The other day, I glanced at the Bureau of Labor Statistics website. My ever-favorite table (A-4 employment status of the civilian population 25 years and over by educational attainment) shows one of the few numbers that actually helps us make proper adjustments to best serve our clientele.  It’s the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate across all industries for all Americans age 25 and older with a Bachelor’s degree (or higher).  August’s number was 4.3%.  Four. Point. Three.  That’s across ALL industries, with Information Technology being even smaller (http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t04.htm).

Candidly, from a macroeconomic viewpoint, good or bad job markets can be defined by unemployment rates.  From a recruiting viewpoint, however, those statistics make less sense because the great majority of potential candidates are already employed.  What genuinely defines good or bad recruiting markets for most companies is recruiting competence.  This will never change because in an absolute sense top talent is always scarce.

In addition to effectively approaching the talent pool, recruiting competence includes making adjustments in any type of market that gains your organization a competitive advantage in securing the best resources.  We’ve noticed, however, companies have been slow to make any adjustments in the current market.  Their recruiting processes are moving at a snail’s pace even though they convey they desperately need resources.  Their interviewing teams lack selling skills to entice the strongest employees.  Their online presence is ineffective and application process fatigues even the unemployed candidates.

Where should you start to improve your ability to secure the best resources?  Start where they start…

Cyberspace

Well-known corporate brand or not, you make your first impression in Cyberspace.  It’s simply the way the world works today.  Embrace it.  Unfortunately, this is akin to where you form your first impression of the candidates – their resumes.

Whether the candidate became aware of your company from a friend, current employee, radio, TV, or billboard, the first places she’ll review are your Website along with the most popular Social Networking Sites such as Linked In, Facebook, and Glassdoor.com.  (We’ve conducted candidate surveys for the last six months with 95% citing the company’s Website as their first source of information.)

They start to formulate your “employment brand” based on what they read and hear.  From our surveys, they cited six areas as the cornerstone for forming their opinion:

  • Why would I want to work there?
  • Is the company a leader in its market?
  • What is the culture and is it unique?
  • Who works there?
  • What is the job opportunity?
  • What are the benefits?

Unfortunately, most corporate websites camouflage these critical pieces of information.  Even worse, in some instances such as who works there (or use to), employers have no control over how that information is gathered or disseminated.  Through Linked In and these other social sites, candidates can locate current and former employees of the organization.

Information quantity is also not synonymous with information quality or accuracy.  The Internet is more than 20 years old and candidates have developed a sophisticated antenna for what is sincere and believable.  They dismiss content such as “our people are important to us” and “lots of opportunities for professional growth”.  Trust me, these claim simply take up cyber-real estate and provides zero value.

Employees Solidify Your Employment Brand

According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, the Netgeners place more emphasis on personal recommendations than on brand when deciding which products and services to buy.  I believe this holds true for recruiting as well.  You build your employment brand through recommendations, endorsements, positive comments, and feedback about your organization.  In that sense, every employee becomes a recruiter when they meet potential candidates.  I’ve witnessed more recruitment exchanges become dismantled because the employer has the wrong lead-off hitter.  There is no such thing as a “closer” anymore.  Candidates simply don’t have the time or patience to wait for someone to close them at the end.  Your closer is your recruiter and every employee the candidate encounters after that.  One bad day and you’re done.

Leverage the Social Networking sites such as Linked In and Facebook for the positive effect they provide (or at least neutralize any negative press you’re probably receiving on Glassdoor).  There is no reason for employers to shy away from these sites when employees are leveraging them so heavily.  Encourage your employees to use them as vehicles to share peer dialogue about your company’s culture.

The Career Portal

Your career portal needs to be a key part of building your employment brand and recruitment strategy.  It’s typically the next place the candidate will search after she reviews your company’s website and other networking sites.  Do those job postings actually entice the candidate to apply or are they simply your list of required skills?  Your job posting, whether you like it or not, is an advertisement!  It’s your best employment value proposition.  Tell them what you offer and feel free to sprinkle in a bit of what you need.

The best assets you can develop for your career portal include:

  • Videos and testimonials from your employees
  • Podcasts and blogs
  • Recruitment newsletters
  • Live chat with recruiters or other employees
  • Employee biographies (not just the management team)
  • Corporate honors and awards

I’m sure you’re on the floor laughing at a few of these, but the single greatest complaint cited in our candidate surveys was lack of communication from corporate recruiters.  This lack of communication came in various forms ranging from “my resume went into the abyss of the overcrowded Applicant Tracking System” to “it’s been three weeks since my last interview and I have no clue how I did because they won’t call me back.”  You can combat much of this by providing insight to what it’s like to work there and real time updates of an applicant’s status.

Obviously, there are many sources and techniques to establish and communicate your employment brand.  It’s a process that merely starts with these easy access points for candidates and continues through your interviewing, hiring, and onboarding processes.  Starting at the beginning will at least allow you to attract candidates into your process.  From there, you can work on the longer-term initiatives.