After years of tumbling unemployment, there are 1 million more open jobs in the U.S. than people to fill them, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Candidates today are in the enviable position of evaluating multiple companies and job opportunities to pick just the right one.
To secure exceptional talent, employers are finding that they must make a great impression. That means optimizing the candidate experience from beginning to end, and experienced recruiters are stealing pages out of the marketing handbook to do it. Here are six of their best insider secrets.
#1 Attend to Your Employer Brand
Candidates research employers online, often before applying. A company can lose prospects they don’t know about because of an outdated website, uninspiring social media presence, poor search engine results, or other failures.
Recruiters have begun investigating employers’ online presence and partnering with social media, web, and marketing teams to address any shortcomings. Recruitment professionals can then reflect the employer brand in their campaigns, to enhance the reputation and generate awareness as a precursor to soliciting job applications.
The best-case scenario for any recruiter is to work with an employer that’s already built an authentic culture. When a company has an engaged employee base, it’s easy to share in various media venues and invite like-minded individuals into the fold.
#2 Speak the language
Job postings used to be quickly composed summaries of an open position and its qualifications, replete with typos and grammatical errors. Top-performing postings today, on the other hand, are as carefully crafted as any glossy magazine advertisement.
Recruiters take into account search engine optimization, audience-appropriate keywords, and strategic placement to ensure the opportunity is easily found on Google, where candidates are most likely to look first.
They also understand that speaking only to the web-crawling bots isn’t enough. The best recruiters develop concise descriptions designed for audience appeal, and they incorporate a clear call to action so candidates know exactly what to do next. The best recruiters have abandoned those résumé clichés about motivated self-starters in favor of precise language that reveals the organization’s personality and entices prospects to respond.
#3 Expand the Audience
Marketers are always searching for overlooked customer segments, and employers should be doing the same. For example, recruiters are seeking out “passive” candidates, individuals who aren’t looking to change roles but would do so for the right opportunity. They’re maintaining conversations with previous applicants who weren’t hired at the time but might be a good fit for a different position. Some companies have gone so far as to target retirees, tempting individuals with needed skills back into the workforce.
Reaching these non-traditional audiences requires enhanced recruitment approaches, which only start at social networking on LinkedIn. From organizing casual meetup events to tapping candidate-relationship management technologies, recruiters are using an array of tools and techniques to cast a wider net for talent.
#4 Reduce Friction
Once you’ve piqued a prospect’s interest, it’s vital to capitalize. In marketing terms, “friction” is any sticking point that can lose a potential customer—think a frustrating shopping cart function at an online retailer. Similar barriers can derail hiring.
For instance, candidates are increasingly likely to do their job research on a mobile phone, yet many employers’ applications aren’t phone-friendly, even those using responsive design. Long forms requiring tedious thumb-typing drastically reduce follow-through. Savvy recruiters help employers focus on requesting only the most important details.
Companies may take the concept to an extreme. For companies competing for sales and customer service representatives, the application form might be eliminated altogether. Now a quick text, DM, or call is sufficient to put a candidate in the queue for recruiter follow-up, and the company is staffing up faster than ever. Of course, this approach isn’t the right answer for every situation, but simplifying the process in some manner frequently is.
#5 Run a Background Check the Right Way
Background checks are becoming ubiquitous, and as well they should. Looking into a prospective employee’s history can protect the company, employees, and other stakeholders from potential bad actors. Background probes can improve hiring quality and retention rates, too.
Smart recruiters, however, recognize the peril of erecting a wall of paperwork at the very end of the recruitment process. Too many forms asking for the same information or a long delay in getting the “all clear” makes the company appear disorganized and bureaucratic. This can damper the candidate’s enthusiasm or cause them to second-guess their decision to take the job. With significant hold-ups on a background screen, candidates may move on to another offer.
This makes working with a high-performance background search provider an essential component of an effective recruitment strategy. Expert guidance can help design the most effective yet least intrusive background check for each position. And features like ATS integration and instant clears improve internal efficiencies and reduce friction on the way to the final hire.
#6 Monitor and Adjust
The best recruiters earned their stripes with years on the job, throughout which they monitored market changes, tried new things, saw how their innovations worked and adjusted. The speed of evolution has accelerated in the digital age, but there are also more resources available to guide recruitment.
Employers should ask candidates—hires and non-hires—what they thought about the process, as well as research what people are saying on sites like Glassdoor, and accept critique. Companies should also dig into the data, to see what forms of outreach are attracting high volumes of interest or where the company is losing candidates along the way.
When improvement opportunities are identified, apply targeted changes and always measure the results. That way, you can incorporate the right tools and techniques and weed out the trendy gimmicks. After all, not every organization needs an expensive VR facilities tour, but most employers can benefit from strategic investments in recruitment.