2023 is all about revisiting existing expenditures, retooling your TA tech stack, eliminating overhead, automating tasks, and generally getting creative in order to do more with less.
When faced with economic headwinds, talent acquisition is often the first department to get hit with budgetary constraints. In addition, a recession typically correlates with higher unemployment, which means that the candidates generally increase (though that hasn’t yet materialized in the US) and become more anxious, creating a seemingly impossible problem: delivering a better experience at a time when you have more candidates applying and fewer recruiters to process them.
Here are 8 resolutions that can help you augment your efforts even while your resources shrink:
1. Replace that initial phone screening interview with automated pre-screening
One of the most time-consuming (and expensive) activities in TA is the calling of candidates to “check a few things before scheduling an interview”. It is still the standard practice in most companies, even when this pre-screening step can easily be handled with a form, a bot, or an automated assessment tool. Implementing this change shouldn’t cost more than the equivalent of 1 full-time headcount, and it ultimately delivers meaningful improvements in your candidate processing time. All you need is an automated sequence that will ask candidates a series of questions as soon as they apply. This can be done with a talent engagement platform like Talkpush or using free tools like Google Forms or Typeforms.
Note: Are you worried that an automated pre-screening won’t allow you to evaluate communication skills as a phone call would? There are plenty of solutions in the market that will also generate metadata on the comms skills of candidates. Talkpush delivers English proficiency scores for candidates who submit their answers in audio or video form, so that you can automatically eliminate those without the language skills.
2. Audit your candidate experience by applying for a job at your company
When candidate volumes increase and recruiter headcount is low, it is natural to drop the ball a little on the candidate experience and the responsiveness of the TA team. Unfortunately, any such drop in performance comes at the expense of the employer brand, and can generate negative brand sentiment for years to come. To keep your team focused on delivering a high-quality experience at a time when candidates need it most, the best practice is to apply for a job at your company once a quarter under a pseudonym to monitor the average response time to unqualified and qualified candidates.
3. Track your marketing cost per hire per channel and adjust your spend accordingly
Unfortunately, most ATSs do not offer a cost-tracking platform for advertising spend that lets you connect each channel with its hires. Additionally, tracking WHERE a candidate originally comes from is a lot harder than it sounds - as most candidate journeys are multichannel. One imperfect but easy way to get started is simply by asking your new hires: where did you first hear about this job? Tracking those hires back to the original source will help you get a rough idea of your Marketing Cost Per Hire Per Channel. When evaluating referrals as a channel, you can factor in the referral commission as your marketing costs.
4. Move some of your advertising spend from job boards to Facebook
This recommendation may not work for everyone, but we feel confident that it will work in the high volume / early career portion of the talent market based on our latest data. Analyzing data from all of Talkpush customers - across more than 10 million applications per year - we were surprised to find that leads coming from Facebook converted to hire at a higher rate than the leads coming from job boards.
We already knew that social media was outperforming job boards in the high volume / early career job market from an economic standpoint - as measured by the Marketing Cost Per Hire. Still... some recruiters could still rationally choose to advertise on job boards as a primary option based on the fact that the hiring conversion rates were higher, thus ensuring recruiters were not wasting their time. This argument no longer holds water - at least not in the high-volume talent market. As illustrated by the chart above, built on global Talkpush data and MILLIONS of leads processed in 2022, Facebook now delivers better leads than job boards. Considering the Cost Per Lead is often <10% of the cost of a job board lead, this really puts the nail in the coffin for job boards (at least in the high volume job category that Talkpush operates in).
5. Drive specialization by separating recruitment marketing activities from interviewing
In most companies, talent acquisition professionals are jacks-of-all-trades, combining responsibilities in advertising, employer brand marketing, interviewing, psychological profiling, skills assessment, and of course in sales and managing their internal customers. As departments are under pressure to downsize while still delivering on their SLAs, we recommend creating a dedicated team that is exclusively in charge of recruitment marketing, including ad buying across job boards and social media. This recommendation may be a little counterintuitive because you are creating a new function when you are being asked to work with fewer resources, but we all know specialization drives productivity and an ad-buying specialist will be able to do the ad-buying work of 10 recruitment “generalists”.
The typical profile of an ad-buying expert is generally very distinct from that of a great interviewer. You need someone who is digitally savvy, has excellent writing skills, competent in analytics and reporting. An introvert would potentially be very happy in this function - and miserable interviewing candidates all day.
6. Switch on the conversational AI and reduce the “noise”
Job seekers have a lot of questions. When will I hear back from you? Have I been shortlisted for the role? What are the benefits? Etc. The volume of questions coming in will only intensify in a recessionary environment, and candidates will be asking questions via social media, career websites, and email inboxes 24/7, requiring a small army of recruiters just to keep up with all those inboxes. Thankfully, Natural Language Processing (NLP) has made tremendous strides in recent years, and bots are able to answer hundreds of candidates' intents (that’s the technical terms for knowing what they want) in a contextual manner.
Bots of course have a few major advantages over humans: (1) they never sleep or get sick, (2) they are always consistent in their messaging, (3) they can be in many places (your website, your Facebook page, WhatsApp, etc.) at the same time, and (4) they never eat fish soup at the office. 👃🤢
7. Leverage AI to accelerate story-telling
If you haven’t heard of ChatGPT over the last few weeks, the first step is to remove the rock under which you are living. Once that is done, think of all the ways ChatGPT can assist your TA team in building all sorts of content, including writing job descriptions, writing summaries of candidate profiles (to share with hiring managers), writing ad content, etc. Writing skills have long been touted as essential to the success of talent acquisition professionals, and they will continue to be so, but with the use of AI, you can ask for these writing efforts to be more prolific than ever before.
8. Eliminate the manual task of chasing missing paperwork
Talent acquisition teams remain heavily burdened with paperwork, ranging from resumes to interview assessment forms, and pre-employment documents, also known as “right to work” documentation. This documentation should ideally be automatically collected by your ATS but generally isn’t, which means talent acquisition teams have to prepare a long list of documents for every new hire in order to be compliant with employment laws.
While a lot of those documents have often been digitized during the pandemic, and while contracts with e-signatures have become the norm, the effort of chasing for missing documents is still mostly done manually - and often requires a lot of chasing candidates over the phone. Thankfully, there are now Robotic Process Automation (RPA) solutions like Autoflow and Document Collection from Talkpush, which chase the candidates for the missing documents, and can combine with Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology to organize the data, validate it, and store it in the right place.
Experienced talent acquisition professionals have been through a few of these economic cycles over the years and they understand never to let a recessionary cycle go to waste: this is the time to question the way things are being done, to challenge the status quo and to look at all the beautiful new tech in the market that can make recruitment a little more fun when the economic rebound eventually comes.
When the job market heats up again, it will bring a new level of stress to the system and the “augmented” recruiters, those who took the time to retool, will be happy they reinvented themselves when they had the chance.
Want to see how Talkpush can help you build a cost-effective team through task automation?