It’s no secret among recruiters and hiring managers that even though there are plenty of job openings at the moment, the trend over the past couple of years is that fewer candidates seem to be applying. Since the beginning of 2022, job openings in the U.S. have risen at about the same rate as the decrease in the number of job applications, source iCMS April Workforce Report.
With record high inflation and a possible recession looming, you may ask yourself: Don’t people need to work? The reality is job seekers in today’s world have different motivations than they did even three years ago. They aren’t always looking to climb the “corporate career ladder” as much as they are intent on expanding their “personal career web.”
Job seekers are looking for cultures that match their core motivations and where they can bring value and be valued. They are looking for mentors and true leaders with emotional intelligence. They are looking for work that is challenging and allows for them to grow and develop as a person. And they are looking for fair compensation with equally fair flexibility of how and where they work.
With the number of job seekers decreasing, here are some proven ways to increase the number of quality candidates applying for your job openings. Hopefully your organization is doing some of these already.
1. Have HR staff attend career fairs
Various types of school and industry career fairs are a great place to meet candidates face-to-face and promote your job openings. These can be local or regional, and with many jobs allowing remote work arrangements, you can expand your access to candidates by attending career fairs in other states. Keep in mind that just as people have different motivations, they also have different approaches to similar things. Not all candidates like to apply online, whether it’s their comfort level with or access to technology, or simply that they prefer to meet and talk with an employer in-person from the start. I have many clients that are very successful at finding quality candidates that match their culture at career fairs.
2. Ensure leadership is actively involved in recruiting
I recently wrote a blog about why it’s important for executives to be involved in meeting top candidates. An additional step that CEOs, presidents, and senior executives can take is to be consistently and actively involved in recruiting. This can take the form of accessing your network on LinkedIn, or via contacts on boards or associations, at your church, and in your community. Several of my clients have on the back of their business cards a communication stating they are always looking for top talent and a way to contact them with interest. I don’t know about you, but if a CEO gave me their card and said we’d be interested in you, that would definitely get my attention.
3. Look at sources of hidden talent
Think outside the box and try something different from time to time. Take a look at your current employee population profile and ask yourself if there is “hidden” talent out there that might be a good fit.
Here are some examples of what I mean by hidden talent:
Persons with disabilities
Immigrants and refugees
Formerly incarcerated individuals
4. Make sure your application process is user friendly
I’ll narrow this down to the four main components that most companies can improve upon right away. People are more impatient these days and accustomed to instant access to transactions, information, or entertainment that’s available with a click. Your company will benefit from making it easy and quick to apply for job openings, and from having a good communication process along the way.
Here are four pointers for improving candidate access to job opportunities and applications:
Easy -- Develop a mobile-friendly site for completing applications. According to Undercover Recruiter, “3 in 5 job seekers are using mobile devices to search for jobs”.
Quick -- Reduce the number of prequalifying questions you require and stick with the basics.
Flexible -- Provide several options for resume submittal. For example, some candidates now like to submit video resumes.
Clear -- Many candidates don’t stick with the hiring process when the prospective employer doesn’t confirm receipt of their resume and/or doesn’t communicate next steps.
5. Cast a wider net
Don’t limit yourself to one or two sources for adding candidates to your pipeline. If you use an external recruiter, consider adding a second. If you post jobs on one job board, consider adding a second if budgets allow. Remember that many HRIS systems post to multiple sites, and be prepared to leverage LinkedIn, YouTube, and various Social Media platforms.
6. Set up a dedicated careers page on your company’s website
If you don’t already have one, consider adding a dedicated career page to your website. Even if you don’t currently have any job openings, it’s still worthwhile to promote your company as a good place to work, and I recommend continuing to solicit applications and resumes. You can always reach back out to those job seekers when a position opens up.
7. Use video to promote your company and its culture
Consider adding a video to showcase the company, culture, leadership, customers, values, mission, and community.
8. Eliminate the requirement for a college degree
Take an audit of your current workforce to determine if college degrees have a direct correlation to success in the company and/or in certain job titles. While I’m a proponent of education, I also know that a high percentage of workers are successful in jobs that are not related to their degree. It’s also fair to say that a high percentage of top performers have no college degree of any kind. Consider your company a place where you provide a quality on-the-job education for promising candidates.
9. Reduce experience requirements
Most of us have been successful at something without having done it before. Obviously, there are positions and professions that rightly demand a “plug and play” option, but in many roles and positions, it’s feasible to train and develop people who may not have the level of experience we’re looking for. Employees who lack length of tenure in a given role tend to be more loyal because they were given a chance to prove their potential and talent in learning something new.
10. Create a flexible work environment
Job seekers and hiring managers often say that a flexible work environment is among the top three factors in job acceptance. A flexible work environment specifically means options for working remotely or in a hybrid office/remote work situation. Additionally, job seekers are looking for flexibility in their daily schedules, preferring flex-time over set work hours because of work-life balance aspects such as the ability to take off for doctor’s appointments or to care for sick family members without negative repercussions.
Adding these tips to your recruitment process can increase the number of quality candidates applying for your job openings. Times are changing, and the workforce is changing too. Employers need to adapt and make changes to maintain and grow their candidate pipelines. Just as salespeople are “always selling,” employers should be “always recruiting” to compete successfully for the best candidates.