Recruiting Trends for 2017

The dust is still settling on the big moments of 2016, but here’s what we think is in store for recruiting in 2017 – creativity in technology use, hiring practices, and employee compensation.

Creative Technology

This probably sounds like old news since innovations in technology are always making headlines somewhere, but technology continues to bring changes to the recruiting world in a big way.

Candidate journey mapping is a way of illustrating and analyzing the experience of would-be employees as they initially come into contact with a company and eventually progress (or don’t progress) to full employment. This visual mapping tracks every interaction of candidates with the company and then proceeds to weigh the effectiveness of each step in the marketing and hiring process; initial advertising and marketing, job application submittal, phone calls and interviewing process, and onboarding procedures are all evaluated.  

Now imagine the change in mapping since the explosion of technology into the recruiting world – online advertising, mobile marketing, virtual interviews and job training… all of which now fall under the gaze of big data – and you have today’s recruiting environment.

The number of touchpoints candidates have with a company before being fully hired has soared. More data exists than most businesses have time or money to analyze, though the race to come up with new systems for data analysis fosters a perpetual churning out of new product.

Recruitment could become an entirely digital affair, with computers locating candidates, measuring suitability, conducting video interviews and testing, hiring candidates with the highest likelihood of success, and training new employees via virtual reality technology or more basic online onboarding programs.

The real trick continues to be finding the best ways to use technology – ways that most effectively facilitate the human element of recruiting. The human connection is still what builds a business; no computer program can replace the human ability to perceive emotion, understand motivation, or empathize with and respond to struggles and successes. No computer program can give you the information you glean from shaking someone’s hand or conversing with them person-to-person.

2017, we predict, will see more struggle to harness the power of technology, striving for a potent combination of technological leg work and human guiding and deciding. And for businesses who are struggling to pay for this latest-and-greatest technology, looking to bigger corporations to see what works and does not work could be the wisest move.

Creative Hiring & Creative Pay

This change makes a lot of parents nervous. Their college graduate calls home to talk about his or her amazing new job opportunity, and a round of wise-parent questions leaves the parents fearful and the graduate discouraged. The job is only for 18 months, and there is no guarantee or even hint of future employment after that time. There is a benefits package, but it’s not health insurance; it’s a gym membership, complimentary lunchtime catering service, and a Monday-Thursday work week.

And it’s exactly what their son or daughter wants.

With unemployment down and US economy up, analysts are declaring a candidate’s market. Fewer applicants for open positions means that applicants can be choosier. Companies are putting forth greater efforts to appeal to candidates, and what today’s candidates claim to want most, apart from competitive pay, is to fit into the culture of a job.

This movement has far-reaching ramifications and a whole host of new buzzwords. Improving candidate experience, advertising company culture and hiring for cultural fit, and matching candidates with companies who share core values, are all smaller conversations that fit into a larger one.

Companies are working as never before to market their brand – to define themselves in a way that will attract the right candidates. Candidates are looking for insight into what makes companies tick; they want to know what working for a company will look like, and if the core values of the company will match up with their own in a way that allows for long-term happiness.  

But let’s talk about “long-term”. Why are more candidates signing on to the “gig economy”? What is attractive about a short-term commitment?

For one thing, this allows both employee and employer to test drive a relationship before committing for the long haul. It takes time to see what a workplace is really like – what is required to promote, what behaviors are most rewarded, what the attitude of supervisors and coworkers is toward the work, what training looks like. Short-term jobs allow employees to complete the task for which they were hired; they aren’t stuck in a bad relationship with the pressure of poor references if they quit to look for something else.

Also, with technology working to make distance work more and more possible, the work-from-home or flex-scheduling options are looking increasingly attractive to millennial candidates. Why come to the office to work on a computer if you can be just as productive at home in pajamas with a cup of not-Folgers coffee? Advancements in technology also facilitate more freelance work, as the right combination of short-term gigs can build a career that better fits into individual lifestyles.

2017 will see businesses weighing the effects of non-traditional hiring and compensation.  

