Employers Seek Better Ways to Attract Talent

By Toni Vranjes

January 13, 2015

It’s a new year, and it’s not just the calendar that’s different. Employers’ recruiting strategies are continuing to evolve, and they’re being more proactive in attracting the right candidates.

To increase your chances of finding the job you want, be sure to keep up with the latest recruiting and hiring trends. With employers in a number of fields having a difficult time finding talent, many companies are trying to improve the “candidate experience” – a popular phrase these days. Many of the trends focus on convenience, relevance, personalization, and flexibility.

Even though applying for a job might still rank up there with cleaning the house on a list of most boring tasks, some employers are trying to make it easier and more interesting. Many companies also are trying to figure out which incentives will draw the best talent.

The specific trends include:

  • mobile recruiting and job applications
  • personalized content for career websites
  • offering flexible schedules as an enticement
  • streamlined job applications
  • recruiting on social networks
  • employee-generated content
  • online recruiting events aimed at college students
  • talent networks

Hiring experts predict that these trends will gain momentum this year, as employers compete for the best talent.

Mobile Recruiting and Applications

Applying for jobs via mobile devices is one major development – and this year might be a turning point. Job seekers might be able to apply almost anywhere: at the coffee shop, the beach, and so on.

Jibe, a recruitment-technology company, predicts that mobile recruiting and job applications will become mainstream in 2015. In an e-mail, Jibe spokesman Jed Hamilton said that “it’s something employers simply cannot refuse to offer if they hope to attract the best candidates to their organizations.”

While people are embracing mobile devices to search for jobs, few Fortune 500 companies offer a mobile-friendly application process, Indeed spokesman Paul D’Arcy told Revive My Career.

The use of mobile is spanning different generations, according to a recent report from Indeed. It’s most popular among the two younger generations in the workforce: Millennials, who range from 21 to 30 years old; and Gen Xers, ages 31 to 50. According to the report, 73 percent of Millennials’ clicks on the Indeed website – and 71 percent of Gen Xers’ – come from mobile devices. Even among Baby Boomers – who range from 51 to 70 years old – 48 percent of clicks are via mobile devices.

As mobile job search gains steam, many employers are scrambling to launch mobile-friendly application systems.

According to a September 2014 Jibe survey, 70 percent of job seekers are open to using a smartphone for job applications. But the report listed the many barriers have hindered employers in their efforts. The obstacles include IT implementation problems, inadequate funding, and internal resistance. The company surveyed 1,025 job seekers, and 306 human-resources professionals.

There are many incentives for employers to persevere, though. Companies are studying how job seekers are behaving on mobile devices, said Elan Masliyah of recruitment-advertising agency TMP Worldwide.

“This is why employers must build experiences that are mobile friendly or they will lose applicants in the process,” said Masliyah, TMP’s vice president of business development, in an e-mail. “We have to make it easy for candidates.”

One company that has forged ahead is Chipotle Mexican Grill. The company announced in November that it launched a program allowing people to apply with mobile devices. In a statement, Chipotle said it received about 5,000 mobile job applications during the first week of use – accounting for 20 percent of the total received. Masliyah said the mobile program is powered by TMP on the front end, while Jibe provides the back-end apply technology.

Jibe launched its mobile-application system in 2012, which is targeted at large, global companies. Since that time, Jibe has seen “steady take up,” with early adopters such as Chipotle, Microsoft and Comcast, Hamilton said. These employers have created a path for other companies to follow, making the barriers to entry lower than ever, he added.

“As a result, 2015 will see a massive increase in take-up of mobile recruiting solutions now that the groundwork for implementation and integration with other HR and recruiting systems has been laid,” Hamilton said. “It will be a big year for mobile recruiting, no doubt.”

Personalized Career Sites

Some companies also are “personalizing” their career sites, in an effort to provide content that’s relevant to job seekers.

“As Internet users we are all very accustomed to sites that intuitively understand our shopping habits,” Masliyah said. “Take Amazon for example, which recommends products based on previous purchases. At TMP, we believe that career searches can be similar and more personalized.”

He cited one of the firm’s clients, TD Ameritrade, as an example. TMP built a “responsive” career site that re-sizes information based on the device being used – desktop, mobile phone, or tablet. When a user selects experience, interest and location, that person receives content that is more tailored and relevant, he said.

“This is a better experience and in the process provides more information for a candidate to opt in or out based on the content provided,” Masliyah said.

Workplace Flexibility

Many workers must balance their careers with other obligations, including caring for children and elderly family members. Citing various surveys, a 2014 White House report paints a mixed picture of how companies have adapted. According to the report, many employers are accommodating workers’ needs by offering some flexibility – although much more remains to be done.

The report states that 81 percent of employers provide at least some employees with flexibility in scheduling their work hours. But just 27 percent allow most or all of their workers to do this.

Also, only 22 percent of workers have flexibility regarding work location, according to the White House report.

To attract top talent, many larger employers are adding more flexibility to the workplace, D’Arcy said. He noted that smaller businesses have a more difficult time managing flexible schedules.

