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Meeting the changing needs of candidates

Holly Gordon, chief marketing officer at SThree, discusses changes in the recruitment journey and how demand generation and performance marketing can help meet the needs of today’s candidates

Twenty years ago, candidates couldn’t access much information about job opportunities. Recruiters placed lineage adverts in the ‘appointments’ sections of newspapers or trade publications for specialist roles.

Although we were all on email, the internet was still not a mainstream business facility. The information on there was poorly indexed and un-searchable, so this didn’t provide the quality of information it does today around job opportunities. As a result, the way candidates looked for new job opportunities was very different to the way it is today.

Back then, something prompted the individual to decide to take action. Perhaps they might have been tentatively dipping their toe in the water and therefore contacting the recruitment consultants they knew or who were recommended to them to find out about ‘the market’. They may, however, have been more actively searching for their next move because they were denied a promotion or pay rise, because of a change of responsibilities or structure within their existing employer, because they didn’t get on with their boss or for numerous other reasons. In that scenario, those who were putting out the feelers had to go through the same process as those who were in urgent need of a new job.

They could review adverts in newspapers or magazines and apply for the roles, since there was no option for them to join a talent network or speculatively upload a CV, or they could contact recruitment consultants and ‘register’ with their CV. There was no opportunity for potential candidates to deeply research their options on their own. They had to reveal themselves as a ‘candidate’ very early in their journey.

Adapting the candidate journey

Fast forward to 2019 and a variety of important factors have allowed candidates to adapt their journeys. If you agree with me that, generally, job seeking is a ‘high value’ decision-making activity, we could compare it to making valuable purchases such as a holiday, car or new home. When was the last time you entered a travel agency to book a holiday? Most people do their research online today. They start with Google, which takes them to comparison websites or travel agency websites, and they search further there.

Before buying they may visit review sites to discover what people think about airlines, locations or hotels. They can self-direct their buying journeys on their own time and at their own pace without needing to talk to another human.

Job seekers can do the same today.

They can find out what people thought about working with agencies and specific consultants. They can see which employers agencies work with and what it’s like to work there. The challenge for recruiters is that only those who are ready to make a job move tend to make contact to let us know. Those tentatively exploring the market want to do it on their own until they are ready for a conversation, which may take months.

In 20 years, it’s never been so important to understand your candidates as it is today. That’s because there’s more competition than ever in the recruitment industry. Candidates are less likely to want to talk to recruiters earlier in their journey than in the past. There’s clear evidence to show people move jobs more often and more people are choosing to work in temporary assignments and fixed-term contracts. This means generating clear visibility on our addressable talent pools is more difficult than ever.

Demand generation

One solution recruitment teams are working hard to develop is the concept of talent demand generation. Although potential candidates can be elusive on the telephone, they do want to interact with content if it’s useful and relevant. People prioritise reading, viewing or listening to high value content which will help them in their lives.

If your content is career focused and generates real value, professionals will consume it. In return for content being useful and relevant, it builds goodwill within candidate pools. People continue to interact if they continue to get value. Over time, using the right technology, you can monitor digital signals which show which candidates are warming to opportunities.

Using these signals, you can distribute a highly personalised candidate experience at scale and can undertake progressive profiling; asking them occasional questions about day rates or availability and more, in order to progress through your content.

It creates a competitive advantage and that’s why all recruitment leaders should look towards performance marketing and talent demand generation to deliver more, better candidates faster.

Candidates have adapted. We need to match them step for step.

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