Jobvite's Survey Reveals Fierce Competition, Evolving Strategies in a Divided Time

Jobvite's 2016 Recruiter Nation Report gathered responses from more than 1,600 recruiting and human resource professionals, revealing that in order to remain competitive, recruiters must revolutionize their strategic approaches to sourcing, hiring, and onboarding new hires.

"Job creation has been steadily increasing ever since the recession, forcing recruiters to double up their efforts to fill positions with quality candidates, but there simply aren't enough educated, talented, and qualified candidates to keep up with the demand," says Dan Finnigan, CEO of Jobvite. "As a result, recruiters must now go above and beyond by creating a compelling employer brand and an exceptional candidate experience to keep their companies growing."

Nearly all respondents – a full 95 percent – expect recruiting to be as or more challenging in 2017, with 69 percent reporting that their company's hiring has increased in the past year. To keep up with this demand, recruiters are offering both traditional and nontraditional incentives to attract candidates, like raising salary offers (68 percent), awarding monetary bonuses to incentivize referrals (64 percent), allowing for flexible work hours (44 percent), and implementing casual dress codes (44 percent).

Although candidates are largely benefitting from this job seeker-focused market, it is critical for them to continue putting their best feet forward. In addition to concrete qualifications, recruiters also expect a host of soft skills, including enthusiasm (78 percent), conversational skills (73 percent), and, most importantly, cultural fit (83 percent).

"When recruiters talk about culture fit, they're usually referring to people who fit in with the values and work style of their organization," says Matt Singer, Jobvite's vice president of marketing. "This is definitely important when it comes to making sure your team can successfully collaborate, but you need to be careful about how you define it."

Singer credits the imprecise I'll-know-it-when-I-see-it explanation of culture fit as the type of thinking that caused the practice to come under criticism in recent years for resulting in a lack of diversity.

"To avoid this, companies need to make sure that they clearly define the four or five traits, skills, and beliefs that are essential to their company, so recruiters aren't just basing culture fit on gut feeling," Singer says.

While recruiters have proven adept at adjusting their strategies in the midst of a consistent talent shortage, opportunities for strategic adjustments on the part of job seekers are available, too. Social media has become a total game changer for job seekers. Sites like LinkedIn are designed to help people discover and learn about new opportunities, but even platforms that are not traditionally associated with job seeking – like Facebook, Twitter, and even Snapchat – are playing increasing roles in the hiring cycle.

"Companies want to reach job seekers where they already are, so a lot of them are leveraging every platform they can to try and reach out to the candidates they need," Singer says. "My advice to job seekers is to take advantage of that and use all of the different social media platforms you're active on to not only look up new opportunities but also learn more about the companies you're interested in."

This strategy comes with a word of warning, though: Make sure what you post on your profile is appropriate. Recruiters check out candidates' social media profiles, so be careful about things like typos (which 72 percent of recruiters view negatively), oversharing (60 percent), and references to drugs and drinking (71 percent and 47 percent).

In an election year, recruiters aren't completely indifferent. Nine percent of recruiters say they would have a reaction toward a candidate's political affiliation on social media – but recruiters are 64 percent more likely to be biased toward a Donald Trump supporter than a Hillary Clinton supporter this year.

Regardless of your political affiliation, the main takeaway from the recent election is that we are living in a very divided time. Whether you are a job seeker or a recruiter, it is not safe to assume that everyone you know will agree with or even accept your political beliefs.

"I think it's best for job seekers to keep their opinions on specific political issues and candidates under wraps, because you never know how it might affect recruiters' perceptions of you," Singer says. "And on the other side of the equation, I think recruiters need to do their best not to let candidates' political beliefs affect how likely they are to move forward with them. If we're going to bridge the divides that we have in our country right now, we need more diversity of thought, not less, and that's not going to happen unless we welcome those folks into public spaces like the workplace."