From Talent Shortages to Digital Transformation

How to Overcome the Top Challenges in Recruiting

For the first time in a decade, client acquisition is not one of the top three priorities among recruiters1. Staggeringly, it has fallen to sixth place, the top three being taken by candidate acquisition, digital transformation, and candidate experience.

These priorities also mirror the leading challenges every recruiter around the world is facing: talent shortage, digital transformation, economic uncertainty, and the aftermath of Covid-19, including the rise in remote work and competition.

This whitepaper looks at solutions to these challenges that create maximum impact in the short and long term.

overcome the top challenges in recruiting

Today's recruiting challenges

1. Talent shortage

Talent shortage is the biggest challenge of every recruiter – with candidate acquisition the top priority and candidate sourcing the main obstacle2.

In today’s market, there are more jobs than talent with the right skill set. The “old methods” of candidate sourcing are expensive, time-consuming, and increasingly ineffective. It is not enough to just post about new job opportunities as most of your potential talent aren’t actively looking for a new job. That’s why recruiters are testing new tools and platforms to improve process efficiency, growing their talent acquisition teams, and investing in brand awareness to attract new candidates.

What’s more, 70% of permanent, temporary, and freelance workers alike expect real human interaction during the search and placement process3. This has upped the pressure on recruiters to provide an exemplary candidate experience.

On the face of it, greater speed and scalability seem like the answer to all of the above. But when there’s already an Everest of responsibilities to climb, how can you push these solutions to the peak?

2. The new work and market reality

It isn’t just a matter of finding good candidates. Getting them to apply for the role, stick with the recruiting process, and stay with the new employer has become a challenge of its own.

People now consider a range of criteria that goes beyond salary and benefits before they even decide to apply for a position. They’re looking at company culture, employee wellbeing, sustainability, as well as diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) at work4. 52% of knowledge workers say they would leave their job if their employer’s values didn’t align with their own5.

The global pandemic has changed candidate priorities dramatically. These days, the only constant for recruiters and hiring managers is that how candidates evaluate job opportunities will continue to evolve.

Employer branding has thus come to the fore in recruiting, as has agility in the face of shifting market conditions and candidate priorities.

As if talent shortage and economic uncertainty weren’t enough, recruiters also face increased competition – the biggest obstacle to winning new clients. Meanwhile, non-competitive pay, lack of communication from clients, and shortage of internal resources to maintain client relationships are some of the leading obstacles to holding on to existing client accounts6.

The best way to stay ahead of the competition? Process efficiency and the means to attract top quality candidates who deliver a high return on your clients’ investment.

3. Digital transformation and recruiting process efficiency

The average time it takes companies to fill a position is 33 to 49 days7. However, 62% of working professionals8 lose interest two weeks after the initial interview if they haven’t heard back.

“The length of the recruiting process, along with counteroffers, is one of the main reasons why hirers are missing out on quality talent within their organisations. An efficient, streamlined process says volumes about you as an organisation. If you care about the candidate's journey from the very beginning of the hiring process, then you are likely to care about them when they join your company. Unfortunately, if you keep candidates waiting for feedback or offers, in a skills shortage market, it sends a signal that they just don't mean that much to you. And let's face it, everyone wants to feel validated and valued.”

Theresa Durrant,
Salesforce Career & Performance Coach, Resource on Demand

An examination of the recruiting process often reveals too many steps, from administrative tasks to the number of candidate interviews and redundant processes that stand in the way of a positive client and candidate experience.

Today’s answer to many of these problems is digital transformation. Firms that embraced this reported stronger annual results in 2021 and higher expectations for 20229. Unsurprisingly, digital transformation is in the top three recruiter priorities. They know it can boost productivity, freeing up time spent on manual work for other business areas, making it easier to match talent with jobs, speeding up communication and turnaround times.

But as long as teams continue to work in silos, systems and processes aren’t connected, new technology comes in without process review or a clear job-to-be-done, there will be no step change in digital adoption, and digital transformation won’t make it off the to-do list.

