Heads Up on Recruitment in the New Year

Compensation, employment branding and technology – these are the 3 critical factors that will likely shape your success in 2018. Here’s some great advice from a top expert in the field of recruitment.

‘Like drinking from a firehose.’ That’s how many recruitment professionals describe their jobs.  Responding to the business’ talent needs while also keeping up with the latest trends, technology, laws, demographics – and numerous other aspects of building and maintaining an effective recruitment strategy – can feel like drowning in a sea of priorities.

To counter this, successful recruiters must also be laser-focused and avoid doing it all.  It’s virtually impossible to be good at everything within the recruitment process itself, not to mention staying current on a multitude of other forces beyond your control that can have huge impacts on your ability to recruit great talent.  Even if you are bionic, exceptionally gifted or able to operate with very little sleep, there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to do it all.

 Three Factors

With that said, there are three highly critical factors that you must keep tabs on as we enter the New Year. How you handle these can potentially drive the success of your efforts – or tip the scales in favor of failure.

1. Compensation

Keep an eagle eye on overall salary and benefits trends and pay especially close attention to the talent supply and demand on several levels: for your industry, for specific positions within your business and for the geographic regions in which you operate.

Like many of my clients, you may uncover surprises within various niches that impact your compensation competitiveness.  Subscribe to professional salary reviews; use compensation-related info from exit interviews; check out Glassdoor and other similar sites for insights and “follow the money.”

Why Recruiters Need to Resist the Temptation to Do It All
We can all take a lesson from the ancients, especially at this very busy time of the year. As you find yourself in the midst of planning and making resolutions for 2018, step back for a moment and consider what we believe is the Achilles heel of talent acquisition: trying to do it all.

Invest time in educating hiring managers on the above, especially as it relates to their functional areas. As the saying goes, “you get what you pay for.” It’s up to us in the recruitment profession to remind hiring managers that if getting the best talent possible is a priority, we need to be prepared to spend the money.

Monitor the regulations in your city/state. There is a growing movement to prohibit employers from asking job candidates about their salary history in an effort to eventually eliminate pay inequalities between men and women. Already, six states have passed laws to this effect. This is one to really watch in 2018.

Finally, consider the connection between compensation practices and employee behaviors. Knowing that money motivates people in both good and bad ways make sure your rewards philosophy syncs with your employer brand.

2. Employment branding

Pay close attention to what is being said about working for your business and practice reputation management at the recruitment level. Executive recruiters can offer impartial data and candidates themselves are a good barometer to measure how your employment brand stacks up against those of your competitors.

Also, use exit interviews to understand why your organization may be losing good people. And recognize how critical your brand is in attracting great talent, especially rising stars from the Millennial generation.  If targeting, attracting and engaging Millennials (and up-and-coming Gen Z talent) is a priority, change your recruitment tactics accordingly.  Look at what you can offer beyond salary, including perceived softer benefits such as your overall culture, social responsibility, workplace ethics, training, career progression and flexible work arrangements, to name just a few.

If you are still relying on recruitment practices developed by, and often still aimed at, baby boomers and their Gen X successors, recognize that much of what worked before definitely doesn’t work now.

Consider, too, taking a vow of authenticity. With employers and candidates alike in ‘sales mode’ during the recruitment process, impressions about culture and fit can be – intentionally or not –miscommunicated and therefore misaligned.

When partnering with an outside recruitment firm, be sure that team will present your organization accurately, consistently and honestly. This means sharing meaningful and interesting content about your organization to potential candidates. It also means that everyone involved in the recruitment process must commit to never over-promise future promotions, pay, opportunities, and things of that nature.

When Stepping Back In a Career Becomes a Step Forward
Making a lateral career shift to a new job, or even moving slightly down the totem pole, is more common than might be expected. Those who closely follow the food industry saw an example of that recently when Greg Schlafer moved from president of Lamb Weston, a subsidiary of ConAgra Foods, to senior vice president of sales and marketing for J.R. Simplot’s Food Group.

Monitor possible risks to your employer brand. Routinely assess your practices from top to bottom to identify and mitigate risks.  Change HR/recruitment policies that have the potential to lead to bad behaviors and/or scandals that can irretrievably damage your brand for years to come.

Compensation practices, for instance, recently motivated a prominent bank’s frontline staff to open up over two million bogus customer accounts. Don’t just establish a whistleblower policy, enforce it. Having a stated whistleblower policy without a safe environment for disclosures is perhaps even worse than not having one at all.

3. Technology

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of recruitment-related tech solutions out there but, bottom line, there’s no excuse to NOT incorporate the new and often low cost tools into your recruitment processes today, regardless of the size of your company or budget. In this new age of chatbots that screen candidates, social media campaigns that target elusive passive candidates and ‘pay per applicant’ job posting models, it’s important to consider the following:

– Be sure your recruitment infrastructure is joined at the hip with any social media strategy you embark upon. A true social sourcing strategy goes well beyond just tweeting jobs. Just as your business strategy is multi-pronged to meet various customer needs, your sourcing strategies should be multi-pronged to meet the needs of your various candidate pools. If, for example, millennials are anticipated to account for 50 percent of your hiring needs within two years, that will require a greater investment of time and resources than if that pool is only expected to be 10 percent of your total hires. Make a social strategy investment that appropriately supports that need; one that would be greater if 50 percent of your hires emanated from that demographic.

– Recognize that not all technology will generate immediate ROI. A social media recruitment process requires an entirely different mindset than job postings. The latter is about filling immediate needs; the former is most appropriate as a part of a long-term strategy to build talent communities online from which you can recruit both current AND future positions.

– Mobile-optimize everything. Assume that your primary conduit to candidates is through their Smartphone.

– Don’t expect to ever know everything about the fast-moving world of recruitment technology. What you learn now will already be outdated by the end of next year. Rely on experts, such as specialized recruitment consultants, who know how to match your goals with the relevant tools. Technology has turned the recruiting world upside down, and any reputable search firm will bring an array of tools to the task of hiring your senior level executives. Be sure you are taking advantage of all the latest innovations the firm has to offer.

– Know that many technology-based strategies require employers to get creative, take risks, test innovative tactics, and potentially invest in new technology and tools to measure ROI effectiveness. There are now providers who offer end-to-end wraparounds to legacy employer recruitment systems to provide social recruitment marketing solutions that design campaigns, manage them and measure ROI effectiveness so that strategies and budgets can be refined over time.

By all economic indicators, 2018 is destined to be another busy year for us professionals in Talent Acquisition. To survive and thrive, heed the warning of ‘avoid trying to do it all’ and become particularly attentive to how both positive and potentially negative changes in technology, employment branding and compensation can have a profound impact on your effectiveness, efficiency and your personal quality of life within the profession.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Andrew W. Mitchell, Managing Editor

Contributed by J. James O’Malley, partner at TalentRISE. Jim has spent 25 years on both sides of the table, developing HR and talent solutions to align leadership, talent, and business needs. He joined TalentRISE in 2012 as a partner and can be reached at jimomalley@talentrise.com

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