Finding Employees Who Can Scale with Your Business

  • Eightfold’s analysis of hiring data has found the half-life of technical, marketable skills is 5 to 7 years, making the ability to unlearn and learn new concepts essential for career survival.
  • Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) don’t capture applicants’ drive and intensity to unlearn and learn or their innate capabilities for growth.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning are proving adept at discovering candidates’ innate capabilities to unlearn, learn and reinvent themselves over the span of their careers.

Hiring managers in search of qualified job candidates who can scale with their growing businesses are facing a crisis today. They’re not finding nearly enough good candidates using job recruitment sites that are designed for employers’ convenience first and candidates last. Outmoded approaches to recruiting aren’t designed to find those candidates with the strongest capabilities.

Add to this dynamic the fact that machine learning is making resumes obsolete by enabling employers to find candidates with precisely the right balance of capabilities needed—and it’s clear that data-driven approaches to recruitment work best. Resumes and job recruitment sites force hiring managers to bet on the probability they’ll make a great hire instead of being completely certain they are using solid data.

Quit Playing the Probability Hiring Game and Know with Solid Data

Many hiring managers and recruiters are playing the probability hiring game. They’re betting that a new hire chosen using imprecise methods will work out. And like any bet, it is expensive when a wrong choice is made. There’s a 30% chance the new hire will not make it through one year.

Consider the software industry. When the median salary for a cloud computing professional is $146,350 and it takes at least 46 days to find them, losing just one recruited cloud computing professional can derail a project for months. The cost of lost revenue or billing opportunity, recruiting, and re-hire to fill that role will easily exceed six figured.

These are the high costs of playing the probability hiring game, fueled by unconscious and conscious biases and systems that game recruiters into believing they are making progress when they’re automating mediocre or worse decisions. Hiring managers will have better luck betting in Las Vegas than hiring the best possible candidates if they rely on systems that deliver at best a marginal probability of success.

Betting on solid data and personalization at scale, on the other hand, delivers real results. Hiring managers, recruiters, HR directors, and Chief Human Resource Officers (CHROs) are abandoning the probability hiring game for new, data-driven approaches. Now candidates get evaluated on their capabilities and innate strengths and how strong of a match they are to ideal candidates for specific roles.

Real data is also the best protection against conscious and unconscious biases in hiring decisions. AI- and machine learning-based approaches to talent management strip away any extraneous data that could lead to bias-driven hiring decisions.

A Data-Driven Approach to Finding Employees Who Can Scale

Personalization at scale is more than just a recruiting strategy—it’s a talent management strategy intended to flex across the longevity of every employees’ tenure. Attaining personalization at scale is essential if any growing business is going to succeed in attracting, acquiring, and growing talent that can support their growth goals and strategies.

For example, Eightfold’s approach makes it possible to scale personalized responses to specific candidates while defining the ideal candidate for each open position. Personalization at scale has succeeded in helping companies find the right person for the right role at the right time and, for the first time, personalize every phase of recruitment, retention and talent management at scale.

Eightfold is also pioneering the use of a self-updating corporate candidate database. Profiles in the system are now continually updated using external data gathering, without applicants reapplying or submitting updated profiles. The taxonomies supported in the corporate candidate database make it possible for hiring managers to define the optimal set of capabilities, innate skills and strengths they need to fill open positions.

Lessons Learned at PARC

Russell Williams, former Vice President of Human Resources at PARC, says the best strategy he has found is to define the ideal attributes of high performers and look to match those profiles with potential candidates. “We’re finding that there are many more attributes that define a successful employee in our most in-demand positions, including data scientists, than are evident from just reviewing a resume—and with AI, I want to do it at scale,” Russell said.

Ashutosh Garg, Eightfold’s founder, added: “that’s one of the greatest paradoxes that HR departments face, which is the need to know the contextual intelligence of a given candidate far beyond what a resume and existing recruiting systems can provide.” One of the most valuable lessons learned from PARC is that it’s possible to find the find candidates who excel at unlearning, learning and defining their learning roadmaps that lead to reinventing their skills, strengths, and marketability.

Conclusion

Machine learning algorithms capable of completing millions of pattern-matching comparisons per second provides valuable new insights, enabling companies to find those who excel at reinventing themselves. The most valuable employees who can scale any business see themselves as learning entrepreneurs, and have an inner drive to master new knowledge and skills. And that select group of candidates is the catalyst of every company’s ongoing growth.

