How to maximise your recruitment efforts during an applicant shortage
It’s not news that the labour market has shifted exponentially over the last few years (and if this is news to you, apologies for the rude awakening!). In the latest ABS Job Vacancies release, it was reported that there were 423,000 job vacancies in February 2022. This constitutes a whopping 86% increase in job vacancies compared to February 2020.
The low supply of labour we currently face on a global scale has resulted in one-third of Australian businesses struggling to find employees, with large and medium sized enterprises experiencing the most difficulty. To further on from this, Seek’s Head of Customer Insights and Strategy told The Guardian that applications per job ad are at their lowest level since 2011.
Whilst these statistics sound like we recruiters are in dire straits, we don’t need to bury our heads in the sand just yet! One of the unsung heroes of navigating this talent shortage is the process of Talent Pooling – or a step up from this; Talent Pipelining. In other words, it’s time to stop taking a reactive approach to recruitment and start prioritising proactive recruitment.
What is Talent Pooling?
Talent Pooling is the process of creating your very own database of potential applicants who are qualified and have previously applied for your roles or expressed interest in working for your business. In other words, keeping a record of every applicant you have received.
What is Talent Pipelining?
Talent Pipelining is similar to the process of Talent Pooling, with the additional step of also screening the applicants for their suitability within various areas of your business. Simply put, a Talent Pipeline is where you direct candidates within your Talent Pool to. Candidates within your Talent Pipeline are primed and ready to be offered a position should an opportunity that suits their skillset arise.
Key Considerations for Harvesting a Talent Pool and Developing Talent Pipelines
Massive Talent Loss Attributed to Resume Screening
Just because an applicant applied to Job A doesn’t mean they won’t be suitable for Job B. Effective Talent Pooling and Talent Pipelining requires a shift in the outdated methods of recruitment and an ability to hone in on the right attitudes and transferable skills that are key predictors of success within your role.
Forbes Magazine has cited that
“ screening the resume instead of the person behind it has resulted in a massive talent loss for many companies. ”
This is largely due to the fact that resume parsing technology can only capture the words on a screen, and not the individual’s intrinsic characteristics such as their motivation and willingness to learn.
A change in the applicant market requires a change in the hiring process to avoid losing out on top talent.
Specific industry and role-based experience is less and less important during a talent shortage.
” It’s far more effective to focus on attitudes and transferable skills that can be applied in your role rather than exact job history matching “
Focusing on these areas will also help you build upon your Talent Pipelines as you screen for your job vacancies.
The days of one avenue of applicant attraction are over!
” If you are waiting 30 days for applicants and an applicant cohort to build up to then start communicating with them, you are already too late … they will be gone! “
Applicants are spoilt for choice when it comes to which job boards they apply through – now is the time to get smart on attraction strategies! Consider making better use of no-cost job advertising by:
- Harnessing the power of social media campaigns
Create tagged job links to your roles to share on your social media platforms that advertise your own branding to attract applicants.
- Adding QR Codes to your collateral
There is a common misconception that HR and Marketing are completely separate departments, however your employer brand and applicant attraction methods should completely align with Marketing goals. Creating job vacancy posters, or even every day use items (e.g. coffee cups or business cards) with QR Codes to your current opportunities will help to spread the funnel wide for top talent.
- Incentivising employee referrals
Not only do employee referrals help your employer brand (because having existing staff who recommend the business as an employer looks good!), they also produce higher quality applicants. Existing employees are unlikely to recommend someone for a role within their company if they know the individual is an unreliable or poor worker – it makes them look bad for referring them in the first place!
On top of this, studies also show that employee referrals are cost-effective and one of the most valuable sources of applicants in terms of retention rates, speed of hire and cultural fit once hired.
- Getting creative!
Back in 2004, Google advertised an Engineer vacancy in a way that tapped into the key skills that they were looking for. They used billboards to post an equation, where the answer would lead potential candidates to a job application within Google’s Research and Development Department.
The site stated:
” One thing we learned while building Google is that it’s easier to find what you’re looking for if it comes looking for you. What we’re looking for are the best engineers in the world. And here you are “
This attraction technique is a form of gamification within the recruitment space.
Make Expression of Interest Roles do the work for you
The end-goal here is to build a Talent Pipeline that does the work for you, so you don’t have to stress about talent shortages when a role becomes vacant in your business. Even if you aren’t actively recruiting for a role right now, advertising Expression of Interest (EOI) roles helps to passively build your Talent Pool in the meantime (remember, we need to approach recruitment proactively now more than ever!)
Not only will Expression of Interest (EOI) roles help to passively build your Talent Pools and Pipelines, they will also have a positive impact on your employer branding. Employer branding is a HUGE deciding factor that applicants consider when applying for roles.
In the current market, applicants are spoilt for choice when it comes to potential employers, so keeping your employer brand in top shape is vital for applicant attraction. EOI roles help employer branding by highlighting a clear line of career progression within your company for applicants and existing staff to strive towards.
It’s important to be just as expansive with collecting applicant information within EOI roles as you are with Actively Recruiting roles. Your EOI application forms should match what you would typically ask for within vacant positions, as this will help you proactively identify those who will fit into your Talent Pipelines for particular roles.
Talent Pools are practically useless if you are not capturing data-rich information around each candidate’s skills, experience, attitudes and values! Without any worthwhile information on each applicant, Talent Pipelining will be a very laborious task!
Remember to include your Internal Talent
Your internal staff are a valuable source of talent to include in any Talent Pool considerations and it is important to include them. Incorporating internal talent makes Talent Pipelining a breeze since you already know these people. Talent Pipelining internal staff is actually well known as Succession Planning – a practice that is already commonplace in most businesses!
