Finding People Has Never Been Easier, But Recruiting Has Never Been Harder

This should come as no surprise to recruiters, but the number of candidates applying to each open position has increased many times over in recent years.

As highlighted in research from the 2013 Candidate Experience Awards, employers today receive an average of 101 to 150 applications for each job opening. And while this steady increase in candidates should, in theory, make it easy for recruiters to find the best applicants for their companies, the opposite is often true.

Part of the issue is that despite the increase in applicants, companies report that only 26 to 50 percent of those applicants meet the minimum requirements for the positions to which they apply. As a result, the process of finding the proverbial needle in the haystack is made more difficult, with more hay to search through and too few needles.

This increase in quantity but not quality makes it more challenging for recruiters to identify the individuals best suited for their positions. Further compounding the issue, there can be significant gaps between recruiters and hiring managers, meaning that recruiters often lack clarity on the specifics and may be shooting in the dark to find the right candidates.

So how can organizations overcome these challenges to ensure they can more easily review candidates’ credentials and hire the best people?

The first step is for the company and its stakeholders to be in full alignment about what exactly they are recruiting for. Are they looking to gain the needed skills for today, or the competencies the company will need tomorrow? Do they want to improve the work culture over the long term?

Regardless of the desired results, the ability to recruit effectively requires that recruiters and hiring managers work closely together to ensure full alignment between business goals and how the right people can help the company achieve them.

To further help the talent acquisition process, consider the following strategies:

Recruiters should serve as trusted advisers: Recruiters are tasked with providing hiring managers with qualified talent, so not only must the two parties work together to identify the company’s needs and the competencies most desired, but managers should respect their decisions and expertise. As recruiters spend a great deal of time qualifying candidates and making sure only the best are advanced, managers should trust their expertise.

Leverage the tools that add the most value: As the recruitment technology space becomes more crowded, recruiters have an almost endless supply of services available to them, each promising to transform their talent acquisition practices. But it is important not to collect those tools just for the sake of having them. At a recent recruiting conference, attendees were asked how many recruiting products they use in the talent acquisition process on a given day, with the responses showing an average of between 12 and 15 different products, with a high point of 31.

With the multitude of tools in use, it begs the question: are these tools helping us to be better recruiters, or distracting us from getting our job done?

To ensure the answer is the former rather than the latter, it is important to focus on using only those tools that deliver the best value.

Put greater focus on the candidates: As recruiters do their work in delivering qualified candidates, it is important that they not lose sight of the fact that they are dealing with real people. As each candidate invests a significant amount of time applying to the job — typically between 30 and 45 minutes — recruiters should show that they value the efforts their candidates have made and give them a response, whether they are being advanced or not.

As the business’ reputation and employer brand are permanently linked, giving candidates the highest level of respect, no matter how qualified they are, is key to improving the company reputation and its ability to continually attract top talent.

As recruiting continues to become more challenging, recruiters must be able to keep up and ensure they use the best tools and strategies to facilitate the process. But as they perform those activities, it is important that they work to provide a positive, transparent and respectful experience to the candidates who take the time to apply. Doing so can help to sustain a positive image and make it more likely that candidates will apply again and convince their networks to do so as well.

At the end of the day, the currency that recruiters deliver to their companies is talent, and companies simply can’t afford to waste any of it.