So what are the main roadblocks10 to making digital adoption really happen?

For any recruiting agency wishing to grow, the three main questions to answer are:

The Solution

People must be at the heart of any solution to tackle these challenges and achieve business growth. If the chosen technology doesn’t make processes more efficient or provide an engaging user experience, neither recruiters nor candidates will adopt it. The right technology will allow recruiters to nurture talent from potential candidate to new hire, and in so doing, strengthen the agency’s value and competitive advantage.

Candidate experience and nurturing

They say, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” However, in the job market, that cover – the employer brand, the job ad copy – influence a candidate’s decision to apply and the recruiter’s chances of success.

That’s why the wise recruiter knows candidate experience should encompass the before, during, and after of the hiring process.

Every salesperson knows the importance of reaching out to a potential client when and where they’re most likely to pay attention. The same should apply to recruiting talent. Go where the candidates are.

Automate to optimise
To save time and make the process more scalable, use a talent acquisition system (ATS) to automate most of the process. Then, to optimise outreach, identify your top performing channels: Which have the highest lead to applicant conversion rate? Which bring in the best candidates? If they’re the same, that makes your job easier!

Whether you focus on LinkedIn or another talent acquisition channel, personalisation is key. For example, instead of posing the question, “A company in industry X is looking to fill position Y. Would this be of interest?” in your LinkedIn InMail, share key data about the job and the potential employer and why the person might be a good fit. Don’t make them research and do discovery calls only to realise they’re not interested.

17% of candidates who withdraw from the recruiting process11 do so because of a disconnect between the job description and the interview.

Whether it’s a LinkedIn message or a job ad, the best job posts let candidates know immediately whether the opportunity is a good fit for them. That puts employer branding12 at the heart of talent acquisition.

As HR executive and Forbes contributor Jaimie Green puts it,13 companies need to reinvent their employer value proposition if they hope to attract and retain top talent.

Communicating culture and values
The role responsibilities, salary range, and work location, including the choice of remote or hybrid, are the bare bones of a job ad. Candidates will be looking for flexible working hours, a generous wellness package, robust wellbeing policies, and principles, values and culture made transparent from the top down, starting with the CEO.

Communicating this information from the start, the recruiter not only attracts more motivated candidates, but also shortens the hiring lifecycle by saving time on initial FAQs.

Make sure all of the elements above come across clearly in the talent acquisition, recruiting, and hiring process. For example, if the job position is hybrid or entirely remote, so should the recruiting process be. Otherwise, candidates may feel they’re getting mixed signals about the company.

Enticing but accurate
To achieve this, the recruiter must ask their client the right questions to craft a job ad that is both accurate and enticing in how it “sells” the position. They may also need to provide guidance on the employer’s brand collateral, such as adding behind-the-scenes videos and blogs, interviews with the company’s leadership and employees, updating career pages, and so on.

Erie Insurance offers a good example of strong alignment between employer brand communication and the recruitment process. The company’s blog contains tips on getting started in the industry, and how to write a strong job application, alongside “Day in the Life” videos of different staff members and interns14.

77% of people who had a positive candidate experience and 52% of those who had a negative one will share it with their inner circles17.

Now that the candidate is ready to apply, you want the self-service application experience to be effortless. Evaluate yours against the following questions:

The last thing you want is for candidates to drop out  because the application process is time-consuming or confusing.

To see if this stage of the process is a problem for your agency, look at the number of incomplete applications and the average website visitor-to-applicant conversion rate which, according to Jobvite’s analysis of ten million applications, averages 11%15.

Often, the best talent aren’t actively looking for a new job. Those who are may be doing so because they’re burned out, and frustrated with their employer for failing to support their wellbeing when they need it the most.

As they go through the recruiting process, remote and onsite candidates alike want insight into the employer’s wellbeing policies and culture (the third most important consideration, according to LinkedIn’s Talent Market Drivers report ), including the remote work and team-building environment.

To keep candidates engaged and motivated:

There are few things as damaging to trust in the recruiting process as overpromising and underdelivering.

