Episode #9 – Everything You Need to Know About a Candidates’ Market

Everything You Need to Know About a Candidates’ Market

Sharita: Welcome to “The Animal Health Employment Insider,” brought to you by The VET Recruiter. In this podcast, search consultant Stacy Pursell, founder and CEO of The VET Recruiter, provides insight and practical advice for both companies and job seekers. The VET Recruiter’s mission is to help organizations acquire top talent, while helping professionals attain career-enhancing opportunities that increase their quality of life.

In today’s podcast, we’ll be talking about everything you need to know about a candidates’ market. Hello, Stacy.

Stacy: Hello, I’m glad to be here today.

Sharita: We’re talking about what’s called a candidate’s market today, but what exactly is that?

Stacy: It actually means about what it sounds like. It means that candidates are the ones driving the market. It means there are a lot of job openings and that there aren’t enough qualified candidates to fill them all. When that happens, employers have a small talent pool from which to draw. So they must do whatever they can to hire the employees they need to reach their goals for growth and profitability.

Sharita: Are we in a candidates’ market right now?

Stacy: Yes, we’ve been in a candidates’ market for the past few years now, and that seems to be the case for the foreseeable future.

Sharita: What are the implications for employers in a candidates’ market? Do they have to do things differently than during other times?

Stacy: Yes, they certainly do. The first thing they must do is have the proper mindset from a hiring perspective. Top candidates in today’s market are referred to as “passive candidates.” No matter what state the economy is in, there are generally more active job seekers than there are passive candidates.

Sharita: What are the differences between active job seekers and passive candidates?

Stacy: There are a number of differences, starting with the obvious, which is that job seekers are actively looking for a new job. Passive candidates aren’t even officially pursuing a new opportunity. There are three reasons why that’s the case:

1. They’re basically happy where they’re working now, although they would make a strategic move for the right opportunity.
2. They’re too busy at their current position to actually conduct an active job search.
3. They don’t want to risk the confidentiality of their search being breached at any point in the process.

Sharita: So passive candidates could be a great fit for an organization, even though they’re not really looking for a new job?

Stacy: That’s right, and in many cases, they represent the best candidates for the position. The problem is that the hiring process of many organizations is not geared toward targeting these individuals.

Sharita: Why is that?

Stacy: Their process is more geared toward the active job seeker. Organizations often attempt to leverage the power of the Internet alone and only attempt to fill their open positions through online job ads. While it’s true that approach will get some applications, it’s not an effective way to identify the best candidates in the marketplace.

Sharita: Which in many cases are passive candidates?

Stacy: That’s right. The problem is that, because of the reasons I just outlined, passive candidates are not looking at online job advertisements. So they have no way of knowing that a particular organization is hiring.

Sharita: So what must organizations do if they want to hire the best candidates in the marketplace? Is it true that sometimes those candidates are working for their competition?

Stacy: That is true. Sometimes that’s the case. To hire the best candidates, you must do three things:

1. You must identify the best candidates and not just the best candidates that have applied to your job ad.
2. You must recruit the candidates and convince them to consider your employment opportunity.
3. You must “sell” the candidates on both the opportunity and also the organization.

These are the things that a recruiting firm does the best. They have the experience and expertise to find the best candidates, even if they’re working for somebody else and aren’t actively looking for a new job.

Sharita: What would you say is the most important thing that employers should realize about passive candidates?

Stacy: The thing that they should remember the most is that these candidates have options. An active job seeker may or may not be employed. If they are employed, they’re usually unhappy with their current employment situation. A top passive candidate, on the other hand, is always employed and at the very least, they’re content with where they are and what they’re doing. Top passive candidates are not desperate. They can afford to “pick and choose” which option or options is best for them.

Sharita: How does that affect the hiring process from the employer’s perspective?

Stacy: It changes the process completely! The problem that many organizations encounter is that their hiring process is not structured in a way that fits a candidates’ market.

Sharita: What does that mean, exactly?

Stacy: Organizations often fall into the habit of not modifying their hiring process to meet the challenges of market conditions. Market conditions are definitely different now than they were during the Great Recession. The problem is that some companies are still trying to use the same hiring tactics that they used during the recession. Those tactics are not going to work in today’s candidates’ market.