How AI Can Improve Your Return on Recruiting Investment

Bottom Line: Improving how you recruit using AI directly drives revenue and makes future business models and plans achievable, increasing the returns on recruiting investment.

Today every organization’s new business initiatives and business models are setting the challenging goal of digital transformation. Chief Human Resource Officers (CHROs) are among the primary architects of these new digital business models as they must find the talent to make them succeed.

Recruiting For Long-Term Results With AI

During a recent conversation with a CHRO who ran one of the world’s leading enterprise cloud computing companies’ global HR organizations, the challenges became clear. The average tenure for a new hire is just 19 months, and in high-demand fields including data science and programming, it’s a short 14 months. She and her team are using AI and machine learning to improve recruiting and bring greater contextual insight into their hiring programs. The following survey findings quantify how existing recruiting methods aren’t delivering the results needed:

  • 28% of open roles will not be filled, making companies less able to deliver shareholder value in the years ahead, stalling growth and hurting competitive position according to a recent Harris Interactive poll.

Reinventing Recruiting With AI & Machine Learning

The Talent Intelligence and Management Report, 2018 by Harris Interactive in collaboration with Eightfold found that 22% of companies are using AI to solve their talent challenges, yet 44% of all C-level execs interviewed believe that AI can improve talent acquisition and talent retention.

Key Areas Where AI Is Improving the Return on Recruiting Investment

The greater the level of competitive intensity an organization is facing, the greater the return they achieve by adopting AI-driven talent management strategies.

PARC brings together leading scientists, engineers, and designers to form teams across a series of focus areas that they believe are the future of technology, science, and innovation. Russell Williams, the former Vice President of Human Resources at PARC and an industry thought leader says: “We’re finding that there are many more attributes that define a successful employee in our most in-demand positions, including data scientist, than are evident from just reviewing a resume. With AI, I want to do it at scale.” Williams, and other forward-thinking leaders like him, believe that the ideal talent management platform would give their organizations the flexibility to define ideal candidates and search for matches on all aspects of performance.

To identify ideal candidates, AI-based platforms need to combine analysis of publicly available data, internal data repositories, HCM systems, ATS tools, and spreadsheets, then create ontologies based on organization-specific success criteria. An AI-based platform also needs to have a self-updating corporate candidate database so profiles can be continually updated using external data gathering, without applicants reapplying or submitting updated profiles. The design goals and structure of the Eightfold platform reflect these needs and is proving effective in improving recruiting ROI by delivering the following benefits:

  • Gain greater precision finding the best-fit hires that have the innate capabilities need to excel in each position. Just 30% of new hires excel in their new roles and make long-term contributions to their teams. While at PARC, Williams initiated the approach of finding the top performers in each position and then defining those attributes to guide recruiting strategies. Using an AI-based platform, Russell significantly improved best-fit hire performance.
  • Reducing time-to-hire by breaking free of reliance on resumes and using AI-based platforms to find the best possible pipeline of candidates. Hiring an engineer for a new app or product development team on average takes 58 days. Multiply this by the number of engineers needed to create an entirely new app, product or cloud service that is the foundation of a new business model, and one can see the challenge CHROs and line-of-business leaders face. Using an AI-powered platform to find candidates who have the best possible combination of capabilities, experiences, and skills drastically reduces lost recruiting and time.
  • Reducing the cost-to-hire by having more new hires flourish instead of fail. The cost to hire an individual contributor is $4,000. Imagine you’re hiring 25 new engineers, and eight will be at your company a year from now. Using traditional recruiting techniques, you’ll waste $68,000 in the first year as on average of 17 of them will be gone within 19 months or less. Using an AI-based platform to precisely define the engineer candidates who have the capabilities, experiences, skills, and strengths your company needs reduces the risk of making bad hires and reduces overall cost-to-hire immediately.
  • Achieve true diversity by evaluating candidates based on their experience, growth potential and strengths first. An AI-based platform can provide a pipeline of qualified candidates based on a true assessment of their accomplishments, capabilities, experiences, and strengths. Data is the best equalizer of all, reducing conscious and unconscious biases from hiring decisions.

Conclusion

It’s easy to see how competitive a company is going to be in the future by evaluating their recruiting and talent management strategies today. Relying on resumes alone is a sure path to churn, and will see time-to-hire go beyond 60 days or more and cost-to-hire soar.

