Above all else, a company’s success depends on its people, which is why hiring the right employees is the most important endeavor for any business. It also makes attracting them one of the greatest challenges.
Since the financial crisis a decade ago, the U.S. unemployment rate has been cut in half, and private sector employment has seen an uptick of more than 18 million jobs since 2010, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Those figures are evidence that the job market today is candidate-driven. Companies are updating their methods for finding candidates to get their name out to a wider range of applicants, even seeking international talent.
But while locating prospective employees is one thing, attracting the right talent to your company is another thing altogether. Not many companies have caught up to what today’s top talent wants, and if they have kept up, they may not be letting candidates know. For instance, a 2017 Gallup study found that the most important factors in work satisfaction for millennial employees are growth opportunities and work culture. Yet some companies still struggle to show they can provide that.
You may have what job applicants seek, but unless you pay close attention to how you present your business during the recruitment process, you won’t attract the top talent you’re hoping for. Here are four reasons you may be having trouble luring — and landing — the people you need:
1. You’re casting too narrow a net.
Today’s marketplace is more diverse than ever, and even small to midsize companies do business with other companies and consumers across the world. In such a marketplace, international employees offer numerous benefits. When looking for employees, keep in mind that location is important to all potential prospects, but even more so to international candidates. Highlighting ways your city welcomes foreign-born talent can raise your company above the rest.
For instance, business and political leaders in St. Louis partner with the St. Louis Mosaic Project and International Institute of St. Louis to help immigrants, ethnic minorities and refugees settle into the community, while GlobalSTL attracts international startups to the area. Ohio, too, has recognized the advantages of recruiting foreign-born talent, as evidenced by Ohio Welcoming Initiatives, a collaboration that aims to identify best practices for attracting and welcoming immigrants. If your company can tout resources like these, you’ll be much better positioned to attract the best candidates for your job, whatever their country of origin.
2. Your job description has no personality.
Many companies use the same threadbare descriptions to promote every job opening. To stand apart, create descriptions that serve as an introduction and a teaser, generating interest while providing all the information a candidate needs to know about the job. In many cases, the job description is a candidate’s first impression of a company, and a stale one can instantly quash the company’s appeal.
Today more companies are finding ways to make everything from job titles to application processes more interesting and inviting. For example, Zapier’s job ads first focus on the culture fit and what the company is looking for in a person before describing the responsibilities of the role. That’s an attractive approach for applicants and says a lot about the work environment they can expect. When searching for developers and engineers, companies like Apple and Google hide job listings in code, where only qualified candidates will find them.
3. You leave people hanging.
Once your job descriptions sing, focus on creating an application process that emphasizes clear communication. Rather than keeping good candidates in the dark, unsure if they’ve made it to the next round, make certain your HR team gives qualified applicants insight into what to expect next. Including a timeline of the application process, offering candidates some feedback along the way and sounding human in your communications rather than like an email bot can all help you develop a positive relationship with potential employees.
Andre Lavoie, CEO of talent-management solution vendor ClearCompany, observes that 36 percent of today’s applicants expect updates from companies they’ve applied to, while 41 percent expect to be told if they weren’t chosen. Yet only 26 percent of employers say they provide this information. Even if companies can’t reach out to every single applicant individually, they “can still close that gap in communication without exhausting their HR resources,” Lavoie says.
4. Your interview questions don’t reveal how candidates think.
As with the job description, you should never underestimate the power of interview questions. Obviously, an interview is supposed to help you determine whether the candidate is a good fit for your company and help the applicant decide whether your business is a good fit for him or her. To accomplish this, however, you need to ask interview questions that elicit more than just sparkling conversation.
Matt Sunshine, managing partner for The Center for Sales Strategy, emphasizes that the best interview questions aren’t about getting the most interesting answers. They’re about getting the best glimpse into the candidates’ thought process, such as by asking uncomfortable questions that force them out of their comfort zone. “Tailor your interview questions appropriately,” Sunshine says, “but don’t be afraid to dig a little deeper for specific examples.” With the right questions, you can discover how candidates solve problems, what they’re passionate about and how they react to conflict or uncomfortable situations.
Business leaders well know that their company’s success relies on recruiting and retaining the best employees. To attract the right candidates, begin by avoiding these four hiring missteps.
Keep in mind that in today’s global marketplace, your goal is to be the company that stands out the most in a sea of possibilities.