The Three Steps of Candidate Attraction

Why is it easier to see other people’s mistakes?

Imagine you own a retail store located well off the main road.  Very few people drive by and as a result, you’re not selling much.  You think if the store was more inviting, more customers would come.  So you spend six figures on new shelving, better lighting and even hire a consultant to advise on traffic flow. 

Not much changes.

So you decide to change your product signage making it easier for customer to understand and learn about the products you offer.  You change the font and layout, and rewrite the product descriptions. You put an ad in the Penny Saver even though the only people who actually read it are retirees who don’t use your products.

The people who do wander into the store buy more so your head of Merchandising is convinced that you are spending money on the right things, but you are not so sure.  Not enough people are coming into the store, and of the ones that do, most don’t have the resources to be serious buyers.  Will spending more money on store signage really be the answer?

You don’t need a background in retail, or marketing or any other business discipline to understand that building customer traffic will require advertising.  If customers don’t know the store is there, it doesn’t matter how well designed and stocked it is. 

Now take this scenario to Talent Acquisition.  You need more applicant flow so you spend the bulk of your budget on your career site adding videos and making it mobile friendly.  That doesn’t seem to generate the quality candidates you want so you decide to rewrite your job descriptions and even post on several job boards. 

When that doesn’t work, you seize on the data from Glassdoor and LinkedIn showing that candidates conduct job research on those sites.  So you spend money on both of them.

Not much changes.

Generating candidates is a three step process.  When you break down the three steps, it becomes clear what outcome you will get from investments in each of the steps.

The 3 Steps of Candidate Acquisition
Source of Data: 2016 Candidate Experience Research Report

Step 1: Discovery

The first step is Discovery.  Much like the retail store, candidates need to know your jobs exists.  Right now there are approximately 5 million open jobs in the United States.  Unemployment is at historical lows and very, very few qualified people are searching job boards looking for a job.  Even fewer are randomly exploring corporate careers sites to see if they can find an appropriate job.

That doesn’t mean that a lot of job switching isn’t going on.  People trade up their positions all the time.  On average, 50 million people change jobs every year.  If you want more of them to apply to you, you need to get your jobs in front of them.  People discover jobs through a variety of channels: recruiters reach out to them, a friend calls or emails them, they see the job on social media, an employee refers them, or other serendipitous methods.

On average, 50 million people change jobs every year. 

Once they discover a job that looks interesting and could be a good career move, they go to step 2. 

Step 2: Research

Once their interest has been piqued, they want to know more about the job before they make the investment to apply.  The Candidate Experience Research by The Talent Board shows that 76% of candidates conduct research before they apply.  This is where the investment in your career site, Glassdoor and LinkedIn comes into play.  Informative, interesting and positive information on these sites will keep candidates in your pipeline and advance them to step 3.

Step 3: Apply

The final step is Apply.  For candidates who have maintained interest in the job, they are ready to invest the time and effort to apply.  Having a streamlined, well-constructed and mobile friendly application will maximize your conversion from viewers to applicants. 

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 4.06.32 PMIf your goal is to increase your pool of applicants, spending money on the Research sites, including your own careers site, will only move the needle a little.  Good research sites will keep interested candidates interested, but they do nothing to attract more candidates. 

If you want to increase your candidate pool with more qualified candidates, you need to invest in the Discovery phase. Discovery requires outreach, advertising and promotion.  Your content must be mobile friendly since candidates, especially Millennials, use their phones as their primary source of information.  The information must be interesting and engaging since most candidates are not actively looking for a job and you need to entice them to consider yours.  Video is the most effective medium for capturing candidates’ attention.  And most importantly, you must make social sharing effortless for individuals.  To put your job in front of the maximum number of qualified candidates, you must leverage the power of social media and make it easy for individuals to pass your jobs along to friends and colleagues. 

If you want potential candidates to take action, your Discovery efforts must be job specific.  General information about your company, culture and opportunities will not generate a response from individuals. The hook that prompts action is a specific job that is interesting and appealing to an individual.  Potential candidates become aware of a job and immediately assess whether or not the job is a good career move and will advance their career.   If the job looks promising, then the individual wants to know more about the hiring organization and they begin their Research phase.  But without a specific job to focus the research, the process never advances. 

Text-only job descriptions are yesterday’s technology and don’t interest today’s candidates.

Sparc is the leading candidate attraction tool.
Sparc is the leading candidate attraction tool.

Best-in-class Discovery tools are:

  • self-contained: candidates do not need to go to another source for basic information,
  • engaging: include video welcoming message from the potential boss,
  • sharable: social share buttons built in and
  • compelling: highlight strengths of the job. 

Understanding the three steps to candidate attraction, and the critical elements of each step, will help you assess your strengths and weaknesses, allocate your resources better and improve your results.  With a well-disciplined approach, you can build an effective and consistent process that will generate the qualified candidates you need to achieve your recruiting goals.

Maury Hanigan is CEO of Sparc, the award-winning candidate attraction tool that engages today’s most sought-after talent. Candidates meet their potential boss and co-workers through 20-second videos that are short enough to keep candidate’s attention but powerful enough to draw their interest. Sparcs can be viewed easily on mobile devices and shared quickly on social media. Engage today’s top candidates now by visiting www.sparcstart.com.

Recruiting? What If Your Team Is White And Male?

With the major West Coast tech companies publicly announcing their employee diversity stats, an honest conversation is starting about the dominance of white male culture in most large tech organizations. Good intentions and accountability can make a difference, but the difficult question remains about how to change.