Recruiting needs to be reinvented on an AI-based platform that provides a continual stream of rich, real-time data on applicants. Only then will employers be able to put their exciting new business initiatives and models into motion.

Taking A Data-Driven Approach To 2019 Hiring Plans With Machine Learning

  • 74% of hiring managers and recruiters say they’ve hired the wrong person for an open position according to CareerBuilder.
  • 75% of demand for new employees is to replace those who have left the company, making churn one of the most expensive Human Resource Management (HRM) factors to manage today according to recent research published in Undercover Recruiter.
  • Companies are losing an average of $14,900 on every bad hire according to a recent CareerBuilder poll.
  • 22% of failed hires are the result of having insufficient talent intelligence before recruiting according to a CareerBuilder survey.

The best resolution any HR professional can make is to eliminate bad hires in 2019 by closing the growing gap between the skills hiring managers need and candidates recruiters find. It’s a clear sign the recruiting process is broken and needs to be reset on a data-driven foundation.

Relying on the centuries-old approach that hasn’t changed much since Leonardo da Vinci created a handwritten resume from 1482, organizations on average select the right candidate only 26% of the time. Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) automate recruiting, failing to find the best possible candidates because they’re more focused on analyzing resume keywords and less on what all available data says about a candidate’s potential to grow.

How Data-Driven Recruiting Finds High Potential Candidates

Chief Human Resource Officers (CHROs) and the hiring managers they serve need to redefine recruiting based on the quality of all candidate data, not just resumes alone. Aggregating all publicly available data, internal data repositories, HCM systems, ATS tools, and spreadsheets to create ontologies based on organization-specific hiring goals is the first step. Having created an integrated platform that provides a data-driven 360-degree view of candidates, recruiters and hiring managers can define their ideal candidate by position and build a pipeline, achieving personalization at scale.

The inability of hiring managers and recruiters to agree on a clear, succinct definition of just what skills the ideal candidate needs and what their potential is slows down recruiting. Without clarity regarding the ideal candidates’ profile, both recruiters and hiring managers churn through thousands of resumes using ATS tools when available.

Talent management platforms built using AI and machine learning algorithms are giving recruiters and hiring managers the flexibility of emulating the core capabilities of their current stars and searching for candidates that match star employees. Candidate pipelines for the most in-demand positions can be created in minutes. Eightfold’s approach to emulating an ideal candidate while providing a data-rich 360-degree view of where comparable high potential candidates can be found is illustrated in the following graphic:

Eightfold emulates and finds the ideal candidate

Comparing High Potential Candidates on Key Attributes

HR recruiters and hiring managers both miss the capabilities, unique strengths and innate skills candidates have when they only review resumes. Instead of relying on a 500+-year-old process that delivers just 26% successful hires, it’s time to capitalize on the many advantages a data-driven approach. Using an AI-powered platform, HR recruiters and hiring managers are evaluating high potential candidates on the following key elements in their profiles:

  • Career Growth Bell Curve – Illustrates how a given candidate’s career progressions and performance compares relative to others.

How a given candidate’s career progressions and performance compares relative to others.

  • Social Following On Public Sites – Provides a real-time glimpse into the candidate’s activity on Github, OpenStack, and other sites where technical professionals can share their expertise. This also provides insight into how others perceive their contributions.

A real-time glimpse into the candidate's activity on Github, OpenStack, and other sites

  • Highlights Of Background That Is Relevant To Job(s) Under Review Provides the most relevant data from the candidate’s history in the profile so recruiters and hiring managers can more easily understand their strengths.
  • Recent Publications – Publications provide insights into current and previous interests, areas of focus, mindset and learning progression over the last 10 to 15 years or longer.

Publications provide insights into current and previous interests, areas of focus

  • Professional overlap that makes it easier to validate achievements chronicled in the resume – Multiple sources of real-time career data validate and provide greater context and insight into resume-listed accomplishments.

A data driven approach to recruiting:

Resumes are rear-view mirrors that reflect the past while AI and machine learning provide data-driven insight that predicts future employee performance. Finding high potential candidates by emulating the star employees at a company can be accomplished in minutes, saving untold hours of recruiters and hiring managers churning through resumes and potential applicants. Evaluating candidates based on data and their similarity to star employees also enables greater diversity and inclusion. The bottom line is data is the great equalizer, enabling organizations to create a true pipeline of high potential candidates while minimizing the effects of conscious and unconscious hiring biases.

