by Bruce Harpham

How technology is improving the hiring process

Feature
Oct 18, 2016
Enterprise ApplicationsIT Jobs

The need to create and support a brand as a top employer is a key driving force behind adoption of new technologies designed to make the hiring process better for candidates, recruiters and employers alike.

hiring
Credit: Thinkstock

In recent years, the concept of employer brand has taken hold as companies compete for talent. Just as a strong market identity gives a company the capability to charge premium prices — think Apple, American Express and BMW — a strong employer brand assists with recruiting in a competitive job market.

Traditional recruitment involves high-touch events such as recruiting fairs and open houses at Ivy League colleges. These efforts typically cost millions of dollars and countless hours in staff time to organize, and they make sense if you are hiring large numbers of staff from an easily identifiable demographic. But what if you’re trying to recruit a handful of talented developers or security professionals from a competitor? That scenario calls for a different approach based on research, respect and sophisticated tools.

In recent years, the concept of employer brand has taken hold as companies compete for talent. Just as a strong market identity gives a company the capability to charge premium prices — think Apple, American Express and BMW — a strong employer brand assists with recruiting in a competitive job market.

Traditional recruitment involves high-touch events such as recruiting fairs and open houses at Ivy League colleges. These efforts typically cost millions of dollars and countless hours in staff time to organize, and they make sense if you are hiring large numbers of staff from an easily identifiable demographic. But what if you’re trying to recruit a handful of talented developers or security professionals from a competitor? That scenario calls for a different approach based on research, respect and sophisticated tools.

Better job market data

Over the past decade, LinkedIn has become the top source of “passive candidates” — talented professionals who were not currently applying for jobs. Unfortunately, many recruiter messages on the platform are ignored or not received. The path to improvement lies in better research and enabling high-touch approaches.

Much like project management, recruiting top technical talent involves trade-offs between time (i.e., how fast you want to fill the position), cost (i.e., the budget for the role) and scope (i.e., how selective you want to be). While reports from government entities like the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics are helpful, they aren’t specific enough for hiring managers.

Drawing on supply and demand data sets from multiple sources, CareerBuilder gives better insights on the job market. Consider the following examples from their database as of Sept 2016 showing levels of demand for different roles:

A tool like this is particularly valuable for recruiters who are not deeply knowledgeable about different technologies. “We had a situation a few years ago where a recruiter searched for candidates with five years of experience with Hadoop at a time when almost nobody had that experience level,” says Scott Helmes, senior vice president of product development at CareerBuilder.

Improving the candidate experience

Hiring top talent and building a top employer brand are a priority for Ericsson, a multinational telecom company based in Sweden. “The job candidate experience companies provide job seekers has been below par for some time,” explains Lisa Smith-Strother, senior director, global employer brand at Ericsson. To combat this, the company implemented its Candidate Care platform in July 2016 in partnership with HR technology provider CareerArc.

Ericsson’s approach is based on a few key premises: The company values its brand as an employer, it has committed resources to support that brand and it has adapted its processes to clarify the hiring process for job seekers.

“The candidate experience is emotional, so when a candidate feels valued and supported by our brand even when we can’t offer them a role, that’s a win,” explains Smith-Strother. One comment from a user sums up the impact of the system: “The hiring process is very clear and logical. As a long term job seeker, this is the first time I have encountered a system that easily moves the process along.”

Answering ‘do I have a shot at this job?’ with data

With current recruitment platforms the bar for the candidate experience is set low, with automated acknowledgement emails or rejection notes standard fare. CareerBuilder is trying to shine a light into this information black hole by providing data to job applicants.

“Lack of transparency is a challenge for job seekers and employers. For job candidates, [CareerBuilder has] created hire INSIDER that provides data about other applicants. This data includes number of candidates who have applied to the role, average years of work experience, percentage of applicants with a degree and other factors,” explains Helmes. Individual applicant privacy is protected by anonymizing data and applying a threshold. After all, if there was only one other applicant for a particular position, sharing data points could identify that individual.

Don’t underestimate the human touch

If your organization relies on an outdated HR technology for recruiting, managers and candidates will continue to sidestep technology entirely. And for many of the best jobs, informal networking and relationship building remains critically important for hiring.

Generally speaking, the higher you go up the ladder, the less important online applications become. In top leadership roles, the potential applicant pool is so small that an applicant tracking system adds little value.

For more hiring insights, learn how CIOs at Microsoft, United Technologies, Verizon and AT&T landed their jobs.