In the age of Glassdoor and The Muse, where potential recruits have access to new levels of data on an employer's culture, companies must be pro-active in putting forth the best — and yet, most human — angle.
The problem? Some recruitment processes have forgotten how to do that. Under piles of fancy tech and hot apps, the humanity of recruitment has suffered, some experts told HR Dive. But 2016 may be a game-changer in that regard.
"There's never been a more exciting time to be involved in the space," Leela Srinivasan, CMO of Lever, told HR Dive. The tension between the innate humanity of recruitment and the science of sorting through those humans may reach a high point this year. The bottom line: Marketing your talent experience will become a necessity — and that can largely be achieved by striving for more human connection.
Recruitment marketing is making it personal
The larger trend that "the better recruiters and better teams" realized some time ago is that recruitment is all about relationships – even with the onslaught of technology that enables some of recruiting's best functions, Srinivasan said.
Creating strong connections with potential, current and past talent has become even more important in a job seeker's market, particularly as platforms like The Muse have enabled the rise of the passive candidate. No longer can you simply put out a job ad, said Matt Poepsel, PhD, VP of Product Management of The Predictive Index. Employers must become more proactive.
"Employers have to organize around a candidate rather than a job posting," Srinivasan said, meaning relationship and context is "everything." A hiring manager directly contacting a passive candidate, for example, may encourage the potential employee to think differently about the opportunity.
"And because the market for talent remains super competitive, any recruitment is really a two way dialogue," she added.
In the modern recruitment space, this desire is translating into a more "marketing oriented way of acting and interacting with candidates," she added. Potential recruits, particularly millennials, behave like consumers when hunting for a job, so employers must have awareness of their brand now more than ever, Poepsel told HR Dive. Social media presence is only the beginning of such branding.
- What type of people work at the company?
- What values do the employees care about?
- What is the work (and play) style of the workers?
"What I see when I work with our clients is the importance of having the brand defined rather than told to you," he said. "You must be purposeful about it."
But though recruitment technology (for both candidates and employers) has enabled more precise connection to passive candidates that are actually willing to leave their companies, the same tech gets in the way of the very purpose it set out to do, leading to what Poepsel calls "a tech enabled war." Candidates and recruiters both use their respective technologies to weed each other out, until both sides are buried in a "mountain of teching up."
Poepsel suggests that companies make sure they only use technologies that are proven to contribute to the company's success. One way to test that: HR pros and hiring managers should go through their own hiring process to see the reality each candidate faces once they apply. A bad interface, taking too much time to respond to applicants and other such problems can drive important candidates away — both active hunters and passive ones.
But it doesn't end there. Recruiters must also be knowledgeable about when more thorough pre-hire assessments and other such predictive technologies are appropriate for certain workforces. The whole field of predictive analytics is changing how recruitment works for both sides of the recruitment spectrum, Srinivasan said. While tech can connect individuals directly to hiring managers and recruiters, it can also make hiring to scale a much simpler prospect.
The place of video
Much of the challenge for recruiters, especially while evaluating recruitment tech, is understanding the "humanization" that takes place throughout most hiring processes, Poepsel said. While a candidate may start as a faceless resume, they eventually become a fully-realized individual to the company by the time an offer is on the table. But for recruiters who are worried about making the entire process more human, video is increasingly becoming one possible answer.
"I really see video running a spectrum from tactical to strategic," he added. "If you are an employer, video will move from nice to have to must have. You'll look behind competitors otherwise."
The increasing popularity of video for direct recruitment purposes (interviewing, etc.) is because of its accessibility for both sides. The most basic use of video for recruitment is usually as a candidate screening tool. Candidates submit video responses to canned questions. But some companies are beginning to use video for more complex screening purposes, Poepsel said.
More and more organizations are beginning to think of communication over video as a way to see if candidates understand the platform. Video could be used as a complex evaluation tool by having a candidate work together with a team over video connection to solve a problem, for example.
But video is also playing a role in recruitment marketing and talent branding – especially since they are much more feasible to do now than even five years ago, Srinivasan said. A well-made recruitment video is a quick and easy way for candidates to see if they actually want to spend time with that team. But the large bonus of recruitment videos and today's tech is that candid videos shot on iPhones can look good but have a certain level of "coolness" to them that a professionally done video might not have.
"I think what companies are trying to do is put forth some sense of authenticity," she said. "It can also expose and celebrate what makes the company different."
Poepsel actually advises against making video look "too good," especially if other parts of the interview and recruitment process don't match that quality.
Tech looking into diversity/inclusion
Another challenge for companies seeking to personalize their recruitment process is meeting diversity and inclusion goals. More than 60% of midmarket companies are spending more year-to-year on hiring and diversity, many of them attempting to catch up, Srinivasan said.
"A lot of what is challenging to recruit in an exclusive way is that bias is not deliberate," she added. "People just aren't aware of it."
One way at least one company is attempting to tackle issues of diversity: screening the language of recruitment materials. Textio is a software that screens job listings and recruitment marketing material for both positive and biased language, giving each item a score from 0 to 100, 100 being a highly positive, effective item. It is wholly quantitative and pulls information from past job listings and their efficacy to make judgments on which words work, which words are gendered and which words turn off potential candidates.
Kieran Snyder, co-founder and CEO of Textio, noted the importance of language in engaging potential candidates. But she also said companies need to be wary about only seeing diversity as "adding more women." However, the technology to track gender inclusivity is much easier to make quantitative since most applicants are willing to disclose their gender.
"I think with bias detection tech, the goal is to get to the heart of the person," she said. "Companies trying to get past bias also tend to be better to work for. You can look at the public messaging of certain companies and you can see their diverse workforces."
Indeed, 2016 will be a big year that reconciles the technology with the increasing desire for recruitment and HR in general to feel more human, Srinivasan said.
"Recruiting is all about human relationships, rather than an endless sea of big data," she added. "Companies can be smarter about how they operate."