Did you know there are more than 1 million unfilled tech jobs in the U.S.?
That might come as a shock to you, especially considering more teens and young adults are being pushed toward STEM fields to increase their odds of getting hired out of college. How can a field that’s growing so quickly struggle to fill so many vital roles?
The answer is that the changing landscape of tech makes it difficult for both companies and employees to keep up. This puts recruiters in an especially tough position as they’re tasked with finding unicorn candidates who check all the right boxes.
Understanding the challenge of tech recruiting
Recruiting is challenging enough as it is, but there’s something uniquely difficult about tech recruiting. If you’re recruiting in tech for the first time your usual strategies won’t work. You’ll need to adopt a faster timeline, open your mind to more unusual candidates, and more. Let’s dive into some common tech recruiting struggles and how you can overcome them.
1. There aren’t enough qualified candidates
As a recruiter, you’re probably already aware that this is a candidate favored market. The global talent pool is shrinking with record low unemployment rates. There are now fewer candidates with the skills required for technical positions and this gap is even wider if you’re looking to recruit for the tech industry. That means your recruiting strategy will need to change.
The tech industry is already short 1.1 million workers and by 2030 that number could be as large as 4.3 million. Where do you find qualified candidates when the number of skilled workers seeking new jobs keeps shrinking? The answer isn’t orthodox, but it does work.
Stop looking in college classrooms
Tech giant Apple has already taken the first step in sourcing new talent. Instead of insisting on a four-year degree in a related field, Apple announced they are no longer requiring a college education for job applicants. This has opened up the talent pool to self-taught software developers, people who have taken coding boot camps, and more.
That’s not to say that you should ignore candidates with a college degree, but rather stop ignoring those who don’t. When you limit your scope for who can and can’t be qualified, you limit your potential talent pool.
Look for transferable skills
You might be wondering how you’re supposed to judge candidates’ qualifications without a degree and the answer is by looking at their skills. And not just their specific technical skills, you’ll want to look at their transferable skills as well.
Transferable skills are any skills a person has acquired throughout their life, career, or hobbies that can be applied to different situations. As an employer, finding a job candidate that doesn’t fit the exact job spec can actually be a blessing in disguise. These job candidates can be taught on the job skills needed once they start while bringing unique perspectives and viewpoints to your company.
The runway time for teaching a new employee how to use new software is much shorter than you think. It’s time to start thinking of skills as assets rather than requirements. Don’t count someone out because they worked in customer success for twenty years and are looking to make a career change. Instead, see how their unique skill set might benefit your team.
2. Direct competition from larger companies
A few names probably come to mind when you think of tech giants: Google. Facebook. Apple.
While these juggernauts might not be your competition in business, they are direct competitors for global tech talent. Tech employees have the in-demand skills that these big companies are looking for and given the chance to work for a world-renowned company, most candidates will take the chance.
You’ll need a special strategy to out-recruit the likes of Google or Apple. The good news is that there are a few tricks you can use to seal the deal.
Rely on your employee ambassadors
When it comes to recruiting tech talent, your current employees are an untapped resource. Not only do they understand what it takes to be successful at your company, but studies show that 84% of people trust recommendations from friends or family over any other form of marketing. That means there’s a greater chance of success when you encourage your employees to refer people in their network or share jobs on social media.
Looking to up the ante? Offering your employees a bonus for referring potential candidates. These employee referral programs incentivize your staff to help you recruit new talent while filling the recruitment pipeline with fresh candidates.
Many companies take this a step further by using employee referral software to optimize the process. These solutions allow you to track which employees referred candidates, monitor their place in the recruitment pipeline, and post jobs to internal job boards. Streamlining your applicant tracking process will help you find qualified tech candidates faster. All of the perks with less work!
Offer incentives other than money
There’s a lot of money in tech. If you’re just starting out as a company you might not have the budget to throw at candidates the same way a big three tech giant might. Thankfully, studies show that employees are looking for more than just a paycheck. Flexible working hours, growth opportunities, and better work-life balance are among some of the more sought after perks.
Offering competitive pay is still important, but throwing in the option to work remotely or an extra week of paid vacation could sway them to sign with your company. Remember, there’s always something else you can offer a top tier candidate to seal the deal
3. Candidates expect an accelerated hiring timeline
Are you moving fast enough for top tier candidates? Unless your candidate life cycle is two weeks or less, you might be too slow. Research shows that more than 50% of candidates believe the hiring process should take between one and two weeks, while the actual time to hire hovers around 38 days.
That same study shows that 89% of potential candidates drop out of the recruitment process due to a prolonged timeline. Putting candidates on ice or waiting too long in-between communications is an invitation for them to ditch your company.
