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Why aren’t the right people applying to your job ads?

By Rowan O’Grady


If you have been in HR for a long time, you probably remember the days when newspaper ads and rolodexes were the only items in the recruitment toolbox.

The search for a strong candidate started with some ink and a few phone calls. While this may sound archaic, the truth is that many have yet to move beyond the “advertise and apply” model set decades ago. Canadians have changed the way that they expect to find their next job, but businesses are stuck in the past.

Most companies that are hiring will place a job ad and wait for applications. They choose a shortlist to interview and then select the best applicant from the bunch. In fact, this is so common that Hays Canada’s recent “Hiring Transformed” report found that two-thirds of Canadian employers still rely on job boards to find their ideal candidate, despite a woeful five per cent success rate. So why is there still such a reliance on job ads? Why stick with something that rarely, if ever, delivers the right talent?

For starters, job boards are affordable and accessible, so it’s not surprising that businesses continue to use them. But, when only 17 per cent of job seekers expect to get their next job through a job board, it’s abundantly clear that employers need to challenge themselves to think beyond this tactic. Consider that three-quarters of Canadians say they expect to land their next job through a relationship-based process such as networking, headhunting, referral or recruiter. Job boards may be cost-effective in the short term, but there are long-term expenses associated with this quick and easy shortcut. Smart employers know this and have embraced new methods and technologies that are proving very effective in today’s hyper-competitive job market.

What are these smart employers doing?

#1 Building a “talent pipeline”

You wouldn’t run a marathon without training. Why would you enter a race for talent without warming up first? Finding the best people for your company means looking and engaging – even when you aren’t in hiring mode. Historically, this was done on a one-to-one basis, but now social media and other tools can help a company build trusted relationships with large groups of potential candidates on an ongoing basis. Tailored messaging is key and providing the right content to the right people results in greater engagement and interest when you have roles to fill.

#2 Proactively connecting with candidates

To find the best person for your open position, you need to put the “relations” back into HR. Most Canadians expect to get their next job through a relationship, but only half of hiring managers proactively connect with candidates. Success isn’t just about showing up. You need to do the work and the single most powerful resource at your disposal is your people. By establishing relationships and maintaining a network of potential talent, you ensure that you have an engaged talent pool to tap into when you are hiring. This can be accomplished internally or through a recruitment service and is part of that all-important “stitch in time” attitude you need to make the core of your company’s approach to hiring.

 #3 Increasing success with technology

Technology plays an ever-increasing role in connecting with people and yet the adoption of updated tech is still the most overlooked method for making your recruitment process cheaper, faster and more effective. The best companies see technology as a tool for sourcing, direct engagement and intelligent screening. Those industry leaders aren’t buying tech for tech’s sake – they’re investing in updated hiring technologies as a form of problem solving and improving efficiency. You need to be doing the same or risk being left behind.

#4 Reaching the right people

Most employers rely first on general job boards and wait for employees to come to them. Job boards are quick and can be affordable, but we know that’s not where the high-quality candidates come from. Expanding your approach to new sourcing channels and tools may take more effort, but it will give you better results. Employers say the best candidates come from referrals and their internal or external recruiters. Diversify hiring searches by reaching out to recruiters, advertising with membership associations in your field and navigating niche job boards rather than just the general boards who won’t give you the expert staff you need.

In the current booming economy, pairing new technology with human interaction and proactive candidate sourcing is the best way to make your business competitive. Your next hire wants you to come to them, and with the wealth of job choice in this climate, they are going to go with who finds them first and offers them the best option. Make sure that’s you.

Rowan O’Grady is the president of Hays Canada.




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