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Don’t Be Fooled, Recruitment Has Always Been Hard

Aug 07 2018 - By Michael Beygelman

Despite what some people might think, recruitment is and always has been difficult. While multiple factors impact recruitment, one of the biggest challenges of our time is the historically-low unemployment rate. When unemployment is high, recruiters can get overwhelmed with applicants, but when unemployment is low—forecast to stay at sub 5% for the next decade—recruiters have fewer qualified applicants to choose from. Competition is fierce, and you have to think about new ways to connect with talent.

At times, there seems to be an inverse relationship between the labor market outlook and executive expectations of recruitment departments. Recruitment already accounts for nearly 15% of all HR expenses, according to SHRM, while the average cost per hire is approximately $4,425. The cumulative pressure to fill open vacancies while managing costs in a historically-low unemployment market becomes tremendous. At that cost, leaders obviously want results and want them as quickly and efficiently as possible.

While some might oversimplify the recruitment process, we can’t merely lay blame on exaggerated expectations. Fire up any number of podcasts or radio shows and you will constantly hear adverts for some shiny new recruiting software or job website. Not only are these messages rampant, their marketing tactics are sometimes misleading, making it seem as if recruiting is easy if you just buy their magic potion software—oh, and they’ll even give you a promo code to get you started.

Let’s say you buy in to the hype and plunk down the money for one of these new recruitment tools. Now what? In a world of sub-5% unemployment – less than 2% of college graduates are currently unemployed – there’s still a small number of prospects out there. Trendy software solutions simply can’t increase the number of people looking for work. If not careful, these so-called time-saving software solutions can inadvertently become additional time-draining platforms for recruiters to manage. The labor market still remains a competitive and difficult one to navigate, software solutions aside.

If there was one simple software that made recruiting so easy that anybody could do it, no company—let alone the biggest and most successful among them—would invest a single cent in recruitment past that software alone. Investing in recruitment innovation is necessary, but constantly throwing money at the problem without a demonstrable path towards ROI isn’t a solution either. The cost associated with overhauling your employee branding, careers site, and application process isn’t minimal, and these initiatives can only go so far.

Recruitment is part art, part science, and speaking softly, part unknown. There’s simply no one software, tool or tactic that “solves” recruitment. Recruiters must be creative in how they invest time and money and do so with proper context, ensuring they have access to an array of appropriate tools to pull from depending on the situation. There are many resources on the internet to point you in the right direction.

A more realistic assessment of recruitment in the current market is that it is difficult, competitive, and expensive, but despite unemployment being historically low, it’s not as though nobody is looking for work. In fact, the pool of possible recruits might be bigger than it appears on the surface. Statistics vary, but some suggest that up to 23 percent of those who are currently employed are considering changing jobs. However, this demographic is most likely not utilizing the usual platforms that recruiters use to search through people that are actively seeking employment. The key, then, becomes being able to locate those among the employed (a.k.a. passive candidates) that might be polishing up their resumes and thinking of possibly making a move to another company. Locating and cultivating those relationships will give recruiters a leg up on the competition for elite talent.

The truth is that attracting, evaluating, and getting buy-in from prospective talent has never been easy. All the greatest recruiters in human history had to endure the uphill battle of finding and convincing others to join them in their pursuits. The challenges today’s corporate and agency recruiters are tackling might not be historically epic in scale, but it doesn’t mean that achieving their desired outcome is any easier. If anything, with unemployment predicted to dip to 3.3% over the next couple years, untangling the social media web to better understand job seeking behaviors of the global workforce will be even more challenging than it is today.

Did you know?


According to McKinsey, companies are more profitable when teams are ethnically diverse


Of candidates are passive job seekers according to Talentnow 2018 Recruitment Trends


Of surveyed HR leaders said employee engagement was a top priority in 2018 and beyond