And don’t make the mistake of assuming you’ll just lose one candidate when websites like Glassdoor allow candidates to talk about their terrible recruiting experiences. An overly complicated or slow recruiting timeline is bad news for your hiring prospects.
Use technology to speed along the process
Your recruitment process is your first chance to impress high-value job candidates. If you’re using an outdated applicant tracking software (ATS) that slows down the recruitment process, there’s a good chance qualified candidates will just give up. Investing in a state of the art system that automates resume screening and manages all recruiting communications will save you and the job candidate time.
If you want to compete with the titans of your industry, ATS is not an option. There’s been a shift in the last decade in HR departments around the world. Applicant tracking software is no longer optional, it’s necessary to stay competitive. Over 98% of Fortune 500 companies, including Microsoft and Tesla, use ATS in their recruitment efforts. You need the right software to keep up with companies pulling from the same talent pool.
Eliminate the stuff that doesn’t matter
If you had to eliminate 80% of your recruitment process, what would you keep? It’s a tough question but it’s one you need to consider. Job candidates are tired of jumping through arbitrary hoops in the hopes of catching your attention.
Ask yourself if you really need to subject a candidate to three in-person interviews with four different team leads or if the same thing can be streamlined with a video conferencing tool. Think about whether or not you need someone to fill about a 40-question personality quiz before uploading their resume. Are these checkpoints truly helpful in deciding on a candidate or are they arbitrary roadblocks?
You might think tasks like these weed out candidates who don’t have the drive or the work ethic but you’d be wrong. How you treat your potential candidates is a direct look into how you treat your employees.
Let’s get technical
Despite all we’ve said in this article, there isn’t a right way to recruit tech talent. You’ll need to take the tips mentioned and put your own spin on them. It’s going to take some trial and error but if you stick to it, you’ll be a tech recruiting titan in no time.
Welcome to our How To Hire Your Next Employee Series. Whether you are a new or veteran hiring manager, our series can help you improve your recruiting processes. In so doing, you will find employees faster. And it will cost you less.
The Applicant Journey
In today’s post, we describe the process from the applicant’s point of view. This is called the applicant, or candidate, journey. Unfortunately, the applicant journey doesn’t always receive the attention it deserves. Yet the ApplicantStack candidate interface is key to our success. That means it’s key to your success as well.
ApplicantStack creates an exceptional applicant journey. Your company deserves nothing less.
Branded Recruitment Marketing
With ApplicantStack, you can brand your recruitment marketing. Or use our default layouts. In this article we’ll show you examples of both.
The Applicant Moves Through Stages Along The Applicant Journey
Before we continue, I want to remind you about applicant stages. It’s important to understand them.
A stage refers to one specific step in the hiring process. For example, an applicant could be in the interview stage. Or they could be in the manager review stage.
As you move an applicant through the hiring process, you change their stage in the system. Stage changes can trigger actions. For example, if you change an applicant’s stage to Do Not Pursue, you can cause the system to send a ‘Thank you for applying but you’re not a fit for the position’ email. You create a template for the email and even personalize it with merge fields. ApplicantStack will insert the applicant’s name.
As we talk about each point of contact between the applicant and your company, keep in mind that you can tie the applicant’s stage to auto communications.
The Applicant Sees Your Job Posting
Your job posting is the first point of contact in the applicant journey. Candidates can find your job posting on your chosen job boards (such as Indeed, Google, JuJu, CareerBuilder, Monster, etc.), social media sites, or your careers page.
Here are ApplicantStack job postings on Indeed. See the listing for the SwipeClock jobs:
Candidates look at these sites for jobs. Your ApplicantStack job postings start engaging candidates immediately. With branded postings, the applicant meets your employer brand at the first point of contact. Branded postings reflect the look and feel of the client’s website.
When the candidate sees your posting, they click a link which takes them to your application. (An application is called a ‘Questionnaire’ in the ApplicantStack system.)
Here is a questionnaire created in ApplicantStack:
Notice how easy it is to upload a resume. Applicants can use Dropbox or Google Drive. ApplicantStack makes everything easy and natural.
ApplicantStack has flexible settings to fit your ideal candidate. You can set the resume upload to allow the applicant to write a cover letter. If that isn’t customary in your industry, leave that turned off.
ApplicantStack Eliminates Redundant Processes
When the applicant uploads their resume, ApplicantStack parses some of the contact information. The applicant won’t have to reenter all of their contact information going forward.
Repeating tasks unnecessarily is frustrating for everyone. It’s especially frustrating for a job candidate who is in the process of applying for jobs at multiple companies.
Reentering contact info again and again wastes their time. And it makes your company seem twenty years behind the technological curve.
