(The following is an excerpt from our research report, “Stepping Up: Workforce Practices That Raise the Bar on Business Performance,” which is available for free download.)
Sourcing talent with in-demand skills is a complex and competitive process. The paths of connection to great talent are numerous thanks to the proliferation of social media channels, and the demand for many skills is increasing. High-performing talent organizations understand the importance of navigating those paths of communication to connect with talent and provide the level of responsiveness needed to drive a great candidate relationship. They also recognize that current employees may be the best source of new skills. Results from the Allegis Group survey point to three areas ripe for improvement in sourcing: boosting responsiveness, humanizing interaction, and cultivating employee skills.
Embrace Digital Talent Acquisition Tools
Responsive communication lies at the heart of a positive candidate experience, yet communication remains a common recruiting weakness, with candidates frequently left in the dark after submitting their applications. Overall, only 24 percent of organizations always ensure prompt responses to applications, but high-performing talent acquisition organizations are nearly three times more likely (64 percent versus 22 percent) than others to always do so. Highly engaged workers are three times as likely as others (36 percent versus 12 percent) to strongly agree their most recent employer responded quickly to their application.
An overwhelming volume of work involved in the recruiting process often prevents organizations from communicating adequately with candidates. However, by boosting data intelligence and automating many high-volume, low-value activities, innovations in digital recruiting technology help employers make great strides in improving responsiveness. Today, only 20 percent of surveyed employers say they always effectively use digital recruitment channels and technologies to connect with talent. High-performing talent acquisition organizations are three times more likely than others (55 percent versus 18 percent) to do so, and highly engaged workers are three times as likely as others (33 percent versus 11 percent) to strongly agree that their current or most recent employer effectively uses digital recruitment in their talent acquisition process.
Solving the responsiveness issue is paramount to an employer’s ability to build effective candidate relationships. Organizations can address the issue by embracing digital resources to automate and improve responsiveness. For example, artificial intelligence (AI) technology is giving rise to a variety of tools to automate communication. Machine intelligence and automation provider HiringSolved applies AI to automatically build significant talent pools from social network data, eliminating or reducing a heavy research burden for recruiters. Candidate relationship management (CRM) tools such as SmashFly automate communication and track engagement with candidates across multiple channels. Chatbots such as AI-driven Olivia automate basic communication and interaction with candidates at the start of the application process. These and other digital recruiting tools give talent organizations the ability to eliminate the communications black hole and provide the responsiveness needed to develop relationships of trust with candidates.
Personalize Candidate Communications
In a digital world of constant communication, it takes more than a form email to connect with a candidate. Personalized communications matter. Today, only 23 percent of surveyed employers say they always provide personalized responses to applications, but high-performing talent acquisition organizations are more than twice as likely as others (55 percent versus 21 percent) to always do so. At the same time, highly engaged workers are more than three times as likely as others (34 percent versus 11 percent) to strongly agree that their current or most recent employer provided personalized communications as they applied for the role.
Along with personalization, a two-way path of interaction is also important in forging candidate relationships. Unfortunately, barriers still exist, as only 27 percent of organizations always enable the candidate to initiate contact with a recruiter or hiring manager. High-performing talent acquisition organizations are more than twice as likely as others, (60 percent versus 25 percent) to do so, and highly engaged workers are nearly three times more likely than others (34 percent versus 12 percent) to strongly agree that their current or most recent employer enabled them to initiate contact with a recruiter or hiring manager.
As automated tools take on high-volume communications such as status updates, recruiters will have the opportunity to increase their focus on personalization for more important questions. To build personalization into the relationship with the candidate, employers can apply several principles. First, research the candidate. In a world where many skilled professionals are bombarded by communications, a call or email from a recruiter that shows familiarity with the candidate can be a pleasant surprise that stands out from the noise. Are you familiar with the school the candidate attended? Do you understand the tough commute where they live and work today? If so, mention it in the communication. Aside from niceties, be wary of using templated formats, avoid jargon, offer a clear call to action or next step, and be available to take a candidate’s call or answer an email.
Train Employees to be a Prime Source of New Skills
Today, the average learned skill begins to grow outdated after only five years. With such a rapid pace of change, developing skills in current employees and helping them move their careers forward within the organization can be a more reliable and cost-effective alternative than securing skills through acquiring new talent. Unfortunately, only 20 percent of organizations always train and develop current employees to be qualified for open positions, with high-performing talent acquisition organizations three times more likely as others (58 percent versus 17 percent) to do so. At the same time, engaged workers are nearly four times more likely than others (31 percent versus eight percent) to strongly agree that their current or most recent employer is similarly committed to training and development.
Meanwhile, facilitating internal mobility remains a challenge. Only 40 percent of organizations always ensure job opportunities are internally promoted, with high-performing talent acquisition organizations more than twice as likely as others (80 percent versus 38 percent) to do so, and highly engaged workers are over three times more likely than others (33 percent versus 10 percent) to strongly agree their current or most recent employer did so. Stakeholders agree there is room to improve. In fact, 78 percent of employers and 83 percent of workers believe human resources teams need to make internal job openings more visible to all employees, and 81 percent of employers and 83 percent of workers agree management should do a better job of encouraging employees to apply.
The survey results highlight the need and desire for training and development, an opportunity to boost the employee experience that is missed as companies focus on new talent to meet skills needs. For employers, there are several keys to optimizing employee development. First, use training as a source of new skills. That training can come in the form of traditional classroom programs provided by the employer or through support for employees interested in external training. Development can also come through mentorships, online training, and micro-learning modules. As a partner in new skills development, the employer should be expected to allow training as part of the employee’s normal work day and be prepared to budget for the effort. Beyond training, employers can boost career development by making internal opportunities visible and supporting a culture that promotes mobility.
Click here to get the full report of “Stepping Up: Workforce Practices That Raise the Bar on Business Performance.”