Recruitment has got a face-lift over the past three decades. From being candidate processing units back then to being enablers of effective talent management, recruiters have come a long way. However, that’s not the only thing that has changed. Candidate behaviour has also evolved significantly, or so believe the recruiters.
The field of recruiting has gone through significant changes in the past three decades. Prior to the advent of the internet, recruiters mostly handled basic identification and processing of candidates. Recruiting, back then, was a highly administrative function largely focused on placing want ads, scanning job applications, and setting up candidate interviews. Some companies also let recruiters handle on-boarding paperwork. But then the Internet happened.
The internet freed recruiting departments from most of the administrative burden and allowed them to significantly streamline the recruiting function. However, recruiting was still judged based on process metrics such as time- to-fill and number of hires. Staffing departments were rarely held accountable for the performance of new hires. Nor were they expected to challenge managers on whether it made more sense to fill positions internally vs. externally. The advent of integrated talent management systems is shifting recruiters’ focus from hiring efficiency to staffing effectiveness. Recruiting departments are still held accountable for efficiently processing and rapidly placing candidates. However, what differentiates average recruiting departments from exceptional ones is the ability to fill positions with the best performing candidates at the lowest cost.
And despite the strategic importance of hiring, many companies have historically treated recruiting as a largely administrative process. Rather than focusing on the business value associated with hires, recruiters have focused on increasing the number of requisitions processed and reducing time-to-fill. (This is very typical to recruitment teams even today). This reflects a lopsided approach to recruiting that greatly emphasizes efficiency over effectiveness. As someone said, talent departments that spend all their time talking about the number of hires instead of the quality of hires might as well measure their effectiveness by the gross tonnage of people brought into the organisation.
“Recruiting was once seen as a back-office function that could easily be outsourced, and now it has become a key differentiator in the emerging war for talent. Winning this war requires rethinking key questions around what makes a good recruiting process.”
Recruiting was once seen as a back-office function that could easily be outsourced, and now it has become a key differentiator in the emerging war for talent. Winning this war requires rethinking key questions around what makes a good recruiting process.
Evolution of Recruitment – How it has Impacted the Candidate Behaviour
With the change in recruitment strategies, candidate behaviour has also evolved. In fact, we can directly attribute changes in the recruitment strategies to the changes in the candidate behaviour. Drop in unemployment rates has given candidates more power. There has been a reduction in turnover rates, while the number of job openings has gone up. Ever evolving technology has also impacted candidate behaviour and will continue to influence.
In short, the demand is greater than the supply. It’s now a candidate market with the dominance of passive candidates. However, the term ‘passive’ is highly misleading. Studies show that 86% of the professionals in India are interested in hearing about other job opportunities. This number is at 76% on a global scale, which is a huge market for a recruiter to miss. It’s now a candidate market with the dominance of passive candidates.
Impact of Generation Gap on Candidate Behaviour
There’s been a continuing discussion about differences between generations of candidates and how it affects recruiting. And the debate is not concluding any time soon. However, there are significant research challenges in figuring out whether generations are indeed different when it comes to jobs. Apparent generational differences may simply be due to different lifestyles people have at different ages. What people want from work when they are 20 and single tends to be different from what they want when they are 40 and married with two kids. Changing economic conditions could also lead to these apparent generational differences. Employees currently in their 20’s may act differently from how older workers acted when they were in their 20’s.
“Recruiting, back then, was a highly administrative function largely focused on placing want ads, scanning job applications, and setting up candidate interviews.But then the Internet happened.”
This is because of the differences in the labour market and economy during each point in time. Some of the more rigorous research on generational differences and employee behaviour suggests that what people fundamentally want from a job has not changed much over the years. Regardless of generation, most workers are looking for jobs that provide some sense of challenge and career growth, fair compensation, a reasonable level of work-life balance, and some degree of stability. What does appear to change considerably across generations is how people communicate. In particular, there’s a huge difference in candidates’ preferences and expectations for using the telephone, e-mail, social media, and other methods to interact with their employers. Even if a company’s recruiting message remains constant across candidates from different generations, the way it is communicated may significantly influence how they interpret that message.
Building a world-class recruiting process can take years. Thus, it is important to approach the recruiting process design as a continuous improvement journey rather than a one-time event. In particular, creating a strong employer brand or developing large pools of qualified candidates takes months or years, not weeks.
Creating a recruiting process that’s truly focused on business execution requires adopting a deliberate, systematic long-term approach toward process design. Happy recruiting!