Times are tough if you're a recruiter. The skills gap, ghosting applicants and confusing perks are making it hard to attract candidates, much less hire them en masse.
But some legacy companies are asking more questions: How do established companies compete with market disruptors? Are the newest, coolest kids on the block making a job at your firm seem like a snooze-fest?
To compete, legacy companies may want to double down on things that seem less trendy but are highly appealing to the right audiences — including consistency, good branding and solid access to better training, tech and more.
The image gap
Established companies "should spend more time and resources on employment branding," Josh Withers, founder and managing director, North America, and co-head of CEO/BOD Practice for TrueSearch, told HR Dive in an email. This can mean anything from updating career websites to leveraging social media in more strategic ways. "'Cooler' startups and newer companies know that image matters when attracting the best talent — more traditional companies have not yet caught up to that," he said.
Today's talent looks for cutting-edge companies using cutting-edge tech and operating with solid design sense. What does the company's website say about the experience of working there — and is the company walking the talk? If the online persona is high tech but the application process is snail mail, job seekers will quickly move on. Branding begins at the first touch point; make sure the company's messaging is clearly demonstrated and that recruiters communicate that message at all times.
If a company is looking for innovators, are they being interviewed remotely? If so, which tools are being used? If brought in-house, what does the company's physical space say about its values? An environment that looks like a cubicle farm instead of a trendy co-working space may hold some employers back.
What legacies can offer
Compensation and wages are important, but perks are the new currency when it comes to hiring. Free coffee has transformed into juice bars and free meals. Unlimited PTO, branded volunteer opportunities and even help with student loan debt are pushing the envelope when it comes to enticing perks. Large or well-established companies with more ability to absorb these costs may have an advantage, but the challenge for them may be keeping up with the trends.
For Withers, the most important perk may be career growth, and he said legacy companies may be in a better position to make more, varied offerings for an employee's development. Recruitment processes should stress growth at every contact point along the way – from job postings to the interview process.
"Legacy companies would do well to consider their employee value proposition more holistically," Sheela Sukumaran, partner at Mercer, told HR Dive in an email. "What does your future workforce want, and how can your employee journeys reflect that?" Many new workers are asking for greater career mobility, differentiated rewards, self-directed learning opportunities and inclusive benefits, she added.
Withers suggested that established companies should boast about the benefits of stability, structure and tradition. "When people accept positions with established companies," he said, "they have a better idea of what to expect. These companies won't change every five minutes — they're not just the 'flavor of the month' and that can be very appealing to some."
Where they're missing
The more well-known the company, the more they may expect talent to come to them. They often miss out on opportunities like job fairs and campus career days. Some events, like hackathons, are a great way to attract potential tech talent, Withers said.
According to Sukumaran, legacy companies often underestimate the gaps in employee experience when it comes to attracting and retaining talent. "We notice they focus a lot more on rewards," she said. "However, lack of a truly digital workplace, inflexible work processes, limited resource availability [and] directive management styles are all red flags for innovative talent."
Speaking your truth
From an attraction and retention perspective, what really matters most are the preferences of a company's current workforce and desired workforce, Tauseef Rahman, principal at Mercer, told HR Dive. He suggested staying fresh and relevant by using employee sentiment research methods like conjoint surveys to determine what employees care more or less about, and adjusting the employee value proposition accordingly. "It is advised to avoid the news-cycle driven approach to offerings," he said in an email, "because the reality is that the vast majority of your current and future workforce may not respond to something that another workforce would respond to."
Rahman noted that larger companies have access to the data they need to compete: "Being really smart about where you're placing your bets in terms of your overall employee value proposition using disciplined analytics is essential to remain competitive."
In the war for talent, knowing what employees and candidates want is critical. Assuring these are aligned with the needs of your business makes for a genuine recruitment process that actually retains employees.