Conference season is right around the corner and to kick things off, we invited 50 recruiters and talent acquisition professionals to our headquarters in Washington D.C. for a full day of, well, un-conference stuff. That’s right, we hosted an un-conference, called #HRTX, in partnership with RecruitingDaily.
“What’s an un-conference?” you may be asking. Well, un-like a conference, the purpose is to get everyone talking and sharing their talent acquisition challenges and brainstorming ways to overcome those challenges so that when each person returns to their respective office they have something actionable to start implementing right away. Sounds cool. But what’s it like?
The event had serious energy. And to capture all these simultaneous conversations, I was poppin’ around like a squirrel on red bull or whatever crazy energy drink young kids are drinking these days. Like this one that promises to make you superhuman.
So instead of listening to just a few speakers talk about best practices that may or may not apply to everyone, I dug in and had conversations with 50 recruiters and TA professionals who are experiencing a breadth of challenges yet who are also implementing a breadth of innovative solutions. And armed with this information, I hope to shed some light on what your peers are doing that’s working as well as what to avoid.
Let’s start with the challenges. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that filling positions is becoming more and more difficult as the labor market becomes tighter and tighter. It’s tough being a recruiter right now. But many of the recruiters I spoke with are embracing this challenge. And one area they’ve looked to help fill these positions is the passive candidate.
Yes, I know, the passive candidate has always been around. It’s even made its way into T.V. Remember when Michael Scott tried recruiting Ryan from the bowling alley in Season 5 of the Office? Or when Peggy Olson in Mad Men was poached by a competitor of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce? And even if you haven’t seen either of these episodes, just know that Ryan and Peggy weren’t actively looking for jobs but both were approached by other companies and offered something they couldn’t refuse. These two scenarios are the epitome of a passive candidate and although this was just T.V. it is still a reflection of what goes on IRL (in real life for those born prior to the digital revolution).
According to some accounts, passive candidates represent 75% of the workforce. And passive candidates are no longer limited to just a few job types like developers or engineers. In fact, organizations are struggling to attract and engage passive candidates across the entire spectrum of job types from developers, to data scientists, to analysts to even truck drivers.
One of the discussions at the un-conference was all about one specific way to attract, engage and hire these passive candidates: the employee referral.
The employee referral
Yep, employee referrals are a great way to tap in to passive candidates. But proceed with caution, warned William Tincup, the President of RecruitingDaily. Why? Because not all employee referrals are A players. Unfortunately, some are C, D, and F referrals. And where do these referrals come from? Your C, D, and F employees. So start and end with your top performing employees when it comes to any employee referral program because birds of a feather flock together.
Once you’ve got that down, you can move to the second recommendation I heard when it comes to structuring an employee referral program. Regardless of the magnitude (big or small) or type (payout or bonus) of the incentive you offer to employees for referrals, it has to be offered right now to truly affect behavior. If you delay the gratification, it loses its impact. It’s no secret that we are a society of right now (see Amazon’s 1-click ordering as evidence). This is how we’ve been conditioned. So unless you plan on reversing decades of conditioning brought on by technology, you need to play by their rules. Instant gratification is the name of the game.
Differentiate your brand
Another topic that was prevalent was how to stand out from the crowd when trying to attract candidates (passive or active). The crux of the problem being, in this tight labor market, why should any candidate choose to engage with your company? There were plenty of ideas thrown out from truly improving your candidate experience (yep, it’s okay to follow up with all your candidates to let them know where they are in the process) to leveraging employee stories, testimonials and videos on your career site. But one idea that I brought to the table was the use of chat software on your career site or job pages to truly connect your recruiters with candidates in one to one conversations. By doing so you are actually addressing many of the areas I mentioned above from improving the candidate experience to prioritizing the human to human connection most candidates expect from brands.
Okay, you caught me, the company I work for, Brazen, offers just such a solution. But these were actual conversations I was having with recruiters at the event and this novel concept seemed to stick. And at the end of the day we work with hundreds of companies that are seeing success from chat software. Check out the rest of our site to learn more or click the image below to schedule a demo. At the very least we can talk about The Office or Mad Men. How awesome is Dwight Schrute?
This blog post only touches the surface of the ideas that came out of this un-conference. You can see my other post on this event by heading over to RecruitingDaily. Or, check back soon for some awesome videos we created from the event that are jam packed with even more advice from recruiters.
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