By Mary Delaney and Sanja Licina
As the nation’s economy begins to stabilize following one of the deepest recessions felt across the globe, employers are shifting their focus from cost containment to growth and have begun to hire again.
They have also taken on the challenge of repairing employment brands which may have been affected by tough decisions around layoffs, compensation reductions or negative press tied to financial hardship. In a recent CareerBuilder study of more than 2,700 hiring managers, 70 percent of employers said they are taking measures today to strengthen their employment brand to prepare for when the economy turns around.
Employers are facing new market realities and need to reassess their go-to-market game plan for expanding their talent bench. Through an “Applicant Experience Survey” of more than 1 million job seekers over the last year, Personified, the talent intelligence and consulting division of CareerBuilder, gathered information on what job seekers said motivates them to apply, what deters them and how elements of the recruitment process impact their perceptions of a potential employer.
From the survey and other Personified research came a rebuttal of six common myths around talent acquisition that are important to keep in mind when planning recruitment strategies for 2010 and beyond.
- Myth #1 – The top competitor for talent is in your industry. Personified looked at a variety of companies, tracking who applied to their jobs and where else those candidates applied. On average, in 80 percent of the cases, the top competitor for talent operated outside of the company’s industry.
Tip: Expand your reach beyond industry borders to build up your talent pool for hard-to-fill and high volume positions. Use social media, niche sites and targeted advertising to connect with other workforce segments with comparable skill sets.
- Myth #2 – I can wait until social media is better tested before incorporating it into my recruitment plan. Waiting will likely translate into a competitive disadvantage. One-in-four job seekers expect companies to have a presence on social media today. More than half become fans or followers of a company through social media because they would like to work there.
Tip: Master one social medium before going to other platforms. Promote the unique benefits of working at your company, cite awards received, include employee testimonials, highlight jobs and keep an open dialogue with visitors.
- Myth #3 – The top motivator for applying to a company is salary. While compensation is one of the first things job seekers will look for, it is often not included in job ads. When asked which factors were most influential in getting the candidate to apply to a recent job posting, location topped the list followed by the company’s reputation and whether the industry itself was considered desirable. Interesting assignments also made the top five, ranking higher than benefits and work-life balance.
Tip: In the wake of a recession that was fraught with uncertainty, emphasizing the stability and longevity of the company and positives about the industry is a necessity. You also have to really sell the position if you want a top performer, presenting exciting opportunities and specific examples of a work experience they won’t find anywhere else.
- Myth #4 – When a job seeker speaks to a company recruiter or hiring manager, they typically walk away with a better perception of the company. One-in-five job seekers (22 percent) who recently spoke to a representative at a potential employer didn’t feel the person was knowledgeable about the company and position. Twenty-five percent didn’t think the representative was enthusiastic about the company being an employer of choice.
Tip: From the recruiter to the hiring manager, the greatest ambassadors of your employment brand are your current employees. Regularly survey new hires and job applicants to identify where improvements can be made in verbal and written communications.
- Myth #5 – The failure to acknowledge an application won’t impact the company image. Some 38 percent of job seekers reported they have a worse opinion of an employer who didn’t respond to their application. Another 30 percent stated they were less inclined to buy goods or services from companies who don’t acknowledge applications.
Tip: If limited resources and large volumes of applications prohibit a customized response, at the very least, set up an automatic reply with a quick note on the time frame of hiring, so the candidate knows you received his/her application and is aware of your hiring timeline.
- Myth #6 – The main deterrent from applying to a job is typically content-related. While the content of a job advertisement is undoubtedly critical, the main cause for drop-offs in the application process is often technology-related. Nearly one-in-four (23 percent) of job seekers reported that they recently quit in the middle of applying to a position because the link didn’t work. Some 20 percent cited a computer/Internet connection issue.
Tip: Triple check links on your company career page, online job sites, social media pages, etc. to make sure the connection is live and leading to the right information.
Mary Delaney is the President of Personified and manages the day-to-day operations, drawing on 20 years of expertise in sales and marketing leadership, business development, and startups to drive strategy and revenue. Previously, Mary served as the Chief Sales Officer for CareerBuilder.com. Sanja Licina, PhD, is Senior Director of Talent Intelligence and Consulting for Personified, where she directs the organization’s talent management consulting efforts. You can contact Dr. Licina at Sanja.Licina@personified.com