Are freelance or short-term workers worth the hassle of training and turnover, and can these costs be justified by fewer deadweight hires or long-term insurance plans? What is the real cost of added job perks (like gyms and catering services and flexible scheduling), and how does this fit with less interest in traditional benefits (like health insurance and retirement plans)? Does offering employees a more flexible schedule allow for an increase or decrease in productivity, and how does that balance out with employee satisfaction and decreased turnover rates?
Industry standards are fluctuating, as businesses pick and choose which new trends to try and which to toss. Recruiting departments may need to look to professional recruitment agencies to help them feel out new industry standards for compensation and benefits. Professional recruiters can also offer insight on how businesses can improve their marketing, communicate their culture to potential employees, and understand how the array of recent trends could help or harm their business specifically.

How to Avoid Passing Up on Great Talent

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You have acquired a stack of resumés, and there is an excellent candidate or two hidden in that pile of hopes and dreams. What can you do at this point in the hiring process to ensure that you don’t pass up on great talent?

Experience has taught us a thing or two – we’ve seen great clients signed and great clients missed. Here are six points of advice that we believe can help your company find and sign the best talent.

1. Don’t Make Assumptions from a Resumé

 

Assuming too much or too little will get you into trouble with resumés. It’s impossible to fit an entire person on an 8.5”x11” piece of paper; even the most honest candidate cannot give an all-sufficient portrayal in such a brief space. Assuming, then, is risky business.

Assume too much, and you’ll fail to ask important questions of a candidate. Perhaps it’s tempting to be blinded by a great school or an impressive work history, but you cannot determine character from either of these. A resumé does not include space for things like reasons for leaving past jobs or relationships with supervisors and coworkers. The “why” is often of far more importance than the “what”.

Or perhaps you assume too little, passing over candidates with any gaps in work history or education at state schools. Again, neither of these things is enough to tell you if a candidate is a good fit for your position. You have to be willing to dig deeper.

2. Ask the Right Questions

We’ve given advice on interviews before, and we’ll stress the importance of the interview again here. Following a thoughtful consideration of resumés received, wise employers will give the same careful focus to the interview.

Interview questions should be planned. This is different than being scripted, as a worthwhile interview has to have some flux in order to follow the unique path set by individual candidates. But “just winging it” is a good way to miss out on key questions. Use the resumé as a jumping-off point, delving into education and work history as more than the simple “what” of when and where, but also the “why”.

“Why did you decide to take a year off after your internship before you started at Company A?” can give you important information about a candidate that you might have missed had you simply jumped from one bullet point to the next.

3.  Give Feedback to Engaged Candidates

Searching for a new job can be stressful, and it’s safe to say that most of the candidates you’ve kept thus far have pursued other opportunities along the way. They have no guarantee from you yet, no way of knowing when to quit considering other jobs. While you may not yet be able to make a final offer to a candidate, you should still communicate what you can to those applicants who have remained in your hiring process.

Let candidates know if their resumé is still being considered, if they are still in the running after the last interview, or if they should pursue other opportunities. Waiting for candidates to take initiative here, checking in with you after each step in the process, only works if those candidates don’t have competing offers on the table. Don’t assume that a candidate will wait for you if have given them no feedback.

4. Don’t Take Your Time When You Find the Right One

Don’t drag your feet! When you’ve found a great candidate, contact them right away. If you think a candidate is worth the hire, you can guarantee that other companies think he or she is worth it, too. To put it bluntly, you snooze, you lose.

5. Don’t Overcomplicate the Recruiting Process

No one wants to hire the wrong person. And while we would agree that efforts to avoid this should include a great deal of thought, preparation, and evaluation, the hiring process itself should still be free from over-complication.  If your process is too long, too tedious, or too complex, it can drive away great talent.  Waiting for months is unrealistic for many job seekers, so companies need to prioritize and streamline hiring if they want potential hires to stick with them.

Interviews are an area where companies can tend to get bogged down. Again, we place high value on a quality interview process. However, some companies have taken this to mean that they need to schedule many interviews over many days with a variety of interviewers. Without any guarantee of future employment, it’s difficult for many candidates to follow through on such a complex process.

We aren’t advocating mindless hiring or desperate hiring, just efficient hiring. Analyze your process to see if you are missing out on great talent for preventable reasons.

