Head to any online job board or professional networking site and one-click job adverts will pop out in all directions. While this may make job hunting easier for candidates, it is actually doing the opposite for recruiters. Just because one company’s ad catches a candidate's attention doesn’t mean they will ignore the other one hundred opportunities presented to them.
With the lowest unemployment rate in nearly 50 years, it's now up to the recruiter to charm the applicant, not the other way around. Recruitment, particularly for hourly based positions, has therefore seen a shift from incorporating social media channels and updating HR technologies to find candidates, towards pinning down marketing strategies to secure them.
To stay aligned with candidate behavior and keep up with macro-changes in talent acquisition, here are a few of the challenges that the recruiters face in hourly-based recruiting today.
Supply vs. Demand
More and more service-based businesses are adopting an hourly workforce. Recruiters tasked with finding these service-based roles - the security guards, shop assistants, waiters or waitresses - are up against the fact that there is a much greater demand for these positions to be filled than there is supply.
This year unemployment in the U.S. has been as low as 3.9 percent, while job openings are at a 17-year high. Not only has this created greater competition for recruiters, but candidates can now be much more selective in their job searches. Companies therefore are adjusting their recruiting strategies to “sell” candidates on open positions, and emphasizing company culture as a differentiating factor for candidates. This is much harder when looking for hourly-based workers compared to salary-based because most hourly candidates have traditionally prioritised pay and location over the actual brand and culture of company. Lululemon, with its paid parental leave and high retention rates for full-time employees, shows that this trend is changing. Lululemon, as well as other successful companies, are seeing the beneficial results of selling candidates on the value of a positive company culture and work environment.
Tech is too good
Advancements in tech have made it so easy for respective candidates to find hourly-based employment opportunities. Job board aggregators have even simplified the application process with one-click, ‘Easy Apply’ options. When candidates hit apply, their name is sent straight over to the recruiting database for that company. However, job sites can send this same application over to 20 other jobs that are “recommended” for that candidate. These macro-changes are testing companies’ talent acquisition and processing teams.
In order to snap up the top talent before it is lost to competitors, recruiters need to adapt to cater to these easy applications - and they need to act fast. Suddenly, engagement and building rapport with candidates has become more influential over standard recruitment practices in landing a candidate. And, if candidates are able to apply for a position with one easy click then recruiters must work to contact, engage, interview and offer the position as quickly as possible. The optimal period of time from initial candidate contact to offer of employment is between 24-72 hours. Our own internal data shows that after 72 hours, 20% of the candidate pool will disappear and move on to other employment opportunities and this trend continues - for each 24 hour period of time, another 20% of candidates will disappear and remove themselves from the potential candidate pool.
Shift to marketing and sales
To cope with these macro-changes, talent acquisition is now as much about marketing and sales as it is about recruiting. This huge shift presents a new challenge particularly for hourly-based, or service-based recruiting, because these candidates do not show the same interest in the company brand. For example, waiters and waitresses do not mind so much which cafe they apply for as long as pay is good and the location is nearby. Companies therefore need to find a way to improve brand awareness to secure candidates. They need to engage.
Many companies are already picking up on this trend and sending automated responses to applicants immediately to draw them in - “thanks for applying, here are the benefits of working for our company.” Some are even gamifying the process - “we see you’re interested in this position, we would love to learn a bit more about you through this questionnaire before an interview.” These tactics start the engagement process right away and allow candidates to get to know the company in more detail.
For hourly-based recruiting the challenge is marketing aspects of the job that will stand out to candidates, such as great pay, benefits and employment values. If companies can showcase this to candidates as soon as they have hit apply then they will have a greater number of candidates actually showing up for interviews. It’s also important that companies maintain this high level of engagement and contact right up until the applicants first day on the job, as candidate ghosting can even occur after they have accepted the position.
Filling hourly-based jobs is not always an easy process. Unemployment levels are down and service based companies are having to compete in this hot job market to find and secure candidates. With advancements in tech, recruiters can get flooded with easy, one-click applications and this too can be challenging to manage. However, by treating recruiting for hourly or service based jobs as a sales and marketing effort, recruiters will be well on track to pulling in hires that might have otherwise chosen the store next door.