The nonprofit Talent Board has released its 2019 Candidate Experience Awards, a benchmarking report covering over 200 companies in North America and 130,000 job seekers that looks at what organizations focused on in their talent acquisition strategies in 2018 and what they are planning for this year, particularly with regard to candidate experience and employer brand. These issues were top of mind for recruiters going into 2019, Talent Board president Kevin Grossman tells SHRM’s Roy Maurer, with employers paying more attention to the perceptions and experience of not only job applicants, but passive and potential candidates as well:
“The candidate experience begins during talent attraction and sourcing, even before a potential candidate applies for a job,” he said. “Attracting candidates is one area of talent acquisition that has been given more and more attention and investment due to such a strong job market throughout 2018, with many more employers big and small across industries understanding just how competitive attracting and sourcing quality candidates truly is.”
The Talent Board’s report shows that 70 percent of candidates do some research on a prospective employer before applying for a job, leaning primarily on employers’ careers sites, job alerts, and careers pages on LinkedIn. According to our research at Gartner, however, candidates are doing less in-depth research into prospective employers before submitting applications than they did a generation ago. That means candidates aren’t engaging that much with employers’ recruitment marketing and branding materials early in their job search. As Craig Fisher, an industry thought leader and head of marketing and employer branding at Allegis Global Solutions, explains to Maurer: “A lot of candidates just apply, apply, apply and don’t really get into the employer brand materials you work so hard at creating until they get further into the process. They’ll begin to scout around when they’re brought onto the company’s careers site to start an application.”
Indeed, this shift is the key insight of our recent research at Gartner on the changing shape of the candidate journey.
“Writing a check,” Warren Buffett famously quipped, “separates a commitment from a conversation.” This used to be true of submitting a job application as well, but not in today’s increasingly competitive, digitally enhanced recruiting environment, Gartner Principal Executive Advisor Dion Love explained at Gartner’s ReimagineHR summit in London on Wednesday. The path most candidates take through the recruiting process has fundamentally changed, which means organizations must also change their approach to recruiting in order to remain competitive.
Prior to the digital era, the typical candidate’s journey looked something like this: They researched companies to find out whether they wanted to work there, narrowed down their choices to a shortlist of preferred employers, applied for jobs, and finally spoke with recruiters. This candidate usually only made it to the interview stage with organizations they had already researched and were certainly interested in joining. Recruiters could assume that a candidate who sent in a résumé was committed to seeing the process through to the end.
Yet whereas the job application used to come toward the end of the candidate journey, it now often comes at the very beginning. Here’s what the journey normally looks like now: A candidate casually applies to a number of jobs they may or may not want, speaks with recruiters, then researches the employers that are interested in hiring them and narrows their choices down to one.
This shift in candidate behavior creates a whole new set of challenges for recruiters.
In 2014, when CEB, now Gartner, last took a deep look at employer branding, we concluded that companies needed to shift their strategies from branding that attracts candidates to branding that influences their career decisions, encouraging the right candidates to apply as opposed to the most candidates, and directing others elsewhere. At the time, most companies were receiving a high volume of applications and needed to to use their branding strategy to separate the best from the rest.
Today, the circumstances have changed: Applicant volume has declined, but the candidates companies need are becoming harder to find. In 2016, 39 percent of all job postings by S&P 100 companies were for just 29 critical roles, including technical occupations like software developers and information security analysts. Competition for critical talent is only projected to get tougher in the coming years, as the growth of aggregate demand continues to outpace supply.
At the same time, we’ve seen an explosion of investment in recruiting technologies and an expanding number of candidate-focused platforms. These include employer rating platforms like Glassdoor and Comparably, as well as skill-based communities like Github and Stack Overflow. With the proliferation of these resources, candidates are exposed to a much larger amount of information about their prospective employers, most of which is out of those organizations’ hands. Today, 80 percent of the information that influences a candidate’s decision to apply comes from external sources such as these platforms and social media, and only 20 percent comes from employers themselves.
At our ReimagineHR conference in Washington, DC, on Thursday, CEB advisor Dion Love led a panel discussion with Michael Cox, SVP of Talent Solutions at Comcast, Susan LaMotte, founder and CEO of the employer brand and talent consultancy Exaqueo, and Jim McGrath, talent acquisition executive at Danaher, on how organizations need to re-strategize their employer branding for this new recruiting environment.
Earlier this year, Facebook launched a new feature allowing businesses in the US and Canada to post job listings, which prospective employees can see on the organization’s Facebook page or through the social media site’s new jobs bookmark. The feature allows organizations to post job listings directly to their Facebook page, which will also appear in the news feeds of users who “like” the organization.
Now, the site is linking up its Jobs feature with its Marketplace tab for mobile users in the US, Canada, and Mexico, according to ERE‘s recruiting tech watchdog Joel Cheesman:
Till this move, job postings were relegated to only being found if a user actually went to a company Page where the job was posted. Users might also see a job posting if they followed a Page or saw an advertisement promoting a job opening. This latest move puts job postings within Marketplace, which represents a significant increase in eyeballs. Mobile numbers in North America are a tough to nail down, but looking at Facebook’s advertising manager, eyeballing traffic at around 100 million monthly active users isn’t a stretch.
A quiz question from the Original Thinkers site (Kimberly-Clark)
ERE editor Todd Raphael takes note of the personal care product manufacturer’s new recruitment marketing campaign, which advertises the company as “on a quest for Original Thinkers to solve problems and create solutions”:
Frans Mahieu, global marketing director, people strategy, at Kimberly-Clark, says that a little over a year ago the 144-year-old company realized “the market for top talent is becoming tighter and more competitive.” It asked itself what it could do better to get top talent, particularly to its large Neenah, Wisconsin, location. The end result is a new Kimberly-Clark website. It features a variety of “original thinker” employees: one developed a bladder-support product. A couple others changed the way Huggies are marketed. Two more developed vitamin-infused facial wipes.
Part of the site involves an “original thinkers” quiz. You’re asked, for example, how you’d run a local recycling program. Create a slogan? Gather opinions from neighbors? Or, would you question why this is a priority in the first place, over safety and security? The quiz then tells you what sort of original thinker you are, such as a “dreamer,” or “nonconformist,” or “inventor.”
In the HR-as-PR competition, GE has been making waves with its innovative approach to recruitment marketing and employer brand. Last week, the company rolled out a sponsored content deal with Girls creator Lena Dunham’s online publication Lenny Letter, the centerpiece of which was an interview between Dunham and GE vice chair Beth Comstock that mainly focused on empowering women in tech:
LD: Rumor has it that you have a pretty serious, excuse the parlance of our time, “girl squad.” I’d love to hear more about it. You were here today at the Matrix Awards to honor someone who you work with at GE. How do your powerful female peers bolster you, and what have those relationships meant to you?
BC: I love the women I work with. I love the power of meeting people and connecting dots and figuring out what you have in common and how you can help one another. … I’ve tried to reach not only across generations, but also across different kinds of functions and expertise. To get women who are scientists together with women who are artists, and to get them to connect on a different level. Not to just connect about their work, but connect about who they are. I think it’s an obligation. I feel I have to help bring women along.
At one point I looked around, and most of those working for me were women. I’m also a big believer in diversity. Diversity equals innovation. It doesn’t mean just women, you have to have men, too. So I felt bad about it. Should I be hiring different people? Then I thought: In the scheme of things, there aren’t enough women here. That’s my job. To keep bringing in great women and feel nothing more than pride at seeing them go.
At the same time, the interview is designed with a casual and playful feel, and is clearly aimed at humanizing Comstock—and by extension, the organization she represents: