Assumptions and expectations change with time and technology. We all know the If you build it they will come principle; an essential tenet of innovation that’s abundantly apt in this age of rapid innovation in the world of work. When social, mobile, analytics and the cloud exploded out the four corners of the business universe and transformed the ecosystem with a resounding SMAC, they also spawned a bazilliontrigoogolplex of new ways to find talent.
Assume and expect this: job seekers and potential employees expect and assume that the best and more competitive brands are looking for talent along multiple platforms, using a range of strategies, and via many modes of communication. Essentially: you are how you search. Also true: a single digital gesture creates infinite ripples, and that it’s hard to shake a first impression, so any deviations in your brand are going to be magnified. That’s the meta-micro reality we’re in. What’s even more true with the job market heating up: in this infinite playing field, you have to aim with accuracy. Particularly in the ultra-in-demand tech fields (For example, STEM skills), trying to attract top talent with the wrong bait is a lose-lose.
So how to win? Here’s the rub: you have to be really human in this culture: relationships matter more than ever. Here are the 4 best ways to succeed in the search for in-demand talent:
1) Focus On Brand. Any company with a diluted identity won’t be as attractive a draw as the one that is crystal-clear. On a multi-platform presence (with a strong emphasis on social), the brand needs to be consistent across the board. The brand should be the same whether on a site like LinkedIn, SimplyHired or Twitter. Part and parcel of that: a clear, credible, consistent mission. When a candidates suspect they are being fed a line based on their own interests, that’s the wrong kind of transparency. Down the line, that’s also a potential hiring fail.
2) Do the Research. The 2015 DICE Tech Candidate Sentiment Survey found that 50% of candidates want recruiters to do more research before calling — down from 63% in 2013. Credit new sites like OpenWeb, which creates a three-dimensional picture of a candidate. 62% of candidates in the DICE survey wanted recruiters to have a better take on how that candidate’s job skills matched the position. It is assumed, in these days, that everything is public, and that recruiters will practice due diligence, drilling down through many platforms (including Facebook, as we well know) to get the full sense of a person. It’s part of the new paradigm: if the recruiter demonstrates ignorance, it may be construed not as an issue of respecting privacy, but as incompetency.
3) Blur The Lines. One of the most resonant findings of the LinkedIn 2014 Talent Trends report was that 80% of the global workforce is essentially passive — they’re not actively looking for a new role, but 85% of that same workforce is open to career change. The way to tap into that immense market: establish relationships, via social and mobile networks, content channels, events, conferences. The sharpest recruiters I know believe that there is no such thing as a truly passive candidate, and network and engage across multiple channels constantly (including direct sourcing). They’re not spammy, however: engagement is not done by bots but by humans. It’s all about the personal interaction and constant connection. Time-consuming as it may be, there’s a far better ROI on the other side.
4) Be Social. The expansion of the world of work to social sites, particularly on the small screen, has had an enormous impact. In some cases it’s demonstrably decreased hiring time: 34 percent of recruiters in Jobvite ’s 2014 Social Recruiting Survey said social recruiting improved time to hire. It’s about the talent pool: 44 percent of recruiters said it increased the quantity (as well as caliber) of candidates. Moreover, to not increase social recruiting is to lose that competitive edge: 73% of recruiters surveyed said they intend to increase their investment in social recruiting. Further, mobile and social foster a certain kind of less formal, authentic spontaneity that fosters relationship building and engagement. It can’t be done with automation, but it may only take a moment, a text, a tweet, to forge a bond.
Recruiting talent isn’t just a single race. It’s the whole track meet: there’s the competitive mad dash of filling existing positions with the right talent that matches your culture, and the grinding marathon of locating a steady stream of prospects in the pipeline. The frequent earthquakes of lateral job changing and boomerang engagements — endemic to this particular economy and its workforce — keeps things nice and shaky as well. Best tactic: a constant effort, on all fronts, with a human face. Don’t just focus on the numbers, don’t just focus on the resumes. Focus on the relationship. And never be afraid to pick up the phone or shake someone’s hand. This still matters in today’s world of work.
A version of this was first posted on Forbes.