In an increasingly hybrid and remote business world, it is important not to overlook the remote candidate experience. A little creativity is the key here.

For example, before remote interviews, Constellation Pharmaceuticals sends its candidates a video of the office tour, introducing various team members as the camera moves through the office and providing insight into what it would be like working there18.

Blinkist, too, has been celebrated for its remote candidate strategy19. Before every interview, the company sends the candidate useful resources such as how to nail the interview, and information about the company culture and structure.

You could say, “We’re only human.” Like any of us, the candidate wants to feel valued, noticed, and appreciated. If they don’t, they’re much more likely to accept an alternative offer or simply withdraw from the recruiting process. In 11% of such cases, candidates do so because of poor communication20.

You don’t need a complex candidate experience strategy. Simple steps like providing advice, sharing agendas and resources before interviews, following up afterwards, and providing regular updates throughout the recruitment process will make a big impact.

As Talent Board’s 2020 Candidate Experience Research reported, when recruiters informed candidates of post-interview steps and followed up in the stated time frame, the number of candidates reporting a positive experience increased by:

in North America
in Europe and Middle East
in Asia-Pacific
in Latin America
Unsurprisingly, recruiters say that two of the top skills to master in order to succeed are how to:

33% of new employees quit in the first 90 days22. That’s a huge business cost, both for the client and the recruiter.

In an increasingly competitive market, a recruiting agency can stand out by making sure their process and candidate experience encourage employee retention.

This is where the After of the recruiting process – relationship building, employer brand management, employee retention – plays a pivotal role.

The first weeks in a new role have a lasting impact on employee job satisfaction and churn rate.

“Millennials now account for the majority of today's workforce, and they are the generation most open to accepting change. Moving jobs is de rigueur for them, which makes employee onboarding and retention even more difficult for businesses. If you are looking to keep your employees happy and engaged throughout the onboarding process, you have to appeal to their natural curiosity. Things have to happen quickly, smoothly and efficiently and they need to feel like they're already part of the team very early on in the process.”

Theresa Durrant,
Salesforce Career & Performance Coach, Resource on Demand

An acceleration of onboarding success rates was needed to improve digital transformation

Soluto, a Tel Aviv-based company, has found a creative way of making remote employees feel welcome from day one. Not only are new staff members greeted by a welcome package of office perks that includes coffee and lumbar support, they are invited to a virtual team lunch on their first day on the job23.

It’s important that the recruiter stays in touch with the new hire and the hiring manager for a smooth and successful onboarding experience. This includes everything from checking that responsibilities and management’s expectations have been communicated clearly to making sure the new recruit has all they need to perform the role.

There’s another advantage to staying in touch with the successfully placed candidate – gaining insight into the employee experience that would otherwise be unavailable. For instance, it may turn out that the employer does not provide as much support and guidance as imagined. In that case, the recruiter will know to look for more self-sufficient candidates in the future.

You can also gain a great deal from conducting smart, in-depth interviews with all applicants in the past year, staff leaving the company, and boomerang employees who left and came back.

Uncover the real reasons people leave
People rarely give the real reason for leaving. They don’t want to cause trouble or burn bridges. Asking employees to give stories or scenarios is a great place to start if you want to uncover underlying motivations and struggles. Without this knowledge, the company may misdirect investment into facilities, policies or tech that were simply the “safer” reasons to give for leaving.

Over time, this information will equip the recruiter with useful insights to share with the client about their new employee experience, the reasons employees stay or leave, and ways to remedy the latter.

For a truly exceptional candidate experience, however, the recruiter also needs to double as a career coach.

Between numerous opportunities that, on the face of it, appear the same, it is the recruiter who can steer the candidate in the right direction, based on their values, beliefs, lifestyle and career goals, as well as the type of work environment where they thrive.

Similarly, if the candidate didn’t get the job offer, useful feedback from the recruiter will go a long way in helping them win the next opportunity (for example, by undergoing training or gaining experience).

