Recruiting Trends to Implement in 2020
Talent acquisition and retention strategies can make or break an organization’s ability to innovate and stay ahead of the competition.
Now, more than ever, it’s essential to remain abreast of the latest trends and technologies impacting recruiting, talent management and employee retention.
In a sea of countless resumes and thousands of promising candidates, finding the perfect candidate for your role can often feel daunting.
Reeling in the ideal candidate from a vast ocean of applicants requires great thought, recruitment strategies and effort. A prospective employee’s abilities, experience and impact must be weighed cautiously and critically to guarantee the right candidate selection. If not, a bad hire can result in negative consequences, including project delays, decreased morale and costly employee turnover.
To make the ultimate catch when figuring out how to find the right employees for your business, consider the following steps:
Know what skills you need
Before seeking out candidates, it’s critical to establish the essential skills necessary for your position. When creating your skill requirements, think of what experience, alongside hard and soft skill sets, an individual might need to be successful in your role.
Hard skills: specific, learned abilities that can be quantified, such as typing, writing, math, reading and the ability to use technology.
For hard skills, consider what technology proficiencies and quantifiable abilities will make an impact on your team or initiative. Will a senior project manager help you effectively plan and execute your timely multi-department project across your company? Could an additional software engineer take your online business and customer experience to the next level?
Soft skills: intangible and harder to quantify abilities, such as emotional intelligence, organization, attitude and communication.
While hard skills are the foundation of many roles, hiring managers shouldn’t forget that soft skills also help define a candidate. Skills like interpersonal communication and grit aren’t taught in school but are increasingly important to employers wanting to remain competitive.
“When you think of in-demand soft skills, words like critical thinking, relationship building, innovation, creativity, storytelling, executive presence, emotional intelligence, empathy, leadership, mentorship and the ability to impact change come to mind,” said Sandy Merein, Kforce Business Partner Vice President.
Soft skills are vital to effective leadership and high performance across companies. While having hard skills can give your organization the technical knowledge it needs to execute, a lack of soft skills within your workforce can be detrimental to achieving goals.
“These skills aren’t simply nice to have but are critical to driving success and strategy within an organization,” Merein added.
Assess culture fit
The right set of hard and soft skills is not the only determining factor on whether your candidate will make a long-term contribution to your organization. Your new hire should be a good fit for both the role he or she will take and also for your company’s culture.
“Culture fit is about more than just getting along with your new colleagues in the office,” said Jessica Schwaller, Kforce Director of Associate Performance and Development. “At the interview stage, we encourage leaders to be transparent about roles, teams and office culture. Providing open and honest insight into what candidates can expect allows them to assess if an opportunity is a good fit for them.”
Companies should remember that while they’re conducting interviews, candidates are also interviewing them as a potential employer.
To assess cultural fit, hiring managers should solicit examples and true stories from candidates about how they have worked with peers and management in prior roles. Understanding how they problem-solve in challenging situations, persevere through change and prefer to interact with others will give you great insight into their overall style and cultural fit.
Once you’ve established what a candidate’s potential impact would be on your team, employers should additionally ensure prospective employees can support objectives within an organization.
Employ people analytics
Data should always be a determining factor in your business and talent strategy.
Companies already use customer relationship management (CRM) tools and marketing analytics to dictate their next steps. In similar fashion, talent organizations are also exploring the benefits of people analytics, according to Mary Merkel, Kforce Business Analysis Manager.
“As the candidate pool continues to shrink in relation to the number of jobs available in our country, people analytics, specifically predictive analytics, has become a critical piece of the business puzzle across all industries,” Merkel said.
Increasingly, businesses are leveraging data to drive their entire talent lifecycle. People analytics are enabling firms today to identify skill gaps, conduct workforce planning, focus engagement and gather assessments.
“Through the science of probability based on historical performance, we can predict those people who are more closely aligned to our business, culture and being happy, successful employees,” Merkel said.
Understanding workforce trends, needs and opportunities are vital to making informed hiring plans. A clear analytics strategy reaps many benefits, including quality, cost and time to hire.
