The tide has turned. What once was an employer’s market is now a job seeker’s delight. The unemployment rate is hovering around 4%, which we haven’t seen in the U.S. since the 1960s. This is excellent news for people seeking employment and has opened more options. Conversely, companies are adding jobs at a rapid rate, with many positions remaining open for long periods due to a lack of (qualified) individuals to fill these roles, and expectations are that the talent shortage is not getting any better. A Korn Ferry study revealed that human capital—people, labor, knowledge—will be worth as much as $1.2 quadrillion over the next few years; the financial repercussions of the labor shortage will undoubtedly impact the worldwide economy due to organizations being unable to fill their open positions quickly enough if at all.

What people want to know

Many people believe that each generation in the workforce has its unique agenda. Undeniably some nuances distinguish one era from another; however, all people in the workforce want to experience respect, equality, fair pay, an accurate representation of an organization’s culture, advancement opportunities, job stability, and gratification from the work they perform, along with acknowledgment by the employer for a job well done. When we look at workforce generational preferences, much of this is driven by the stage in life where someone is. As changes impact our lives (i.e., marriage, health issues, children, care for aging parents), priorities will naturally shift.

So that you know, the days of staid and boring job postings as optimal are quickly becoming a thing of the past. People want to know more than what you provide in a laundry list of what they must have and what will be expected of them to perform in the role. Learning more about the human side of your business is increasingly a factor in a job candidate’s interaction with a company and accepting a job offer. Though money is a significant consideration for everyone of all generations, a company’s “softer side” is also essential. This softer side is where the relationships between people and business intersect and engagement can be found, and ultimately where employees want to find happiness and experience satisfaction.

Companies that better understand the nuances of their generational workforce and the universal expectations of all employees will always fare better when interacting with job seekers. Generally, these organizations understand their cultural attributes and know how to showcase them. This is where transparency and an accurate representation of the organization’s norms, likes and dislikes, values, and priorities, along with employer branding, take center stage, thus creating a clearer picture of the employer and setting the foundation for realistic expectations.

Be where the candidates are

According to Inc. magazine, 79% of job seekers use social media to find a job, with that percentage increasing to 89% for people who are only ten years into the workforce. Additionally, the Inc. article revealed that two out of three employees believe their employer doesn’t have a social presence or knows how to use social media to promote their jobs.

Social media is the perfect venue to showcase company culture, employee sentiment, and employer attributes. This means that employers’ presence in social media must be available, relatable, likable, interesting, and attractive to job seekers. This takes effort on the company’s part, yet many still need help to have a recruiting presence on social. Some employers believe social media is fine for “investigating” a candidate’s background. Still, many don’t use it as a sourcing and recruiting vehicle for finding viable talent, which is a huge mistake.

Note: If you cannot expose your culture publicly, you may need to re-examine your culture and determine where there is an opportunity for positive change.

Broaden your horizons

Implementing new, more effective strategies and tactics in your recruiting efforts is always a good time. Companies that rely exclusively on one recruiting venue or option are doing themselves a disservice. An integrated approach is always better because you will reach a more diverse group of people by creating saturation or advanced marketing of your jobs. Using technology to promote your brand and employment is a good start, given most job seekers today are tech-savvy and use technology to aid them in their search. Using video to showcase your employer’s brand and work environment, when used appropriately, can give people a great idea of your culture. Also, direct recruiting tools such as social media, video interviewing, AI, texting, advanced applicant tracking systems, and even gamification for candidate engagement are effective ways to reach both active and passive job seekers.

Additionally, companies that recognize the importance of having a diverse workplace stay ahead of the curve. These organizations have expanded their outreach and increased their recruiting options in today’s ever-growing global workforce. As mentioned earlier, using social media is a recommended practice with myriad benefits, but companies must also look at population demographics and determine where they are missing opportunities. If you’re positioning your organization to reach limited population segments, you are not only creating a bias in your recruiting techniques; you deny your organization the opportunity to bring in diverse and new ideas. Both conscious and unconscious bias exists and produces adverse effects felt by all generations in the workforce, often denying people employment based on their sexual orientation, gender, race, and countries of origin. Only with the inclusion of all people can an organization truly experience the benefits of various points of view, opening the door to more innovative thinking. When considering global history as an example, think about the people who lived in cultures that were isolated and non-inclusive. Except for just a few, most have ceased to exist. Ultimately, organizations that ignore inclusion have the potential to face the same outcome.

If you need help figuring out where to start, look internally at your current employee population. Would you happen to have people who can help with information or advice for creating a more diverse workplace culture?

Employees are a resource.

One of the best and most economical recruiting resources companies has is their employees. These people are entrenched in the organization and can articulate the company’s culture with a deep, realistic understanding, which can be either good or bad. When employees are provided an opportunity to help mold the workplace population, employers can generally expect greater engagement by employees, as they now have skin in the game. Their proactive involvement demonstrates concern and interest in making the company’s culture a productive and meaningful environment by integrating people within their network.

Over the past decade, many research groups have evaluated the cost-effectiveness and efficacy of an employee referral program (ERP.) These findings are a perfect reason for organizations to develop and implement an ERP as part of their recruiting mix, and the data points to many positive outcomes. In addition to providing employees a more significant say in who is hired, organizations fill jobs faster, lowering the cost-to-hire; people engaged via an ERP are more likely retained as employees, and people are typically a better culture fit unless your current employee pool is homogenous.

Other areas for consideration are internships and alums groups. Having a well-designed internship program allows you to train and develop new talent in a way that is customized to your business. There is much to be learned from fresh ideas. From this group, plan to keep the best and brightest to grow your talent pool.

Another opportunity many companies need to consider is implementing an alum program. This program is designed with former employees in mind and is a great way to stay in touch with people who bring value to your organization. These are people considered “re-hirable,” so maintaining open lines of communication with job openings, company updates, and events is one way to keep you top-of-mind.

These individuals can serve as the best resources you can ever have for job candidate recommendations.

It is the best of times. It is the worst of times.

As with most things in life, there’s a negative for every positive. The fact that job seekers are more knowledgeable and savvy “shoppers” is a positive thing, but only for the companies that are keeping pace with them or that offer people employment compatible with the organization’s belief system. If your organization is behind the curve on current recruiting trends and methodologies, expect to be overlooked by many job seekers. Given the keen interest in understanding company culture and the mission, vision, and values an organization projects and lives by, it’s imperative to make these transparent to job seekers and candidates.

If you’re unsure where to begin, start with one or two programs above on a smaller scale. Don’t try to change everything at once because, firstly, change is complex, and secondly, you must be able to manage, monitor and quantify results successfully. If you can’t oversee a new program and evaluate outcomes, you’ll never fully understand what is working and what is not. And do keep in mind that workplace happiness (or lack thereof) is a telltale sign of a failed or successful program, so do take the pulse of your employees from time to time. These actions can elevate the atmosphere of your organization and eventually pay off with great dividends for your workplace and brand.

It takes work to stay competitive in a fast-paced society with more jobs than qualified people to fill them. Still, you can maintain a competitive edge and win the war on talent by implementing programs or initiatives that expand your reach.

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