Staffing’s Dirty Little Secret: We Can’t Control Candidates

It’s official. We, the employers, lost. The candidates and job seekers have won. Despite the fact that we have the jobs, the benefits packages and the growth opportunities, they still have the upper hand in today’s job market — and it’s not because of the talent shortage.

It’s because of technology.

In a job market where candidates have near limitless digital paths to job postings, employer research and networking opportunities, the job seeker has the upper hand. The paths they can find to jobs and employer information continue to explode across the digital landscape. They are more informed, savvy and smarter than ever as job seekers. It’s very hard for employers to keep up and when employers can’t keep up, they miss out on talent.

I was reminded of this fact recently at a CIO event in Australia. One financial services business leader lamented how his customers are always finding new ways to bank, and many times it’s not through his organization’s banking systems. He asked a CIO on the panel this: “What are we going to do when customers want to make deposits or withdrawals with Alexa or Google and our company is no longer in their mind as the bank?”

And how did the CIO reply? “You follow the customers and go where they need you to be,” she said, explaining that customers are digitally native consumers now. They have strong ideas of how they want to buy, sell, shop and engage. You have to go where they are. In the digital marketplace, the customer leads.

In the job market, the story is much the same. Job seekers are calling the shots and employers are following their every move, competing vigorously for candidate attention. You only have to look to recent moves of tech giants like Google, Facebook and Microsoft, the latter of which bought LinkedIn in 2016, to see how hard businesses are working to follow and capture candidates.This past June, Google launched its own job search tool, aggregating job board results from most every major job board and leveraging the company’s machine learning capabilities to power job searches and recommendations. Meanwhile, Facebook announced a partnership with ZipRecruiter as it works to “capture the attention of job seekers.”

Digitally native job seekers have more job search options, resources and opportunities than ever before. From their own online social and business networks (LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.) to job aggregators, job boards, company sites, freelancing sites, virtual job fairs and now even search engines, job seekers have seemingly endless ways to look for work. Just as that Australian banking executive spoke of consumers using voice activation technology to manage their finances rather than his company’s online banking platform, job seekers too will embrace new technologies and pathways to opportunity as quickly as they arrive. With so many gateways to job opportunities and into companies, it has become nearly impossible to control when and where you will engage a candidate.

PREMIUM CONTENT: North America Staffing Company Survey 2017: Human cloud/online staffing, and use of automation in traditional staffing

What’s the answer? Give up control. Rather than trying to regulate where and when the engagement happens, funnel candidates through one standard experience and hope candidates have the tenacity to find you, employers have to be willing to personalize the engagement experience for candidates and go out and hunt for candidates in thoughtful ways. Is your business ready to follow the job seeker’s lead? Here are three tips for how employers can give up some of the control in the engagement process in order to better engage the candidates where they are.

  1. Improve your Digital Recruiting Smarts: Today’s employers need to hire recruiters and/or recruiting providers with the digital smarts to engage job seekers wherever they are online. From social media to networking and industry platforms, the digital destinations for talent are numerous and constantly advancing. Just to find and reach the right candidates today, it’s essential to have tech and social media savvy recruiting support on hand.
  2. Customize and Personalize the Engagement Experience: Take a lesson from today’s online leaders (LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.) that focus on creating a personalized experience for their users. Rather than asking job seekers for what you want, use feedback and outreach forms and engagement platforms early on in the engagement process to find out what they are looking for. It’s the difference between saying “We need Java developers with three years app development experience and this certification” to asking “We have numerous development and design opportunities, what kind of tech work do you want to do and how do you want to grow?” In a work world where emerging and disruptive technologies drive new skill needs faster than employers can keep up, knowing the ambition and learning capacity of a potential employee is as important as knowing what they have done.
  3. Make Recruiting Everyone’s Job: Just as social networking has made everyone in a company a kind of brand ambassador, recruiting is also becoming everyone’s job. Many job seekers understand that networking and personal engagement is a far better way into a great company than the traditional HR/recruiter route. As internal employees are contacted by potential job seekers, it’s valuable to arm them with easy resources that can capture candidates who are curious about the workplace and opportunities. This can be as easy as educating employees on easy ways to direct candidate traffic to building programs for encouraging internal staff to pull in top talent. As big as the market of job opportunities is today, it pays to have as many invested people as possible supporting your company’s recruiting mission.

It may be a job seekers market but the fact is digital belongs to everyone. Employers need to follow the lead of job seekers but also watch for ways to turn the many digital pathways job seekers are using today into opportunities for smart talent engagement.

MORE: How to Use Your Applicant Tracking System to Re-Activate Past Candidates

Anna Frazzetto

Anna Frazzetto
Anna Frazzetto is chief revenue officer at Airswift.

Anna Frazzetto

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