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The last few years have been a rollercoaster for employers and employees, as they both navigated new normals catalyzed by the pandemic, including the acceptance of working from home, the realization of its benefits, and the solitude that created a type of introspection and awareness by employees that they needed more from their jobs than just a paycheck.
In fact, nearly 50 million people quit their jobs in 2021 during what’s called “The Great Resignation.” More than 60% resigned due to low pay while more than half felt disrespected. As it happens, companies appear to be off the hook from meeting those demands as a recession in the first half of 2022, and a potential slide back into recession in 2023 has companies slashing their workforce. Last year, Meta laid off 11,000 workers, Lyft cut its staff by 13%, Twitter fired half its staff, Salesforce laid off hundreds, and Snap let more than 1,200 go. In all, more than 67,000 tech workers were laid off in 2022, and it’s broadening in 2023 as non-tech companies, like Walt Disney plan to slash 7,000.
While those are signs the labor market is cooling, it appears workers can find employment as the number of workers has shrunk, partly due to early retirement and a rise in sick leaves. This raises the questions: Notwithstanding the labor shortage, given the layoffs, do employers now have the time to think methodically about how to find the best candidates in the current workforce pool while also determining how to best meet their desire to feel heard?
In this piece, I’ll examine the trends in hiring; how we’re thinking about tech innovations at Talview in order to create a better experience for the candidate while also helping recruiters streamline their workflow and efficiently bubble up the best talent.
Recruiting is still candidate-centric
This is not your dad’s work environment. A generation or two ago, workers had benefits like 401Ks, but the workplace today has drastically changed to be more accommodating of more than just retirement and medical needs. Some call the workplace of today more talent-centric, which means corporations aren’t just focused on the bottom line, but employee satisfaction, which often means flexibility to work from home, particularly for highly-sought-after employees.
“I believe it is still a candidate-centric market. There’s still nearly two jobs for every unemployed person, so there is choice in the matter when shopping around. Candidates today want to control how they engage with recruiters – self-service and on-demand recruiting technology grants them this,” said Lauren Helm, Director of RPO Operations at Endevis powered by job.com.
For those who are in a very highly-technical role, like a developer or a cybersecurity applicant, they often demand remote work because most of them have gotten used to not coming into the office, noted Dave Schain, Director of Talent Acquisition and Retention at e360. “They can say, ‘I refuse to travel, I refuse to go into the office,’ and most companies meet those demands.”
While many companies won’t make work-at-home concessions for the majority of workers, many recruiters know their company’s mission and values matter to today’s younger workers.
For instance, at Franklin Templeton, displaying their cultural values is a priority.
“Candidates are researching organizations and they really need to be convinced that the organization has the right culture and the right environment they want to be part of,” said Jeanette Abe, Vice President of HR Technology and Analytics at Franklin Templeton.
“We've enhanced our career site to make it more appealing to folks so when they do their research, they're seeing what we're about. And we’ve changed our onboarding process so that people can be exposed to our corporate values, and who we are as an organization.”
A corporate value that has risen in demand by employees is commitment to diversity. According to a Glassdoor survey, many employees say they would turn down a job offer or leave a company that doesn’t have a DEI program, or if there was a gender imbalance in leadership or a lack of ethnic diversity in leadership. Between 61% and 72% over the past six years said they view their company’s diversity program as a "pro," while between 15% and 21% listed it as a “con.”
While there is data showing that diversity programs seem to be a bit less of a priority to employers these days, Lorraine Parker-Clegg, Chief People Officer at Allison Transmission, still sees it as something organizations should have to attract the best employees. “When it comes to the element of inclusion and diversity, people are absolutely not turning away from this. Having a diverse workforce, bringing different perspectives to the organization, is vital for us. As an organization, we do everything that we can, including increasing the number of employee resource groups that we have,” she said.
For example, in order to help accommodate this shift, Allison Transmission recently added an emerging professionals group (referred to as an employee resource group), and are including, in 2023, one for veterans. “There’s a lot of time expended in making sure that the environment someone lands in is in tune with their expectations and needed support networks,” said Parker-Clegg.
While many challenges stand in the way of recruiting to meet diversity quotas, not the least of which is potentially excluding the best candidates, there is a lack of technology that helps employers even find a candidate who is a minority because those details don’t exactly show up on their resumes.
“There is an intentional effort for us to move forward and make sure that we start posting jobs in areas or in colleges where there are minority candidates, such as people of color or females,” said Franklin Templeton’s Abe. But while there are techniques from a business process perspective to do that, there isn’t technology. “The whole concept of producing the most viable and qualified candidates, and specifically around a diverse candidate slate, is one of the bigger hurdles we'd like to address,” she said.
Schain agreed, and said that there are two ways that he hires diverse candidates: one is doing a search, either a Boolean search on Google or within LinkedIn Recruiter.