For those looking to transform their decision making, AI deployment will be fundamental in using previous data to make future predictions.
Align with your industry and initiatives
Tyson Simon, Kforce Practice Leader, reports that alongside culture fit and skill sets, employers should also consider how a candidate’s collective potential aligns with a company’s industry and initiatives.
“Candidates in today’s market must demonstrate characteristics that align with the technology trends and business conditions impacting the employer,” said Simon. “The major trends sweeping all industries are focused on market disruption, innovation, Agile, DevOps and digital transformation.”
Placing more emphasis on initiatives like digital transformation requires a myriad of skill sets to bring down barriers between the front, middle and back offices within organizations.
“This level of transformation requires a spectrum of expertise and strategic talent acquisition to plan, execute and optimize the overall objectives,” Simon said.
Today’s candidates have high expectations for how prospective employers should interact with them. To win the hearts of today’s job seeker, talent acquisition teams must implement innovative digital strategies, such as content marketing, mobile optimization, email marketing, SEO, pay-per-click advertising, social media and employee advocacy.
“The line between recruiting and marketing will continue to blur in the foreseeable future as the digital and talent acquisition landscapes evolve,” said Karissa Sachs, Kforce Vice President of Digital Strategy. “A one-size-fits-all recruitment marketing approach will no longer be sufficient as the talent acquisition space becomes increasingly more sophisticated and competitive.”
Talent expects a personalized candidate experience
We are used to a personalized shopping experience and interaction from brands in real-time. From custom product suggestions on Amazon to immediate customer service on social media, we expect to get what we want, when we want it. This expectation is no different for job candidates and potential employers.
“In-demand candidates are beginning to expect a unique and personalized recruiting approach,” explained Sachs. “As so, organizations must focus on building relationships with an emphasis on providing a highly customized candidate experience.”
Solicit feedback on your candidate experience
Companies that understand the value of soliciting feedback about their candidate experience, know how to quantify and measure it—and perhaps most importantly, to frame their strategy around those insights, will beat their competition in the war for talent.
Feedback helps companies inspire continued loyalty and elevate their brand reputation, which is critical to service excellence.
Through a partnership with ClearlyRated, a leading provider of Net Promoter Score (NPS®) based on satisfaction survey tools and expertise for professional service firms, Kforce uses quantifiable metrics to shape their candidate experience.
“By partnering with ClearlyRated, Kforce is empowered to provide exceptional service to our consultants,” said Andrew Thomas, Kforce Chief Marketing Officer.
“In the staffing industry, there’s often a disconnect between corporate and field offices, resulting in variances within the consultant experience. Fortunately, NPS offers data, transparency and actionable insights to enable organizations like us to deliver consistent service in consultant care.”
Using tools that produce valuable feedback enables organizations to identify areas of improvement throughout the candidate experience, allowing them to strategize a plan to become an employer of choice.
Persona-based recruitment is becoming the norm
So, you’ve gathered feedback about your candidate experience. Now, it’s time to attract your ideal candidate by understanding their employer needs, decision drivers, role essentials and desired career path.
Similar to how marketers use buyer personas as a representation of a company’s ideal customers, recruiters and talent acquisition professionals can create candidate personas to develop a strategy focused on exactly who you need to hire.
“From there, a highly targeted recruiting strategy can be developed to identify, recruit and motivate these individuals,” Sachs explained. “What type of content will best resonate with them? How can the job description be optimized to increase the application conversion rate? What does their digital footprint look like so that you know where to advertise?”
Having a library of personas will help you find, target and recruit quality candidates, from targeted email campaigns to the language you use in online job postings. Employers looking to maintain their competitive edge in this saturated market should always seek a personalized approach to better their candidate experience.
Content: your competitive advantage
At the heart of any successful recruitment marketing strategy is content that resonates with your candidate personas.
“Content has the power to help potential candidates decide whether or not they are a fit for your company,” said Allison Kruse, Kforce Director of Content and Social Media. “Candidates are savvy internet researchers and use a number of sources when searching for jobs and evaluating potential employers.”
