The End of the World as We Know It?

Whatever you read or hear, there is no crisis in recruitment and the pandemic hasn’t changed the fundamentals.  It is fashionable to talk about the great resignation, the unwillingness of workers to compromise on remote jobs and the lack of talent.  None of these factors are having a material impact on the ability to find, attract and appoint high quality professionals to progressive businesses.

Our experience is that the pandemic is creating more opportunities for creative and flexible employers to enhance their teams.  Potential candidates are selective about the jobs they take but are more willing than ever to engage with organizations that have been thoughtful about their talent acquisition strategy.  There is a premium on recruiters being focused, sector-savvy and efficient – but that has always been the case.

It is still possible to get what you want – if you know where to look and set out to get it.  But even the best talent doesn’t always know what its next career step might be and some organizations make the recruitment process very difficult for themselves.  We’ve also seen job aggregator sites, artificial intelligence as an aid to candidate selection, propensity for ghosting and time from introduction to hire all becoming complicating factors.  Here’s why:

The automatic box

Hard to believe that the first online job board was created in 1994 but even now they probably only account for 15-20% of recruitment hires.  SimplyCareer lists over 50 sites including generalist, global and niche options and the volumes are mind-boggling with the largest job site claiming 250m unique monthly visitors and 10 new jobs added per second globally.  Sounds good for the aggregators’ revenue sharing and referral model but it creates a maze of complexity, frustration and lack of transparency for candidates.

Most good candidates stay away from this hit and miss approach and won’t be spending hours on job boards and job aggregation sites.  Even the Indeed career advice page highlights the importance of personal networks which some commentators think lead to 85% of hires.  Top candidates for professional jobs are looking for personal attention rather than anonymity and want to connect with real people rather than throw their CV into the void.

Dead letter office

Using technology to sift and sort applications seems efficient but CareerArc research found 62% of employers who use applicant tracking systems agree that qualified candidates are filtered out by mistake. Candidates have also picked up on resume building services to game the systems and one entrepreneur has already created a matching algorithm that only points candidates to relevant jobs.  It’s only a matter of time before AI is writing job applications that mirror the AI trying to reduce the number of candidates – a zero-sum game.

It’s reminiscent of the dead letter technique in espionage used to pass items or information between two individuals but ensuring that you never actually meet.  That’s good for spies and spooks but the best candidates appreciate a personalized approach because they are more selective about who they might work for and how they want their career to develop.  Running through a screening check with a knowledgeable recruiter also ensures that the client’s short list doesn’t include candidates that have out-smarted the AI.

Ignoreland

According to a report  in February 2021, 57 percent of employers found ghosting a more common occurrence than ever before. The report noted that 28 percent of job-seekers had ghosted a prospective employer during the past year, up from 18 percent in 2019.  Ghosting – by clients or by candidates – has never been acceptable but Forbes Business Council and SHRM has given some good insights into why it is more prevalent and how automation has made the sense of a personal connection between the applicant and the company more tenuous.

A well-planned job search, managed by experienced recruiters and where the company plays it part, prevents ghosting from either side.  Personal contact ensures that candidates understand why they have not been put forward for interview which enhances the reputation of the recruiting company.  Good communication ensures that the right individuals get to interview with the best recruiters also making sure there are at least two candidates who can do the job.

Final straw

The internet is awash with examples of the ‘neverending’ interview process and particularly so in the finance, tech and energy sectors.  Google did some forensic work and determined that four interviews was the most needed to hire with 86% certainty.  It is advice that is routinely ignored and we’ve also seen occasions where companies ask more and more of candidates prior to appointment, which can lead to them reconsidering their position.

Talented people have options and even if they don’t they will doubt the sincerity or quality of a business that can’t make its mind up.  A survey in early 2021 found that “62% of professionals lose interest in a job if they don’t hear back within two weeks of the initial interview.”  We agree that “top candidates are gone within 10 days” and that a ‘hire by’ date is a vital part of the process.

My first thoughts on founding a recruitment business came as I was returning from a dismal interview experience for a senior finance director job.  The company I met was unprepared, uncommunicative and did itself no favors with a candidate expecting efficiency, professionalism and clarity of focus about the job and the ideal appointee.  TALTRAN is founded on a methodology built around those principles and applying it in 2021 has shown that finding top talent is not any more difficult (or easier) than it was before the pandemic.

If anything, technology has become marginally less important than the human touch in building relationships with a pool of financial talent and finding new candidates for excellent job opportunities.  Experience always beats AI and aggregators when it comes to understanding job context and the way that an individual will fit into a particular culture or company growth stage.  Discipline and process will always provide clients and candidates with the confidence that deadlines will be met and promises observed.  That’s why I feel fine.

Notes

REM fans will have spotted references to the band’s history in our sub-titles:

The Automatic Box is a four-disc box set released in Germany in December 1993. It was primarily a collection of B-sides from Automatic for the People, though disc four contains B-sides from Green-era singles.

Dead Letter Office is a rarities and B-sides collection released in April 1987. It’s a collection of outtakes or released as B-sides to singles internationally that includes three Velvet Underground covers, Aerosmith’s “Toys in the Attic” and Roger Miller’s “King of the Road“.

Ignoreland is the eighth track from R.E.M.‘s studio album Automatic for the People. Guitar aficionados may recognize that it is written in drop D tuning.

The Final Straw was initially posted on R.E.M.’s website in 2003 and first performed live at Zulu’s record shop in Vancouver.  It appeared on the Around the Sun album released in 2004.

The title to the article and the final sentence are inspired by It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine) which first appeared on the 1987 album Document. It was released as the album’s second single in November 1987, reaching No. 69 in the US Billboard Hot 100 and later reaching No. 39 on the UK Singles Chart on its re-release in December 1991.

Image by Gino Crescoli from Pixabay

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