Your Employer Brand Is Your Recruiting Secret Weapon: 3 Reasons that Candidate Experience Is So Important

For many companies, the candidate experience takes a backseat to the daily operational needs of the talent acquisition team and the hiring managers. It’s not hard to see why. With online applications now available for every job, and easier than ever, the volume of applications increases dramatically every year. Exceptional talent becomes ever more difficult to separate from the mass of applicants, at the same time that competition for these top-tier individuals becomes ever more intense.

So the recruiters and hiring managers are facing an uphill battle. Their jobs get harder constantly, and their natural impulse is to “circle the wagons” and concentrate internally on what they can do to manage the endless flow of applicants. It just seems too hard to do anything else.
But this internal focus is a major mistake. Here are three reasons why.

1. Career Sites Suck

When was the last time you applied for a job? Corporate career sites list massive volumes of jobs with similar qualifications and similar titles. Many applicants mass-apply to the broadest possible range of jobs, hoping to get lucky. Hiring organizations look at this flood of candidates and focus their resources instead on outbound recruiting, leaving junior-level staff to find the rare needle in the digital haystack of resumes.

Quite simply, corporate career sites are broken. They typically work off relatively unsophisticated databases and a limited set of keywords rather than sophisticated algorithms. Simplistic matching technology makes the chance of a successful match remote at best. Potential applicants have to wade through dozens of inappropriate listings, hoping to find a job that sounds interesting and matches their skills. For too many people, it’s not worth the effort. Their first impression with an organization quickly becomes a negative experience.

The truth of this impersonal experience is seen in how cover letters are handled. If you applied for a job more than 3 years ago, perhaps a corporate recruiter read your cover letter. If you apply today, a candid recruiter will admit that you should not bother to write a cover letter. No one is likely to read it.

2. Recruiters Don’t Have Time to Recruit

Overworked recruiters, hiring managers, and HR staff don’t have time to see applicants as individuals. Instead, they see piles of resumes. The inevitable result is that too many candidates never hear back after an application, or just receive a form letter. Interviews lead to no response or follow-ups months after the last contact.

This behavior comes off as insulting to candidates. Why should someone want to work at a place that doesn’t communicate with them? Even worse, hiring managers like to keep second and third favorites on hold in case their primary targets don’t pan out. This means that the “silver medalists” may be engaged even less than the applicants who have been rejected out of hand.

Recruiters exist to recruit—to sell their open positions to qualified candidates. With such a mountain of administrative work, they just run out of time to communicate effectively.

3. Job Descriptions Have No Relation to Reality

Businesses tend to be either silly or lazy when it comes to job descriptions. The lazy part is easy to understand. No one gets promoted for writing great job descriptions. Some organizations stoop so low as to copy online listings from other companies, change a few details, then post them as their own. Even well-run organizations often reuse job description text for years, with no one questioning whether it is still valid and accurate.

Silly job posts may grab someone’s attention, but they’re of little use if they don’t realistically map to the skills needed for the job, the quality of the work environment, and opportunities for advancement. What happens when someone comes in for an interview only to discover false or inaccurate representations of the job or the company? It’s another black mark and a missed opportunity to generate excitement and enthusiasm for a potential new hire.

Employer Brand Is Recruiting’s Secret Weapon

Searching for a job is terribly stressful and frustrating. Any organization that turns this process into a positive experience has a built-in competitive advantage, especially when it comes to attracting top-tier talent.

That’s where employer branding comes into play. If your hiring team has the right tools to zero in on appropriate candidates sooner, they have more time to shower attention on interviewees. Accurate job descriptions lead to more meaningful discussions for how each candidate can find a home at your company. Regular, honest communications set expectations and build relationships, especially for candidates who might not be immediate hires. These communications are part of a brand identity—your employer brand.

If your team doesn’t have the technology to turn volumes of applications into meaningful hiring conversations, then you’ll never be able to communicate that employer brand or the values that make your corporate culture so rewarding. You’ll also struggle to reach the best people and land them before your competition snaps them away. And your company’s reputation will suffer as a result.

