Market Research Boosts Recruitment Strategy

market research analysts image

Market research is an essential step in the talent acquisition process and, surprisingly, is a step that may be inadequately implemented or missed all together. During my time in recruiting and sourcing roles, I learned how helpful market research was when starting the initial search for candidates. It’s helpful when identifying current supply and demand, challenges and opportunities. It gave me a solid starting point when pipelining candidates, making my search more efficient and effective. It’s also helped me reposition the position to be competitive.

Here are a few simple things you should review while initially performing market research:

  • Supply and demand reports: pulling these reports can provide some great insight into the talent market. Understanding how many candidates are available in comparison to posted jobs will allow a recruiter to see what they’re up against. Also, understanding average compensation, popular job titles and typical candidate profiles can allow a recruiter to reposition the verbiage if needed to ensure their job postings are more visible.
  • Competitor intelligence: in some cases, the supply and demand reports will also show top job posters in the market. This can make it easy for recruiters to see organizations that are aggressively recruiting for the same types of candidates. In researching these companies, recruiters can develop their outreach and steer conversations with candidates in a way that can highlight positives of the job and company, creating a competitive twist.
  • Pipelining: not all markets and job roles are the same, so it’s important for a recruiter to research the most popular resources to find candidates before investing in these channels. Investigate job boards, social media, career fairs, and so on to see the best places to post your job and source for talent.
  • Partnerships: building relevant partnerships in the talent market can be a great way for you to get your job in front of the right people and allow for opportunities to network with candidates. Research relevant professional organizations, universities/colleges/technical schools, veteran assistance programs, chamber of commerce associations, professional meet ups, and so on to really get a feel for these opportunities.

Although these are four simple suggestions to initially pull market research, it’s surprising how helpful this information can be. It’s allowed my job postings and networking to become more visible, thus allowing for more traffic. It was especially helpful during times I was a virtual recruiter and couldn’t physically do these things. It’s helped me get in front of relevant candidates and identify different ways to position my postings and conversations to ensure my jobs were competitive in the market. Do yourself a favor next time you get a new requisition and perform some of the steps above. I’d love to hear how it impacts your success rate.

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Why Sourcers are Crucial for Talent Acquisition

An American judge must decide who is right between Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's estate and a Sherlock Holmes expert

When I first heard of sourcers, I’ll be honest, I had no idea what their purpose was. The job duties seemed similar to a recruiter and I couldn’t discern the need to divide the role into two. It wasn’t until I had the opportunity to work as a sourcer that I learned how essential they are to the talent acquisition process. After being in the industry for years, I was actually surprised more companies hadn’t used these individuals sooner. Sourcers really make an impressive impact.

Below are some top duties I performed as a sourcer. I truly believe these things are what made the recruitment process more successful than any recruitment role I had been involved in the past:

  • Support for recruiters and deep mining of candidates: Recruiters can be bombarded with a lot of tasks that take away from their ability to seek out top candidates. These tasks range from coordinating/communicating with hiring managers, managing ATS, administrative duties and so on. Although these things are essential to keep the process flowing, it prevents them from taking the necessary time to find passive candidates, post jobs in unique places, build relationships with distinct professional organizations and so on. Sourcers aren’t bogged down with all the irrelevant duties and can focus on mining for talent, which increases talent pipelines and creates better opportunities for quality candidates.
  • Market research: Just as stated before, time can be limited for recruiters. Sourcers have the ability to not only mine for talent but also to perform deep research on the talent markets. They can determine the supply vs. demand, competitor intelligence, best places to find talent and more. Having this market research can help companies reposition their strategies to be more attractive and proactive.
  • Employment branding: Of course posting to job boards is important for getting candidate applications, but sometimes recruiters are only able to have enough time to do just that. Sourcers can get creative with the job postings. For example, when I was sourcing for software developers in San Francisco, I took the time to craft postings for jobs, social media, and tech specific groups (i.e. GitHub). I would highlight interesting things about the company, teams, products and what not. It made the opportunity more “three dimensional” and helped it stand out from the typical noise.
  • Initial screening: Time is precious and we can only screen so many candidates. Unfortunately, automatically screening out candidates before speaking to them can cause companies to miss out on hidden gems. Sourcers can provide a better candidate experience by performing initial screening processes, allowing candidates to have a chance to speak to a human and not feel like their resume went into a black hole.

Although the listed tasks above might seem very basic, it really is surprising how much it can help the talent acquisition strategy. As a sourcer in the past, I believed I made a difference in the process by finding quality candidates, unique candidate referral sources, creative ways to promote the brand and jobs. I also felt like the added support to recruiters helped cut down time-to-fill, which is always a huge bonus.

