Where are the candidates? How to find talent in the Covid era.

From The Business Journals: Where are the candidates? How to find talent in the Covid era.

Employees may be quitting their posts at record rates, but businesses aren’t finding the quantity of applicants they’re accustomed to when they post a job.

Recruiters say it’s a scenario they are often encountering, as businesses are seeing a dearth of candidates across a spectrum of industries, from retail and restaurants to technology and professional services.

As one recruiter recently told The Business Journals, the adage of “post and pray” just won’t cut it in the Covid-19 era.

For companies that find themselves asking “Where are the candidates?” experts say there are several best practices to follow and tweaks to make to the recruitment process to increase the flow of applicants.

What’s your lead generation strategy?
A recent survey by Maru Public Opinion on behalf of American City Business Journals found 23% of employed Americans are looking for a job with a different company. Many are following through after those searches, with the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics data showing quit rates at an all-time high.

Between high levels of turnover and a hot economy, that means there’s a tremendous amount of competition for talent.

Recruiters say companies need to be proactive and actively seek out candidates who may be employed elsewhere. Depending on candidates to come to you may have worked in 2019, but the Covid-19 era is much different.

Evan Sohn, Recruiter.com chairman and CEO, said employers should look at the flow of applicants the same way they would view the flow of sales leads.

“You always want more customers. You always want to keep growing your business, and you never know when you’re going to lose a customer,” Sohn said. “You need to keep the pedal down to ensure there is a constant stream of customers. You have to look at candidates the same way.”

Given the pace of hiring and the rise of remote work, which has eliminated geographic limitations for many businesses, Sohn said companies need more applicants than ever before to fill a role — likely three times as many as they needed before Covid-19.

That means they need a dedicated strategy to find applicants. It could mean devoting a certain amount of time each day to recruiting or devoting an employee to focus on it.

Of course, businesses are often short-staffed, and Sohn said many employers are turning to technology, such as artificial intelligence platforms and automated tools that will proactively campaign to the type of individuals they are trying to reach.

Those tools can significantly increase the number of potential applicants, but they also require employers to dedicate the time and resources to follow up on potential candidates identified by the system.

Sohn said employers need to get comfortable with the new state of the hiring market, rather than counting on a return of pre-pandemic patterns. That includes recognizing that workers are likely to change jobs more frequently, which puts the onus on employers to constantly recruit to ensure a healthy pipeline of applicants while not overlooking retention.

Where are you looking?
One of the biggest mistakes experts are seeing is companies clinging to hiring strategies they used before the pandemic.

Outside of moving too slowly, this often includes continuing to lean on the same job boards and recruiting channels. With a thin pool of candidates, experts say businesses must broaden their horizons.

“Too often, people would just use a one-trick pony approach. They might pick one job board to go and spend all their dollars on, and then hope for the best of what people will come in,” said Anil Harjani, vice president of corporate development at Hireology, which provides a client relationship management tool for recruitment.

Surveys show more job candidates are using platforms like Facebook and TikTok in the search process.

Harjani said the rise of Facebook as a hiring platform has been a breakout story in the Covid-19 era.

“People spend a lot of the time on Facebook on any given day, so it’s almost like physically walking down the street and seeing a sign saying, ‘Hey we’re hiring now,'” Harjani said. “You have the opportunity to really impress upon people and their social lives in a digital way, draw them in and attract them into your opportunity.”

Automated platforms with the flexibility to capitalize on those rising platforms often have built-in technology to increase referrals, which Harjani said are an undervalued source of good candidates.

Additionally, the hiring environment has created a compelling case for employers to look within for openings — assessing opportunities to reskill or upskill existing workers — but many aren’t capitalizing on the possibility.

Recruiters say companies need to consider different types of talent than they may have before. For example, more employers are considering second-chance hiring — the employment of previously incarcerated individuals.

What are you offering?
In the current climate, candidates have significant leverage, and experts say many companies are turning off would-be applicants with lower-than-average wages, antiquated remote-work policies and their cultures.

Recruiters say it’s often not a matter of no applicants — it’s a matter of no applicants willing to work for what an employer is offering.

“Everyone has far more opportunities today than ever before. Everyone, skilled or unskilled, is more valuable than they were a year ago,” Sohn said.

Given the dynamics of the labor pool, many candidates are looking for higher wages. The Maru Public Opinion survey found 58% of employed Americans said higher compensation was the top factor that could lead them to leave their employer.

As we’ve noted, remote work is now an expectation, and recruiters say many candidates aren’t even considering positions that require 100% in-office work.

Beyond the tangible offerings, experts say it’s more important than ever to have an attractive workplace culture.

Sites like Glassdoor and LinkedIn make it easy to share experiences, which makes it incumbent on employers to create strong, positive workplace cultures if they want to be an employer of choice.

WorqIQ President Mark S. Babbitt said it’s a necessity to prioritize a culture of respect, noting that many businesses have raised wages and still face trouble attracting candidates.

Babbitt said it represents an opportunity for a reset.

“[Employers] have to be upfront that they’ve lost people and that the culture isn’t where you want it to be,” Babbitt said. “[Admit that you] haven’t necessarily put respect on the same plane as results, but you’re hiring the kind of people that will help you get there.”

Babbitt, co-author of “Good Comes First: How Today’s Leaders Create an Uncompromising Company Culture That Doesn’t Suck” with S. Chris Edmonds, said a culture of respect is one that transcends a laser focus on results.

Employers with managers who treat workers like they are lucky to have a job are struggling with this because it bleeds through in interviews and candidates can sense it, Babbitt said.

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