6. Trust Your Recruiting Partner’s Expertise

If you’ve brought in professionals, let them do their job. We’ve watched businesses struggle with this, dragging their feet and, consequently, losing out on quality candidates.

A skilled, experienced recruiter knows how to locate great talent. So if you are ready to hire and you’ve made the effort to hire a recruiting consultant, don’t miss out on solid candidates by holding your recruiter back.  Trust their expertise, and enjoy the benefits of quality, timely hiring.

Hiring Can Be Tough Without an Airtight Job Description

 

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Between what is said and not meant, and what is meant and not said, most of love is lost.”

― Kahlil Gibran

Communication isn’t easy, and misunderstandings often impede the work of even something as seemingly-elementary as a job description.  Job descriptions are a company’s first opportunity to say, “this is who we are and what we are looking for; here’s why we think you should want to work for us.” If only it were that simple.  If only employers could communicate a position perfectly, and only potential-employees perfectly matching the description and desiring the advertised compensation would respond. Hiring would be far easier.

But companies regularly struggle to provide job descriptions that are both complete and concise, often leaving out important information or going into too much detail. Both errors result in undesirable candidate pools.  

You may not have weighed the value of a recruitment consultant in writing or contributing to your company’s job descriptions, but it is a service worth considering.

Recruiters, as middlemen of sorts, have the unique opportunity of observing and participating in the communication dance between employer and employee.  Hundreds of times over, they work with businesses to be sure they themselves understand the heart of a company’s job description; they notice when qualified candidates are drawn to or put off by elements of the job posting, and they work to clarify intentions and resolve communication issues between both parties.  Businesses would be wise to seek out the insight of these communication experts.

Issues with job descriptions can be difficult to diagnose. Usually companies realize their job descriptions are problematic when they receive little interest in a job posting, when many of the applicants who respond to a posting do not meet a company’s required qualifications, or when response is far too numerous and varied to handle well.

Sometimes the advice is easy.  A generic job description will usually yield a larger, much more varied pool of applicants.  A too-specific or too-obscure job description may yield no applicants at all.

But sometimes, the problem is trickier to diagnose. Maybe a company has had good success with a job description in the past, only to find that now it is ineffective. What changed?

It could be the language. Job titles evolve over time, and your job description is possibly being passed over by candidates searching by newer terminology. Or maybe you are advertising for a position that used to be a single job, and has now grown into several, more specialized positions. Many tech positions fit into this category, with the all-encompassing “IT guy” job description a thing of the past.

Additionally, your job description could be lacking language that did not used to matter.  This may include descriptions of benefits, amenities, or cultural components you had not previously needed to add. Candidates today want to know not only what a job requires, but what it will be like to work for you. Also, the millennial workforce finds value in a different set of benefits. Your job description may have boasted a strong benefits package at one time, but now there are candidates who want gym memberships and work-from-home options more than they want health insurance.  

Job descriptions could also have more nuanced issues, like tone and style. What you thought was clear, straightforward communication is possibly being translated as arrogant, stuffy, or demanding. Or maybe the description you believed communicated a more laid-back work atmosphere has been understood to be unprofessional or from a business lacking a quality work product.
Sometimes, you need a professional communicator, someone who excels at bridging the gap between employers and candidates. Consider enlisting the help of an experienced recruiter, and leave behind job descriptions that are keeping you from finding quality candidates.

Why You Should Be Hiring for Company Culture in 2017

 

“It’s just a good fit.”

You’ve heard people say it when they are trying to explain why they have stayed at a job so long or why they are excited about a new job. And we know what they mean. Work is still work for everyone at times, but when a person finds a job with the right balance of encouragements for all the discouragements, he or she is far more likely to stick with it for the sake of the good.

What makes a good fit is highly personal and hard to clearly delineate. The business world has known about the power of fit for a long time, with formal psychological studies on the topic dating back the past hundred years. In that time, we’ve been able to nail down a whole range of fascinating observations (the varying importance of finding like-mindedness with a company, feeling satisfied/accomplished in the work itself, relationships with supervisors, etc.) but no formulaic, constant set of objective components that allow for a consistently good match between employees and employers.