Sharita: Where does the disconnect exist? Why do companies miss out on hiring top talent because their hiring process doesn’t match market conditions?

Stacy: There are two main things that organizations must do to hire the best candidates.

1. They must realize that time is of the essence and they can’t let the hiring process drag out.
2. They must continually “sell” themselves during the process to convince top candidates to work for their organization.

Sharita: Why is time of the essence?

Stacy: If you have a passive candidate in your hiring process and they’re one of the top candidates in the market, remember they have options. That’s the case even if they’re only interviewing with your company. That’s because one of the options they have is to stay with their current employer. For these candidates, that’s a viable option. So the longer the hiring process drags out, the less likely they are to make a move.

Then there’s the other scenario. Let’s say that a passive candidate has been convinced to consider a new employment opportunity. Then let’s say another opportunity is presented to them, so they decided to consider that one, too. Now they’re part of more than one hiring process. Their options are growing. It’s not uncommon for top candidates to consider three or more new opportunities.

Sharita: So what kind of problems does this cause from the employer perspective?

Stacy: A problem arises when organizations fail to understands that they’re competing against one another for talented candidates. Speed is one of the most important determining factors in this type of competition. If a top candidate is interviewing with more than one company, then they will favor the company that keeps them more engaged during the hiring process.

Sharita: What are some things that employers can do to keep candidates engaged?

Stacy: Keeping candidates engaged means setting expectations up front, presenting clearly what the next steps will be, letting the candidate know where they stand in the process, and communicating the timeline for when a decision will be made. If that isn’t done, then employers are at risk for losing candidates.

Sharita: How much time should the hiring process last then?

Stacy: At the beginning of last year, The VET Recruiter conducted a survey of candidates. As part of that survey, we asked candidates about the longest amount of time they’d spend in an organization’s hiring process before bowing out.

A little more than 13% indicated they’d spend three weeks in the process, while another 15.7% indicated they would spend four weeks. That’s nearly 29% of candidates who would drop out of a hiring process within four weeks, tops.

If the process takes longer than four weeks, the risk of losing candidates rises dramatically. In fact, if a company goes a long amount of time without filling a position, they can lose candidates who haven’t even entered their hiring process yet.

Sharita: Really? How does something like that happen?

Stacy: A company reached out to me recently to ask for my help with filling a position that had been open for six months. They had been trying to fill the position on their own without success.

Now they wanted to hire me to help fill it for them. This is what I do, so I was glad they reached out to me.

The trouble began when I reached out to a potential candidate for the role. When I spoke with him, he asked, “Hasn’t that position been open for six months? Why can’t they fill it?”

The problem was his perception. He believed that there must be something wrong with the position (or possibly the employer) since the position had remained open for six months.

This candidate did not even want to be considered for the position. Employers have to be aware of things like this, and they have to be prepared to avoid these kinds of situations.

Sharita: What about the second thing you mentioned, that employers must “sell” themselves to convince top candidates to work for them. What does that “selling” involve?

Stacy: There are five things that an organization must “sell” to candidates during the hiring process.

The first thing is the position itself. You have to go beyond just the job description, though. You have to make the position sound compelling and add some “sizzle” to it.

The second thing is the position’s potential for growth. Discuss what the position could be and how the position ties into the company’s plans for the future.

The third thing is the company’s potential for growth. Top candidates want to be part of a winner, so show them how your company already is a winner and will be in the future.

The fourth thing is the company’s culture. The candidate wants to know that the position is going to be a fit, and that includes how they fit into the culture.

The fifth thing is the candidate’s potential for growth. Candidates want to know how making the leap to a new company is going to benefit them, especially in regards to the growth and overall well being of their career.

Sharita: So if you had to sum up what employers should do in a candidates’ market, what would you say?

Stacy: Employers should do five things. They should:

1. Recognize the difference between active job seekers and passive candidates.
2. Recognize what they must do to identify and recruit top passive candidates.
3. Keep candidates engaged through the entire hiring process.
4. Make sure the hiring process does not drag on.
5. Continuously “sell” the position and the organization throughout the process.

Sharita: Stacy, thanks so much for all of this great information today.

Stacy: Thank you, Sharita. I look forward to our next podcast!