Recruiters Speak: Competition Will Increase

Nearly all surveyed recruiters have social media strategies

By Roy Maurer October 19, 2015

Recruiters expect labor demand to increase in the next year, continue to find their best candidates from referrals, believe data analytics can play a key role in hiring, and admit that candidates’ grade point averages and cover letters are unimportant.

Those are among the findings from a recent survey on the trends and challenges in talent acquisition as seen by those in the industry.

Additionally, 92 percent of recruiters use social media to evaluate and engage potential candidates, and they say that finding quality talent on traditional online job boards has become more difficult, according to the Jobvite 2015 Recruiter Nation Survey, conducted in July 2015.

Jobvite, a recruiting technology platform, analyzed responses from 1,404 recruiting professionals in a wide range of industries on how talent is sourced and what trends and challenges are being seen in an increasingly competitive labor market.

Nearly all surveyed recruiters (95 percent) expect the hunt for talent to become more competitive in the next year, especially for fast-growing industries such as telecommunications, hospitality and health care. In addition, the average employee tenure for a majority of workers (30 percent) has shrunk to 1-3 years.

Recruiting becomes more competitive as the economy continues to improve, said Amy Ala, a Seattle-based recruiter at Microsoft. “I’m also seeing significant growth in many of my teams, so frankly we just need more people in an already tight industry.”

The average time-to-hire for a majority of respondents (41 percent) is 31-60 days, according to the survey. Half of respondents said they are seeing 50 or fewer applications per open position, and only 7 percent said they receive more than 250 applications per open position. These employers are more than likely to be in the finance, marketing, government or hospitality sectors, according to Jobvite.

Referrals Rule

Recruiters find candidates from various places, but “referrals continue to be the most effective source of targeting and hiring high-quality candidates,” said Jobvite Chief People Officer Rachel Bitte. More than three-quarters of respondents (78 percent) chose referrals as the No. 1 source of quality hires, significantly up from 60 percent last year. “With the growth of social media, recruiters can now tap into the social networks of employees they already think highly of, and attract a larger number of qualified candidates,” Bitte said.

After referrals, recruiters list the top sources for finding quality candidates as social networks (56 percent), intern programs (55 percent), direct applications (46 percent) and external recruiters (38 percent). Online job boards are on the decline as a source for quality hires, from 57 percent in 2009 to 37 percent.

“Social media sites like LinkedIn and Facebook enable a far faster path of finding and evaluating candidates than a traditional job board,” Bitte said. “While job boards will continue to have a presence for recruiters in the foreseeable future, their impact has clearly diminished.”

Ala said she gave up on job boards “years ago” and now finds that the best candidates come from referrals or social media including, “believe it or not, a tweet chat.” When she was sourcing full time, Ala preferred searching for candidates using Dice Open Web “because it aggregates from several sites. It’s all about finding relevant experience and contact information that is rarely up-to-date on one of the old standbys like CareerBuilder or Monster.”

You’ll always get hires from job boards, but you won’t find candidates for the difficult-to-fill jobs on job boards, remarked Kris Dunn, chief human resource officer and partner at recruitment process outsourcing and HR consulting firm Kinetix and founder of the influential blog Fistful of Talent. You’ve got to hunt, he added.

“Traditional job boards lost market share to Indeed, which redefined job posting; LinkedIn; and, to a lesser extent, niche job boards and automated posting to social accounts,” Dunn said.

But is Indeed considered a job board, Dunn asked? Whereas a recruiter goes out and posts listings, Indeed indexes jobs and upcharges employers for preferred listings, he said. “Indeed redefined the job posting by owning the SEO of every corporate careers site in America.”

“Another reason job boards are down is that LinkedIn clearly owns the candidate resume database,” a valued function of job boards traditionally, Dunn said.

Job boards are still the go-to spot for medium and small employers who don’t have dedicated talent acquisition teams, said China Gorman, chair of the WorkHuman Advisory Board at Globoforce and former chief operating officer at the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). “They’re a good place to begin the search for talent. For large employers who have dedicated, sophisticated talent acquisition teams, job boards don’t compare with their own capabilities to identify talent, create talent communities and position their employer brand in the competitive talent market,” Gorman said.

“But even smaller employers are spending their recruiting budgets more judiciously and targeting their spend across a fuller range of solutions instead of just posting and praying on as many job boards as they can find,” she added.

In the next year, 41 percent of recruiters say they plan to invest more in referrals. The majority of respondents (40 percent) use monetary bonuses to encourage employees to keep referrals coming, followed by companywide recognition (20 percent).

Mining Social Media

According to a recent study conducted by SHRM in collaboration with and commissioned by Ascendo Resources, 65 percent of companies surveyed said they discovered new hires through social media channels within the past year. In particular, 87 percent of HR professionals said it was either very important (54 percent) or somewhat important (33 percent) for those seeking jobs to be on LinkedIn.