“Fit” is trending again, with employees and employers starting to ask for “cultural fit” in new jobs and new hires, respectively. What exactly do they mean by that, and why is it such a priority?

Cultural fit is notoriously elusive, but you can catch a glimpse of it in companies’ increased advertising on mobile platforms. With varying degrees of success, companies are trying to communicate their unique culture to would-be employees, appealing to a particular kind of candidate, and thereby dissuading those who find a company’s promoted culture less attractive. The tone of the Twitter feed, style portrayed in Instagram photos, and stance of articles written and shared on Facebook, all work together to communicate “culture”.  

Employees report again and again basing their decision to stay at or leave a job on the culture of a company.  Companies have responded by increasing their efforts to clearly communicate their culture early on in the hiring process with the goal finding and keeping quality, “good fit” employees. And while studies cannot provide a formula for creating cultural fit, they agree again and again that a strong match of candidate and culture brings both satisfaction (for employer and employee) and longevity.

So how does a company begin the process of hiring with culture in mind?  We see two big misunderstandings that can immediately impede any business’s efforts in this area – misunderstanding your company’s unique culture, and misunderstanding “similarity” and “fit”.  Avoid these, and you’ll be one step closer to a more successful hiring process.

First of all, avoid misunderstanding your own company’s culture. What abilities and characteristics are truly necessary for an employee to find success in your company? What behaviors do you most value? You will not be able to discern how well a candidate fits into the culture of your company simply by looking at his or her resumé-listed skills. You may think, for example, that the culture of your company is matched simply by a candidate with certain academic achievements or experience with specific software or training. But cultural fit goes deeper than skillset – it requires an assessment of a company’s core values.

Fortune featured an interview with Sanjay Beri, founder and CEO of Netskope, in which he explains the power of hiring for cultural fit. “Any day of the week, I would choose a person who is a 10 on the culture scale with regards to collaboration, transparency, resourcefulness, and lack of an ego—even if he or she were only an 8 on domain knowledge. Leaders are often blinded by resumes and overlook red flags that indicate a candidate’s vision may not be aligned with the company’s future. As a CEO, I want high-energy, independent, driven employees, and I’ve made sure my hires reflect those values. Make sure you filter for those traits that are important to you, and your company culture will come together.”

Understanding your company’s culture will take time, and it will take even more time to figure out how to communicate it most effectively. Hiring for cultural fit will involve spending enough time with a candidate to know the values behind the achievements.

Secondly, be sure you have a good understanding of the difference between hiring for company culture and hiring for similarity.

For example, perhaps a business places high value on having a laid-back workplace. There are a wide variety of people who would thrive in a more casual work environment.  Don’t allow your hiring to grow too narrow, hiring only a single personality, or only people who share similar interests or certain minor values. Your business will suffer in the stagnation of employees who all think similarly. Your company needs diversity.

Lisa Calhoun expounded on this her article for Inc., explaining how to discern if you are looking for genuine cultural fit (what she calls “core values”) or sameness in your hiring process. She breaks down hiring efforts into two categories: efforts to discern if “you believe like we believe” or those asking if “you act like we act”, saying the key to non-stereotypical, non-superficial “fit” in a company is figuring out which candidates “believe like we believe” (even if they don’t “act like we act”).  

Explains Calhoun, “Companies that love ‘Game of Thrones’ or ‘the Red Sox,’ prefer ‘wine down Wednesdays,’ or ‘in by eight,’ are all working with culture fit stereotypes, rather than with the clarity of defined core values.” This is a misunderstanding of what it means to hire for company culture.

Effectively hiring for cultural fit doesn’t happen overnight, and it will look different for every business. As you refine your understanding of your company’s core culture, you will be able to provide advertising that is more in line with that culture. This will influence the candidates who make up your hiring process’s applicant pool, and the people you hire will have their own influence over your company and its culture. The cycle is dynamic and will require regular evaluation, but the benefit is worth it, as more and more employees will find themselves saying about your company, “It’s a good fit for me.”
If you find you are struggling to discern or communicate your company culture, consider bringing in some professional help. Experienced recruitment consultants are full-time “good fit” seekers, and working with both candidates and businesses for years allows them to have greater insight into what makes a candidate-company match successful.