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2013 Reflections and 2014 Resolutions

Before I take my brief blogging hiatus during holiday madness, I felt that the last blog of 2013 should focus on reflection and resolutions. January brings us a new year and promises new starts, so it’s important to understand what we’ve accomplished this year in order to properly set ourselves up for a successful future. Of course this can mean a multitude of things to different people, but today I’m going to focus on my career in the human resources and talent acquisition world.

Reflections

2013 has been quite the interesting year for me. I finally settled in with an employer that made me feel like I had control over my own learning and development. Once the year started, I felt like I was beginning to gain momentum in my sourcing/recruiting role. I felt secure enough with the company to get creative in my methods to the point where I was able to be successful in multiple markets and different industries. My searching methods, social media tactics and general sourcing knowledge had helped me hit the ground running every time I changed accounts and I was able to make an immediate impact each time.

My ability to do these things has allowed me to create opportunities for development of the delivery team. During my time on this team, I created a training on social media recruitment methods in which all sourcers and recruiters were able to learn the basics or learn new tricks. In addition to this, taught them the art of personal branding to gain credibility for their current career. This also gave our company opportunities to develop brand ambassadors and SMEs which promoted additional learning and content creation. Most importantly though, I was able to build up a market research spreadsheet for the tech/IT industry which has helped my co-workers ramp up faster in this market (which isn’t easy).

I eventually graduated from the delivery team and found myself on the marketing team around September. I wasn’t sure what to make of this job promotion, mainly because my background had focused solely on HR and recruitment. I was apprehensive about whether or not I could be successful in this and wondered if my education and experience in HR/recruitment would become stale. After four months of being in this role, I soon found that I actually learn MORE about the HR and recruitment industry than I did in previous roles. Also, I was able to surprise myself when I discovered the areas I was naturally good at and the things that seemed to interest me.

Which leads me up to my next point.

Resolutions

Although I’m still developing my role, I am beginning to realize the things that I enjoyed in HR can still be achieved in this marketing role. Of course, priorities change within the company and industry so I’m sure that some of these things might be propelled forward while others are put on hold. But a girl can dream right?

Employment branding is something that inspires me. As the months went on, I felt myself gravitating towards this topic more and more. I’ve even caught myself researching and silently critiquing a company’s employment brand. Lately, I’ve been given opportunities to investigate related things in my current job. I’ve had to research brands, find positive things, identify where brands are falling short and provide insight and suggestions. I love the fact that my research and input can potentially influence how a brand is able to attract candidates and retain current employees.

The other area I’m hoping to get more involved in is on a global scale. As my company expands into Western Europe and eventually Australia, I’m excited about the opportunity to get an inside look at how these companies function. I’ve always enjoyed conversations with HR professionals outside of the US and became intrigued about hiring practices, recruitment initiatives, HR laws and generally how talent acquisition and HR differ between each country. Even just learning about how resumes different from country to country was awesome. I’m looking forward to exploring these topics more.

After this brief break, I’ll be coming back refreshed and renewed with a plan of action to tackle these areas. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about my career, it’s all about how I position myself. It will be interesting to see how I can evolve this throughout 2014.

Happy holidays!

Photo Source — By the way, I hope I can see the Festival of Lights in person one day!

Knowing the Line between Standing Apart and Standing Alone

In today’s job market, employers are flooded with resumes from interested candidates. People are unemployed or underemployed and are fighting for the limited jobs that are available. Candidates are doing their best to make their resumes impeccable so recruiters can find the keywords and see that they are the best candidate for the role. But even a nicely formatted, customized, and keyworded resume might not be enough to catch the recruiter’s attention. Savvy candidates are recognizing this and started constructing creative resumes to really set them apart. But are these creative resumes helping or hurting them?

Being in talent acquisition myself, I stare at resumes all day long. So, naturally, a resume that is different from the common, mind-numbing format and font is always a welcomed surprise. It can be something as subtle as a colorfully displayed PDF version, an infograph, a chart, or an additional portfolio of their work. These simple things can really add value to a resume and catch a recruiter’s eye.

Some candidates have even gone bolder. For example:

Although these “alternative” resumes have received quite a reaction to them, it’s important to consider what you’re promoting in your resume. Is your resume going to help you stand apart from other candidates, like these examples did, or is your resume going to backfire?

Remember the important aspects of a resume: experience, education, skills, and so on. Those are the bare necessities to help recruiters determine if you have some or all of the skills that are needed to be considered for this job. Then, you can get a little more creative: find ways to show recruiters that you have more to offer than just your experience; help them see that you fit the culture; show them your passions and values; and make them clearly see why hiring you would be their best choice.

