HR Managers Focus on Recruiting Experience as War for Talent Intensifies

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1 HR Managers Focus on Recruiting Experience as War for Talent Intensifies

2 In today's competitive market for quality talent, it s just as important for the business to make a lasting impression on candidates as it is for the candidate to impress the hiring manager. The stakes are higher than ever with organizations focused on retaining valuable employees and hiring only the best and the brightest. To that end, HR managers are re-examining processes from sourcing candidates through social media to employing sophisticated new tracking systems to ensure that qualified candidates don t get lost in the shuffle. enhance candidate By Emma Snider Pressed suits, well-written resumes and firm handshakes are all tactics job seekers use to edge out challengers. But in today's competitive market for quality talent, HR managers are shifting their focus to the perspective from the other side of the table. What are companies doing to make themselves more attractive to candidates? What's the business equivalent of a firm handshake? While HR departments can't realistically be expected to respond personally to every resume, experts say making a few adjustments to an organization's applicant tracking system (ATS) can go a long way in creating a better for both the recruiters and the recruited. "Two levels of screening are going on," said Katherine Jones, director and principal analyst for HCM technology at Oakland, Calif.-based consultancy Bersin & Associates. "How to make it the most positive for both sides is what the goal is." Page 2 of 9

3 Why the candidate is important Improving the candidate has become a top concern in recent years for a few reasons, experts say. Consider the scenario of submitting an application to a national shoe retailer -- and never hearing back. Will the brand be as appealing the next time new sneakers are in order? "Big-name consumer brands have a huge incentive to make job hunter interactions a more positive thing," said John Sumser, principal analyst at HRxAnalysts, based in Bodega Bay, Calif. "The overlap between customers and users is highest in these companies, from fashion to hospitality." Chris Brablc, marketing manager at Smashfly Technologies, a recruitment marketing firm headquartered in Stow, Mass., said because workers in high demand often have their pick among multiple opportunities, a good candidate might foster an early preference for one job over another. "During the process, candidates will start forming opinions about the companies they're applying [to], so the better you make the candidate, the better you'll look," he said. "For top candidates, that's really important." Optimizing the applicant tracking system The primary purpose of an applicant tracking system is to help companies organize and monitor resumes. But Brablc explained that the software can also be used to increase transparency in the application process, a lack of which can be a major turnoff for job seekers. "Transparency helps in terms of just knowing what's happening -- not knowing is probably the most unsettling feeling for a candidate," he said. According to Brablc, a company can foster a more pleasant applicant by merely creating automatic responses that go out at various stages of the application process. "In your ATS, that can be as simple as setting up alerts and communications that happen at different steps," he said. "Trying out those communications and making sure that those happen is a really simple but important first step." Page 3 of 9

4 Many applicant tracking systems can also be configured to allow for an application portal where candidates are able to check what stage in the process their resume is in, he explained. However, some experts are skeptical about the value of these automated s. "There is no other place in the operation of a business where one would even consider answering every query just because it came over the transom," Sumser said. "I think my problem stems from the fact that an automatically generated piece of spam isn't really much of an improvement, and a complete overhaul [of the application process] is not merited on a costbenefit analysis." As for the interview process, Jones said video recruitment software can help alleviate candidates' stress as well as reduce management scheduling issues. "The recruiter can say 'here are the five things we'd like you to talk about.' The candidate can sit in her house with her iphone and [record her interview] and the hiring team can look at that and decide from there," she said. "You don't have to come in and get drilled by all these people when some have prepared and some haven't." Although applicants are bound to be disappointed, Brablc and Jones agreed that informing candidates when they are no longer being considered for the position is an essential step. "People really need to know if that job is even an option for them," Jones said. This message can also be automated through a company's applicant tracking system. "That can just be setting up your ATS to send out that communication so they're not left in the dark," Brablc said. More tips on how to improve the candidate Jones recommended that companies streamline their application process so that high-quality candidates don't get frustrated and exit the job site halfway through. "It could be an hour to an hour and a half for somebody to apply for a job. If you are unemployed, you may have that time. But [companies] are looking for the best people, and they are employed at [the company's] Page 4 of 9

5 competitors," she said. "And those people will not spend that time on an application." Brablc stressed the importance of providing content unique to the different types of positions on the company's career page. For example, if a company wants to hire a marketing professional, the career site should provide information about what marketing jobs are like at the company or a video of an employee who works in the marketing department. HR managers should also ensure that their company's career sites are compatible with mobile devices. "The career site needs to be mobile friendly because a lot of seekers are looking for jobs on public transportation," Brablc said. "If your [site] is not mobile friendly, it's much harder for them to take in that information." Lastly, experts agree that recruiters should bear in mind the value of the position they're hiring and give more personalized attention to VIP candidates. "Technology cannot provide the same level of for every applicant nor is that a good idea," Sumser explained. "The way in which candidates are treated now and in the future is a function of the importance of their role to the company. The more important the role, the better the treatment." By Aaron Lester For those who still consider human resources too risk-averse to adapt to new technology, the powerful ways HR is harnessing social media might be surprising -- especially in the field of. With the growing availability of top-notch social tools at their disposal, HR professionals are harnessing social media in new ways that add value not only to the employees they serve, but also to the business as a whole. Page 5 of 9

