This week I came across a new survey published by FlexJobs¹ that revealed 48% of unemployed job seekers are frustrated in their job search because they are not finding the right jobs to apply to. That survey also showed that 47% are actively looking outside their current career to find employment, 85% are willing to take a pay cut in order to secure a job, and 40% have applied to jobs they think they’re overqualified for.
WHAT is going on in today’s job market?
I ask that question because I found these stats shocking. For the past several months we’ve gone through the “candidate shortage” and what we would refer to as a “buyer’s market.” Candidates have the upper hand. They have the ability to negotiate for a higher salary, they have the opportunity to accept incentives they normally wouldn’t be offered. Right… ?
These stats from the job seekers perspective seem to paint a completely different picture then the picture that has been painted by companies hiring during the labor shortage. Where is the disconnect?
Is it job descriptions not being written to fit the correct audience? Are key words lacking from job descriptions that job seekers are looking for? Are jobs being posted on sites where the right candidate isn’t looking? It could be any of these things and more.
As I think about the candidate shortage though and factor in these stats, one thing is clear to me: Perhaps it’s time to rethink the shortage from the “applicant’s” perspective. Is part of the reason there is a shortage because job seekers aren’t finding the job they are looking for? To me, it seems like this could be part of the case. So, how do we put jobs in front of the candidates that are looking for YOUR job? One way to do this is by taking a step back to rethink strategy. It’s time to think like an applicant.
Put Yourself in the Shoes of an Applicant
Who would be the ideal person for your role? If you were this person, what would you want to see in the job description? What are key words this applicant may be looking for? What do you have to offer that similar roles don’t? Why would someone want to work in this role at this company? What kind of person would be excited about this opportunity?
Also, think about where this person would be looking for a job. Re-evaluate if the location of this job posting is in the correct place the right applicant would be looking. I was recently on a trip in the Smoky Mountains and stayed in a town called Gatlinburg. If you haven’t been there, it’s a touristy town right near one of the entrances to the Smoky Mountains. They have a whole street of shops, restaurants, and attractions. What I noticed though is that many of the businesses have a “help wanted” sign outside of the building. We even went to a restaurant that admitted they were short staffed due to the shortage, so wait times would be a little longer. When we looked around the restaurant, many of the tables were empty due to not having enough waiters and waitresses. What we later found out from one of the restaurant owners in Gatlinburg is that the town actually employs a lot of people from Romania. Working in Gatlinburg is a good opportunity for them to work and live in the United States. I would never have guessed Gatlinburg would attract people from Romania, but two of our waitresses during the two days we were there were in fact from Romania! This isn’t an example to say you should start recruiting internationally, but it’s a perfect example of thinking outside of the box and thinking from an applicant’s perspective. Who would find this as a good opportunity? Who would be excited about this position? Where would be the perfect place to post this job?
Reverse Roles. Take Advice You Would Give Candidates When Applying to Jobs
Similarly, to putting yourself in the shoes of an applicant, also reverse roles and take the advice you would give candidates. I was reading an article yesterday about tips for getting hired fast. It was a very good article and as I read it, it made me think that a lot of the tips could actually be reversed and used by companies hiring. Similar tips that could be applied include referrals, highlighting achievements, telling a story, creating an elevator pitch, noting what makes you different. Does this sound familiar? Job seekers need to sell themselves, but companies also have to sell themselves and the position, otherwise the perfect match won’t happen. If a job seeker shows up in a nice dress on the first date and the company shows up in a pair of ripped shorts and a baggy t-shirt, one may right away have a bad first impression and not be interested. Let’s take a deeper dive at making the right first impression!
As we rely on applicants to have referrals, referrals could also be an advantage to the company hiring. Referrals could come in many different forms. It could be employees at the company hiring sharing the open job posting on social media and spreading the word among their network. It could also be employees taking the time to meet with the candidate to allow the candidate to ask questions about the role and talk to someone who is already working at the company. If you are a staffing and recruiting agency, you could even ask the company you are recruiting for to provide a couple of quotes from employees promoting why they like working at the company. These can be used to promote the position and even used in graphics when promoting the position on social media. Referrals give the role additional credibility and can attract more applicants.
Highlight Company Achievements
Has the company hiring won awards? Do they have any major accomplishments to highlight? If so, mention them in the job description. Awards and achievements are one way to help the job and company stand out from others, just as candidates may highlight achievements in a resume or in an interview.
Tell a Story and Be Specific
In an interview, candidates are advised to share their story and experience, talk about a project they worked on, or are often asked “tell us about a time… “. Companies can also tell their story in a job description or during an interview. In a job description companies can highlight projects the position would be working on or projects that were just completed in the department. This gives applicants the opportunity to understand and get excited about the types of projects they would be working on.
In the job description also include a little overview of the company and the company’s story. When was the company founded? What makes the company unique? What makes the company great to work for? These details give the company personality and allows the candidate to see a glimpse of the company culture.
Overall telling a story in your job description is important, but providing detail is also important. Be as specific as possible in your job descriptions. If the description is very general, it will blend in with other job descriptions and no one will be excited about it (or remember it for that matter.) Tell a story and be memorable!
All candidates need to have an elevator pitch ready that’s quick and describes them in the best way possible. Job descriptions, hiring managers, and recruiters should all have an elevator pitch as well. For the job description, you should start off the first 2-3 sentences with your pitch. Why should someone be interested in reading this job description? Why should someone be interested in this job? Start the job description off in a way that captivates the reader and entices them to keep reading more about the opportunity.
Additionally, elevator pitches can be given during an interview when talking about the company and job. Hiring managers and recruiters should have their elevator pitch ready that highlights the company and position in the best way possible. Add pieces of information that makes the position and company a desirable place to work. By the end of it, you will want the candidate to be lured into the job and company culture!
Why You? What makes you different?
We’ve touched upon highlighting what makes you different when telling your story and when creating your elevator pitch. This is something that candidates are always striving to do in resumes, cover letters, interviews. Overall, when approaching a position that you are recruiting for, this should be at the back of your mind throughout the process as well. Why should someone want to work in this role? Why should someone want to work at this company? What will someone gain working here that they can’t gain anywhere else? The job and company have to be sold, just as an applicant needs to sell what they have to offer that’s different from other applicants.
A Match Made in Heaven
While it would be great if we had a secret algorithm that matched jobs with the perfect candidates, even the Match CEO, Sam Yagan says, “We are still decades away from actually predicting the chemistry between two people.” We may not be at the stage where an algorithm helps predict “chemistry” between a person and a job, but what we can do now is “think like an applicant.” It is clear there is a disconnect in the current job market between companies and job seekers. Companies can’t find workers and job seekers can’t find jobs they are interested in. Is it because jobs aren’t being posted in front of the right audience? Is it the job descriptions themselves that’s not captivating attention and, therefore, candidates aren’t finding jobs they are interested in? It could be a number of things, but by taking a moment to step back and see the perspective from “your other half” may be just the right way to connect with your perfect match.