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What small employers need to know about recruiting

Technology’s impact on the recruiting process is having both positive and negative effects on employers of all sizes. Bob Corlett, president of Olney, Md.-based recruiting firm Staffing Advisors, says subtle changes in job-seeker behavior have left many small businesses in the dust when it comes to catching the eye of top talent.

At the same time, employers large and small are missing out on connecting with qualified candidates by not embracing mobile applications, which are increasingly being used by those on the hunt for new gigs.

In this Q&A, Corlett talks about current recruiting technology trends and how they affect employers’ ability to connect with job seekers.

Q: When job seekers go online to look for employment, where are they going?

A: Year in and year out, surveys from job sites like CareerBuilder report that nearly 75% of currently working people are open to a new opportunity; but only about 18% of them are actively looking at job postings. Far more people (44% of candidates) only respond to a job opportunity when someone contacts them.

When people do go online to look, not everyone goes straight to the job boards. Many candidates now start their job search on Google. According to research by comScore Inc., a company that tracks where people go and what they do online, two out of three searches of any kind originate on Google, and job seeking is no different.

So where does Google take all those job seekers? Most end up on the job site Indeed. See for yourself. Type your job title and city into the Google search bar. Indeed will rank very highly in your search results. Indeed is growing at the expense of the other job boards. According to comScore, Indeed captured 62% of total job seeker traffic in January 2013, far more than any other career site.

 

Q: How do these site visits translate into hiring?

A: When three different applicant tracking system vendors analyzed the “source of hire” data from thousands of customers and tens of thousands of hires, Indeed accounted for more hires than all the other job boards combined. For getting hiring results, Indeed has leaped ahead of everyone in the past two years. 

  

Q: How does Indeed work?

A: The Indeed business model works best when an employer has a career site. Career sites usually are hosted by applicant tracking system [ATS] vendors. If an employer has a career site, Indeed can harvest all the jobs from it and post them automatically. So organizations with an ATS can simply post a job on their own system and have it automatically appear high in the Google search results, thanks to Indeed. Many firms, like Staffing Advisors, also pay for keyword advertising to get even higher search rankings.

But organizations without an ATS, which include most small employers, are at a real disadvantage. They can manually post each job in Indeed, but few of them actually do. Ads that are not indexed on Indeed are invisible to many job seekers. 

 

Q: How have recruiting and job hunting gone beyond the PC, and what are the implications for employers?

A: Mobile has huge implications for both big and small employers, but for different reasons. Thirty percent of the traffic on both Indeed and CareerBuilder is currently on a mobile device, such as phones and tablets, and that number is growing very, very fast. Millions of job seekers have downloaded job site apps on their phone. This makes perfect sense. Why would anyone take the risk of using a company computer to look for jobs when you can be more discreet and use your phone? You can apply at lunch, on the metro or whenever you have five minutes to spare.

But big employers with complex application processes are at a real disadvantage with mobile job seekers; it is simply too hard to apply. CareerBuilder research shows that almost 40% of job seekers will abandon the mobile application process if it is too cumbersome. But making your ads mobile-friendly often means more work for HR. Mobile-friendly functionality on job board ads allows candidates to simply e-mail a resume, instead of applying on the company career site. But because many big employers rely on their ATS to record data for EEOC compliance, they cannot accept e-mailed resumes. Another major hurdle is that very few firms have the staffing levels in HR that are required to upload all those e-mailed resumes into the ATS.

Small employers have the advantage of using a simpler application process. Most already accept an e-mailed resume. But small employers suffer from a different problem: Their ads are not as visible or as mobile-friendly as large employers. To get mobile-friendly functionality on your ads, you need to set up an account with places like CareerBuilder and Indeed, and many small employers have not spent the money to do it.

Candidates starting their job search on Google or on a mobile device are making job advertising much more complex than it used to be, thanks to Indeed and trends in mobile usage. It takes real thought and real effort to create the kinds of employer branding, keyword advertising and application processes that will have good candidates not only see your ad but also apply.

 

Q: So what can smaller employers do to compete for top talent?

A: Small employers need to be sure their ads appear where the candidates are looking. When a small employer does run an ad, it’s important to post to a site that gets indexed by Indeed. For example, CareerBuilder and Monster ads get cross-posted to Indeed, but Craigslist ads don’t.

Consider getting an applicant tracking system so your jobs will automatically index on Indeed. The recruiting benefits alone will justify the cost. Ask your job board rep to explain how you can get “mobile apply” functionality on all your ads. Think hard about the candidate experience. On our career site, candidates can apply to jobs with a few clicks using their LinkedIn profile. Sure it’s more work for us, but at least it gets the conversation started with the right candidates.

Many people tell me they don’t want to make it easier for people to apply; they get too many unqualified people applying already. But in recruiting, your goal shouldn’t be to minimize the number of unqualified people who apply. Your goal should be to maximize the number of qualified people who apply. Far too many organizations destroy their recruiting effectiveness when they try to reduce their HR workload by advertising on tiny niche job boards or by making job seekers work harder to apply.

Joseph Coombs is a workplace trends and forecasting specialist for SHRM.

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