‘Tis the season. Well, almost. As the leaves fall and next year’s calendars arrive in the mail, it’s also the season for survey reports, predictions and general crystal ball gazing about the world of work. Reading some of these recruitment surveys, I started to become curious about whether there really are important underlying themes that we should be concerned about. Often, survey results appear to be very similar to what we have read before, with minor changes up or down. As I distilled the stats and graphs, I began to identify a number of interesting themes emerging from the reports.
In this article I’ll focus on recruitment themes, but there is also a backdrop to this that warrants serious consideration too. Gen Z enters the workforce in May 2016 and the millennial generation is replacing baby-boomers, of whom 3.6 million are retiring in 2016. Millennials are becoming managers and leaders so succession planning, knowledge transfer and development are now critical items. Other trends to check out are freelancing (40% of US workers will be contractors by 2020), flexible work and co-working. In the US, the ACA has forced focus on providing health insurance and health and other benefits are often ranked higher than pay by even the younger generations.
For recruiters and human resources professionals there are three main challenges that are important to consider when making plans for next year.
Here’s something we all know … as recruiters, we have relationships with people everywhere. A LinkedIn survey shows recruiters’ top 4 priorities are employee referral, retention and employer branding. The other is quality of hires and we’ll come back to that later. Let’s take a look both inside and outside our organizations.
- Employees – internal recruitment. We know that the job market is becoming increasingly competitive. Many companies expect average tenure of only 1 to 3 years. Retention is regarded as a priority by 36% of respondents according to LinkedIn researchers, but internal recruiting has a lower priority of 27%. New hires are often disappointed not to have a chance at other positions that are filled from outside at great expense, and this leads to attrition and an increase in recruitment costs.
- Friends of employees – referral. According to Jobvite, 78% of recruiters find the best quality candidates through referral schemes. This begs the question of whether your referral program is up-to-date, administered well, and you are using social media to promote it. Job referral is so successful that we have to maintain active communication with our employees and develop the employer brand with them too because they are part of your extended recruitment team!
- Alumni – boomerang hires. Around 40% of companies have a policy of not re-hiring ex-employees. However, in today’s world of higher attrition, alumni who left the company with a good performance record could be sought after for their now enhanced skills, experience and knowledge of the company’s culture.
- Interns. A Jobvite survey demonstrates that intern programs can be a very effective way to attract talent. Recruiters report 55% of quality candidates are found through intern programs. Looking ahead, a number of companies now have intern programs for high school students too.
- Candidates. Let’s not forget that candidates’ recruitment experience leads to them being a supporter or the opposite, if their experience is negative. These relationships can build or damage employer brand so easily.
- Job seekers – passive and active. Recruiters build relationships through the use of social media and mobile apps but barely keep up with demand generated by job seekers who use mobile apps 80% of the time, compared to 20% by recruiters. Adecco’s global survey notes regional difference around the world, Europe being a standout. In North America, LinkedIn reports that 45% of workers use the Internet and social media to network and research companies while 30% of them actively look for another job. Generally, job seekers and recruiters use the same channels (job boards, corporate websites, social media and mobile) but job seekers use them more!
Talking of employer branding, this requires constant attention and a joint approach with your marketing colleagues. With the use of social media being so prevalent people hear and form opinions about your company quickly. As a result of this, job boards and career sites are expected to become less of an influence over time as social media becomes the norm.
2) Priorities and metrics
The surveys clearly show that recruiters strive for “high quality” candidates to become employees. What we seem to be unclear about is how to define them and how to measure success. LinkedIn’s report shows that companies are focused on turnover, and retention statistics or new hire performance ratings, while others survey hiring managers to assess their level of satisfaction with candidates. For all these attempts, client feedback suggests that there is a general lack of consistency, understanding and confidence in measuring hiring quality. Jobvite points out the importance of ratios like “applicants to hires” (average of 50 generally) and “time-to-fill” (TTF) which averages 31-60 days. Again, we’ve heard this before so what’s the challenge?
The challenge is to form a clear linkage between recruitment activity and the CEO’s goals. A recent study by the Philadelphia Society of People & Strategy (PSPS) links CEOs’ #1 challenge of “Human Capital” to ten key areas of which #3 is Recruiting Talent and #4 Employment Branding. Further, to gain a reputation for adding value, HR has to shift to a strategic capability to predict and act. This calls for more clarity and understanding around recruitment to build CEO confidence for the future.
3) Select the best
We have researched, we have recruited, and we have interviewed. We are now ready for hiring manager and HR interviews. We know that in some markets like Telecom, Healthcare and Hospitality we have to act fast. These are hot markets and job seekers won’t wait long. Waiting for decisions to be made by hiring managers is cited as a roadblock by many recruiters in all markets so we have to work with them to reduce this timeline. By this stage, Adecco tells us, the top 3 reasons for rejecting candidates are contradictions with the resume (54%), personality traits (49%) and improper images (using social media like Facebook) (46%). What are the characteristics of winning candidates? More frequently now recruiters are using new methods to assess candidates like personality tests, work assignments and video interviewing. What we look for most frequently, we are told, is enthusiasm and job knowledge but then also good old-fashioned punctuality and appearance. We test for evidence of networking, check tenure, written work and volunteer experience.
What are some of the best practices recruiting organizations are using? Clearly employee referral, employer brand and social media are three key areas. Working with Marketing in these areas is a strong recommendation to ensure consistency and gain more leadership buy-in. Another tip is to work with HR to identify “rock stars”, find their winning qualities and replicate this in future searches. Finally constantly attract passive candidates and pull them into your environment through social media, LinkedIn and your company career site.