“The use of social media has been incorporated into business practice,” said Evren Esen, director of SHRM’s survey programs. “Social media helps recruiters find passive job candidates that might not otherwise apply for traditional job postings. With recruiting difficulty continuing to rise on a month-by-month basis, recruiters are turning to social media to find their ideal candidates.”

Just 4 percent of recruiters said they don’t use social media in the recruiting process, and another 4 percent said they aren’t sure, leaving the vast majority using tools such as LinkedIn (87 percent), Facebook (55 percent) and Twitter (47 percent) to learn about candidates.

Online networks are full of precious data, and recruiters are digging deep to uncover how long candidates have held jobs (74 percent), how long they’ve been with their current employer (57 percent), shared connections (34 percent), and examples of written or design work (29 percent). Recruiters’ advice for candidates on social media include:

  • Do share details about volunteer, professional or social engagement work (76 percent).
  • Do double-check spelling and grammar (72 percent).
  • Don’t share details of alcohol (54 percent) or marijuana consumption (75 percent).
  • Don’t post selfies (25 percent).

Ala stressed that candidates should include “clear and concise contact information—make it easy for me to connect with you and let me know how you prefer to be contacted.”

Recruiting Challenges

Over half (56 percent) of respondents said the lack of skilled or qualified candidates is the top obstacle to filling positions, followed by competition (50 percent), budget restraints (33 percent) and the company’s location (22 percent). Lack of brand awareness is another critical challenge recruiters face in attracting top talent. Three-quarters of respondents cited using social media as the most effective channel in growing their employer brand, followed by the company careers page (63 percent).

In addition, recruiters said the top internal challenges that managers face in hiring efficiency are moving candidates through the hiring stages (49 percent), reviewing resumes (41 percent) and salary negotiations (19 percent).

What Matters to Recruiters … and What Doesn’t

In-person interviews and resumes are still the bread and butter of candidate evaluation, but some recruiters are using personality tests (27 percent), sample assignments (25 percent) and video interviews (19 percent) to help them rate candidates.

Respondents reported that what really matters to recruiters is culture fit (88 percent); previous job experience (87 percent); and candidate attributes such as enthusiasm (87 percent), industry knowledge (85 percent), conversation skills (79 percent), punctuality (66 percent) and appearance (63 percent).

According to survey results, 63 percent of recruiters ranked the importance of cover letters as “very low” to “not important,” and more than half said a candidate’s grade point average is not important.

Going Forward

Over the next 12 months, employers say, they plan to increase investment in their recruiting budgets for the following areas:

  • Social media (50 percent). “Most of this spend will go to LinkedIn. And apart from LinkedIn, there’s only so much you can do with social media,” Dunn said. He added that employers can establish social accounts that drive traffic to their careers sites and set up a function through their applicant tracking system to automatically post jobs to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. “From there, it gets real fragmented real quick. If you want to engage candidates on social, you’ve got to have a story to tell, you need content coming from your careers site to share via social and your recruiters have to be active on social. That’s problematic for a lot of companies.”
  • Employment branding (46 percent).
  • Employee referrals (41 percent). “This is good, but marketing job referral programs continues to be a problem most talent acquisition and HR functions don’t get,” Dunn said.
  • Passive talent pipeline (38 percent).
  • Campus recruiting (27 percent).
  • Job boards (26 percent).
  • Mobile careers sites (23 percent). “This is needed, but what’s the percentage of job seekers that will apply via mobile?” Dunn asked. “It’s still very clunky and only the most tech-savvy will do it.”
  • Outside agencies/recruiters (13 percent).
  • SEO (10 percent). “Increasing your spend on Indeed and Glassdoor is the best way to capture this since they’ll be in the top 4 in Google results for your company anyway,” Dunn noted.

“The planned increase in spending in the top four categories, I believe, shows the final realization that ‘post and pray’ is gone for good and that the smart use of social technologies can help leverage new and old relationships,” Gorman said.

“More than ever, talent acquisition comes down to relationships and marketing. Only now these are fueled by social technologies,” she said. “Building relationships much earlier in the candidate experience and seeing candidates as stakeholders to be treated like valued members of the talent community will change the strategies and tactics being used by HR and talent acquisition professionals.”

Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

Follow him @SHRMRoy​​


Job Finder

Find an HR Job Near You
Search Jobs
Post a Job

Earn a SHRM Talent Acquisition Specialty Credential.

Do you have what it takes to win the war for talent? Find out.

Do you have what it takes to win the war for talent? Find out.



Find the Right Vendor for Your HR Needs

SHRM’s HR Vendor Directory contains over 10,000 companies

Search & Connect