The dynamic between candidates and employers is changing rapidly. With falling unemployment rates and increased job opportunities, rampant social media usage and content at our fingertips, candidates are now in control of the career search experience. (Dr. John Sullivan’s  “The Power Has Shifted to the Candidate, So Recruiting Practices will Stop Working” is a good perspective.)


The Consumerization of the Candidate Experience

Just as the internet, social media, reviews and mobile changed the way we shop for products and services, they’re also changing the way candidates “shop” for jobs. Candidates are consumers–they’ve been trained to research new shoes, cars or doctors through multiple touch points. Now, this consume and research mentality has flowed into their next new job position.

Talent acquisition and recruitment teams still make the ultimate decision of hire–but now, their ability to attract and engage candidates, and keep them in their pipeline, has become harder and more competitive with the emergence of endless touchpoints.

Consider your path to buying a new TV for instance. Your purchase is based on multiple sources of information that will lead you to an educated decision on the final product and brand to go with. You start by searching “best TV brands in 2014” in Google searches. You might read a few lists, consume an article or two describing pros and cons of different screens or features. Then you narrow your search to specific brands or models. You head to Amazon to see recent reviews and pricing options. You might then compare prices on a few other sites, as well as the Best Buy catalog you got in the mail. Then you remember your brother-in-law recently purchased a TV he can’t stop talking about, so you call him for an opinion and find out where he bought his. The next day, you get an email from Amazon about related items to your recent search and a reminder that one product won a customer’s pick award last year. Finally, you might head to social media for any deals or savings, or to see if one particular brand resonates with you more than the other.

Does this journey sound familiar? I’ve touched on, more or less, social media, mobile, employee referrals, SEO, content marketing, CRM, email and more. Your potential candidates are using the exact same mediums, only trying to find the answers to questions like:

“Which company is easiest to find and navigate? Who is reaching out to me for new positions that fit my interests? Who has the most informative content and engaging social personalities? Are their employees people I really want to work with? And what are they saying about them online? Which company is a place I want to work now, and in the future? Do they believe in what I believe in?”


The Moral of the Story

No big purchase decision is made in a bubble (unless it’s a pack of gum. No pun intended). And what’s bigger than your next career move, where you will earn your livelihood, develop skills and become part of a daily culture?

Gone are the days of advertising spend without real engagement. Just as one ad doesn’t really sell a product anymore, one posting on a job board won’t sell your company or the role. The employer brand is finding its voice, so to speak. Candidates have choices, and they want the top brand, the top culture and the top people. Organizations need to market their employer brand— or really, they need to create an employer brand first. You must bleed value and speak to the job as an experience and an opportunity. Surround the position with content that speaks to how it will impact the candidate’s future interests and development. How will this role help them change other lives, processes or businesses?

It’s a new world for talent acquisition, but it’s not unknown. We need to adjust how we engage and build relationships with candidates before the apply process–those are the keys that will earn you quality over quantity and loyalty over interest.

For more on how to engage the “new” candidate, download the Recruiter’s Guide to Inbound Marketing.

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