Recruiting Like it’s 1999?

By Jessica L. Benjamin

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The world of employment has changed. One consequence of near full employment is that most functioning human beings already have a job. They may be underemployed or looking to improve, but the September 2017 rate of 4.2% is lowest since 2001 (US Bureau Labor Statistics)

But when you look how some employers and recruiters recruit, it seems a few have missed the memo. This tight market requires innovative approaches and focus. You need to do more than post a job on your website to reach top talent and posting a job advertisement that reads like a list of requirements on a job board isn’t enough either. Why? Because people who excel at what they do already have jobs. The prospect of leaving a perhaps flawed but safe situation for the unknown can be daunting. So to recruit effectively, you need a modern approach. 


Recruiting 1999

First, think about why someone would want this particular job at your company. That is the message you need to broadcast. Would you want this job? If not, you need to work on the role until it’s desirable, be it adjusting pay, work-life balance, opportunities for advancement or the responsibilities involved.

Then put the message in front of people where they actually spend time. And that location is often online via a smartphone or tablet. It’s places like social media sites, other popular online destinations, and niche sites relevant to that person’s career. So at minimum, your advertisement must be mobile responsive and pushed in front of the right audience; people with the skills you seek who will fit in with your community.  

Once you’ve written a job advertisement that sounds like it was written by a human being and placed it in front of people doing the type of work you need, imagine what a likely candidate is to do when first seeing the ad. 

First they will go to your company’s website to check you out. Is it professional and inviting? How about the job listings? Are they easy to search? Do you expect people to create a password-protected account? Do you ask people to upload their resume and then copy all of the information into little boxes? Do you have a test or application they must complete before they even talk to anyone?

If so, you really need to get rid of it. 1999 thinking is, “If they really want the job, they will jump through hoops for me to show they want it.” Modern thinking is that this person has 43% chance of being on their mobile phone (Pew) and already has a job, so they aren’t motivated to jump through unnecessary hoops.

Needing to create an account, fill out a long application, or take a test are all choke points where not only will you lose a lot of potential applicants, but you will never even know they came to your site in the first place interested in the job. Seriously consider making it easy for potential employees to upload a resume and invite them to even if the type of job they want with your company is not listed.

And if your opening is the type where applicants may not have a resume, provide a SHORT application, and get the rest later.  Ask only for name, email, address, and last employer and title. Do not require a phone number. Most people, particularly millennials, are not likely to want to give it out on a career site. Letting people apply with LinkedIn and logins from major job boards, will increase your applicant pool.

And savvy potential candidates will also have a look at Glassdoor, kununu, and even job ratings on Indeed. You should be aware of what applicants are seeing when they research your company.

So now you’ve sparked the interest of a promising candidate. Think of the next steps more like a date. Let the potential employee get to know their manager and shadow a current employee.

Give clear guidelines about what the pay range for the job is rather than demanding to know what the client earns now (illegal in some US states!) or what their earning goals are. Focus on the positives of the role rather than grilling the applicant like a steak and looking for flaws. Remember the Gallup 12? These are 12 top indicators of employee engagement that ring true to me. And salary is not one of them

When you have done the necessary work to attract and engage the right applicants, you have a much better chance of hiring the employee you really want. And they will be happier with their decision to come on board leading to a high probability of things working out.                                                      

Party like it's 1999, but don't recruit that way.

Jessica L. Benjamin is a team lead for major accounts for Monster Worldwide, where she works with Monster’s customers and account managers to implement the right solutions to increase employers’ success in hiring top talent. Follow her on Twitter @JLBHireCalling


Photo credit: steve parke,


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