Workplace flexibility can appeal to workers of all ages, said Indeed Chief Economist Tara Sinclair, author of a report on job-search trends among different generations. Workplace flexibility, along with higher wages, can help attract job seekers in each generation, Sinclair told Revive My Career.

Simplified Job Applications 

To attract the best candidates, companies also will need to streamline their employment applications. According to the Jibe survey, 60 percent of job seekers believe that online job applications are more difficult to fill out than other common forms, including mortgage and health insurance documents.

A recent CareerBuilder report also found major frustrations in this area. The research shows that 66 percent to 85 percent of job seekers who enter an applicant tracking system (ATS) don’t finish the application process.

“Lengthy and arduous applications are the top reason candidates fail to complete the application process,” the CareerBuilder report states.

Even though applying via mobile devices may be more convenient, the process can still be long and complicated, as reported in this Washington Post article.

Whether candidates are applying from a desktop or from a mobile device, employers should make their processes shorter and easier. If they fail to do this, they’ll lose out on a lot of qualified candidates.

What exactly should companies do to simplify this dreaded process? The recruiting-technology company iMomentous offers a number of suggestions, including fewer required fields, and letting job seekers use the relatively easy “Apply with LinkedIn” option.

Social Recruiting

Many prospective candidates spend their days posting on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media. Some of them are active job seekers, while others are open to new career possibilities, even though they’re not actively looking. Companies know that it makes sense to go directly where they are and reach them in a familiar “place.”

That’s where social recruiting comes in.

According to a white paper by recruitment marketing firm Smashfly, social-marketing tools allow recruiters to “connect with candidates, expand the reach of their recruiting content, better communicate the overall employer brand and promote job opportunities to this engaged audience.”

Also, a 2014 survey by social-recruiting firm Jobvite found: “Social media enables recruiters to find quality hires by targeting talent, engaging candidates, evaluating applicants and showcasing employer brand.”

The Jobvite survey finds that 93 percent of recruiters use, or plan to use, social networks to support their recruiting activities. When asked which social media they use for recruiting, 94 percent reported using LinkedIn, with Facebook at 66 percent and Twitter at 52 percent.

What exactly are recruiters doing on these social networks? Many use LinkedIn to find and contact candidates, and also to post job ads, according to the Jobvite report.

In contrast, recruiters often use Facebook and Twitter to highlight their employer brand, according to the Jobvite survey of 1,855 recruiting and human-resources professionals. Other common uses for Facebook and Twitter are posting jobs, and generating referrals. Through social media, employees can refer their social-media contacts for job openings.

In 2015, it’s likely that social media will continue to play a huge role in recruiting. For job seekers, it makes sense to spruce up your social-media profiles and expand your connections.

Employee-Generated Content

Some businesses are calling on their own workers to promote their employer brand. The goal is to provide a first-hand look at company culture.

Masliyah describes employees as the “brand ambassadors” of their companies.

“Employers have the opportunity to empower their employees to help tell stories through photos, videos, and posts of what it’s really like to work for an organization,” he said. “We have seen large telecommunications and media companies moving in this direction already and we expect more to follow.”

Marriott International is one employer that has embraced this trend. To grab the attention of job seekers, it has livened up its career site. Now, when people click on job postings, they can view pictures of employees who work at specific locations.

Through its “Picture Yourself Here” campaign, Marriott hopes to provide an “authentic view” into what it’s like to work at the hotel chain, the company said in a statement last October. For instance, some pictures show smiling employees preparing food, cleaning up, or looking up from their computers.

Online Recruiting of Students

Employers are going online to reach job seekers in still other ways.

For instance, Brazen Careerist partnered with a textbook-rental company last fall to offer two online hiring events. The aim was to connect recruiters and job seekers directly, allowing them to discuss career opportunities.

One event focused on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) careers nationwide, while the other focused on business opportunities on the East Coast. About 500 to 700 candidates attended each of the events, and each one had about 15 employers, said Lisa Rossi, an account executive at Brazen Careerist.

Employers are trying to connect with college students directly online, because they often have a difficult time reaching them on campus, Rossi said. Half of students don’t use the career centers on their college campuses, according to Brazen Careerist.

“We do think that mobile online hiring events in general will be a huge trend in 2015, and not just for entry level candidates,” Rossi said in an e-mail.

She added that employers are seeking ways to “cut through the noise and reach passive talent without flooding inboxes or putting too much pressure on top talent to apply.” Instead, they’re inviting job seekers to participate in a conversation, which is a much more effective approach, Rossi said.

Talent Networks

Meanwhile, proactive companies are trying to prepare for future job openings that arise. They’re inviting job seekers to join “talent networks,” and then regularly sending relevant content to them. These networks can serve as a pipeline of passive candidates.

As stated in the Smashfly report: “When building a Talent Network, it is important that it is promoted everywhere a company interacts with candidates. This includes opt-in via job advertisements, during the apply process, on the career site, in a recruiter’s email signature, on a career blog, via social recruiting profiles or through any other recruiting asset an organization has, as well as proactively sourcing the right skill sets via online tools and databases.”

In this way, companies can be ready when they need to hire, while also promoting their employer brand.

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