking applicants. It’s hard to admit that we can be biased even when we’re trying not to be, but studies have shown that it takes more than intention to overcome them, it takes action to right them.

How can you realistically remove bias? Here are a few ideas.

Standardise the process
Before you even start interviewing people, create a standard list of questions you plan to ask. Of course, there may be aspects of each candidate’s background you want to learn more about or get specific details on, but the more you can level the playing field, the more you’ll give everyone an equal chance of impressing you.
Similarly, attempt to have the interview in the same place for all your candidates. Don’t let some come in person to the interview and others Skype in. Keep the process as similar as possible each and every time.
Good to note: The time and order of interviews matters as well—but more often than not, there’s less you can do about it.

Take good notes
Human memory is notoriously unreliable. So, rather than relying on your recall abilities and opening yourself up to unintentional biases, try to take brief notes as candidates respond to questions. Ideally, write down as much of the interviewee’s exact response as possible without your own interpretations. Then immediately post-interview, jot down your thoughts on the interviewee before you get too scattered and you’re forced to trust your own unpredictable memory.

Use a rubric
Ability and fit are both hard to quantify, but you’re better off at least trying than avoiding it all together. Ideally, prior to the interview stage of the hiring process, create a rubric for what you’re seeking in the new hire. Include qualifications like specific skills and experiences, soft skills like communication and teamwork, and cultural fit with the company.
After interviewing all the candidates, select a numerical range and rate each person. Rubrics helps you avoid giving too much credit for one particular experience or qualification—it keeps things balanced.

Justify your decision
You might think a rubric is only marginally different than going with a gut feeling—and you would be right. Rubrics are only useful if you’re able to justify your scores. Going through the process of reasoning out why you believe something is a huge help in trying to avoid all the subconscious business going on when interviewing and evaluating a job candidate. Get real evidence—such as the notes you took of the interviewee’s responses—to back up your beliefs in order to avoid falling into the trap of cognitive biases.

Get input from others
Other people can have a huge influence on your decision. While you’re going through your rubric and justifying your choices, it’s best to do this alone to avoid the outside influence. But, once you’re done with that, it’s worth seeing what everyone else thought, too. Ideally, you want to receive feedback from others to add to the data you’ve already collected, not to impact the data you’ve collected.


Ascertain a sales candidate’s potential fit to your company culture

Hubspot  released  key sales questions they’d recommend which are cleverly designed to ascertain a sales candidate’s potential fit to your company culture.

1. How do you keep up to date in your target market? This is particularly useful as sales teams may move industries. Knowledge is valuable when selling in order to answer those difficult questions that invariably arise and for those who may be trying a sales role in a new industry, their ability to absorb knowledge and learn will be important.

2. Explain something to me. We liked this question/statement because it ascertains a candidate’s ability to explain complex points which may arise in sales. Additionally, it can assess how helpful a candidate’s demeanor is, and helpfulness is becoming increasingly important in the modern world of sales.

3. How would you approach a short sales cycle differently to a long sales cycle? Again, this is extremely useful. Different sales cycles require different approaches, and it’s important candidates can distinguish between the two.

4. What motivates you? This is a great question for finding out if someone is a fit for your company culture. Different things can drive us, and if your sales candidate’s drivers match up to your company’s, you could have a successful hire on your hands!

5. What are three adjectives a former client would use to describe you? Hubspot states that helpfulness as a quality is becoming more important in sales, so looking for this as a self-given quality might be a marker for a successful hire.

6. In your last position, how much time did you spend cultivating customer relationships vs. hunting for new clients, and why? Again this helps to ascertain a culture fit for your candidate. And while both skills are important to achieving success in their respective environments, it’s possible one might be more applicable to the particular position you’re interviewing for.

 You can read more Hubspot questions

About Dimitra D.

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