Many candidates have done this successfully but some have lost sight on the important aspects of a resume, traditional or not. Make sure you double check what you’re presenting to your recruiters to ensure that the information you’re sharing isn’t: potentially misconstrued; irrelevant; potentially make them question your abilities or professionalism; full of useless facts that wastes their time; or so over-the-top or out there that they lose the message and can’t see how you would be a good candidate.

There’s nothing wrong with being creative to try and stand out against the overwhelming candidate pool. However, it’s important for you to research the companies that you are targeting to ensure that you know your audience well enough. Knowing a company’s culture, values, missions, and so on can help ensure that your alternative resume is appropriate. And remember: there is a fine line between standing apart from other candidates and creating a resume that might make you seem unhireable.

Will Results Only Work Environment Work for You?

Earlier this week, I was talking to WilsonHCG about their virtual positions for recruiters and sourcers. I was very interested in hearing how they made these types of positions work for them because I have never worked “virtually” before but I was always curious about it. They seemed to have these roles down pat, from the technology they use all the way to the performance tracking tools they have in place to keep everyone on track. Many people and companies have debated that these types of employees would never be as efficient as those who come into the office. However, this company and many others have progressively proved that statement wrong.

With the thoughts of virtual positions floating around in my head, I began to let my mind wander to other alternative workplace environments that I’ve learned of. I recalled learning about results only work environment (a.k.a. ROWE) a few months back and decided to look further into this workplace option. After taking some time to research it, I decided that I really enjoyed the concept and wondered if this option could work for certain companies and/or employees if they gave it a shot.

ROWE was created by Best Buy’s former HR managers, Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson (now of CultureRx). The idea of this concept was to allow managers to focus more on results rather than the hours the employees are checking in. After all, the company’s success is dependent on the results. After tweaking it a few times, these HR managers found that productivity levels had risen. The freedom that this provided seemed to tap into employees’ natural intrinsic quality which empowered them to be more accountable and productive.

Here are some reasons why employees love ROWE:

  • Freedom to work when and where they want.
  • They spend less time unnecessarily sitting at an office to meet the required 40 hours.
  • They can work at a faster pace.
  • They have unlimited vacation and PTO.
  • They can make themselves available to participate in hobbies and events that take place during typical business hours.
  • They can spend more time with friends, family, and children.
  • They have more flexible time to go to doctors’ appointments and so on.
  • They can work during hours that they’re feeling productive rather than forcing themselves to have motivation during hours they aren’t.
  • A bad night of sleep doesn’t need to affect the quality of their work- they can work later in the day after they’re feeling rested.
  • It gives work meaning because the time they spend is specifically to get tasks done and achieve results.
  • Better work-life balance.
  • Decreased expenses: no need for gas to get to work or to pay for daycare or babysitters.

It seems like the list is endless, but those are just to name a few. Even though I’ve never dealt with this kind of work environment, I do believe in its benefits because I chose this option for school. During the course of obtaining my BSBA, I decided to choose the online and/or alternative classes that my school had to offer. It made more sense to me because sitting in classes after sitting at work all day didn’t seem appealing. Additionally, I was planning on moving out of NJ so I did not want to potentially lose credits and time by transferring schools. After completing my first “alternative” class, I realized that I loved it and couldn’t fathom going back to traditional classes again.

Alternative classes allowed me to have the flexibility to be more productive with my school work. Instead of wasting time and holding me back to a specific scheduled class, I was able to move at my own pace. At the start of each semester, I was able to see what the modules were, what the assignments were, and when they were due. This allowed me to schedule my life better and took away some of the stress I had when working full-time and going to school. I could work school around my life, as long as I got the assignments in on time.

Perhaps it’s because I have a type A personality, but this option worked well for me. I learned to do my assignments at least a week in advance to take off some of the pressure I used to feel when I was given assignments at the last minute. There was even one semester where I finished all my assignments within the first couple weeks just so I could give myself a mental break. Life tends to throw curve balls at you and things can unexpectedly come up, therefore, it was nice to at least have some control over this major responsibility. I loved the benefits and freedom that came with this option and felt that I was more productive and happier. I’m sure these feelings are similar to what the ROWE employees are feeling, as well. It gives them a more time to actually live life.

Will ROWE work for every company, every job function, and every employee?  Unfortunately, no. But this option can still work for a good amount of them. If you decide to test out this alternative work environment, be sure to help train employees going through the transition on time management and reaching results. I believe that even employees that aren’t the most self-driven will eventually learn to be more productive on their own once they see the benefits and rewards of getting their job done more efficiently.

Links about ROWE:

CultureRx.

The End of 9 to 5.

Fistful of Talent- 80hrs Per Week VS. ROWE.

CBS: What is Results Only Work Environment?

WilsonHCG.