Kruse explained that strategically creating and curating content that maps to every stage of the candidate journey empowers employers to “answer candidates’ questions, provide an inside view into your organization and share employees’ stories that will inform and inspire your candidates.”
“Companies with a competitive advantage are sharing compelling content (not just posting jobs) that adds value—including why working at their organization is different than working at similar companies, which helps guide a candidate’s decision to apply or accept an offer,” Kruse explained. “Content can make or break your talent attraction strategy.”
Employee advocacy empowers everyone to recruit
Gone are the days when companies could solely rely on their marketing and PR teams to build brand awareness, generate leads and attract and engage with candidates. The most impactful way to get your content in front of target candidates is by empowering and mobilizing your employees to serve as brand ambassadors.
“To expand your social footprint and get your employer brand in front of talent, you need to mobilize your employees into an army of brand ambassadors,” Kruse said.
Employers who understand the value of targeted content to attract talent have implemented employee advocacy programs. “In a nutshell, these programs entail curating and creating content that maps to the candidate journey, and distributing that content to employees in user-friendly templates on a regular basis to encourage them to share on social media,” explained Kruse.
Employee advocacy programs make it easy for associates to be brand ambassadors by consistently delivering content in a format that is simple for them to share with their networks.
“When your employees share content with their networks, they are shaping the perception others have about you as an employer. Plus, not only does a successful employee advocacy program exponentially increase your company’s digital footprint, but the content itself will also perform better because people tend to trust their peers over brands.”
Employers that can get potential candidates to know, like and ultimately trust them will beat their competition when recruiting top talent.
“Employee advocacy programs give all employees at your company a voice, empowering them to become ‘recruiters’ as they share their stories about working at your company,” added Kruse.
Attracting talent with technology, content, personas, employee advocacy and an exceptional candidate experience can make a tremendous difference in your recruitment strategy. However, to make a long-term impact within your organization, companies should also focus on what it takes to retain top talent.
Mobile referral programs are on the rise
The digital age has amplified the reach of marketing efforts. While candidates are overwhelmed with a multitude of ads and other business messages, it’s become essential to stand out from the crowd.
One tool that continues to rise to the top is mobile referral programs. Referrals are an essential marketing tool to have in your talent acquisition strategy today because people influence people. It’s no secret that people trust peer recommendations over a traditional advertisement.
Likewise, as technology continues to redefine how we live, organizations must meet and attract candidates where they are, even on their mobile devices.
“If you’re not leveraging technology and innovation in your talent acquisition strategy, you risk being at a competitive disadvantage,” Sachs said. “In theory, it’s quite simple; how can you get in front of the right candidates, at the right time, with the right message and make it easy for them to apply? Technology continues to answer this question.”
Innovative companies are now leveraging mobile apps for referral programs with much success. Mary Baum, Kforce Digital Strategy Manager, agrees.
“With our referral app, KFORCEconnect, we know that having access to referrals at your fingertips is a game-changer,” Baum said.
In 2019, Kforce partnered with WorkLlama, a talent acquisition and workforce management platform, to launch KFORCEconnect. The app provides an easy way for people to recommend their peers to job opportunities and get paid for successful employment.
Since the app’s debut in March 2019, job referrals via the app have resulted in hundreds of hires, matching highly skilled professionals with the right opportunity and reducing hiring time.
“We’ve seen our recommended referrals get placed at a rate 9x higher than traditional job board channels. If that doesn’t speak to the power of mobile apps to push referrals, I don’t know what does,” Baum said.
For more information and to download KFORCEconnect today, click here.
Once you’ve hired your target candidate, don’t just stop there. Effective employee retention strategies involve supporting the entirety of the candidate journey through the areas of focus outlined below.
Prioritize culture and mission
Employee sentiment continues to be a priority for organizations. How a workforce feels about a company directly influences retention. While it’s often believed that compensation is the biggest driver to keeping and satisfying employees, it’s not the only influential factor.
