Follow the Job Seeker

How can recruiters find the best talent if they don’t know where to look? The answer sounds simple, but it’s something most talent managers fail to grasp: follow the job seeker.

That’s the message championed by Gerry Crispin, principal and co-founder of CareerXroads, a corporate staffing research consultancy. Crispin is an HR veteran with nearly 40 years of corporate and academic leadership experience in human resources and organizational behavior.

We spoke with Crispin to discover why recruiters need a greater awareness of the needs of today’s job seekers.

What does “follow the job seeker” mean?
If you’re not following them, you don’t know where they are. You don’t know how many there are. You don’t know where they are distributed. For every 100,000 kids entering the ninth grade in 2011, only 68,000 will graduate in 2015. Only 40,000 will enter college and by 2020, only 18,000 will graduate from college, which means if you’re focused on hiring college graduates, you’ve already lost 82 percent of your entire workforce population.

The first thing about following the job seeker is the workforce planning — the demographics of who they are and when they are. How are their attitudes changing? How are we going to communicate with them? Can I call them on the phone, or should I be texting them? Am I going to find them on Facebook or LinkedIn? And if that’s where it is today, is that where it’s going to be tomorrow? It might not.

Where do job boards fit into today’s recruitment landscape?
It’s constantly shifting. Job boards help identify the leads. If I quickly search the job boards, I can find the companies that are now hiring. Now I can go to the social media to find people inside the company that can be my employee referral. We’re seeing a channel — a convergence of many different tools all being used by job seekers who are savvy to find their way in.

The problem is there’s so many other people out there who rely on one type of source to get in. They rely on a third-party headhunter, they rely on a job board, they rely still on a newspaper — and that’s all wrong. It’s the combination of sources that allow you to find leads, to target companies, to network into an employee who will refer you so that when the recruiter and the hiring manager look at the available talent pool, if you have the qualifications, you’re going to surface and be more likely to compete.

What is wrong with recruitment today?
Recruitment still operates on two outdated paradigms.

The first is that we are requisition-centric: If the job isn’t approved, and a requisition has not been signed, it doesn’t exist. We need to move to a better understanding of the jobs that will come open in three months, six months, maybe a year or two. We need to be able to engage people in advance of the job, so they can properly understand and make a decision to want to be part of our organization.

The second paradigm is we tend to still believe that people are willing to come in based upon limited information. So when somebody comes to our door and says, ‘Your company looks kind of interesting; how much is that job?’ No one answers the question. The only thing a recruiter is going to do is say, ‘How much do you make?’ We tend to be requisition-centric, and we tend not to be focused on the candidate experience.

What will future recruiting methods look like?
Future recruiting methods will require several things. One: a totally different kind of recruiter. The individual will be much more analytical and knowledgeable about whom the people are that they’re hiring.

The second piece is they will also then be armed with the kind of data that will allow them to be more of an equal with the hiring manager in understanding what it’s going to take to get those individuals. There’s going to be more data that will allow the recruiter to be more of a talent adviser, so the shift for both the talent acquisition as well as the talent management person is going to be that the data is there; your skills to understand the data is going to be No. 1. Your ability to act on that data as a business partner and a talent adviser is going to be essential as well.