Put yourself in your applicants’ and candidates’ shoes, and the solution becomes obvious. Make the investment to build a system that’s personalized, even at the job description level. Make it relevant for both applicants and hiring managers, with interactive tools that help both sides of the hiring equation get to what they want sooner. Finally, make the hiring process as rapid as possible, to capture your candidates’ excitement.

Treat your applicants with respect and your candidates as if they’re already your treasured talent. That’s when the magic happens.

What You Need to Know About Candidates That a Resume Alone Can’t Say

• 46% of all new employee hires fail within 18 months according to Leadership IQ.
• Between 40% and 60% of new upper management hires fail within 18 months according to the Harvard Business Review.
• Only 19% of new hires are considered an unequivocal success according to the Center for Creative Leadership.

Passing on Leonardo da Vinci and a Massive Patent Portolio

It’s ironic that today’s digital-first organizations rely on 500-year-old recruiting processes.

Imagine someone with the cognitive ability, intellect, insight, and knowledge of Leonardo da Vinci applying to your company and being rejected. Check out this resume from 1482, and you can see how recruiting hasn’t changed in over 500 years. The majority of organizations today wouldn’t hire him because of their ingrained conscious and unconscious biases, and because they have ATS technology designed for the recruiter’s convenience, not focused on capturing the capabilities of candidates.

A person comparable to the genius who created the Mona Lisa, Last Supper, Vitruvian Man and a myriad of scientific discoveries and inventions that modernized the world today could have the potential to generate hundreds, if not thousands of patents. In this era of the Internet of Things, smart products, and AI integration, Leonardo’s equivalent would shift the balance of power of any patent race in his employer’s favor.

Data Needs to Drive Recruiting and Replace Resumes

One of the most valuable traits of a potential new hire is the ability to unlearn old concepts, and embrace and master new ones quickly. Finding candidates who have the energy, focus, and passion for pursuing lifelong learning and continually reinventing themselves – like Leonardo da Vinci – are the most valuable. And that innate strength is in the data that reflects their current and emerging capabilities.

Higher quality data provided in an unbiased way is the roadmap to better hiring decisions. Data also scales further than any dated resume ever can. Consider the following forms of data a Talent Intelligence Platform, integrated to ATS and HCRM, can provide to improve recruiting and hiring beyond the resume:

• Career Growth Bell Curve: Provides a graphical illustration of how a given candidate’s career progression and performance compares relative to others.

Graphical illustration of how a given candidate’s career progression
This candidate took 3.2 years (Top 10%) to reach this level; while peers took 11 years (average).

 

• Social Following On Public Sites: Provides a real-time glimpse into the candidate’s activity on Github, OpenStack, and other sites where technical professionals can share their expertise. This also provides insight into how others perceive their contributions.

Real-time glimpse into the candidate's activity on Github, OpenStack, and other sites where technical professionals can share their expertise.
Real-time glimpse into the candidate’s activity on public sites

 

• Highlights Of Background That Is Relevant to Job(s) Under Review: Provides the most relevant data from the candidate’s history in the profile so recruiters and managers can more easily understand their strengths.

Recruiters and managers can more easily understand candidates' strengths.

 

• Recent Publications: Publications provide insights into current and previous interests, areas of focus, mindset and learning progression over the last 10 to 15 years or longer.

Insights into current and previous interests, areas of focus, mindset and learning progression
Insights into current and previous interests, areas of focus, mindset and learning progression.

 

• Professional overlap that makes it easier to validate achievements chronicled in the resume: Multiple sources of real-time career data validate and provide greater context and insight into resume-listed accomplishments.

Real-time career data validate and provide greater context and insight into resume

Conclusion

It’s time to take a more data-driven approach to the talent crisis every organization is facing today. When just 19% of new hires are an unequivocal success, recruiters and hiring managers are in a constant state of churn. Broader initiatives including digital transformation won’t succeed until companies get their recruiting and hiring right.

Don’t pass on the next Leonardo da Vinci because you only had a resume—you might miss out on your company’s Renaissance.

5 Ways AI Can Help Solve the Talent Crisis

According to the results of the Talent Intelligence & Management Report 2018, organizations are facing serious challenges related to hiring, retention, and diversity.

Forbes reported on these challenges and the findings of this survey of more than 1,000 big-company executives:

  • 22% of enterprises are using artificial intelligence for talent programs, and these early adopters are more effective in every area of hiring, retention, and Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) operations than their peers.
  • 28% of open roles will not be filled, making companies less able to deliver shareholder value in the years ahead, stalling growth and hurting competitive position.
  • 83% of employees want a new job, yet only 53% want to change companies, yet enterprises are finding their retention programs are ineffective.

