Four Factors Impacting the Way Employers Interact with Candidates

Across the globe, employers and candidates live in an accelerating state of change. Adapting is difficult for both workers and employers, but the process of changing strategies as an organization is more complicated. There are legacy systems in place – especially for large organizations – and traditions can become entrenched. Remaining nimble is a challenge. For that reason, it is important to watch the employment landscape and respond with smart and targeted strategies.

In this article, we will explore four factors driving changes in the way that employers interact with job candidates: the digital transformation, current global economic conditions, shifting trust and privacy expectations, and the changing landscape of job boards.

1. The Digital Transformation

In a study by Gartner, 80 percent of executives reported that they have a digital initiative underway and 69 percent believe that they need to become significantly more digital to remain competitive.

According to McKinsey, 51 percent of job activities can be automated, but fewer than 5 percent of jobs are can be completely replaced by machines. The report also determined that the pace of change is so rapid, that by 2030 as much as 14 percent of the global workforce could need to change occupational categories.

Employers need to respond by finding candidates who can lead through change and learn and adapt – rather than candidates who only excel at a job as it exists today. This is becoming even more difficult as top candidates are in high demand due to record-low unemployment rates in many major global economies.

Fast Company reports that in May 2018 employers posted 314,000 tech job openings and only filled 8,700 of them. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also projects employment of software developers to grow 24 percent through 2026, faster than the average for all other occupations.

What does this mean?

Employers need to be able to attract and identify the candidates of the future – the people who have the skills and mindset needed to drive success into the future. That means developing an employer value proposition, or EVP, and an employer brand platform that is unique, authentic yet aspirational, and dynamic, sharing your EVP with your target audience, using innovative, data-driven strategies to attract candidates for the future and assessing candidates to identify those with a growth mindset.

2. Global Economic Conditions

In the decade since the start of the global economic downturn, many countries have recovered and now have competitive, candidate-driven markets for talent.

In the U.S., the unemployment rate is down to 3.7 percent. In the UK, it is down to 4.0 percent. There are strong employment numbers around the world. In a competitive market, employers need to be proactive about attracting both active and passive candidates.

Additionally, people are starting to feel more comfortable leaving their jobs, which is both an opportunity and a challenge for employers. It means that you have an opportunity to bring in strong candidates, but it also means that some of your strongest employees could leave for greener pastures.

With all of the press coverage about the state of the global economy, in-demand candidates will also recognize that the hiring landscape has changed. This, coupled with the potential for multiple offers, means that top candidates will have higher expectations – not only in regard to salary but also the purpose, mission and culture of the employer they choose.

What does this mean?

Employers around the globe should look for the best talent and use innovative assessment techniques to identify those who derive purpose from the work done by the organization and who are passionate about the mission. Employers should also ensure their offers and workplace culture lives up to and exceeds the expectations of the best candidates, and they should invest more in retaining top talent.

3. Shifting Trust and Privacy

Candidates are growing more cautious about which organizations they trust and who can have access to their personal data. Candidates in the U.S. and Europe have been exposed to political disinformation campaigns that left many reevaluating their sources of information. Additionally, privacy issues at Facebook have motivated many candidates to increase their social media privacy settings.

As a result, research shows that many people have grown to distrust traditional advertising from brands. Instead, more people are relying on recommendations from friends and relatives, according to Nielson. Forbes reports candidates are asking more about reviews on Glassdoor and issues that they read about online like turnover rates and layoffs. Consumers are also taking steps to avoid ads, with the Wall Street Journal reporting that 80 percent of adults in America use at least one ad blocking method.

While most candidates have some information available online for employers to find, some of the most tech-savvy are cutting back. According to Pew Research, 74 percent of American Facebook users have either taken a break from the site, adjusted their privacy settings or deleted the app from their phone. Another survey found that half of consumers in the UK don’t trust anyone with their personal information.

Beyond reactions from candidates, employers also face increasing regulations. The GDPR, or EU General Data Protection Regulation, took effect in May 2018. It requires businesses to protect the personal data and privacy of EU citizens for transactions that occur within EU member states. TechRepublic reports that 61 percent of compliance professionals say they’re concerned that the reduced data availability and new requirements of GDPR could impact future sourcing and recruiting. In the U.S., California recently passed the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018. These laws are popular with voters, and employers should expect privacy concerns to be a continuing issue.

Despite these issues, Forbes reports that HR teams still have more data now than ever before. Employers benefit from the growing amount of data available, but they should keep in mind its limitations.

What does this mean?

Employers should work to build an authentic EVP and employer brand platform to gain trust and buy-in from candidates. This should include the development of brand ambassadors who can reach candidates who are skeptical of traditional information channels. By developing an employer brand platform that takes advantage of peer-to-peer networking, employers can break through the walls put up by ad-blocking software and ad-skeptical candidates. The authenticity of the message is key to appearing more trustworthy.

4. The Changing Role of Job Boards

The role of job boards is also changing rapidly. Google Jobs makes it easier for candidates to search for job postings the same way they search for everything else on the internet – and candidates have grown to expect this. According to Forbes, the second page of Google search results accounts for only 6 percent of all website clicks. This means that to ensure your target audience can find your available positions, you must have job descriptions optimized for search.

Inc. reports that Google’s preference for relevant text- and video-based content will also apply to Google Jobs results. Employers need to be SEO-savvy to get postings in front of candidates. Additionally, many candidates now search for jobs using the same search engines that supply information like Glassdoor reviews and news stories about your organization.

Job boards and aggregators have also changed in response to Google Jobs. Candidates no longer need to search a variety of job boards to find postings that match their skills. Because of this, for our UK client base, we are already seeing a decreased return on investment from job boards which has decreased our own spending.

What does this mean?

Employers need to be able to respond quickly as the job board environment changes. Google Jobs has only been available in the U.S. since 2017, and it was only introduced in the UK in 2018. This means there are still more changes to come. Employers should constantly evaluate which job boards bring in the most high-quality candidates in a cost-effective way and consistently adjust their strategy.

Where to Go from Here

In response to this rapid change, these four factors should be seen as challenges and opportunities, not barriers to success. Employers can use strategies like employer branding, new ways of generating candidates and assessments built for the future to set themselves apart. 

Post by Nicole Fuqua