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The One Acronym You Need to 'Reach' Gen Y

Ira S. Wolfe

President, Success Performance Solutions

Imagine how different recruiting was just a few decades ago when a foreman in a Philadelphia railroad yard exited his office, crossed the workplace campus and was met by a mob of job candidates each morning.

Not too long ago, word of job openings spread like wildfire through local neighborhoods and communities — all that separated the foreman and his next hire was a fence. But sourcing and recruiting workers today spins quite a different story. Reaching qualified applicants requires a marketing strategy significantly more sophisticated than walking across a campus. Thanks to technology, the information economy and social media, job seekers are changing the rules of recruitment.

Just as consumers research products and services online before making a purchase, job seekers research companies before applying. They want to know what it's like to work for you before spending time on an application. They check out your website and read reviews from customers and employees. If the company site isn't user-friendly and the reviews are unfavorable, applicants will exit their screens and flee.

How do you reach these modern candidates? While there's no lack of "best" recruiting practices available (a quick Google search turns up millions of results), the process can be narrowed down quickly into an acronym I've created: R-E-A-C-H.

R is for Reach

Job seekers today search for work the same way they search for a car, restaurant or house: they ask their friends for advice and "Google" it. On average, they use more than 18 different sources to make a decision!

Depending on demographics, skill sets, geography, and a dozen other factors, their search may take them to hundreds of different sourcing platforms. The best recruiting source for one person might be LinkedIn or Twitter, while another might be the job search engine Indeed or a college career fair. With so many resources and locations to connect with candidates, finding your next hire depends on your ability to be seen by enough qualified applicants.

E is for Engage

First impressions matter and recruitment is no exception. Engagement occurs when a job seeker visits your website, reads online reviews about your company, connects with you and your employees on social media ... and still wants to apply.

The last step of that process, applying, happens less than 2 percent of the time. Recruiting content needs to motivate the applicant to do more than just visit your site. It must convert the potential employee from a casual inquirer to an engaged participant.

A is for Apply

Even the best sourcing and engagement strategy falls short when the application process isn't user-friendly. While 86 percent of all job seekers start their job search on a mobile device, few company career sites are mobile-optimized. Even worse, many companies still require an applicant to email his or her resume.

Most applicants will simply not perform that action on a smartphone. Without the ability to start an application on a smartphone or tablet, the exit rate is ridiculously high, especially when recruiting millennials and tech-savvy candidates. If the application is too difficult or too long to complete, job seekers won't apply.

C is for Converse

Getting candidates to apply is hard enough, but turning a deaf ear on them after they do ("ghosting") is just a horrific practice. Just ask anyone who has recently applied for a job — the common theme is a deafening silence.

When a candidate submits an application, it's common courtesy for your company to acknowledge him or her. Who knows — the candidate could be a future customer or know someone who is qualified for one of those hard-to-fill positions. Send a simple "Thank you for applying!" note, or better yet, invite all applicants to subscribe to a newsletter, blog or future webinar to continue the conversation. As with customers, communication is essential to building your brand and sustaining your reputation.

H is for Hire

Most companies believe the selection process ends when a candidate accepts a job offer, but nothing could be further from the truth. One in five final applicants turn downs or reneges on offers. For those who move forward, nearly half of all new hires fail in the first 18 months. Some surveys indicate the number is even higher. The hiring stage ends only after a new hire has been successfully on-boarded into the new position and integrated into the company culture.

Interested in learning more about how to "reach" Gen Y? Sign up for Ira's course, Recruiting Gen Y Blueprint, on Udemy for free with the coupon code: Cornerstone.

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4 Ways to Expand Your Social Media Recruiting Strategy

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4 Ways to Expand Your Social Media Recruiting Strategy

