Changing Job Search Behavior and What It Means for Employers

Finding the right talent has become a game of chance for some organizations. All too often, employers simply post their open positions to any or all job boards and hope that the right candidates will apply. But as anyone involved in talent acquisition knows, this strategy will ultimately result in hundreds of applicants, few of whom actually have the skills needed for the position.

While this approach may have worked 30 years ago, when newspaper classified ads were one of the only ways to connect with candidates, the current number of avenues for connecting with job seekers — and the speed with which they can apply — means that organizations must find a better way.

For a more effective method of recruiting the right candidates, it is important to understand the many ways in which the behaviors of candidates have changed in recent years. The reality is that candidates look for jobs in new and different ways, often depending on the type of position they are looking for and their level of experience. Posting every job in the same way, and waiting for responses from candidates who may never see the post, isn’t the right strategy. Instead, to ensure they connect with the right talent for each job, organizations must recognize how candidate job search behavior has changed and adapt their recruiting efforts accordingly. If not, the best talent may remain just out of reach.

So what are the main differences in how candidates search for jobs? It is interesting to note that there are significant variances based on both position type and the job seeker’s generation. The 2013 Candidate Experience Awards explored this in depth, asking candidates to select the solutions used in their recent job search, revealing those key differences. For example, LinkedIn was rated highest among senior leadership, managers and experienced professionals searching for salaried positions and lowest among those seeking hourly wage jobs. For hourly positions, candidates tend to rely on traditional job boards like CareerBuilder, Indeed and Monster more than candidates for other job types.

As for how different generations search for jobs, the majority of the silent generation, baby boomers and Generation Xers depend on CareerBuilder, Monster, Indeed and LinkedIn. While the younger job seekers, millennials and Generation Z, use these sources as well, they do so to a much lesser extent. They increasingly rely on social platforms to find jobs, such as Google+ and Facebook. As such, companies must think about the positions they’re recruiting for and the talent they wish to attract, and ensure they place their job postings on the most effective platforms.

Another interesting aspect is how the different generations share their experiences as candidates with their peers and social networks. While it’s easy to assume that younger candidates would be the ones most willing to share those experiences, whether positive or negative, baby boomers were found to be just as vocal in making sure their friends and colleagues don’t go through the same negative experiences they had with an employer. Therefore, companies must be mindful of their reputations and the candidate experience they provide. Job seekers, no matter their age, are paying attention and won’t hesitate to talk about those experiences.

It is clear that candidate behavior has changed the job search game, making it necessary for employers to embrace the technology that can facilitate talent acquisition and ensure the right jobs are seen by the right candidates. The days of throwing job postings against the wall and hoping they end up in front of the right candidates are over. The companies that develop tailored approaches to attracting the needed talent, based on the specific job positions and types of employees they seek, will be best suited to win the recruiting game.