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The rules of talent engagement are changing: What’s new now?

You’ve heard of the great resignation, and you’ve heard that candidates now ghost employers rather than the other way around. Does this mean that the rules of engagement for talent recruitment have changed?

Suzanne Lucas
Suzanne Lucas

Suzanne, the Evil HR Lady, shares expertise, guidance, and insights based on 10+ years of experience in corporate human resources....

new rules of engagement in talent attraction

The old rules of talent attraction

The employer posts the job, you apply, beg for a job, and then, if lucky, the employer will offer you the job. If you’re brave, you can negotiate the salary up a bit, but it’s pretty much a take-it-or-leave-it situation.

Job interviews were like dog-and-pony shows where candidates tried to impress judges, and the judges didn’t feel obligated to try to impress the candidate.

During this time, you saw a lot of ghosting – on the employer’s part. Come in for two, three, five interviews… and then silence. And that was just how it was. It was wrong then, but everyone knew to expect it.

The booming economy in the pre-pandemic days and then the pandemic itself turned all these rules on their heads. Here is how it is now.

The new rules of talent engagement

If you are hiring or looking for a job, you need to know how to play the game. Here are the new rules.

  1. Job descriptions are marketing documents
  2. Salary comes first
  3. Candidates are interviewing you
  4. Lack of flexibility makes it harder to hire
  5. Everyone is ghosting
  6. Candidates won’t play the long interview game

1. Job descriptions are marketing documents

The labor shortage means companies compete for the best candidate. Your job descriptions need to be well written and focus on the critical aspects of the job. Just as recruiters can reject an applicant in seven seconds or less, job candidates can breeze through job postings.

Make sure your job postings:

  • Use good formatting to draw eyes to key points
  • Stay away from jargon (fast-paced, exciting environment is a red flag to today’s candidates)
  • List the top responsibilities only. Long lists get you rejected as nit-picky.

Related: Why Maslow thinks your job ads suck

2. Salary comes first

Several states banned recruiters and hiring managers from asking about previous salaries, which means you can’t get an advantage by asking for a current and past paycheck size.

But that doesn’t mean money is taboo – in fact, candidates want to know the salary budget for the job. Colorado even requires companies to post their salary and benefit information in the job posting.

Candidates don’t like wasting their time interviewing or even applying for jobs where the salary is unknown. Plus, salary is still king when it comes to job decisions, according to September’s Great Discontent survey.

Putting a salary in your job description, or discuss it on the initial phone screen, and you’ll get a lot further. Some candidates will refuse to go on without this knowledge.

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3. Candidates are interviewing you

It’s no longer a beauty pageant but a date. The candidate wants to know about your business, management style, and benefits. Candidates expect to have conversations rather than have you interrogate them.

This is a benefit to all parties – after all, you want to hire someone who wants to be into the job, not just a warm bod.

And keep in mind, candidates feel like they have more options, so they will carefully consider your answers as much as you consider theirs.

4. Hiring now requires flexibility

Seventy-two percent of people prefer a hybrid situation, where they can come into the office sometimes and work from home occasionally. While there are plenty of jobs that must be done onsite (dentist, grocery store clerk, janitor, etc.), there are plenty of jobs that can offer options.

Not offering a work-from-home or hybrid option for most white-collar jobs will reduce the number of people interested in your position. People worked from home during the pandemic, liked it or hated it, and now want to control that aspect of their lives.

Including flexibility information in the job posting can help you attract candidates.

Related: One in three US workers value remote work – and three in five value flexible hours. Learn more in our Great Discontent survey report.

5. Everyone is ghosting

It used to be just recruiters and hiring managers that ghosted candidates; now, it’s candidates ghosting interviewers. While this is terrible manners regardless of who does it, you can hardly blame candidates who now feel they have the upper hand. Recruiters treated them poorly for years, and now it’s payback time.

However, the ghosting doesn’t end at the interview stage. Candidates can accept job offers and yet not show up on the first scheduled day or leave after a couple of weeks without saying a word. You may not feel secure in your new hire until several months have passed.

6. Candidates won’t play the long interview game

Many candidates are no longer willing to go through six rounds of interviews plus a presentation when pursuing a job. They will jump to a company that can decide after one or two rounds of interviews. Some companies are even doing on-the-spot job offers.

Adjusting to the new reality

Change is hard for everyone, but candidates jumped at the opportunity to have more power in the hiring relationship. You need to train your recruiters and hiring managers in this new reality.

Shorten your time to hire

It may be a struggle for a company that traditionally has long interview processes or hides salary information until the offer stage. Still, if you continue on this path, you risk losing out on the best (or any) candidates.

Stay on top of salary trends

You also need to keep an eye on market-rate salaries. Things change rapidly. You may think that the fast-food restaurant’s increasing pay doesn’t affect your business, but when unskilled labor jobs start increasing their pay, you’ll find people expect more money for more skilled jobs. No company operates in a vacuum. Salaries can change rapidly across the system.

Don’t hold out for the unicorn

You also cannot afford the perfect candidate to drop out of the applicant tracking system. The labor shortage is a real thing, and you may need to settle.

But, don’t worry – hiring someone who isn’t perfectly equipped to carry out the job means you have the opportunity to train the new employee according to your desires. In other words, you can create your own unicorn – you don’t need to find one.

It’s not a revolution – it’s an evolution

You don’t have to start completely over with your hiring processes. Many things remain the same – you’ll still screen resumes, interview candidates, and make job offers. You’ll just need to do it all a bit faster and a bit more openly.

Be upfront about salary and benefits and keep to a tight timeline. Otherwise, your competitors will race ahead of you in the war for talent.

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