Hiring ‘capable, self-motivated’ employees is usually a top priority for growing companies, yet general recruitment practices have evolved little in the age of the social internet. This is the first instalment of a 3 part series that will examine the major trends that are shaping the future of successful hiring practice.

Sales and marketing departments are constantly evolving, using the web’s potential to better engage and gather data on customers, and the results to boost conversion. There’s a greater focus on branding, constant engagement and communication as opposed to a quick sell, and these tactics are working their way into the recruitment sphere.

At its core recruitment is sales, but perhaps harder! Recruiters have to sell twice; once to sell the candidate to the hiring manager and again to sell the company and position to the candidate. HR departments are under increasing pressure to engage the, oft-discussed, passive candidate, with an influx of marketing principles helping examine and improve how potential applicants perceive their brand. Control of the process is shifting, with top candidates no longer simply lining up, eager to hear if employers have decided to deign interest on them – the battle for talent is now such that companies are focusing on the quality, and even the enjoyability, of the candidate experience. Recruiters have noticed, and even compete for the increasingly coveted ‘Candidate Experience Awards’.

Treating candidates as customers:

Companies are beginning to look at recruitment as more relationship building and are approaching candidates as they would customers. Here, content is king – good careers sites have become crucial to hiring success accounting for 30% of hires in 2012:

More company hires originate from direct applications to company websites than through job boards  – and yet a very small fraction of resources is dedicated to driving this inbound traffic through effective careers pages (spending on ‘brand’ and ‘website’ average at <2% of HR budgets and 1/10th of spending on job-boards or referrals).


Crucial to the process is engagement, motivating candidates to commit. Not only is career page content important here, but the myriad guises of the application process is ready for disruption. Gamification is becoming popular here. While it might seem unconventional, research shows that gamification can lead to a 100% to 150% pickup in engagement metrics including unique views, page views, community activities, and time on site. Gamification is, in essence, a great tool to measure and reward progress, helping generate a unique candidate experience and improving retention, according to the 2010 Harvard Business Review.

Success is by no means guaranteed. Marriot’s ‘My Marriot Hotel’ Facebook game, designed to recruit employees for the company’s management program, generated little buzz. It can be an effective filtering tool though. Easyjet had 27,000 participants to their realistic work simulation. Only 7,000 applied, but they found that the candidate suitability was up 40%. The game offers genuine insights into roles at the airline and this transparency clearly helped to attract the ‘right’ candidates.

New ways to communicate:

Rules are developing to govern the way that companies treat their candidates. Interestingly, the 2013 Candidate Experience Report found that candidates are positively predisposed towards the company they apply to, but that this affinity includes specific expectations about how they will be treated. Applicants expect regular communication and feedback, reasonable assessments and overall good user experience. Successful recruiters are thinking more and more like marketers here. Creating a 2-way dialogue is the basis of forming a strong candidate relationship. ‘Social recruiting’ may be one of the most popular buzzwords in recruitment, but social networks are a cost-effective way to marketing a brand and engage with passive candidates, particularly young candidates, many of whom aren’t regular users of job boards and LinkedIn.

Why is social media so important? It may only account for 3% of hires but it lets companies extend the range of possible interactions with applicants, it gives candidates a voice in the proceedings and gives employers a chance guide those interested back to their careers page. Early engagement with candidates also lets companies create an effective hiring pipeline, allowing them to monitor candidates from the pre-application phase onwards and manage the communication process.

Social recruiting is here to stay and is especially important when it comes to hiring from the millennial generation – something we will explore in more detail later in the series. Yet it is just one part of the new paradigm facing recruiters – the need to engage and interact with the best talent, before, during and after the application.

About Ben Slater

Ben Slater is the VP Growth at Beamery - Beautiful Recruiting Software Powered by Artificial Intelligence. If you're interested in learning more, feel free to check out a short video

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