4 Ways to Attract Top Talent by Combating Job Seekers’ Fears
Understanding the effects of an uncertain job market on a job seeker’s state of mind.
As unemployment in the U.S. continues to soar, millions of talented job seekers are feeling uncertain and overwhelmed by the current market, causing them to be reluctant to apply for positions that they might be a great fit. However, recent hiring trends show that many tech companies are still actively hiring, especially for data-driven roles!
How can companies attract and connect with the best talent, even when that talent is assuming hiring freezes and/or a saturated market? Moreover, how can they ensure that they continue to prioritize their DEI efforts?
This can be accomplished by being even more intentional about how they present themselves during the recruitment and interview process. I recently participated in a panel discussion with She+ Geeks Out on Job Search Dos and Don’ts. Based on that discussion, I’ve outlined the top fear-motivated assumptions job seekers are making right now and questions companies can ask themselves to ensure they aren’t scaring great candidates away!
ASSUMPTION 1: “Only people with the right network connections will be successful in finding a job right now.”
ASK: Are we being proactive about identifying great candidates?
One of the most common ways to source the best talent is by networking and being engaged in your field of expertise. However, you might miss out on a diverse pool of candidates if you limit yourself to only the people you have existing connections with. To actively expand, we recommend She+ Geeks Out as a great resource for connecting to womxn tech talent. They provide opportunities to meet candidates where they already are, by offering virtual networking opportunities and events. At Insight, we’ve learned a great deal from them, as we intentionally build cohorts with a diverse set of backgrounds to enhance our collaborative learning environment.
You might also consider offering informational interviews via a quick LinkedIn post to your Calendly. The upfront time commitment on your part is low, but the value-add you’ll be giving to nervous job seekers is invaluable. This act of being in service will strengthen your network, benefit your company’s reputation, and even lead to great new referrals.
While on LinkedIn, also keep an eye out for those who are promoting and advocating for their peers. In this time of terrifying uncertainty, some might focus on their own career journey over others. However, many are looking out for their colleagues. For example, they are sharing on LinkedIn a list of their fellow unemployed coworkers, their strengths, and why someone should hire them ASAP, even when they themselves are laid off. The values demonstrated go well beyond the technical qualifications a candidate might possess, and provide a glimpse of what they would genuinely be like to work with.
ASSUMPTION 2: “I’m not qualified for this position, I won’t bother applying.”
ASK: Does this job description read like a wishlist?
Be open-minded about what you’re looking for in a candidate by focusing on the pain points and problems you’re seeking to solve. Perhaps your ideal candidate doesn’t have the degree you thought was necessary, but brings substantial value thanks to years of software engineering experience.
Wishlists are especially off-putting to women, who statistically will only apply to job opportunities if they meet 100% of the listed requirements, versus men applying when they meet 60%. There are ways to combat this from step one of drafting your job description, including checking it for bias by using tools like Textio.
It’s also possible to combat this by dividing the skills section of the job description into “must-have,” “nice to have,” and “bonus.” This not only allows a job seeker to think critically about their own skills, but also ensures that you have a good understanding of what you’re looking for and prevents you from missing out on someone that is a strong fit. Remember, there is no such thing as the elusive Data Science unicorn, and that adage goes for any role you’re hiring for!
Within the interview itself, emphasize that your goal is to brainstorm and have a conversation — effectively emulating what it would be like to work together. Listen for their ability to problem solve and think strategically. In this scenario, confidence, critical thinking skills, and effective communication could overcome not having the wishlist of qualifications listed on the job description.
ASSUMPTION 3: “I really liked this company before, but I’m not sure how well they take care of their people in times of crisis.”
ASK: How have we navigated the COVID-19 pandemic, both internally and publicly?
Prospective candidates are watching and listening, taking note of how leadership deals with the emergency via Google alerts, social media, and media coverage. The crisis is providing a uniquely intimate glimpse into the company culture.
Anticipate being asked questions about your handling of the pandemic during the interview process. Remember, candidates are also interviewing companies for mutual fit. Make sure your interview process is equitable under the new circumstances, too. Be explicit about expectations for video versus phone, over-communicate, and check your biases (e.g., don’t assume someone has used Zoom before or has access to good WiFi for a video call).
ASSUMPTION 4: “I haven’t heard back in a week, so I think the company is ghosting me.”
ASK: Are you taking the time to be communicative?
In our coaching of Insight Fellows, we always advise them to assume positive intent. Right now is an absolutely crazy time to be on the recruiting side. However, leaving talent hanging rather than providing a candid response will cause a negative impression.
Be communicative: deliver regular updates, even if that update is to say you don’t have an update yet, or that you’re undergoing a hiring freeze. In either scenario, it signals that you haven’t forgotten about them and demonstrates empathy and integrity.
Remember to be kind, even when you’re not delivering an ideal response. Consider providing actionable feedback when you can, or even referring them to at least one person in your network.
As the tech sector has thrived over the last several years, the competition for talent has been fierce. Now that the economy is being tested and challenged, don’t fall for the assumption that it will be easier to find the best talent, or that diversity, equity, and inclusion are no longer a top priority. Companies who remain intentional and approach hiring with a job seeker-based approach will set themselves up for longer-term success and thriving teams!
4 Ways to Attract Top Talent by Combating Job Seeker’s Fears was originally published in Insight on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.