Personalized Candidate Emails
When the candidate fills out the application, they immediately receive a personalized email that confirms you received their application. If they are a good fit, you can reach out to them immediately.
The applicant never wonders ‘Did they get my application and resume?’ They see that your company is prompt and professional. You respect their time. You appreciate their interest in your company.
In ApplicantStack, you can use questionnaires for pre-screening. Screening questionnaires can play a role in a great applicant journey.
Here is a screening questionnaire:
Pre-screening questionnaires with knockout questions help eliminate unqualified candidates. This is how a questionnaire with knockout questions works:
You create a screening questionnaire with knockout questions. The knockout questions will depend on the job description.
The candidate completes the questionnaire. If they aren’t qualified, the knockout questions will filter them out.
You won’t waste any more of their time. If a candidate is eliminated, you can program ApplicantStack to send a ‘Thank you for applying but you aren’t a fit for the position’ email. You create an email template and ApplicantStack will use merge fields to enter the necessary information. (As mentioned previously, all candidates receive a ‘We have received your application,’ email immediately after applying.’)
If they pass the pre-screen questionnaire, the system presents the more extensive questionnaire.
If you want your applicants to receive the full questionnaire initially, you can program it that way. You understand the recruiting standards of your industry and company type. The job position also influences how you want to craft the process for your applicant.
You customize ApplicantStack to create an applicant journey that’s most effective for your hiring pool.
No-Hassle Reference Checks
In your questionnaire, you can ask for references. Your applicant will enter them when they apply. ApplicantStack saves them in the candidate profile. If the applicant passes the pre-screening and interviews, you can move them to the ‘Reference Check’ stage. When this happens, ApplicantStack will automatically email the references. This is called a Questionnaire Action in ApplicantStack.
This saves your applicant the trouble of re-entering their references. And you won’t have to ask them for their references again or find them on their resume. It keeps the process moving and eliminates a common bottleneck.
Interview Scheduling Reinvented
If the candidate passes the questionnaire screening, they are invited to schedule an interview. ApplicantStack interview self-scheduling is a game changer. ApplicantStack integrates with Google and Office365 for interview scheduling. Because of the integration, any non-available time slots will be hidden from the applicant.
Let’s discuss this in detail.
Decide how many members of your team need to be in the interview. For this example, let’s say three team members need to be there.
ApplicantStack will pull information from Google Calendar or Office365 for each member of the interview team.
Let’s suppose there are four specific time slots where all interviewers are available. The applicant is only presented with these time slots. The applicant can choose the most convenient time slot.
Let’s suppose there is only one time slot for which all hiring members are available. If this is the case, ApplicantStack presents the applicant with one interview time.
Your Applicant Won’t Be Frustrated With Scheduling Hassles
Interview scheduling is a hiring process bottleneck for many companies. With slowdowns, you run the risk of abandoned applications. Interview self-scheduling keeps the process on track.
When the background and reference checks are complete, it’s time to offer the job. Here is an offer letter email:
Notice the electronic signature. The applicant can sign and accept the offer immediately.
ApplicantStack ensures that you never lose an applicant because they are confused. ApplicantStack is always ready for each stage change. Candidates advance through hiring stages as quickly as your team chooses to process them. You will never have a slowdown because of the ApplicantStack platform. Your hiring team, the applicant, and their references control the timeline.
ApplicantStack can send hiring team members task reminders. Task reminders help your hiring team support a fluid, timely applicant journey.
By running reports in ApplicantStack, you can identify bottlenecks in your hiring process. This allows you to continually refine your process and keep improving your company’s applicant journey.
How To Hire Your Next Employee
We hope you’ve found our How To Hire Your Next Employee Series helpful. Here are the links to the posts on each specific step in the process.
We also have a comprehensive whitepaper, handy infographic, and hiring checklist.
What is applicant journey mapping?
The process of creating a graphical representation or map of a job applicant’s journey. It depicts what the applicant experiences through each stage of the recruiting process.
What is an applicant persona?
A semi-fictional description of your company’s ideal job applicant.
Both of these methods are components of hiring or recruiting psychology.
Why should you use these techniques to improve your applicant process?
- It’s becoming more difficult to find quality employees
- A favorable applicant journey improves quality-of-hire
- An effective applicant journey improves company brand
What factors have altered the employment landscape?
- Millennials are now the largest employee demographic
- Unemployment has decreased substantially
- Employment patterns have changed
- Small companies can compete more effectively
- There are skills shortages in emerging industries
- Businesses have less control over their online reputation
Are you recruiting like you did ten years ago? This will inhibit growth and lower your chances of success.
Employers Haven’t Responded to the Big Shift
The advantage has shifted from the employer to the job candidate. If your recruiting practices are still company-centric, you will continue to struggle. Hiring will get more difficult.