Read more about the report findings and how AI can help in Forbes.

How AI & Machine Learning Are Redefining The War For Talent

According to Gartner,

  • “By 2020, more than 20 million job seekers will look for automated advice on how to improve their rankings in job-matching algorithms”.
  • “More than 50% of large enterprises based in North America and Western Europe will include diversity and inclusion enablement criteria in their HCM technology selection processes by 2020.
  • “By 2022, nearly 80% of organizational skills will have to be reprioritized or revisited due to digital business transformation.”[1]

These and many other fascinating insights are from Gartner’s recent research note, Cool Vendors in Human Capital Management for Talent Acquisition (PDF, 13 pp., client access reqd.). The five vendors Gartner mentions in the research note are AllyO, Eightfold, jobpal, Knack, and Vettd. Each has concentrated on creating and launching differentiated applications that address urgent needs enterprises have across the talent acquisition landscape.

Company Growth Plans Are Accelerating The War For Talent

The average employee’s tenure at a cloud-based enterprise software company is 19 months; in Silicon Valley, this trends to 14 months due to intense competition for talent according to C-level executives leading these companies. Fast-growing enterprise cloud computing companies and many other businesses like them need specific capabilities, skill sets, and associates who know how to unlearn old concepts and learn new ones. Today across tech and many other industries, every company’s growth strategy is predicated on how well they attract, engage, screen, interview, select and manage talent over associates’ lifecycles.

Of the five companies Gartner names as Cool Vendors in the field of Human Capital Management for Talent Acquisition, Eightfold is the only one achieving personalization at scale today. Attaining personalization at scale is essential if any growing business is going to succeed in attracting, acquiring and growing talent that can support their growth goals and strategies. Eightfold’s approach makes it possible to scale personalized responses to specific candidates in a company’s candidate community while defining the ideal candidate for each open position.

Eightfold’s AI-based Talent Intelligence Platform combines analysis of publicly available data, internal data repositories, HCM systems, ATS tools, and spreadsheets then creates ontologies based on organization-specific success criteria. Each ontology, or area of talent management interest, is customizable for further queries using the app’s easily understood and navigated user interface. The Eightfold.ai Talent Intelligence Platform is shown below:

How AI & Machine Learning Are Redefining The War For Talent
Gartner names Eightfold a Cool Vendor in the field of Human Capital Management for Talent Acquisition

Taking A Data-Driven Approach to Improve Diversity

AI and machine learning have the potential to remove conscious and unconscious biases from hiring decisions, leading to hiring decisions based on capabilities and innate skills. Many CEOs and senior management teams are enthusiastically endorsing diversity programs yet struggling to make progress. AI and machine learning-based approaches like Eightfold’s can help to accelerate them to their diversity goals and attain a more egalitarian workplace. Data is the great equalizer, with a proven ability to eradicate conscious and unconscious biases from hiring decisions and enable true diversity by equally evaluating candidates based on their experience, growth potential and strengths.

Conclusion

At the center of every growing business’ growth plans is the need to attract, engage, recruit, and retain the highest quality employees possible. As future research in the field of HCM will show, the field is in crisis because it’s relying more on biases than solid data. Breaking through the barrier of conscious and unconscious biases will provide contextual intelligence of an applicant’s unique skills, capabilities and growth trajectories that are far beyond the scope of any resume or what an ATS can provide. The war for talent is being won today with data and insights that strip away biases to provide prospects who are ready for the challenges of helping their hiring companies grow.

 

Gartner Disclaimer

The Gartner Cool Vendor Logo is a trademark and service mark of Gartner, Inc., and/or its affiliates, and is used herein with permission. All rights reserved.

Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

[1] Research Location: https://www.gartner.com/document/3889269

[2] Materials including quote and Gartner references: see following pages

[3] Quote location: in research publication, under 2nd main heading, “Strategic Planning Assumption” in our oublication: At the beginning of the article

 

 

How to Play the Hiring Game When Candidates Hold All the Cards

Whether we like it or not, today’s hiring environment is defined by who happens to be holding the cards. When the economy is doing well, as it is in most industries in 2018, it’s usually candidates for jobs that hold the cards, leaving employers in the position of trying to woo them with the most effective outreach, salary, and benefits—in spite of the fact that firms might not even be attracting the best candidates. Of course, when there are fewer jobs to be had, the equation runs the other way. Even top candidates are forced to fight tooth and nail for limited openings, and firms are able to hire only the best candidates.