When including your internal talent into your Talent Pools and Pipelines, consider where each employee would fit in if someone were to leave. Can they be promoted to Upper Management? Or could they be crossboarded into another area of the business where they may actually thrive more than they do now in their existing role?
It’s also important to note that including internal talent in your recruitment decisions is a key step in boosting morale within the workplace. Employees will notice that they are being valued and supported within the organisation, and seeing themselves and/or their colleagues promoted internally (instead of always outsourcing talent externally) will boost employee engagement.
Concurrently Talent Pipeline
Talent Pipelining does not have to be a laborious task! Whilst some implementation will be involved in getting started with your proactive Pipelines, you actually already pipeline your talent every single time you screen applicants for a current vacancy.
Whilst you’re actively recruiting for roles and vetting each applicant’s suitability for the vacancy, it will save future-you so much time if you also consider those who may be better suited for other roles down the track.
As you consider this, move these applicants into a Talent Pipeline for that role you think they would be perfect for in the future. This will save you having to double-handle your Talent Pool down the track in order to create your Talent Pipelines.
So much time and resources are used (now more than ever!) trying to fill vacancies by attracting candidates, screening and shortlisting, interviewing and reference checking.
It would be such a waste to leave your preferred, yet unsuccessful candidates, behind for good – add them to a Talent Pipeline so that you can quickly reach out to them when more suitable roles are available (or a similar opportunity arises again if they were still a strong candidate for the current vacancy!).
Ensure your Talent Pool has the search capabilities on what matters
So, we have casted the net wide for avenues of applicant attraction, and we have EOI roles doing the work for us in passively building our Talent Pools. The next step in making Talent Pipelining as seamless as possible is to ensure that you are able to search through your own Talent Pool for the qualities that you are actually looking for.
This includes filtering down on criteria such as applicant attitudes, skills, qualifications, experience, location…. Even their salary expectations! The right system will help to not only have an actionable Talent Pool, but will help you build Talent Pipelines too.
A system is only as good as the information that goes into it (which is why EOI roles need to be asking for relevant and actionable information!). Remember that companies who just rely on gathering basic contact information and/or simply a resume have been proven to miss out on top talent!
It’s important to not just include whether a candidate is “high quality”, but also what are their skills, what roles would they be good for in future? Do they fit the culture?
This information is what will make your Talent Pool USEFUL, otherwise you’re just left with thousands of names in a list with no records of how they may be a good fit for certain areas in the business.
A positive applicant experience is VITAL
This is undeniably the make or break for your Talent Pipelines! You can leave all the notes in the world to remind you how great you thought this applicant was, but this will not help you if the candidate has lost interest in the business because they weren’t kept up to date with the outcome.
Ensuring that the applicant has a great recruitment experience from submitting their application up until the final decision is made is crucial in keeping them interested in working for your organisation. Timely updates are important, especially in the current market where applicants are constantly reminded of other similar opportunities.
When you have identified some really strong candidates, it is so important to build rapport with them. A simple personalised email / LinkedIn message, phone call here and there will really help to achieve this and build loyalty with the candidate moving forward. Try something along the lines of:
Hi Tegan, Thank you for the time and effort you gave us to apply for this role. We believe that you have attributes that we could possibly use for our future growth. We have hired a person for this position but would you be willing for me to reach out to you when a better suited role becomes available?
With the right system in place, sending personalised messages and encouraging return responses like this will only take up a minute of your day, but it will leave a lasting image with the applicant that makes them feel valuable and important.
Consider inviting your unsuccessful applicants to follow you on social media such as LinkedIn, Facebook or Instagram (even TikTok if you have one!). This will allow your Talent Pool to remain engaged with what your company is doing and keep their interest in working for you piqued.
Remember: No one wants to receive an email asking if they would be interested in a new position if they had a horrible experience in their initial application (or even worse – never heard anything regarding the outcome of the campaign!). Consider how your applicants will perceive your workplace based on the communication they have had with you during the recruitment process. Applicants are people too!
The Benefits You Will Experience with Talent Pooling and Talent Pipelining
1. Ready-access to your own pre-vetted talent list at the click of a button
Say goodbye to chasing your tail every time a vacancy arises! Why leave it to the eleventh hour? Simply dip into your live Talent Pools and Pipelines to find pre-vetted, ready to go talent.
2. Improved candidate experience across the board
The engaging attraction methods, timely communication and regular updates provided to candidates in the Talent Pooling and Pipelining process will improve your applicant experience and therefore your employer branding too.
3. Get Strategic with Workforce Planning pro-actively working for you
Again, no more having to run around re-actively trying to find a replacement when someone in the organisation hands in their notice – your Talent Pipelines will be ready equipped with suitable existing employees with potential to grow, or ready to hire external talent that has already been vetted during their initial application to your business.
4. Cut your Time-To-Hire and Cost-Per-Hire
Pro-actively built and regularly nurtured Talent Pools and Pipelines mean that less time and effort is required in advertising vacancies, waiting for new applicants to apply, screening, shortlisting, calling, interviewing (the process goes on!) because you will have already done this prior to the vacancy arising.
Cost-Per-Hire is cut too! Recruiter time equals money, so the less time spent re-actively recruiting equals less money spent.
Decrease the time it takes to source talent. By opening the funnel wide to various (and creative!) methods of applicant attraction also cuts the time it takes to source talent, and depending on how creative you get, it won’t cost an arm and a leg to find them either.
5. Give applicants a taste of the energy behind your employer brand
It’s all in the way you keep in touch. When an applicant’s values align with those of an organisation, it fosters a positive organisational culture where employees are engaged in their work.
Showcasing videos alongside your job offerings that highlight your team, culture and employer brand as well as during the recruitment process is a fantastic way to demonstrate your alignment to those applicants with similar values.
These days, it is all about keeping up the dialogue with your applicants in your Talent Pool.