According to a survey conducted by the Talent Board24, candidates who receive timely feedback are 52% more likely to engage with the employer again. On the other hand, unsuccessful candidates who are not given any feedback are more than twice as likely to form an unpleasant image of the company.

The added value that comes from going that extra step will help to build long–term relationships with candidates that:

Executing all of the above will not only help you offer a great candidate experience, but to stand out from the competition. So how do you achieve this?

Digital transformation.

Without digital transformation, recruiters will continue to struggle with demanding and overwhelming processes; teams will keep working in silos and search for workarounds that result in poor data accuracy; and a competitive candidate and client experience will be too time-consuming to execute at scale.

Process optimisation: Setting and measuring KPIs that grow the business

A recruiting agency’s potential for growth will be largely determined by its recruiting process efficiency, coupled with its ability to use strategic metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure business outcomes and optimise the return on its clients’ investment.

Technology is the key to a scalable, competitive recruiting process, but to use it as a lever for growth requires clarity on the steps and outcomes it needs to deliver.

Start by looking at the current recruiting process from A to Z. Include all communication with internal and external stakeholders, the technology used, and the data available. An increasingly popular approach is to use a business outcome based framework, such as jobs-to-be-done (JTBD25). You may choose to use a whiteboarding tool like Miro or Whimsical to visualise every step taken and to identify:

On this last point, many administrative tasks can be automated freeing up recruiter time to focus on finding, nurturing and placing candidates. For example, ready-to-go email scripts and templates that trigger automatic updates, or integrating initial candidate assessment questions into the application system.

Reviewing your process as a whole may also pinpoint gaps in communication, where compliance is lagging because people don’t understand how each step leads to the desired outcomes.

When aiming for process optimisation, digital transformation, and a better candidate experience overall, it is important to analyse all key metrics rather than just the “classics”, such as the number of CVs submitted and time to hire.

Once the recruitment agency has identified the main pain points in the process, it needs to ask: How will we be able to tell we’re making progress from now on?

Useful KPIs to consider are:

Google, for example, discovered that 86% of the value a new hire would bring could be captured during the first four interactions with the candidate. Even though each additional interview increased the accuracy of predicting a quality hire, the gains did not outweigh the financial cost nor the risk of losing good candidates through an over long selection process26.

“The fastest hire isn’t the best hire, and the cheapest hire isn’t the best hire. It’s all about the result — the business impact.”

Ross Baron, Head of Recruiting for Western Europe at TikTok27

business for good impact data

With the right metrics in place, it is much easier to gain an instant view of progress made, the steps still to optimise or automate, the ROI of the chosen DAS, as well as the candidate’s and the recruiter’s user experience.

Digital adoption → Digital transformation

Digital transformation starts with digital adoption. It requires a user-centric approach and clarity of the job-to-be-done of each piece of software acquired:

The chosen solution will ideally support the entire recruitment process, from talent acquisition to interviews, billing, onboarding, and optimisation. Once in place, the crucial question is: How easy will it be for end users to learn and adopt the new technology?

"Talent acquisition technology can do everything it's advertised to do — find more candidates, use data to generate actionable insights, free up recruiters to focus more on the critical human touchpoints etc. — but only if key players throughout an organisation commit themselves fully to understanding and harnessing its power"

Jamie Hart, Director of Technology Solutions, Page Outsourcing28

what is digital adoption and how to achieve it with improved apps and salesforce

Digital transformation cannot happen without everyone from leadership to recruiters being fully on board and actively using the software.

For best results, that achieve process efficiency, productivity, and digital adoption:

That’s why you need digital adoption solutions. They can remind users of key steps, nudge action when needed, provide helpful tips and information, even structured interview guides right when and where they’re needed.

What’s more, they’ll equip the agency with crucial data on DAS usage, user sentiment, and existing process efficiency.