The currency of these kinds of job markets is needs. In lean times for business, it’s a question of what qualifications a candidate needs to have in order to convince a hiring manager. In boom times, it’s the candidates who can express their own needs and make demands of companies.

Turnover or vacancy: a zero sum game?

In these boom times for business where candidates seem to hold all the cards, one thing companies should keep in mind is that not all candidate needs are created equal, and this is where many hiring strategies fall flat. In fact, contrary to common sense, the toughest part of hiring for firms in a candidate’s job market is not simply finding candidates to fill positions, it’s figuring out how to respond to candidate needs and demands to cut through the noise of the market and attract top talent that will be effective in the long run.

In fact, attracting the wrong candidates by playing catch-up and trying to meet the superficial needs the market is communicating can backfire. For example, attracting talent by offering gimmicky fringe benefits like free food and games in the office might be effective for simply filling positions, but it is not an effective strategy for reaching the real goal: differentiating the company and attracting top candidates. On the other hand, leaving a position empty for months while holding out for the person with the perfect resume is prohibitively costly as well.

When candidates hold all the cards in the job market, there’s no doubt some will leverage the position to make demands for things like unlimited vacation and remote working. But what defines a top candidate is not just their ability to carry out the job effectively, but the role the job itself plays in their broader career path. This is what companies need to focus on. When companies can penetrate the noise of the job market and search for candidates who are not only good at their jobs, but for whom the job will play a meaningful and effective role in their career and life, companies can reduce turnover in the long term while filling vacancies in the nearer term, even in a tough job market.

What’s needed is a refocusing on the candidate needs that actually matter, as well as tools that can enable recruiters to take a much more powerful and equally much more subtle look into candidate pools.

The candidate needs that really matter

As we’ve alluded to, the standard set of needs for workers in many industries has grown as the job market has shifted in favor of candidates. Blending in with the crowd to meet these needs is effective only in meeting the short term goal of filling vacancies. Instead, companies should look to meet different needs to find the candidates that offer the most value to the company overall, in the long run. The three needs below are just a sample, but they represent some of the most important needs truly high quality candidates are expressing, but that companies are missing.

Need #1: “I want to work at Company X”

The search for the perfect candidate begins with knowing the total candidate pool and who is most interested in working for a particular company. If someone is qualified and applies for a job at a company, regardless of whether they’re a top candidate today, it can be deduced that they’re a fan of that firm. Loyalty or at least interest in a company is valuable, and every company should keep detailed records of all the candidates it has contact with, even the unqualified ones, in case they do become qualified and a perfect fit for another job later on. This is particularly effective if companies can keep track of the candidates clambering for their jobs in lean times, and come back to them in boom times.

Need #2: “I’m at a turning point in my career”

By understanding exactly where candidates are in their career, and what kind of job makes sense in the logical progression of their careers, companies can find candidates whose future interests match their needs. The worst case scenario for staffing is being surprised when a key player suddenly disappears and goes in a different direction, either because she was unhappy in her previous role or she got another offer that could better advance her career, or some other unforeseen reason. By deeply understanding where candidates are and where they’re headed, companies can hire candidates for jobs at the right time. By mastering this timing, expensive surprises can be minimized.

Need #3: “I’m highly qualified, and I’ll get snapped up quickly”

Often, securing the best talent is a puzzle with a time limit. Industries including high tech are increasingly dominated by a few large and highly profitable companies that can offer salaries that are hard to compete with (Facebook’s median salary is now $240,000). Reaching these candidates before they get snapped up by a difficult-to-top competitor is imperative.

We know, this isn’t easy

There’s a common thread running through these three key candidate needs: responding to them effectively represents a superhuman effort for recruiters, hiring managers, and HR staff. This is where the second part of our formula comes in: tools. Traditional tools for hiring that are still in place today are woefully unequipped to handle these challenges. Instead, companies must begin transcending these traditional hiring practices, and adopt both novel methodologies as well as emerging technologies, including AI and automation.


1 “Peak Valley,” The Economist, September 1st-7th 2018