Recruiting Trends of 2021 and beyond.
Despite the recent Melbourne lockdown and the current status of the greater Sydney area, the post-pandemic talent market confidence of early 2021 remains across Australia. This has led to a perfect storm of recruiting trends that are great for individual candidates but maybe not for recruitment teams or hiring managers.
The high volume of open positions compared to the total addressable candidate market in certain sectors remains unbalanced. For some roles in the technology space, we’re seeing roughly 3 job candidates for every job opening. A talent pool can actually shrink as the job market increases.
This has led to a trend of counter-offer and multiple offer scenarios for many companies. Some successful hires are also being offered salaries at levels far outstripping pre-pandemic rates.
A classic example of candidate market supply and demand is clearly happening. It’s clearly a candidate-driven market.
Most companies have responded to this market by engaging in a war for talent. In other words, they steal it or buy it from competitors.
A Job Market like no other
Despite this, we still see a lot of businesses continuing to attract talent and hire in the same way that they were pre-pandemic.
Seek’s press release in April this year stated that March saw the highest number of job ads posted in a month in the companies 23+ year history. However, applications per ad were at the lowest level since 2012. That trend then continued for a second month.
There are of course multiple reasons for this, and the fact that Hospitality & Tourism, Trades & Services, and Healthcare & Medical were the largest growth sectors isn’t lost on us. The reality however is that the majority of businesses seemed to revert to what they’d always done, despite the market forces raging around them.
It then wasn’t long until we saw the highest volume of Talent Acquisition vacancies in recent times being posted and all the recruiting teams market talked about was how busy it was.
None of us had hired in this market before, so it’s not unreasonable to suggest that there was no other way that this scenario could have played out.
But where to from here?
How could you reimagine yourself a more successful recruitment strategy?
Hiring the same way as they did pre-pandemic must surely now be totally unrealistic for most organisations with growth on their agenda. However, if the market remains this competitive for the foreseeable future, talent teams need to adopt some critical thinking to their recruiting practices. They need to think about tactical changes that can positively impact their immediate needs, whilst also considering the long-term strategic initiatives they can implement.
Many talent acquisition teams find themselves caught between meeting the immediate needs of the business and trying to improve their long-term hiring capabilities. However, the business increasingly focuses on its short-term pain which is invariably headcount issues.
It’s the eternal tug of war they find themselves in.
Most TA teams want to make the recruiting process and hiring process easier. Running talent pools, speaking to job-seekers with recruitment technology, assessing soft skills through video interviews, refining the careers page, and trialing new recruitment tools are the things they’d like to also be doing. However, most Talent acquisition teams are under-resourced or funded.
An irony in itself of course.
"There’s so much noise out there right now, I’d bet that people in candidate short markets are fed up of hearing from companies with little narrative other than “hey, we’ve got a job.” They don’t need that. They need a reason to join."
Long & short-term initiatives.
There are both long and short-term initiatives that recruitment teams can add to their recruiter’s toolbox. Many recruiters think about employer branding challenges, the labour market, recruiting trends, and their recruitment process, but they can get too caught up in recruiting candidates to actually make the changes needed.
More often than not, they don’t have anyone else in the business to bounce ideas off.
So we did some bouncing for them. Bold statements are one thing, but ideas on where to start are another. So we added some of those as well.
Long term initiatives-Externally focused.
Employee generated content (EGC)
We think EGC will be one of the widely adopted recruitment trends this year and beyond. Developing credibility through social proof and readily accessible information will continually be seen as a crucial part of a recruitment marketing strategy.
The best candidates may not necessarily be on an aggressive job search. So converting passive candidates to actively interested ones through recruitment marketing has long been a tactic to attract more candidates. Most organisations use social media marketing to post jobs, but we expect technical blogs along with workplace and social impact issues to start to become more prolific.
It’s also a great way to discuss and show your core values. Given that most bad hires are seen as being misaligned from a values perspective, maybe you should start talking about them as soon as possible in your recruitment marketing.
Where to Start?
Find champions within each of your major teams (Technical, Sales, Marketing, Leadership etc) and form a kind of committee where each member can champion the need for contributors back into their teams.
Find a platform to use (Medium is a great place to start), start with a piece from at least each team as soon as possible (a blog with just one article looks like it’s an afterthought, so get as much as you can in as soon as possible) then agree on a publishing schedule, maybe teams publish something in rotation each month? Use Airbnb or carsales.com.au as inspiration.
