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The job market – much like the rest of our modern world – is constantly evolving. The shift into new industries (SAP and other SAAS products being one of them) and incorporation of new technologies into the hiring process means that the way companies recruit is very different to how it used to be.

Now, thanks to that evolution, jobseekers have far more power than they used to. 

On the whole, this is obviously a good thing. People should be empowered to find roles they enjoy and actively want to work in, and companies should want that for their employees, too. After all, happy workers have been statistically proven to be more productive.

The downside, however, is that recruiters now have their work cut out for them when it comes to finding new hires. Or, at least, it appears that way on the surface. In actuality, if companies are willing to adapt, they could easily secure a clear advantage over their competitors. 

The trick is knowing what’s changing – and how to change with it.

Technology is leading the way

Obviously there is some variance from place to place but – on the whole – jobseeking has become very much a buyer’s market, so to speak.

Because of online hiring platforms such as LinkedIn and Xing, individuals who are searching for jobs have far more scope to find out what’s actually out there. No longer are they applying for roles blind or limiting themselves to what they see in the small ads; candidates are actively comparing dozens – if not hundreds – of viable positions, and then deciding on their own terms which they’d rather apply for.

In some ways, this can be quite harmful to jobseekers. Just as they have an excessive choice of employers, the employers, in turn, have plenty of options when it comes to picking a candidate. In fact, a recent study found that – on average – each corporate job offer attracts 250 applicants. Of that number, only four to six will get called for an interview (and obviously only one will get the job). 

But for the most highly-skilled candidates – the ones you want – job hunting is nowhere near the chore it used to be. For them, they don’t need to worry about the other 250 applicants, because they will be amongst the tiny fraction of people who actually get called to an interview.

Employers, then, need to learn how to make themselves more accessible to the top tier candidates – especially when, in all likelihood, the candidates they want are passive talent. In fact, according to statistics from LinkedIn, 70% of candidates are passive job seekers, meaning the huge number of applicants per role doesn’t necessarily bother them. 

So, how do you reach out to them?

Adapt to their pace

One of the key things you must remember when appealing to people about almost anything is that time is of the essence.

“We operate swifter nowadays across the board,” states an article from the Independent. “We eat faster and we walk faster, running to catch the bus which we pay for by simply tapping in. No more faffing around to look for cash in our pockets or collecting tickets. That’s all yesterday’s behaviour.”

And with jobseekers, that’s especially true.

If you’re pursuing an active candidate, they are likely to be spending a huge portion of their free time job hunting; don’t give them anything that will slow them down. The same goes for for passive candidates; albeit for different reasons. If they have no urgent need to apply for your role anyway, they certainly won’t give up their time easily.

In practice, this means several things: quicker application processes, shorter wait times between application stages, and prompt feedback. 

Basically, don’t make applicants fill out a webform that takes hours to complete, especially if you’re only asking them to repeat details that are on their CV. By the same token, though, you shouldn’t just rely on quick solutions such as LinkedIn’s ‘easy apply’ feature – then you’ll have an abundance of applicants, most of whom are unlikely to be suitable. Instead, you must strike an appropriate balance.

“It should be easy for candidates to learn about a company and a job, but making it really easy to apply, just to fill up that funnel, doesn’t make much sense,” explains the Harvard Business Review. “During the dot-com boom Texas Instruments cleverly introduced a preemployment test that allowed applicants to see their scores before they applied. If their scores weren’t high enough for the company to take their applications seriously, they tended not to proceed, and the company saved the cost of having to process their applications.”

Speak their language

As well as making your roles accessible to candidates, you’ve got to make initial contact in a way that suits them.

According to Page Up People, 89% of jobseekers say that their mobile phone is an important tool for job searching. Despite this, a minority of companies have mobile-optimised sites. 

In a similar vein, social media is proving to be more and more useful in securing job hires. According to Glassdoor, 79% of candidates use at least one form of social media (either deliberately or just by stumbling across an advert) during their job hunt. And yet, not everyone has a strategy in place for appealing to candidates via these channels. As Page Up People note: 

“According to Aberdeen Group, best-in-class companies are 32% more likely to engage candidates via social media. Investment in social media strategies, recruitment marketing, and increasing use of social listening tools will reach even the most stalwart laggards.”

So, if you’ve been using the same strategy to appeal to applicants for a while, now might be the time to shake it up a bit. 

Be wary of your reputation

While candidates are looking for quick-apply jobs and stumbling across adverts for their dream roles on social media, they’re also checking out the reputation of their potential new employer.

This is perhaps the biggest factor in putting jobseekers in control of the recruitment world. They have the power to assess a company before they’ve even set foot in the door, and what they learn will almost certainly influence their decision of whether to take an application further or not.

According to a survey from Glassdoor: “39% of women say the reputation or brand of the company is ‘very important’ to them when considering a job move. A somewhat smaller percentage of women (32%) say the same about the company’s cause. For 33% of men, the company’s brand is ‘very important,’ but only 22% feel the same about the company’s cause.”

Take a second look at your offer

In the past, when companies held all the cards in the hiring game, it would be up to them to determine the conditions of an offer. But, due to a combination of all the above mentioned factors, candidates now have more of a say in what they actually want to get out of a role. So, to appeal to the best of them, you have to give them what they want.

“Self-employment is an aspirational goal for over 50% of the workforce,” says Page Up People. “A study by Mavenlink found that given the opportunity, 65% of workers would pursue contract work. Whilst it’s not a new addition to hiring trends, it’s still worth calling out that flexibility is key, with the option to work remotely influencing the likelihood of accepting a position for 68% of new workforce entrants.”

Ask yourself: are you offering something better than your competitors? Does your EVP stand out amongst a crowd of similar offers? Or are you going to lose the best candidates to someone who offers something seemingly innocuous, like free breakfast, or the option to work from home once a week?

The conditions of a job are now dictated by the jobseeker, not the employer; don’t try to tell them what they want, listen to what they’re asking for.

Embrace the change

From all this, it’s clear that things have moved on in recent decades. Jobseekers, whether companies like it or not, now have more of a say in what they want from their employment opportunities – but that’s ok.

As we said right at the top: happy workers are better workers, and striving to win the best recruits in a competitive market means you’re going to have to adapt to please your target market.

This may take some work, and it may also involve something of a learning curve. But, in the end, it’ll be worth it.

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