Social media is ubiquitous, and companies are using it in many different and innovative ways for enhancing their sales, marketing and customer services. So why is it then that many HR departments still fail to see social media as more than a job board? Outside of the office, the same HR people happily engage with friends on Facebook, share news and ideas on Twitter, look at pictures on Instagram and send snaps on Snapchat. But when they put their work hat on they seemingly forget why they use social in the way they (and hundreds of millions of other users) do every day, and resort back to just posting jobs (in a boring way) on social media! Of course there is nothing wrong with job posting, and it's often an effective approach to reaching an audience, but not all of the time. According to LinkedIn, only 12 percent of the working population are actively seeking new employment. So, if all you do is post jobs on your LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook page, you are consciously ignoring the other 88 percent of the working population who might be interested in hearing more about your company in general. Creating and sharing interesting content about your company such as employee stories or volunteer days help bring your employer brand to life. It might even trigger people to reach out to you and find out more about your job opportunities. In truth, mixing up your social media feeds with a variety of content will provide more depth and candidate engagement. Here are four ways to expand your social media strategy and engage with new potential candidates. 1) Candidate Sourcing With people using an average of more than five social networks, sourcing talent via social media makes absolute sense. Branch out from just using LinkedIn and look to sites like Twitter, Facebook and Google+ to search for and engage with prospective talent. Try search tools like Followerwonk to search Twitter bios for keywords and job titles, a clever Chrome browser extension called Intelligence Search that easily searches Facebook and using the search bar at the top of Google+. They will help you identify new talent. If you are looking to build social media pipelines then try Hello Talent. It is a great free tool that allows you to build talent pipelines from many different social networks by using a browser extension. 2) Competitor Monitoring Social media is a fantastic source of information and data. By using tools like Hootsuite and Tweetdeck, you can monitor the social media activity of your competitors. Both of these tools allow you to set up search columns, where you can enter things like keywords, hashtags, Twitter names and track when any of these are mentioned on sites such as Twitter. You can use the interact or use the insights accordingly. 3) Resources for Candidates Consider your Facebook page (or Twitter channel) as a real-time customer services channel for you to engage and communicate with both new and existing candidates in the recruitment process. Provide links to your social media pages to candidates at all stages in the process and encourage them to visit the pages and ask questions about any part of the process. You can also share useful information about working for the company, including locations, employees and other relevant news. 4) Live Recruitment Events Not everyone can attend the many recruitment events happening every month. But by using social media like Twitter, Facebook Live, Instagram and Snapchat, you can easily provide live commentary for these events you attend or host. Real-time video via Facebook Live and interaction via Twitter chats are superb examples of ways to regularly engage with a live audience of potential candidates. With social media firmly established in our working lives, I question how much more evidence HR departments will need to fully embrace this "new" form of candidate engagement. Photo: Twenty20

Cartoon Coffee Break: Unconventional Recruiting

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Cartoon Coffee Break: Unconventional Recruiting

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The Latest Office Benefit Is Tackling Student Debt

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The Latest Office Benefit Is Tackling Student Debt

Modern companies are more than just employers — increasingly, they are also gyms, cafeterias and even laundromats. As perks like yoga class, free lunch and complimentary dry cleaning become the norm, companies continue to push the boundaries on ways to attract and retain top talent by providing much more than a paycheck to employees. The latest in the slew of new workplace benefits? Student loan assistance. In April, Chegg partnered with Tuition.io to give full-time employees extra cash for student loan reduction. Then in September, consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers announced it would provide up to $1,200 to help employees pay off loans annually. As a benefit, student loan assistance programs are certainly still in their infancy— one survey found that only 3 percent of companies offer such a benefit. But experts say that may soon change as companies seek to differentiate themselves in a competitive hiring environment. "We think student loan benefits are poised to be the next big benefit; similar to what 401(k) matching was when it was first introduced," says Dana Rosenberg, who leads employer and affinity group partnerships at Earnest, a lender that offers student loan refinancing and works with companies to create loan pay-down programs. The Burden of Student Debt Such programs could be extremely attractive to debt-laden Millennials. Around 40 million Americans collectively carry $1.2 trillion in student loan debt, and the graduating class of 2015 was the most indebted class in history with an average debt of $35,000 (a superlative they won't hold for long come May 2016.) For employers looking to adjust benefits to correspond to the changing demographics of their employee base, student loan programs hit the mark. "In 2016, our employees will be 80 percent millennials, and we also hire close to 11,000 employees directly out of school each year," says Terri McClements, Washington Metro managing partner of PwC. With student debt often preventing young people from participating in 401(k) plans and reaching traditional life milestones, the benefit could potentially make a large impact on employees' financial and personal well-being. A study from the American Student Association found that 73 percent of people with student loans reported putting off saving for retirement or other investments due to their debt, 75 percent reported delaying a home purchase and 27 percent reported it was difficult to buy daily necessities. "Student loans can be a very stressful thing to deal with, so if we can give our employees peace of mind, that's great," says Caroline Gennaro, corporate communications manager at Chegg. The Allure for Employers Student debt assistance programs aren't just attractive to employees, either. Rosenberg says there are significant benefits for the organizations that offer them as well. "Employers that offer programs to help their employees get out from under their debt load are seeing big benefits: increased retention, more competitive recruiting and, perhaps most importantly, happier employees who have additional cash flow to put towards their life goals," Rosenberg explains. Rosenberg says happier employees are more engaged employees, who tend to be more productive. Studies show that companies with high employee engagement experience lower turnover and have double the rate of organizational success than their less-engaged counterparts. Student loan benefit programs may also lead to a more diverse workforce, attracting employees whose financial backgrounds meant they had to take on more debt for their education. "Diversity and inclusion are also very important to us, so the ability to offer this benefit can help minorities who come out of school with a higher debt burden," says McClements. A Promising Response Companies say the response to their student loan assistance programs have been overwhelmingly positive. Chegg has had more than 80 people sign up since they started their program this summer, and they've already eliminated roughly 86 years of collective loan repayments for their employees. Companies are also finding these programs are a way to differentiate themselves from organizations that may offer more generic benefits. "As a company in the San Francisco Bay Area, we are always looking to attract the best and brightest in the industry, and this benefit is a big draw," says Gennaro. Photo: Shutterstock

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