Company culture is top of mind for candidates and job seekers, especially in this age of peer reviews. Most employees—93% to be exact—reference culture in Glassdoor employer reviews.
In fact, a Glassdoor and Economic Research report states it’s now about being a culture-first organization with a clear mission that motivates performance and resonates with employee desires.
People want their work to be meaningful. And because of this, organizations need to articulate their mission to connect with employees, according to Michael Goodman, Kforce Senior HR Business Partner.
“Employees who see consistent alignment to purpose within their work environment understand that daily tasks are tied to something greater than themselves—people, communities and the world around them,” Goodman said.
That’s why aligning employees’ purpose with your company’s cause is perhaps one of the best talent management strategies. When associates are engaged, they’re happy. And when employees are happy, they stay at companies.
Companies looking to build culture-first talent strategies can start implementing various activities that increase engagement.
Recognition initiatives, firm events and a positive work culture can help facilitate purpose and engagement. However, companies should also focus on their people, especially at the individual level, according to Crystal Early, Kforce Senior Manager of Recognition and Creative Services.
“Someone’s sense of purpose is very personal,” said Early. “The best thing we employers can do is encourage our people to find what drives them and then help them find opportunities to fulfill that passion. This can be through their work or community engagement activities.”
A company’s mission should be managed and led by its people. Organizations who foster a work culture founded on meaningful work and its employees’ values will find long-term success while retaining talent.
Training and development
Making training and development a priority is one of the top ways to not only enhance the knowledge and production of employees but also reduce overall employee turnover. Ninety-four percent of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their careers, according to LinkedIn’s 2018 Workplace Learning Report.
“Managers must ensure that there is an investment strategy aligned with training and development priorities,” said Ashley Ehlinger, Kforce Director of Training and Development. “This can come through resources such as enhanced learning management and enablement tools, data analytics, surveys and more.”
Leadership involvement is also a vital component in employee training and retention. It is critical that managers have conversations with their employees regularly to assist them in creating a personalized development experience that is aligned with their interests and goals.
“A career progression path should include areas that leaders identify for growth. The path should be properly guided with structured milestones and resources to support their development path,” continued Ehlinger.
Learning new skills
Presenting opportunities for learning new skills is also an effective employee retention strategy that allows employees to thrive in their careers and grow within a company.
Many experts believe that the primary reason employees are held back from learning is because they don’t have time. To minimize employee turnover, leadership must provide an atmosphere for learning. This can be achieved by sharing learning activities and incorporating skill development into an employee’s daily role.
In fact, for 86% of millennials, offering career training and development would keep them from leaving their current position, according to Bridge survey data.
“Highlight what an employee has completed in terms of training and certification, but more importantly, allow them to share their experiences, key takeaways and next steps to encourage the behavior for themselves and others,” Ehlinger recommended.
Embracing AI to boost employee experience
It’s widely known that artificial intelligence allows employees to work on more value-added tasks that require emotional intelligence, cognitive flexibility and creativity. However, in the talent acquisition space, AI is also empowering organizations to improve employee experience.
As 51% of US workers report not feeling engaged at work, employee engagement is one of the biggest challenges across organizations. In response, there is a rise in the use of predictive AI tools to help facilitate effective retention strategies using human intuition to create meaningful work atmospheres.
This growing technology is making waves in employee engagement through AI-based data analytics, giving insight into employee turnover. Sentiment analysis is also helping businesses understand the drivers behind employee behavior.
As a result, companies are crafting high-touch, real-time approaches to reduce attrition by identifying areas of friction, work patterns, productivity levels, poor processes, growth opportunities and more. In turn, employers are enabled to build positive work environments that nurture employees today, instead of prolonged annual reviews and assessments that may be already too late in preventing associate departure.
Companies must evolve alongside the current demands of professionals and trending technologies to remain competitive in today’s talent landscape. In this day and age, redefining talent management strategies will be critical to organizational success.
Employers leading the race for talent in 2020 will continue to create value throughout the employment lifecycle to effectively identify, attract and retain top talent.