6 "HR is in a unique position to leverage the power of social -- to more effectively engage employees, retain talent and attract new employees," said Jacob Morgan, principal and co-founder of San Francisco-based Chess Media Group, a management consulting firm. And of all the specialties within HR, experts say recruiters have had the most transformative success with social media. Social gives HR a leg up in the war for talent Talent acquisition and social networks are a natural fit, so it makes sense that recruiters have made the most of new social technologies. "Building relationships is everything in HR, and there's no better way to do that than using social media," said Christine Empie, senior ERP recruiter at Atlanta, Ga.-based M9 Solutions, a business technology consulting firm. "I can now reach out to hundreds of thousands of people yearly." Empie, who has worked as a recruiter for 16 years, has seen a sea change in the way she does her job. "It's hard to believe, but people actually used to fax their resumes to me," she said. "Then you'd follow up by phone before the days of . My friends used to recruit straight from the phone book." Now, with more than 2,000 direct connections on LinkedIn and more than 17 million second and third connections, her social power has kicked into overdrive. Empie is particularly excited about her HR social media management software, Bullhorn Reach, which allows her to post jobs to eight different social networks simultaneously. The tool also allows her to analyze metrics that measure the efficacy of her social efforts. According to Morgan, the power of social is the ability to break into someone else's network. "If I'm able to ask a weak tie for help, they'll be able to reach out to their network, which more than likely won't overlap with mine," he said. HR professionals are not only using social media sites like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook for social. Enterprise social tools like Page 6 of 9

7 Chatter, Yammer and Tibbr help businesses tap into the wisdom of every employee. "Finding experts from within your company is now easier," Morgan said. With enterprise social software, "it's easier to find and share information. It streamlines work and leverages the wisdom, intelligence and knowledge of the whole organization." Morgan went on to explain that this kind of two-way engagement is not only good for improving business processes, but it's also an incentive for employees to remain engaged and excited about their jobs. "The reason why talent leaves an organization is because they get bored and aren't passionate about what they're doing anymore," he said. "Collaborative environments allow employees to engage in what they are passionate about -- and be rewarded for it." Social HR helps identify and cull future leaders The way businesses are able to communicate and engage with their employees is a boon for HR, according to Rob Koplowitz, vice president and principal analyst at Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research Inc. "When we looked at the business value of social, we couldn't find an area that it wasn't good for," he said. For example, Koplowitz described the of one major retailer that recently rolled out a social network for its whole operation -- including for instore sales associates. Managers were able to monitor and engage with the network and begin to identify employees who demonstrated a passion or an expertise in a particular area that might extend past the limits of the sales floor. "These employees can be targeted for promotion," he said. "The business is able to informally mine for talent from within." What's more, social media can be a key tool in developing that talent, he said. "Because of the important role of internal learning, employee training is a hotbed for social." Page 7 of 9

8 Koplowitz said a large part of the time and expense of employee education and learning management can be minimized with e-learning and interactive social learning tools. And employee onboarding time, for businesses using enterprise social networks, is much less than for those not using them. The future of social tools in HR Experts say the growth potential of social HR tools is enormous. "Social can be a vast repository about how work gets done," Koplowitz said. The question for HR becomes: Can we capture what our employees do effectively and mine that data to train new employees? If the growth of enterprise social media over the past five years is any indication, the answer will certainly soon be yes. But as Koplowitz pointed out, HR deals with issues that are often private -- from benefits management to payroll -- and this may have kept HR out of the social game at its beginning stages. However, HR is a highly social endeavor at its core, he said. More and more, social HR is seen as a win-win for managers and employees -- all things HR can feel good about. Better late than never. Page 8 of 9

9 Free resources for technology professionals TechTarget publishes targeted technology media that address your need for information and resources for researching products, developing strategy and making cost-effective purchase decisions. Our network of technology-specific Web sites gives you access to industry experts, independent content and analysis and the Web s largest library of vendor-provided white papers, webcasts, podcasts, videos, virtual trade shows, research reports and more drawing on the rich R&D resources of technology providers to address market trends, challenges and solutions. Our live events and virtual seminars give you access to vendor neutral, expert commentary and advice on the issues and challenges you face daily. Our social community IT Knowledge Exchange allows you to share real world information in real time with peers and experts. What makes TechTarget unique? TechTarget is squarely focused on the enterprise IT space. Our team of editors and network of industry experts provide the richest, most relevant content to IT professionals and management. We leverage the immediacy of the Web, the networking and face-to-face opportunities of events and virtual events, and the ability to interact with peers all to create compelling and actionable information for enterprise IT professionals across all industries and markets. Related TechTarget Websites Page 9 of 9

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