“For instance, you can look at Historically Black Universities, or maybe look at certain pronouns within the search. I know some of these AI tools that I've used have been really effective in identifying diverse candidates,” he said. The problem, Schain noted, is that it doesn't always uncover candidates that may not self identify.
“Not only that, if I do strictly use LinkedIn, bios can be very light and scarce in the information that they provide. Maybe they don't list some of the organizations that are members of. What we need is a strong AI tool that could maybe not just look at LinkedIn, to uncover candidates that might not be submitting information about themselves out there on the web.”
One thing that employers can do, however, is blinding or redacting resumes, which can not only remove bias, but also expose potential bias in the recruiting process, said Helm.
“Removing references to gender, so he and she pronouns do not show on the resume, the name is removed. Their address is also removed, since that can indicate where they live – and a perceived social status. As well as removing the year of their graduation, avoiding ageism whether it's conscious or not. That blinded resume is presented to the hiring managers, they make their decisions on who they'd like to interview and then you compare demographics of who they selected against the demographics of who was selected previously,” she said.
“You're able to really identify if your team has some unconscious or conscious bias. It levels the playing field in a way, because the blinded resume excludes factors not relevant to one's qualifications, they get chosen to talk based on qualifications alone.”
Streamlining the recruiting process
In addition to being transparent about corporate values and accommodating work-at-home preferences, companies are trying to improve the overall interviewing and hiring experience to ensure they’re not burned out filtering through hundreds or thousands of candidates.
“How do we bubble up the best candidates, when, for example, we open up one requisition in India and there's 2,000 people who apply? How do you get through 2000 resumes?” said Abe. “How do I quickly get to the top 10 in a very succinct way?”
One way to help the interviewer be better equipped to filter through the candidates is to leverage technology to get the right ones in the door.
“A chatbot would be something that would really make a recruiters life a lot easier because they can move candidates through the process faster,” said Schain. “I am approached by many people a day applying to one of my roles, and they often ask questions about specific requirements, compensation, remote options and it would be nice to have a chatbot guide people through that process to get more information about their background, their areas of interest, and or answer their frequently asked questions.” In this way, the recruiter spends more time preparing more thoughtful questions for the interview process for when the right candidate comes along.
Endevis’ Helm also mentioned the use of chatbots, noting that different candidates want to engage in different ways, so giving them the option to talk to a human or a machine can increase their likelihood of making it into the top layer.
“Drop-off can oftentimes be due to a mismatch between the experience the candidate wants to have, and the interaction they experience with a company through the interview process. Usually the hiring process is a reflection of what the company environment will be like,” she said. “Some people prefer to talk to a human right away for 45 minutes while others prefer to sit on their couch at 10pm on a Saturday and engage a chatbot that can get basic questions out of the way in order to direct the candidate to the exact person they are qualified to speak to quicker. So, giving options increases the likelihood qualified candidates make it past that top layer of the funnel,” said Helm.
Besides chatbots, even scheduling tools could be useful in the hiring process. “We're now going to be looking at an interview scheduling tool, because right now there is a human being who has to deal with multiple schedules, which is time-consuming,” said Abe. “We want to go to an automated interview scheduling tool, but one of the challenges there is that you still need somebody to broker the agenda.”
Ultimately, technology can help eliminate the inefficiencies in the interview process, said Allison Transmission's Parker-Clegg.
“Currently, we’re still using what I'll call a more traditional means to do our interviews. However, we’re trying to eliminate some of those inefficient elements. So to build effectiveness in the selection process, we run unconscious bias training for our manager population to assist with that. We do interview training, we utilize our core competencies to establish the interview process and try to get that balance between the what, and the - technical requirements, and the how people get work done,” she explained.
However, just training interviewers is often not enough as I have realized while working with many of our customers at Talview. Interviewers need feedback on their interviewing technique, understand what unconscious biases they have and how to deliver a great candidate experience. Tools like Talview’s Interview Insights uses modern natural language processing techniques to provide continuous feedback leading to much better quality of interviewing, better candidate experience and hence better hires.
The pandemic seems to have been a turning point for workers: they suddenly began to assert themselves, and demand what they want: higher pay, better benefits, and more diversity. In a candidate-centric market, employers have been forced to take these demands seriously.
For companies who want to get the best candidates to join their organizations, it’s imperative to not only proactively go out and find the best candidates through technology, but to also deploy technology and tools to give the candidates the best interview experience. After all, that’s the first impression they’re giving of their company, and it’s important to put their best foot forward.
The companies that embrace these technologies will be in the best position to get top talent to work for them.
(Image source: glassdoor.com)
Sanjoe Jose is the Chief Executive Officer at Talview. He is a serial entrepreneur with ventures in Enterprise SaaS and Consumer Internet domains.All author posts
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Joined Vator onSanjoe Jose is the Chief Executive Officer at Talview. He is a serial entrepreneur with ventures in Enterprise SaaS and Consumer Internet domains.