Of all the recruitment marketing solutions available, this one should bring the biggest benefit to your recruitment strategy and it’s never too late to start.
Smart people want to work with other smart people. Employee-generated content is the best way to show potential job candidates that this will be the case if they join you.
Improve non-monetary benefits.
Paying higher wages for individual roles is unrealistic and causes more issues around parity than it brings in business benefits. There is also plenty of evidence to suggest that money isn’t people’s biggest motivator. They want to be paid fairly, of course, but in a post-pandemic world, things like flexibility are more important.
Where to Start?
A simplistic way to do this is to look at what your main competitors offer and ask how you stack up? Consider becoming a Work180 endorsed workplace. Take the test here.
Try looking at a provider such as Pirkx, which offers “Wellbeing on Demand by subscription. Users and their households can access a customisable Netflix-style portal or app where they can engage with the resources that best suit their mental, physical, financial, and learning needs. Administrators can join free online, upload a list of employees or contractors ($6/user/month), customise the site, and launch the same day.”
Ella Hamilton is the person to speak to about this. Her team is bringing this to the recruitment industry at just the right time.
Most organisations put their job postings on one of the job boards, speak to 3 or 4 candidates and then hire one of them. In the cut and thrust of the working week, however, the other candidates and any last applicants get left behind and in the worst cases receive no acknowledgment or follow up. Pretty much all of us have been ghosted at some time.
But it doesn’t need to be like this. Contemporary recruiting software allows talent acquisition teams to better segment their database and build relationships with their applicants. Done right, internal databases can be the first port of call for every open position.
Where to Start?
Find out if your current ATS has any kind of built-in nurture capability. Most vendors now do have some kind of functionality, some of the more advanced, such as SmartRecruiters have features such as drip campaigns that “can be used to promote open job opportunities, re-engage with former candidates, follow up with event attendees, or onboard prospects into new talent communities.”
Maybe you can leverage the Employee Generated content you’re producing to engage your communities?
Maybe a monthly newsletter combined with specific event-driven messaging is the place to start? Why not try SMS for job alerts to your database as well? Converting passive talent that is brand aware brings higher ROI than totally cold outreach.
Long term initiatives-Internally focused.
Retention through re-thinking training.
Most businesses spend more on recruitment than they do on training. Given that personal & professional growth is always high on employees’ agenda’s it seems counterintuitive to not provide what your people are asking for. The technology industry which is predominantly skills driven does a so-so job in this space. Most HR Managers have this as a major agenda item particularly as it also ties into employer branding.
Improving retention is one way to keep recruitment costs down. For a while now, we’ve been advocating spending $2 on training for every $1 spent on recruiting.
Where to Start?
Survey your leadership group and teams to get a sense of what training would be the most beneficial and of interest to them. The rise of online providers such as GO1 has made training both accessible and affordable. You’ll need to agree on some kind of policy that allows your people to complete training in work time. Asking them to do it only in their own time might not go down too well.
People move jobs out of self-interest. It’s an important thing to remember. As people progress in their current job, the number of roles they can move into within an organisation decreases. This is logical. A team has a leader, the leader has direct reports who lead their own teams, and so on. If your people don’t see a logical pathway for them internally, they’ll look externally.
So being clear about internal opportunities and how to move into them makes sense. Moves from team to team or even country to country (pending lockdowns easing of course) should be openly discussed and encouraged. Keeping good people should be prioritised over new hires to fill open positions.
Where to Start?
Find a way to collect the data from your mid-year and annual reviews and identify your top talent. If you’re using an HR system, this should be easy. Prioritise conversations with your top performers.
These are the people whose departures will be felt the most keenly. Find out their aspirations and personal/professional goals and identify where there may be career opportunities for these to be met in other teams. There may be a sight skills gap, but this can be overcome with both formal and informal training.
People move jobs out of self-interest. Companies that can fulfill that self-interest in tandem with the company interests are the ones that will win.
A whole business approach to recruiting strategy.
Employee referrals are a crucial channel for potential candidates, so why not make the whole business part of the team to attract talent. Keeping referrals top of mind for the entire business should be part of the talent acquisition team’s monthly checklist of activities. When it’s done well, referrals can also deliver a great candidate experience, particularly if the potential candidates have a prior understanding of the business through their friends.
Where to Start?
