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Susan Vitale CMO, iCIMS, Inc.

2014: The Year of the Candidate

Any employee who has gone through the dramatic economic downturn that began in 2008 knows, for the last few years, the mantra has been, “keep your head down, keep working, and be glad you have a job.” During this period, employers instituted round after round of layoffs and the remaining employees continued to absorb more work for less or no increase in pay.  This has led to workplaces across the globe being filled with staffers who may be frustrated, overworked, underpaid, and prime to make a move. Now, combine that powder-keg work climate with recent statistics and projected trends for economic growth, and businesses may be in for an explosive disruption in talent acquisition and retention plans.

According to CareerBuilder’s annual hiring forecast, competition is heating up for skilled labor and salaries may be on the rise. Couple that with recent findings from Glassdoor that one in three employees indicate they have plans to look for a new job, and the writing is on the wall; we could be headed for one of the fiercest, most competitive job markets in our lifetime.  Given the pent up demand for new hires, employers will be scrambling to find, filter, communicate with, and onboard the most qualified talent. This is why we are referring to 2014 as “The Year of the Candidate.”

Now is the time to ensure you have the right technologies in place to help your company put its best foot forward with prospective hires. The first step is ensuring you have an engaging and consistent employment brand presence through modern, branded career portals. Candidates have come to expect more than just finding out about your company, they expect an experience. And once you have that engaging content in place, the name of the game is mobile. Candidates want to be able to quickly and easily engage with organizations, learn about them, and apply for jobs all  from the comfort of their laptop, smart phone, or tablet, whenever and wherever they are. And when they do apply, they want it to do it via their social profiles. They want a simple import process for their existing social profile data through sites like LinkedIn, Facebook or Google+. Outdated resume upload and manual field entry requirements are a real turn off for tech savvy candidates. Today’s workforce wants to be able to access and upload resume files and other documents via cloud-based storage platforms like Google Docs and Dropbox.

Once you’ve got a social- and mobile-enabled career portal, now you need to bring them in, and that means having the latest, cutting-edge social media processes in place.  A recent article by Glassdoor.com reports 79% of job seekers are likely to use social media in their job search. Moreover, 42% say it’s important for employers to engage social media when looking for new hires.  But the social media landscape is an increasingly crowded place; in order to be effective you need automated job distribution tools that will expedite the social media and job board posting processes and help you identify the latest candidate hot spots for your open positions.  These tools will also enable your company to expand its reach among your employees’ networks, increasing valuable referrals. Some talent acquisition solution providers even offer career microsites that are SEO-optimized to drive additional organic search traffic to your employment brand for even your most difficult to fill positions.

Now that you’ve engaged them, you need to keep them interested. Communicate early and often to support your employment brand and give the right impression. By deploying a Talent CRM, even passive candidates can be quickly and easily captured and engaged with at regular intervals – keeping them informed about available positions that may nudge them into the active stage of their search. When you find that ideal candidate that is ready to make a move, provide them with a simple, and again mobile accessible, experience that quickly and efficiently moves them in the right direction. Also, put yourself ahead of the pack by providing them with progressive application tools like Video Cover Letters and assessments – which enable candidates to differentiate themselves and can help you with screening. And you can use key reporting and analytics on your recruitment advertising methods to continually hone and target your recruiting efforts and investments.

Is all of this really important? Take a look at the numbers; according to a study by Aberdeen, organizations that have a “best-in-class” approach to talent acquisition reach twice as many organizational goals over the course of a year, achieve five times the improvement in customer satisfaction, and experience a 9% reduction in cost-per-hire as compared to organizations that do not have the same focus.

Speaking of hiring, the right onboarding experience has proven over and over to substantially benefit ROI. Your organization can save time and money with automated work flow and task management processes that are easy and mobile accessible for candidates and hiring managers alike. Does the right onboarding experience really make a difference? Studies show best-in-class talent acquisition organizations see 95% employee retention in the first year, 82% of first-year employees meeting their first performance milestones, and 16% year-over-year improvement in hiring manager satisfaction.

Talent Acquisition has become the most dynamic aspects of Human Capital Management (HCM). When we talk about talent acquisition today, we use words that didn’t even exist just a few years ago: mobile, SEO, video interviewing, social media, gamification, and talent networks. As competition continues to heat up, savvy, innovative organizations need to keep up with evolving trends. In this fast moving, competitive digital age, having a targeted Talent Acquisition Suite is paramount to true HCM and employment branding success.  It’s a fully integrated set of software products that empowers talent acquisition teams with advanced sourcing, recruitment advertising, applicant tracking, screening, and onboarding capabilities. As we enter into what is shaping up to be one of the most challenging job markets for recruiters in several years, be sure to invest in a suite of technologies that are capable of innovating on pace of the candidate landscape so you can effectively source, communicate with, and organize the top talent needed to meet your company’s business objectives in 2014 and beyond.