Improved Apps for Salesforce and Bullhorn, for example, can be used to:

Embed practical tips
Such as a suggestion to use Boolean search to filter a candidate database more effectively

Add helpful resources
These might include a checklist of questions to ask the hiring manager to prepare the perfect job ad, T&Cs to be incorporated into the job application form, candidate data to be added – as well as how and when to do it, or a list of candidate screening questions to save time on follow-ups.

Send critical alerts
For example, to let recruiters know that an applicant matching their key criteria has just applied, or that a job has been filled.

Automate time- or action-triggered prompts and nudges
Useful to remind recruiters to reach out to candidates and hiring managers at various points in the recruitment process, from application to interview to onboarding. They can even come with email templates to complete the required action.

Send data-triggered alerts to team leaders
A nudge to check in with recruiters who are falling behind on key targets.

Answer FAQs and provide guidance within the application tool
As candidates complete the application forms online they can click for answers wherever they’re unsure. This is particularly important for a positive candidate experience as often there is no phone number to call for immediate information.

Notify users of new app features
Let your users know when there are more tools at their disposal, and of course, include in-app information on how to use them for better results.

The more clarity there is about the role of the software, the easier it will be to communicate its advantages and motivate end users to adopt it. And the better the DAS, the better the ROI.

Bonus: Digital Adoption Solution Checklist

To ensure a high return on your investment in Bullhorn or Salesforce as well as a smooth user experience, look for these features in your DAS:

salesforce healthcheck

Get real-time insights & analytics on how your users engage with Salesforce

About Improved Apps

Improved Apps is an award-winning Salesforce digital adoption solution, born out of the desire to drive Salesforce adoption through an enhanced, easy-to-use experience.

It has been developed by professionals with years of real-world Salesforce experience – implementations, developments, training, day-to-day administration and usage. Improved Help and Improved NoticeBoard remain the only digital adoption solutions fully integrated into Salesforce and reviewed by Salesforce security.

Improved Apps have been supporting customers’ Salesforce cloud strategies for over a decade, helping them create a unified experience across:

improved apps for salesforce user engagement and digital adoption
  1. The GRID 2022: Recruitment Industry Trends Report, Bullhorn
  2. The GRID 2022: Recruitment Industry Trends Report, Bullhorn
  3. Bullhorn Engage 2022
  4. Resource on Demand, The Ultimate Guide to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Your Salesforce Team
  5. Blue Beyond Consulting, Closing the Employee Expectations Gap
  6. The GRID 2022: Recruitment Industry Trends Report, Bullhorn
  7. LinkedIn, 4 ways to use an ATS to improve the candidate experience
  8. Robert Half Talent Solutions
  9. Bullhorn Engage 2022
  10. The GRID 2022: Recruitment Industry Trends Report, Bullhorn
  11. LinkedIn, 4 ways to use an ATS to improve the candidate experience
  12. Resource on Demand, How to Build An Employer Brand That Attracts The Salesforce Talent You Want
  13. Jamie Green, The Great Reflection: Is It Time To Reinvent The Employer Value Proposition To Align With The Future Of Work?, Forbes
  14. Erie Insurance
  15. Undercover Recruiter, How Efficient is Your Recruitment Funnel?
  16. LinkedIn, Talent Market Drivers Since the Start of COVID
  17. 2020 North American Candidate Experience Research Report
  18. LinkedIn, 8 Ways Companies Are Making Their Remote Candidate Experience Stand Out
  19. LinkedIn, 8 Ways Companies Are Making Their Remote Candidate Experience Stand Out
  20. 2020 North American Candidate Experience Research Report
  21. LinkedIn, The Future of Recruiting
  22. Life Exchange, 9 out of 10 New Employees willing to Quit in First Month – Here’s Why
  23. LinkedIn, 8 Ways Companies Are Making Their Remote Candidate Experience Stand Out
  24. 2018 Talent Board North American Candidate Experience Benchmark Research Report
  25. https://jtbd.info
  26. HBR, It’s Time to Streamline the Hiring Process
  27. LinkedIn, The Future of Recruiting
  28. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/putting-people-first-part-one-three-part-series-recruitment-hart/
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