Only 28% of millennials plan to stay at their job longer than five years.
This means you are starting at a disadvantage with the largest employee demographic. Think about that. When you hire a millennial, they already have low expectations.
It’s critical to raise their expectations. A so-so applicant journey will confirm their perceptions.
The Applicant Journey Influences Your Company Brand
Applicants, employees, and customers interact with your company. Each group shares their experiences online and offline. They don’t exist in separate worlds. A poor applicant journey reinforces a negative brand or reputation.
Successful companies take a holistic approach. They value their applicants and employees as much as they value their customers. Neither exists in a vacuum. Your applicants and employees are also customers.
An applicant who has a negative experience will probably never be a customer. They will discourage others from applying.
Dissatisfied employees also discourage people within their spheres of influence. As we all know, spheres of influence continually expand.
What Can You Do To Create The Ideal Applicant Journey?
Now that we’ve established that old processes don’t work, it’s time to start from scratch.
Any sized company can use hiring psychology. Don’t let the term ‘psychology’ intimidate you.
Follow these steps to create or improve your applicant journey.
Step 1: Create An Applicant Persona
This is representation of a quintessential employee. Not just an ideal applicant, an ideal employee.
How do you identify these elements? Look at your best employees. They may not seem similar at first glance. But they share traits that help them thrive in your culture and their job roles.
Talk to team leads throughout your organization. Conduct ‘stay interviews’ with high-performing employees. Identify their characteristics and what motivates them.
Here are elements in an applicant persona:
- Biography: Address, education, job title, personality traits
- Goals: Desired career path, personal ambitions
- Benefits: What benefits are important to them?
- Challenges: Why are they looking for a new job? Why are they unsatisfied in their current position?
- Job Search Process: What avenues and tools do they use? What online sources do they consult to research your company? Who do they talk to?
Go into more detail than you believe is necessary. You may need several personas if you have diverse job roles.
IMPORTANT COMPLIANCE NOTE: Don’t let your applicant persona introduce bias into your hiring process. The point is to improve the experience for the job applicant. For example, your applicant persona may include age if you think it’s relevant. But you can’t discriminate based on age when you hire. Use the fictional lifestyle details to identify and respond to your applicant’s needs. Be especially mindful of protected classes.
Step 2: Map The Applicant Journey
You can’t disrupt your process if you can’t see your process. An applicant journey map portrays the process graphically. The point is to understand it from the applicant’s perspective.
Stages of the Applicant Journey
If you’ve mapped your customer journey, you know the stages or elements. They are only slightly different for a job applicant.
Touchpoints in the Applicant Journey
What are the touchpoints in the journey? A touchpoint is an interaction between the applicant and your company.
They could include some or all of the following:
- See your job posting on a job board
- Visit your careers page
- Visit your corporate Facebook page
- Check employee reviews on Glassdoor
- Talk to a recruiter at a career event
- Fill out an application
- Send their resume
- Receive confirmation email
- Fill out questionnaire
- Receive telephone call to schedule interview
- Come to your office for an interview or have video interview
- Receive ‘Thank you for interviewing’ email or phone call
- Receive job offer
- Accept job offer
Step 3: Determine The Applicant’s Needs
Identify the job candidate’s needs at each stage in the journey. In the customer journey, these are sometimes called pain points. Use your applicant persona.
Their needs will vary depending upon the position. A student applying for a part-time customer service position has different needs than a 45-year-old applying for an executive-level position.
Walk your applicant through the journey. Flesh out what takes place with each touchpoint or interaction. Do this several times. Solicit feedback from everyone on the hiring team. Talk to current employees.
Now you have the tools to remake your recruiting process. The formula looks like this:
Applicant persona + applicant journey + applicant needs = effective recruiting strategy.
Applicant journey mapping will help you:
- Create highly-targeted job descriptions
- Identify the most effective recruiting channels
- Tailor communications to your ideal applicant
- Eliminate redundant steps
- Provide multiple avenues of communication
Hiring Software is a Must-Have If You Want To Improve The Applicant Journey
An applicant tracking system (ATS) is the best tool to improve your applicant journey.
- Create a strategy based on applicant journey mapping
- Set up hiring workflows in your ATS: job postings, communications, filtering, interviews
- Automate 90% of workflows
- Measure hiring outcomes and adjust as necessary
Do you want to start improving your applicant journey today?
SwipeClock ApplicantStack Recruit is ahead of the curve in the recruiting industry. Our web-based hiring software was designed by recruiting professionals. You don’t need to sign a contract. You don’t need help from your IT team.
Start your Free Trial of ApplicantStack Recruit today.