Maybe you could create a referrals slack channel (or whatever internal comms platform you use) to share job descriptions, include referrals in the monthly/quarterly townhall agenda, run a monthly company-wide referrals email campaign, run a quarterly referral event with simple prizes like shouting a team lunch for the team who refer the most people who get hired over a quarter?
Be sure to publicly recognise those whose referrals turn into hires. Ensure that your referral policy is written clearly and is unambiguous. If it includes all the caveats around why people won’t qualify for a bonus then it’s probably counterintuitive.
The added benefit is that having current employees advocating for the business can do wonders for your employer brand. Which in turn of course makes attracting talent so much easier.
Make hybrid working efficient.
Promoting the ability for remote work options and opening up unlimited access to broader talent markets is appealing to many employers. We have however already started to see a kind of backlash with people resigning from remote roles due to feeling micro-managed.
The danger of not being able to physically see people means that some leaders need constant status updates. Leading remote or hybrid teams is a new skill for many leaders and the mind shift required to do it well is one that can’t be underestimated. Human resources teams will naturally need to be involved in this process to embed this into the company culture.
Where to Start?
Bring your leaders together and agree on a set of principles/practices for how to effectively lead in this new landscape. Share ideas, use external coaching, run a private slack channel for idea sharing and discussing real scenarios.
Collaborative working, at its best.
Quick turnaround initiatives
The challenges most teams face right now are generally either talent supply and recruitment process focussed.
Top of funnel
Re-energise your organisation-wide focus on referrals, think in referral sprints, can everyone in a team/tribe refer one person into your talent pool? Host hiring events, either online or in-person.
Can you sponsor or host a MeetUp? In return, you get to put your brand and vacancies in front of your desired audience.
Optimise your ATS through re-engaging past applicants today. Go back through recent roles and re-engage the candidates who came close to being hired or were late applicants. If you’re using a ranking system for applicants then maybe only re-engage the ones in the top 25%?
Improve candidate engagement and minimise dropouts through more contextual dialogue in your automated communication.
Build templated communications that are specific to the different teams you’re hiring for. Include details of leaders, recent initiatives in the team, events they’ve hosted, awards they’ve won etc.
If they’re able to obtain a “peek under the bonnet” and get nice surprises about your business, you should be able to maintain a healthy funnel volume.
"We recognised that there are market forces beyond our control, so we focused on what factors we can control that also bought us the best ROI."
Bottom of funnel
Upskill your hiring teams to improve conversion. Interviewing, assessing and decision making generally ultimately rests with hiring managers so continuously upskilling them should be on the agenda of every HR and Talent acquisition team.
Mike Jhoomun, TA Manager for carsales.com.au made this one of his priorities not long after starting in his role. “We recognised that there are market forces beyond our control, so we focused on what factors we can control that also bought us the best ROI.
Further supporting our hiring managers, who all care deeply about recruiting and their teams, was something we knew could make a difference. We’ve worked with our Hiring Managers by hosting 1-hour sessions on LinkedIn personal branding, Candidate market Insights with SEEK, Talent pipelining with SmartRecruiters, and interview coaching with our internal TA Team. These learning sessions will provide business value by improving quality of hire, improve hiring manager/ candidate experience and allow our TA team to continue to focus on highest value activity and innovation”
Time also plays a crucial factor in hyper-competitive markets, so being comfortable with, and capable of producing same-day offers should also be on the to-do list for Talent acquisition teams. Hiring efforts can all be in vain if current recruiting processes stall at a crucial moment. This is where collaborative hiring really comes to the fore and where hr technology can help shape recruitment.
Look at your current approval chains and consider where they can be refined. Can individual roles be budgeted and approved at broader ranges in order to minimise the need and time burden of re-approval processes? Do all the people on the chain really need to be there, would they be comfortable trusting the team? These are all conversations that teams can have in order to influence outcomes.
If you are going to compete in the war for talent, you should have a full armoury and the best tactics.
It’s easy for businesses to be lured by shiny solutions such as artificial intelligence, voice recognition, and social media recruiting. But these are merely tools. Candidates are interested in company culture, the interview process, and how this job can improve their lives.
Recruitment trends come and go but the need to better engage job seekers will remain a constant challenge and vital part of the recruiting process for high-growth organisations. The recruiting industry on the whole does a pretty good job of adapting to market conditions and the current market will have forced change like no other on Talent acquisition teams.
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