A panel of talent acquisition leaders shared recruiting strategies prompted by today’s hypercompetitive labor market, including hiring to train and developing internal talent, reprioritizing what is expected from recruiters, and perfecting the candidate experience.
The panel was moderated by Tony Lee, the Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM’s) vice president of content, at the SHRM Talent Conference & Expo 2022 in Denver.
‘Screening In’ and Developing Talent
The experts on the panel agreed that the typical recruitment practice of screening out—or eliminating candidates because they don’t meet all criteria—is not workable in the present environment. Instead, talent acquisition teams should practice more “screening in,” or hiring for competencies and training on the particular role.
“Employers have developed some bad recruiting habits over the recent recessions, where we added more tests and assessments to try and select the best and filter down the funnel,” said Kristen DesPalmes, director of talent attraction strategy and innovation at BAYADA Home Health Care in Denver. “Things are different now, but those extra steps are still there. I think we tend to overselect. We should hire people who are competent and then train them our particular way.”
She also recommended hiring for the organization, instead of focusing on an individual role. “When you meet talent, what are the fit-finders you can implement? Ask what a candidate wants to do, and align that with all the projects that are available in the company. Can you help them find their best fit?”
Chelsea C. Williams, founder and CEO of Reimagine Talent Co. in Atlanta, said the most powerful examples of job-seeker satisfaction she’s heard have been those times when the recruiter has said that the job being applied for is not a good fit but that there is another role at the organization that could work better. “Thinking broader and about the overall value-add of the person is so important,” she said.
Enterprise Holdings, the parent company of rental car brands Enterprise Rent-a-Car, Alamo and National, has long been a case study in developing talent from within.
Internal mobility is trendy right now, but it’s been woven into the Enterprise culture from the beginning, said Marie Artim, vice president of talent acquisition at Enterprise Holdings in St. Louis.
“For 50 years, we’ve promoted people from our management training program into nearly everywhere in the business,” she said. That also includes herself, the CEO and all 200 recruiters currently working at the company. The recruiters came with no prior recruiting experience and have been trained in talent acquisition, including a 90-day structured training program and ongoing formal and informal development.
“It can be difficult to do, especially when you need someone to take on a role immediately, but the provable commitment to developing talent gives us a significant advantage when we address candidates and we can show them examples of career paths,” Artim said.
She added that a lot of investment has gone into internal development and mobility, and that in order to make the process fair and equitable, every position is posted on an internal careers site.
“That’s because we don’t want people to just tap someone in their network on the shoulder. We want everyone to have the chance to apply for internal roles. We also continue to promote on abilities and competencies versus experience.”
Rethinking the Recruiter Experience
The panelists promoted the idea of rethinking the recruiter experience, including reprioritizing daily tasks and using technology to help prevent burnout.
“It’s time to acknowledge that a recruiter can’t do it all,” DesPalmes said. “Recruiters are in high demand right now, and if they want a better job, they have a ton of options. I would engage with your recruiters on a role redesign. What do they want coming off their plate?”
She added that “recruiters do not want to do administrative tasks, and we pay them a lot of money, so we don’t want them doing administrative tasks. There are things machines should do, and there are things recruiters should do.”
DesPalmes said technology can be applied to help with sourcing, interview scheduling and onboarding, for example. “I would partner with recruiting teams and design what those best-use tasks for technology are,” she said.
The experts agreed that while there will be a continued adoption of recruiting technologies, the human touch can’t be lost.
“Especially as we’re asked to do more with less people and because of the market we’re in, it’s tempting to overextend on technology, but that would be a critical mistake,” Artim said.
Lee reminded the audience that many HR tech products increasingly use some type of artificial intelligence, which is under a regulatory and investigative spotlight, and that it’s the employers that use the products that will be held responsible if any biases are found. “Spend some time with your vendor and understand what you’re using to make sure that you’re covered,” he said.
Perfecting Candidate Experience
The panelists also went over practices that have long held an important place in talent acquisition—using authentic employer branding, recruiting for purpose, partnering with organizations in the community to help find untapped talent and using employee referrals successfully. A must in the current candidate-driven job market is perfecting the candidate experience.
“Think about the shrinking applicant pools and the extreme competition in today’s labor market, and candidate experience is critical,” Artim said. “We’re focused on getting back to the basics but also executing at a higher level than we’ve ever done before.”
External and internal hires at Enterprise number about 40,000 people a year, and Artim said her team tries to make it feel like a concierge experience for every applicant. “We are committed to the ‘no black hole’ idea, meaning that every person who applies receives a response. We use technology to make that easier, but the response comes from an actual person,” she said.
Artim added that transparency in the hiring process is another hallmark of the company’s candidate experience. “We let people know where they stand, and what’s the next step. We post salary. We’re open to talking about compensation at the front end of a conversation.”
Williams said that job applications should be easily accessible. “When people go to your careers page, make it easy to understand how to apply. Also, think about whether the questions you ask during the hiring process actually relate to the job. Often, people tell me they have an interview process that feels like a hazing experience, and they wonder if the job will be like that.”
First impressions are being formed through the candidate experience, and superfluous questions and assessments will be noticed, she said.
DesPalmes said HR should be very mindful of how many steps there are in the hiring process and
cut back any unnecessary steps to the fewest possible, extending offers same day.