As the economy gets back on its feet and more Americans become vaccinated, there has been an upsurge in job opportunities available. What employers are finding though, is that few candidates are applying. Less candidates are responding to job postings, which is a complete 360 from a year ago when unemployment rates were at the highest ever and job opportunities were far and few in between. So, what is the cause of the “candidate shortage”?
A recent article from USA Today Money¹, reports that many Americans are worried about switching jobs during the pandemic due to the health and financial risks. It’s a “safe” option to stay at the company they are currently with. Others are content with the unemployment benefits they are receiving. In some cases, workers are making more money “unemployed” then if they were working. They don’t have an incentive and are not motivated to go to work when they can make more money staying home. This has caused staffing and recruiting firms to focus their strategies on reaching out to candidates that are already working. Recruiters have even begun reaching out to competing companies to recruit skilled workers and low-mid level managers, which is usually a tactic for recruiting high-level executives.
As staffing and recruiting companies come up with new strategies to find candidates during the “candidate shortage”, your applicant tracking system (ATS) is an important resource that cannot be overlooked. There are not only several tools you can utilize in an ATS, but it houses hundreds and, in some cases, maybe even thousands of candidates right in front of you! In this article, we will take a deep dive into a handful of helpful tools to take advantage of in your ATS.
The first important piece of information you can pull from your ATS is a report on your candidate referrals. In the past 3 months, through what source are the most candidates coming in to your database? Is it through a job board, social media, cold calling? Looking at this information can help determine what “currently” is the best source for you to recruit candidates. You can then focus more of your efforts on the sources that are currently performing a little better than others.
Utilizing Searches and Pipelines
Both the search capabilities and pipelines in your ATS are powerful resources for you when searching for candidates. As noted in the introduction, your ATS may hold hundreds or even thousands of candidates at your fingertips. Utilizing your searches and pipelines in your ATS is a great place to begin your search for candidates.
Pipelines are a useful tool when building a list of “top” candidates. If you already have a pipeline built, this would be a good place to begin. If a pipeline isn’t already built, then you can begin building a pipeline that includes the top candidates you want to reach out to. The pipelines can be broken out by industry and/or position. Breaking each pipeline out by industry or position will help you as you recruit for current positions and will also be useful in the future when you are recruiting for positions that are similar. These will be talent pipelines you continue to add to and update-not just a one-time use. That way top candidates will always be readily accessible based on the industry and/or positions you are recruiting for. Once you add the initial candidates you want to include in your pipeline, you can then use the search capabilities in your ATS to add other qualified candidates.
Some popular searches you can conduct include searching by skills, position, employment history titles, location (if there is a specific location you need to recruit for), and last contacted (if you want to narrow down your search based on the last time you contacted a candidate.) Another helpful search option is to conduct a Full Text Search for keywords. A Full Text Search scours your database for certain keywords in a candidate’s profile, including their resume. This is handy if you want to search by position to see what candidates have held a similar role. As you are conducting your searches and finding candidates, add them to your pipeline.
Automated Workflow Surveys
You have your pipelines built; next you can send out an automated workflow survey to these candidates! Sending a survey will help narrow down your list to determine which candidates are interested in a job. The results of the survey will help save time so you aren’t reaching out to candidates that aren’t looking. Some ATS solutions will have an integration that allows you to send out an email or text message that includes survey questions. Based on the survey response, they will automatically receive a follow-up email that fits their response. If this option isn’t available to you, you can easily send out a survey to your pipeline via a platform such as Survey Monkey® or Google Forms®. These responses won’t be automated or logged in your ATS and will require a little more manual work, but you will still be able to get the same final result.
Examples of simple yes/no survey questions you could include to gauge who is interested in talking:
- Are you open to switching jobs? (if they are working)
- Are you open to work? (if they aren’t working)
During the “candidate shortage”, it might also be imperative to offer an incentive to candidates, depending on the industry. You can offer incentives based on performance, attendance, referrals, and more. Incentives may not only entice someone to work with you, but it can also help increase employee engagement so they work with you longer.
Incentives can include:
- One-year streaming service subscription
- $X worth of groceries delivered to their home with their choice of what they would like!
- Monthly or Yearly Meal Subscription service
- Free tickets to a sporting event or local attraction
- Around the holidays you can offer a free Turkey dinner for Thanksgiving or special holiday gift
If you decide to create an incentive program or use an existing one, you can include a question in your survey that ties into the incentive program:
- Would you be open to work if you could receive a one-year Netflix subscription for attendance?
Including a survey question that ties into the incentive program, allows you to see if they would be open to work if there was an additional incentive versus if there wasn’t an incentive offered.
Once your survey results are in, you will want to send out a follow-up communication to the candidates that said they are interested in a job. If your ATS has a built-in integration, similar to the above, the next email can automatically go out at a scheduled time based on which candidates said, “yes.” If you don’t have an automation tool, then you can create an email or SMS template in your ATS to send out a follow-up message to these candidates. In the message, you can include information about the job, the incentive program (if you are offering one), and a way for them to respond, “I am interested.”
In some cases, you may even be able to include a “job accept” link right within the communication. Some ATS’s mobile applications also allow for a similar, “job accept” feature where you send a job directly to a candidate through the ATS’s mobile application and they can accept a job that way. Including a link to accept the job offer, will conveniently place candidates without extra effort needed on your end. It is also convenient from the candidate’s perspective because all they have to do is click on the link to accept the job offer.
*Your follow-up message from the survey, can come in many shapes and forms based on what tools you have available to you.
Social Media Posting
Lastly, to complement the above outreach, you can also use the social media tools in your ATS to post the job description within your network and encourage others to share. During the current “candidate shortage”, referrals may especially be helpful for those who are hesitant to switch jobs during the pandemic. Seeing someone in their network share your job opportunity, can give them a boost of encouragement and trust to work with your staffing and recruiting company.
Diminishing the Candidate Shortage
The “candidate shortage” can bring a variety of obstacles to staffing and recruiting. Using your ATS’s pool of candidates, in addition to, taking advantage of the robust tools available, will help diminish any candidate shortages you are facing. Finding the right candidates in your ATS that are open for work is key and following up in a convenient way to accept a job offer will place candidates quicker and easier. Lastly, remember to utilize your Referral Report to take advantage of the sources where the most candidates are coming in from to keep a steady flow of new candidates. Soon your candidate shortage may become a candidate surplus!
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