4 of the Biggest Problems Recruiters Face (And How to Overcome Them)

December 3, 2015

My goal was to find the biggest challenges facing recruiters.

My first instinct was to go to a bar recruiters frequent and see what they were commiserating about. With that, I discovered two things: A) there aren’t a lot of recruiting-focused bars out there and b) when you go up to a person at a bar and ask them what their biggest problems are, rarely do they mention anything related to work.

So, I had to find the online equivalent to a recruiters’ bar where talent acquisition professionals vent over coffee and laptops, instead of martinis and peanuts. Of course, that brought me to Quora, where I found a thread entitled “what’s the biggest problem modern recruiters face?”

Jackpot, as now I had an entire list of the biggest challenges recruiters face, from some of the best recruiters in the industry. And, so this wouldn’t be solely a list of grievances, I combed through LinkedIn research and expert advice to find best practices for overcoming those obstacles.

Without further ado, here are the four biggest challenges recruiters face (according to recruiters themselves) and the solutions:

1. The best candidates are deciding between multiple offers at once

The problem, as explained on Quora by Stuart Liroff, the VP of Talent at Academia:

"My biggest problem is that nearly all candidates are actively pursuing multiple opportunities… Where I used to be able to work pretty much 1:1 with passive candidates, I no longer have that luxury. If a passive candidate decides to chat with me, and they decide to interview, a very high percentage (nearly 100 percent now) will also ping their friends who've been asking them to interview at their new startup, or will ping that other recruiter they like."

The solution:

Make the interview a great experience. When a candidate is deciding between multiple offers, our research shows the interview is often the deciding factor.

There are a few ways to ensure a great interview experience for the candidate. First off, research shows candidates, most of all, candidates want their business questions answered in the interview.

Secondly, the interview that matters most to candidates is the one with their prospective manager. So coach your hiring managers to make it less of an interrogation during their interview, and more of a two-way conversation.

Finally, it helps if you can get someone from your senior leadership to talk with a highly sought-after candidate during the interview. Our research shows candidates appreciate meeting a company’s senior leadership, even if it is just briefly.

2. There is too much noise in the market

The problem, as explained on Quora by Ambra Benjamin, a recruiter at Facebook who previously worked at Google and Expedia:

"In my opinion, the greatest obstacle for recruiters is connecting with candidates through the noise of all the other 2,000 recruiters trying to reach out to the same candidates."

The solution:

Building a strong employer brand. You can’t cut through the noise with cold calling and InMails alone. Instead, build out your employer brand so you start building demand for top candidates, instead of always having to chase them.

How do you build out that employer brand? There are a lot of resources out there on that exact issue, including this ebook. Two things to remember when building out your employer brand: purpose really matters and make it clear people can advance within your organization.

One other solution: Build a great employee referral program. Nothing cuts through the noise faster than a friend telling you about a new position. 

3. There is a shortage of great talent out there

The problem, as explained on Quora by Angela Liu, Senior Technical Recruiter for CompuGain:

"Biggest problem: Skilled labor shortage. One data source cited that there was one suitable candidate for every five openings.  

Just a few years ago (I want to say 2011), a poll showed that 50 percent-ish of recruiters felt it was a seller's market- meaning demand for engineers, developers and other specialized IT professionals outpaced supply, further meaning the ball is in candidate's court. 

Fast forward to the present, where this sentiment among recruiters has increased to over 90 percent. And candidates know it. 

Even fresh graduates in IT; we are talking complete freshies in the professional work sense who just three years ago might average, say, up to a respectable 60k starting salary and, present-day, can command up to $80k starting salary. The shortage is most likely going to continue and manifest itself even more painfully in the years to come.

The solution:

Use data to find the best places to recruit. LinkedIn’s Talent Pool Reports will show you where the supply for talent exceeds the demand, and therefore are more advantageous places to recruit.

For example, if you are looking for recent college graduates in the United States, our Talent Pool Reports show it is better to look in Philadelphia and Los Angeles, as opposed to Seattle and Phoenix. By taking on a more data-driven approach to hiring, you can find the best places to find top talent.

4. Hiring managers are too picky with what they want

The problem, as explained on Quora by Nicholas Meyler, president of the executive search firm Wingate Dunross’s technology division:

"I think that the hardest problem recruiters face is dealing with clients who don't understand that search is a collaborative process…

Especially in very technical fields, some hiring managers tend to have the opinion that it isn't worth their time to share information or feedback with recruiters ("because they won't understand"). This is a major problem, because without that feedback, results will necessarily be nil.

I have an engineering degree, and vast experience recruiting top-level technical people. I know for an absolute fact that if a hiring manager gives me an accurate job description, and correct information, I can (and will) go and find that person."

The solution:

In a study by Bersin and Deloitte, they found that the single-biggest factor in a recruiter’s performance is their relationships with their hiring managers. The key to having a strong one is having a conversation with each hiring manager before the search starts and setting clear expectations for each other.

Data can be particularly useful here, particularly with level-setting hiring managers who are seeking a “purple squirrel”. If you can show the hiring manager the (lack of) size of the talent pool in that initial conversation, the hiring manager is much more likely to readjust his or her expectations.

Throughout the process, it’s critical that both sides hold each other accountable to that initial agreement. LinkedIn’s own head of talent, Brendan Browne, in fact trains his recruiters to hold their hiring managers accountable with two special words: “I’m concerned.”

Takeaway

What’s key here is that we didn’t just come up with these solutions out of thin air. All are based on research or conversations with experts in the field who have helped shape some recruiting best practices.

So perhaps the best advice of all to overcoming any challenge in recruiting is to seek help, whether it be online or through your networks. Almost invariably, there are a lot of resources already out there about it, which will only help you do your job better.

*Image from The Martian

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