The tight labor market has employers scrambling to find skilled talent. According to a 2016 ManpowerGroup survey, 40 percent of employers report there is a talent shortage.
According to Will Staney, founder and principal consultant at Proactive Talent Strategies LLC, a recruitment consulting firm based in Austin, Texas, the previous mindset of the employer-employee relationship was that the employee should be grateful to be employed. This relationship has now shifted to a more candidate-driven market.
“It’s not hard to find people anymore. The biggest challenge in recruiting is actually getting them to the table,” Staney said. When competition is fierce in this area, recruiters must get creative in how they capture the attention of the talent they hope to recruit.
“I think you have to do whatever you have to do and you have to get creative and think outside of traditional ways of attracting people to get attention,” Staney said. Posting a job on a job board where everyone else is won’t effectively cut through the noise of other posts. It’s no longer enough to post a job and hope people apply. “The best solutions come when you’re really thinking intentionally and stepping in the shoes of your potential candidates and thinking like how would I want to be approached?”
Here are nine creative ways to recruit talent:
- Share the organization’s story and culture.
The biggest way to attract talent in this economy is to differentiate the company as an employer and to tell the organization’s story, Staney said. Recruiting is more of a multichannel marketing approach these days, where companies use employee stories to find talent that fits their cultures.
- Reach talent when they’re most frustrated with their current work situation.
When Staney worked at Glassdoor, the company had a hard time finding technical talent. With many commuters in Silicon Valley, recruiters at Glassdoor thought they could reach commuters while traveling. The company put a large sign on their office, saying, “Tired of the commute? We’re hiring right here,” Staney recalled. Also, at a ferry and bus station, the company hired a barista truck to hand out free lattes and gourmet coffee, featuring sleeves that said they’re hiring.
- Find candidates that seek out what the company is looking for.
Staney shared other solutions from companies such as Google. If a coder went searching on Google for a coding language, they saw a popup saying, “You are speaking our language. Up for a challenge?” Then, coders could participate in a game called the Foo Bar Challenge. After reaching a certain level, they received a call from a Google recruiter.
Other companies hide recruiting messaging in the coding of their websites. People who look for the source code can sometimes see hidden messages that say something like, “We love people who look under the hood,” prompting the right talent to apply.
- Leverage video content.
Video dominates the internet today. In early 2017, people watched more than 1 billion hours of video per day on YouTube, according to The Wall Street Journal.
When Staney worked at software company VMware in 2009, he sent Flip Video cameras out with recruiters to take video with hiring managers, who would talk about their teams and show executives and recruiters, providing a behind-the-scenes peek into the company.
“I wouldn’t say that’s super creative now, but you’d be surprised how many companies still aren’t utilizing video the way they could,” Staney said. Live video is also a great platform for this mission, especially if hopeful candidates can ask questions and learn more about the job.
- Be freelancer friendly.
“If a company really wants access to more talent, especially when there’s so much talent scarcity out there, they really need to appear to be, or they need to be freelance friendly,” said Jim Stroud, global head of sourcing and recruiting strategies at Randstad Sourceright, a human resources advisory based in Atlanta. Scarcity of talent means turning to alternative forms of work, such as gig work.
One challenge of gig work, however, is when workers receive their pay. Stroud talked about an application called DailyPay, which adds into the existing payroll system at companies and allows for people to receive their paycheck ahead of the scheduled time. If a company can pay workers every day, that might be a draw for gig workers.
Another company called Hyr makes it easy for companies and workers to match up based on when the worker is available. Rather than apply for specific jobs, people can apply for the shifts that work with their schedules, he said.
- Consult other internal experts.
“When you think about the experience of a candidate, it’s not dissimilar to that of a customer,” said Jim Conti, people lead at dscout Inc., a consumer research software company based in Chicago. He shared that some of his success comes from looking internally for subject matter experts, such as sales and marketing teams, to understand the software they use for customer relationship development. Although the language in their tools will be customer-focused, simply substituting “lead” for “candidate” will make the technology useful.
- Be authentic.
There will always be a new tool that claims to reinvent the world for recruiters. Some of these are useful, but successfully finding the right talent comes down to authenticity, Conti said.
Recruiters should consider the resistance that candidates could bring up. Especially if a company lacks strong ratings employer ratings on Glassdoor, the company must acknowledge that and think critically about where the commentary is coming from and then consider how to engage with a candidate about that.
Conti said he’s seen an insurance company do well by acknowledging that it’s not necessarily a super exciting industry; young people, for instance, may not dream of being an insurance agent when they grow up. The company therefore played off of that sentiment by going out of its way to share how it makes work fun.
- Stay on the radar of desired talent.
Where does the desired talent spend time online? asked Krisi Rossi O’Donnell, chief recruiting officer at LaSalle Network Inc., a staffing, recruiting and culture advisory based in Chicago. She said her company uses Twitter to update followers on what’s happening in their markets. Through accounts for various industries, such as accounting and finance, LaSalle pushes out stories for those audiences to show that the company is up to date on news. This allows recruiting messages to be in prospective talent’s preferred form of communication.
- Stay rooted in relationships.
Ultimately, recruiting is getting back to its relationship-driven roots. The past 10 years or so have been very transactional, Proactive Talent Strategies’ Staney said, but the future will involve automation of the administrative parts of recruiting, so recruiters can have more time to spend on networking and building relationships.
“The future of finding talent is we won’t need to find it anymore,” Staney said. The future is in using the data and technology that’s available to create more human experiences.
Building those relationships is important to find what candidates seek in a job, said LaSalle Network’s O’Donnell. Because people are motivated to seek new employment for different reasons, recruiters must get to know them before calling with job opportunities.
Lauren Dixon is an associate editor at Talent Economy. To comment, email firstname.lastname@example.org.