January 25, 2018 – Companies continue to have trouble attracting and hiring top talent. As the scope of readily available high-level candidates shrinks, leading prospects have more offers than ever. For employers, the answer is to place greater emphasis on the candidate in building a talent pipeline, according to a recent study by Aberdeen Group.
Eighty-seven percent of companies have difficulty establishing a talent pipeline, the report said. In the last 10 years, talent pipelines have changed, resulting in two distinctly different models, said Aberdeen Group. In the first model, a job opening is requisitioned inside the organization, for which the company then establishes a pipeline of possible candidates which it sources through traditional recruiting efforts. In the second model, the company establishes a central and ongoing pool of potential candidates that first match the organizational goals, mission, vision, and culture, and that later match job openings as they become available.
In today’s talent market, more than 62 percent of organizations lead with the first model, which is based on the premise that candidates first seek out job compatibility and then look to verify whether they can tolerate the work environment.
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Eighty-seven percent of its respondents said that candidates are looking for a sense of relevance, said Aberdeen Group. They also want clarity and consistency around corporate goals and objectives, as well as consistency in the general definition of their role once they are hired.
These points reinforce the concept that to attract and hire top talent in today’s environment, organizations need to invest more heavily in providing exactly what the candidate is seeking in an employer, said the report. Prospective employees are first looking for how well the company culture aligns with their own goals and ambitions before, or at the same time as, seeking a potential role with the organization. Once they find a comfortable culture match, they then look for development and growth opportunities.
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Building the Candidate-Centric Pipeline
Bringing the two divergent pipeline models to light helps to explain why 62 percent of companies struggle to acquire top talent, said Aberdeen Group. Building short-term pipelines for individual positions as they open fails to reach a broad enough segment of the workforce to adequately target all high potential candidates. Consequently, these short-term pipelines end up pitting one organization against another for a small pool of candidates.
The report found that despite more than half of companies successfully getting in touch with the culture of their workplace, 84 percent still find it challenging to recruit high-potential candidates. Consequently, 40 percent of companies are unable to hire one of the top three candidates prioritized for a role more than half of the time. As companies take note of the pressing need to reconstruct their recruitment efforts, more than half are falling short of full recruitment marketing because they stop the promotional strategy once the employer brand has been developed.
Just 38 percent of companies today are going beyond brand development to actively promote the employer brand through an outbound marketing program, the report said. In centralizing the pipeline, companies are deciding to separate recruiting and hiring while making recruiting position agnostic, said Aberdeen Group. Under this model, recruiting relies on stoking the candidate’s interest in looking for a job at the company. But companies need to wisely promote the employer brand once it has been developed.
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Hundreds of media outlets are running pieces every week about the talent shortage and challenges in finding skilled labor and filling top level job openings. Companies, of course, are well aware of the problem.
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The above table shows the functionality and outreach channels that 38 percent of companies promoting their employer brand are using. The most used features center on the distribution of the job profile – and by extension the company or workplace profile – to candidates in both the active and passive workforces. These features include direct referral from firsthand accounts, campus events that put company representatives on the ground and marketing campaigns. Today, upwards of 68 percent of companies are engaging in activities that involve outbound promotion of the company as a good place to work. These companies are focusing on populating their general talent pipeline before distilling the pipeline by open positions, and then directing possible matches to any and all candidates relevant for the role.
As Table 2 also shows, omni-channel promotion is a significant component of a viable recruitment marketing strategy. With more than half of companies today still primarily focused on pushing job opportunities out into the talent market without much consideration for identifying how the company profile reaches applicants or how the applicant connects to a role at the organization.
When companies focus on their employer brand, they can reach more than just the active, skilled workforce for a given role. Aberdeen Group found that the average active, skilled worker has 4.1 job offers to choose from, pitting the 62 percent of companies using a job-centric talent pipeline in a war for top talent. The problem facing these organizations is that they are working with too narrow a focus on a small subset of the workforce.
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The 38 percent of companies actively engaging in a candidate-centric pipeline are targeting the passive workforce in a much stronger manner than the 62 percent placing the job requisition at the center of the process. Placing the job at the center of the pipeline effort means that the organization does not build a talent pipeline until they have a job opening, according to Aberdeen Group.
Connecting the Dots
To serve the effort to attract and retain top-quality talent, employers need to be more nimble, decisive, direct and attractive, the report said. This means they cannot waste time by pressuring recruiters when it comes to sourcing top talent, or throwing money at recruitment cycles that return mediocre talent. Employers must drastically reduce the time-to-hire, but not from the standpoint of increasing the speed at which a candidate is nurtured through the talent acquisition process.
Instead of focusing on the hiring process, employers should rework the talent pipeline to more effectively support the recruitment channel, Aberdeen Group said. To do this, they must build an employer brand that resonates with the goals of the type of candidates they wish to hire. With the brand in hand, organizations must then promote it through a multitude of marketing channels, and distill them with time to more accurately promote the channels that target the audiences they wish to attract. The brand also needs to remain in the market even when the company is not hiring in order to create a continuous draw for both active and passive candidates, said the study.
As such, human resources can build a reserve of vetted talent for when a position opens and the applicant tracking system determines a match, said the report. Through this combination of branding and application acquisition, companies empower their recruiters to act smarter, swifter and savvier when it comes time to pass vetted candidates to the hiring team.
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Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Will Schatz, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media