2018 Was the Tipping Point for Recruiting

Guest: Rachel Bitte Business Development, candidate experience, Candidate Pool, Communication, Email, Employment Branding and Culture

Unemployment rates haven’t quite reached zero (at least, not yet!) but with figures so low and the economy booming, it’s never been a harder time to be a recruiter. As we continue to see more job openings posted than people to fill them, we’ve finally reached the tipping point when it comes to hiring.

As a Fistful of Talent faithful, you’re probably aware that talent acquisition pros have been forced to leave the old school tactics behind and get creative to adjust to the current job market reality. That means an increased focus on employer branding, and meeting candidates where they are, in places like their mobile devices or Instagram accounts.

As this wild year draws to a close, it’s a perfect opportunity to take stock on what’s changed as we begin to plot our hiring strategies for 2019. Let’s look back on how 2018 forced the recruiting industry to evolve, so we can better gear up for what’s in store next year.

Candidates are more like customers.

With near-perfect unemployment rates offering more options than ever, job seekers are in the driver’s seat when it comes to hiring. Nearly one-third of young people say they will preemptively reject a company with poor reviews, which means candidates rule you out before you even know they’re looking. Today, companies no longer pick talent — the talent picks the company.

But just because job “shopping” and “hopping” are on the rise, doesn’t mean you’re at the mercy of job seekers. Oh no, as candidates become more like customers, the key to success lies with a strong employer brand. Recruiters must strategically consider how to position what it’s like to work at their company, and then build a proactive strategy around candidate interactions with the brand to create awesome hiring experiences.

Whether that’s texting, chatbots, or Instagram, recruiters today need to figure out ways to cut through the noise and reach passive candidates via meaningful exchanges. We call this conversational recruiting, and it’s key to deepening your talent pool and hiring the best workers, even when the labor market is this tight.

Loyalty trumps cost in hiring today.

As recruiters, we know that a good candidate is incredibly hard to find right now, and we don’t want to let them go. That’s why in this historic job market, priorities have shifted away from time-to-hire and cost-per-hire metrics, according to Jobvite’s annual survey of recruiters nationwide. Instead, 2018 saw recruiters put a bigger premium on the quality of their hires alongside a renewed focus on retention rates.

With how difficult, expensive, and time-consuming it has become to bring on new workers (especially those with in-demand skills) you really can’t afford to make a bad hire today. While you can’t always avoid that worst case scenario, you can minimize your exposure to risk, even in this tough environment. The first step is to modernize your outreach strategy to focus less on broadcasting to a huge audience, and more on targeting meaningful interactions with a pool of quality candidates from the get-go.

By utilizing popular mediums such as social media or texting for a more informal back-and-forth dialogue, you create the best possible candidate engagement while also giving yourself a better opportunity to assess talent. Younger workers, in particular, are looking for those authentic candidate experiences and real-time feedback throughout the hiring process. So, don’t be afraid to get social.

“Culture fit” takes a backseat to experience and performance.

Last year, I described the unexpected hiring downsides that can come from a warped view of “culture fit.” Those downsides focused on what can happen when recruiters overlook candidates’ job-relevant skills and past work history for people they’d like to hang out with more.

Fortunately, this tough job market has forced recruiters to correct here somewhat. Every hire is becoming more important, as recruiters expect to make less of them in the coming year — we are seeing less emphasis placed on traits such as personal style and sense of humor — and more on the behaviors that form a successful workforce, such as actual experience and overall performance.

According to our Jobvite survey, the need for strong conversational skills and enthusiasm has decreased among recruiters by more than 20% across the board as compared to last year. That means successful recruiters today are not only prioritizing new ways to engage with candidates, but also putting a bigger premium on the hard skills and performance metrics that will ultimately make the difference and move the needle for their companies.

While there has never been a harder time to be a recruiter, there’s also never been a more rewarding time to be a recruiter. With the incredible talent shortage and intense hiring competition today, our companies look to us as increasingly important assets driving business success. In fact, attracting talent has been consistently cited by business leaders as one of the top challenges their companies face.

So as you kick back and get some well-deserved rest, remember that people are the lifeblood of a company and that recruiters are the heart that keeps talent pumping into the organization.

Happy New Year!