Employers Are on the Hunt for 'Informed Candidates' – But They Can't Seem to Find Many

A new survey from Glassdoor has found that the No. 1 challenge faced by hiring decision-makers today is finding quality candidates, with 76 percent of survey respondents citing this as a major obstacle.

What makes for an elusive "quality candidate"? According to 88 percent of respondents, a quality candidate is an informed candidate – that is, a candidate who prepares for the interview, asks pertinent questions, demonstrates knowledge of the role and organization, is engaged in their job search, and is thoughtful about where they want to work.

Seventy-four percent of the hiring decision-makers said job seekers have access to all the information they need to be informed candidates – so where are all of them?

As it turns out, employers might be sabotaging themselves.

Complicating Factors

First things first: While finding quality talent is hiring decision-makers' primary challenge, the survey also uncovered a number of additional barriers to making great hires, including budget constraints (72 percent), trouble competing with the compensation and benefits packages offered by other employers (65 percent), and advertising the right jobs in the right places to attract the right candidates (65 percent).

Any of these barriers can further complicate an organization's ability to recruit top talent. For example: If you're not advertising your jobs in the right places, you'll struggle to find informed candidates for your roles. Similarly, if competitors are offering better compensation, all the informed candidates are likely to choose them over you.

And then there's the fact that 76 percent of survey respondents reported "concern or challenge in attracting and hiring passive candidates as they have grown wary of contact through networking sites and respond at a much lower rate."

"This isn't a big surprise when we look at what drives job satisfaction among employees, that being company culture, career opportunities, and trust in senior leadership leading the way," says Glassdoor Community Expert Scott Dobroski. "When recruiters reach out blindly, or with very little information on potential candidates, the recruiter is doing so with actually very little information on what the job seeker wants in his or her next opportunity. And, they're doing it in a way in which their primary goal is to sell the employer to the job candidate, but it's one-sided. When this happens again and again, it starts to feel uniform and not customized, leading to increased weariness and lack of responses, too."

In other words: Years of ill-conceived and poorly executed recruiting strategies have left some of the most qualified candidates wary of interacting with potential employers.

Another issue is that even though hiring decision-makers believe candidates have all the information they need to be informed candidates, three in five job seekers disagree, saying that job realities often fail to match up with the expectations the company leads them to have during the hiring process.

"What employers should keep top of mind is to help empower and inform their candidates so they have clear expectations about what it's really like to work at their company," Dobroski says. "[That means] sharing what's working and being up front about what needs improvement. This is exactly what leads to an informed candidate – one who knows exactly what they're getting into when hired – and thus translates to better employee retention, more productivity, and more engagement, too."

Employers need to resist the temptation to paint their organizations as perfect when recruiting. Not only is that a good way to encourage false expectations, but it will also probably drive a lot of top-tier talent away.

"If [your employer brand] is all perfection, that's a red flag to today's job seeker," Dobrsoki says. "So, leverage and offer them the other side of things too – what employees have to say about working there."

By allowing existing employees to take a more active role in building and promoting their employer brands, companies will have an easier time being truthful and transparent. That, in turn, will lead to more informed candidates.

Meeting in the Middle

All that being said, employers and recruiters are not solely to blame. Job seekers aren't perfect, and we all know at least one guy who's still banking on the old "spray and pray" method to get him hired somewhere.

Job seekers struggling to get noticed should take it upon themselves to become the informed candidates hiring decision-makers are after.

"What we've found is employers want candidates to do their homework and to come prepared to an employer knowing about the company, ready to ask good questions about the job, the role, growth opportunities, and where they see the job or company headed," Dobroski explains. "This shows short-term and long-term interest in the role and company. Job seekers should be prepared, doing their research ahead of time on sites like Glassdoor, via Google searches, and using social media feeds to fully understand the ins and outs of a job and company before they even hit 'Apply.'"