Of course, for tech companies, there is unquestionably a supply issue and the long-term solutions require systemic changes in our educational and immigration systems. But the shortage of developers has never been a reason that Intel, Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple have accepted for not meeting their hiring goals.

And on almost any corporate career page, there are pictures of diverse employees. It is possible to pull out a checklist and fill in all the boxes on a diversity checklist because these pages are so contrived that there is undoubtedly one of each. And laughably, many of the same faces appear on multiple corporate sites, the result of using stock photographs. Just walk around a college career fair and see how many booths feature the same group of diverse “employees.” This gang, available on shutter iStockphoto.com, is everywhere.

      

What happens if the team you are hiring for is currently all male and you would like to add some diversity to it? Doesn’t showing three men send a strong message about what the organization is like and what the organization aims to be? But including a woman or person of color who has no connection to the position is disingenuous and deceptive. What should you do? As always, the answer is: it depends.

For real change, there needs to be some credibility. If your organization advertises itself as wildly diverse and a candidate arrives for an interview just to realize that nobody looks like him or her, you’re going to have a tough time convincing that individual of anything including assurances of challenging work and career progression. I’ve seen recruiters genuinely dumbfounded at the reluctance of women and minorities to accept job offers. Who would want to work for a company that misrepresented itself right from the get-go?

But talent acquisition managers face the reality that candidates want to see people like them succeeding in the organization. Imagine if you spoke no Chinese and were applying for a job with a Chinese company in China. Wouldn’t you want to know that at least one other person like you was able to succeed in that situation? For women walking into tech companies, veterans entering civilian employment or under-represented minorities applying for any job, the workplace can feel that foreign to them.

So what do you do?

If you are recruiting for a role on an all-male team, don’t include three videos of women.

One solution is to give visibility to the diversity you have, but this can be tricky. I’ve never met a black person who didn’t know that they were being included in a corporate photo shoot because they were black. Some of them resent the exploitation, some are just resigned to it, and some are excited to be a welcoming beacon to other minorities. It is important to understand that there are employees who just want to be regular employees rather than be labeled as black/gay/veteran. Hopefully, there will also be employees who want to take an active role in improving the workforce. Chances are, they are adults and it is possible to have adult conversations with them about the role they want to play.

Start with some honest conversations. These may be one-on-one or they may be in small groups. But the most important thing is to listen and be prepared to act on the suggestions.

If a woman confides that she is unwilling to actively recruit other women to the organization because the Friday afternoon beer blasts initiate unwelcome behavior, the organization needs to do something about it. There may also be suggestions about participation in events or other investments that will make a difference. And then be prepared to respect individuals’ feelings about participation in recruiting. If they don’t want to be a token, don’t ask them to be. If they want to be actively involved in recruiting, give them time and recognition for doing so.

The other side of that equation is being honest with candidates. Tech companies have taken a brave and admirable step in releasing their diversity stats. The numbers aren’t flattering, but Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook and Twitter have publicly acknowledged their situations. Their credibility soared by telling the world that they are prepared to be held accountable. Who knew that honesty could be so powerful?

So when clients ask us about diversity, our answer is this: be honest. If you are recruiting for a role on an all-male team, don’t include three videos of women. Be thoughtful about who you have to represent co-workers. And use the videos for the incredible capability they have – let your veterans state their service and let your dyslexics mention their dyslexia. Candidates like the authenticity of employee-generated video and often watch the videos for jobs other than the one they are applying for. When you crowdsource video clips from your employees, amazing things can happen. Stop scripting a hoax.

This article was previously published on TechCrunch, January 21, 2016.

Seize The Season

The month of December often seems like a dead month for recruiting. Much of its 31 days are taken up by holidays and hiring activity is limited heading into the new year. However, identifying and sourcing good candidates is almost always a good investment, if not for a current opening, then for a future one. Depending on the job level, recruiting can be a several week to several month process. Anyone who waits until January 1st to begin will be at a disadvantage.

The holidays are a break when candidates have the free time to pick up their heads and see what is out there.

Candidates’ work schedules slow down and there is very little corporate travel or major meetings during the weeks leading up to the holidays. This means they have more time at work plus have the added bonus of time off. Even if they are happy in their jobs, the year-end is a natural time to assess where they are in their careers and explore options. While some of them will submit applications if they see an enticing job, may more will just gather research about who is hiring and which companies have interesting opportunities.

Candidates take action when they see an opportunity that looks like a good career move. They don’t take action just because a company looks attractive, they do it because are interested in the job. If the job is a good next step for them, then they want to learn more about the company. But they need to understand why the job is a good fit and how it will advance their career.

Every employer should be at full tilt during the holidays and make sure their jobs are posted before Christmas. To maximize their exposure to candidates, especially the highly valued passive candidate, it is essential to utilize the holidays. Passive candidates are generally succeeding in their jobs and don’t usually spend time looking at job postings. It can be challenging to get their attention, but the holidays are an opening when they are the most reachable. You need to have compelling content and useful information, and if you do, you will get more interest. Sending successful candidates a text-only job description, or posting a text-only job description is generally insufficient.

Employers need to reassess how they are sourcing and reaching out to candidates and the holidays are a perfect time to experiment with that. Start with posting mobile friendly job descriptions as the majority of candidates are getting their information on a mobile device. Tweet your jobs, post them on Facebook; utilize social media to get your jobs maximum exposure. Try video based recruiting to attract top passive candidates who won’t be swayed by typical text-based job descriptions.

December is far from a dead month for recruiting. With passive candidates seeing what the job world has to offer them, there is plenty of opportunity for recruiters to experiment with new recruiting trends and build a strong candidate pool and tested tools heading into 2016.