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Recruiting is transforming, and thanks to an accelerating rate of progress, your company can't afford to have a wait-and-see attitude anymore. Exponential change doesn't play favorites, nor does it have a stop, pause or rewind button.

What does that mean for recruiting in 2018? There's no easy way to say it: Shift or die.

If it wasn't yet certain that a shortage of skilled workers exists, 2017 confirmed it. A combination of economic growth, falling unemployment and the lowest labor participation rate since 1978 have created a perfect labor storm, and the situation continues to worsen. According to a recent Mercer Talent survey, 92 percent of employers believe the competition for talent will be fiercer next year.

Despite this gloomy and challenging outlook, organizations don't have to stick to the antiquated, cumbersome and unfriendly recruiting practices that brought us here. On the contrary, there are quick fixes they can implement to attract and hire qualified workers faster.

Here are four changes that companies can make to jumpstart their 2018 recruiting.

1) Create a Talent Network

Most companies start from scratch when filling a new position, but why not build a network of potential candidates to jumpstart the process? According to CareerBuilder, 80 percent of candidates will join such a network if asked, and 85 percent of them will leave a resume.

Since most of these candidates are passive (meaning they already have a job), adding them to a talent network could be the nudge they need to get to know your company better—Careerbuilder found that many candidates apply just 63 days after joining. Building relationships doesn't happen overnight, but it's well worth it. Having the ability to reach into your network can significantly reduce time-to-hire.

2) Make a Good First Impression

Organizations are finally getting serious about leaving behind the dark ages of recruiting. Many are designing career pages that actually engage candidates, but unfortunately, most of them don't devote the same attention to their job posting page. That's a massive misstep because only 7.5 percent of candidates come through the front door (aka the company career page).

Job listing sites like LinkedIn typically direct applicants straight to job details pages, which are often bland and include boring job descriptions. To drive applications, these pages must include content that's engaging and grabs applicants' attention.

3) Obsess About the Candidate Experience

Applying for a job can be tedious work, and 93 percent of applicants don't make it past the job description, according to the iCIMS Hire Expectations Institute. What's more, 95 percent abandon the application if it is longer than two pages, especially if they're viewing and completing it on a mobile device.

Jobvite also found that the abandonment rate of an application with 10 or fewer questions was 16 percent, but the rate jumped to nearly 50 percent when there were 20 questions. And, if it takes more than 15 minutes to complete an application, rates drop by a staggering 365 percent.

With that in mind, create a candidate-friendly application. Ask only for the information you need to qualify (or disqualify) candidates. Once they meet your basic requirements, then you can ask them to complete a multi-page application or submit a resume.

4) Rely on People Analytics

Forget trying to acquire and manage talent without people analytics and real-time reporting. Companies capture large amounts of people data, but fail when they don't apply predictive intelligence to it. Career site visitors and application completion rates are two simple yet essential metrics that companies should consistently monitor. The time required to fill open positions is increasing dramatically, and recruitment pipeline delays and inefficiencies extend it further.

To find top talent in the proverbial jobseeker “haystack," recruitment adjustments are essential—doing it without real-time reliable reporting is like playing recruitment roulette. The best candidates find employment just 10 days after they hit the job market, so companies must create a great first impression, keep candidates engaged and use data insights to attract them.

Photo: Creative Commons