According to the statistics, it’s a candidate’s market, with a recent survey from Fáilte Ireland revealing an estimated 40,000 job vacancies in tourism alone.
There are significant talent shortfalls in other areas too, such as software development, finance and general business skills. But while the tight labour market may partly explain why employers are struggling to find staff, companies that are failing to hire may also need to look at their recruitment processes to understand why they’re not attracting talent.
A recent survey from hiring software company Greenhouse, that looked at the job-hunting experience of 1,500 people globally, and 150 in Ireland, found almost 50 per cent of those interested in a move were critical of current recruitment practices, which they say are time-consuming and too focused on lengthy application procedures.
Sixty per cent of candidates here say they won’t apply for a job if the application takes longer than 15 minutes to complete, and when they do apply, they expect to hear back from companies in a week or less. That’s a lot faster than the response times expected by candidates in the US and the UK, for example.
Candidates were also fed up with slow (or no) recruiter response times, poor follow-ups, interviewers who were late and/or unprepared for the interview, inconsistent feedback and ghosting. The last of these – where someone applies for a job and becomes engaged in the interview process only for the interaction to fall off a cliff with no explanation and the candidate never hears from the company again – happened in 70 per cent of cases.
“The problem with ghosting is that it damages a company’s brand, because not only will the person who was ghosted not reapply for a job there, but they will also tell their friends and family about their experience. At a fundamental level it shows a lack of respect for a candidate who has had to prepare for and perform at an interview, and it also undermines companies that talk the talk about people being their most important asset,” says Colm O’Cuinneain, general manager for EMEA with Greenhouse, which has more than 850 customers in the region including Webdoctor and Booking.com.
“There are no silver bullets in recruiting,” O’Cuinneain adds. “It’s about a series of simple, professional steps done well. It starts with being welcoming from the moment someone goes on to the recruitment site of an organisation, and it should be inclusive and seamless, with a fast and easy application process. It’s also about being generous with feedback, especially if it’s a multi-stage process. Don’t leave someone hanging with no feedback after stage two or three, because it undermines their confidence and leaves them without something constructive to bring to the next interview.”
The survey data shows that the majority of people want feedback whether they get the job or not. More than 50 per cent say getting feedback would encourage them to reapply to the same company again, and the value of this should not be underestimated, says O’Cuinneain. “Very often there is more than one person who is a good fit for a job, and these so-called silver medallists have already proved their suitability and credentials. In our own case, when we have expanded our workforce we have successfully drawn on silver medallists to fill positions,” he says.
More than 60 per cent of the Irish cohort included in the survey said they would like to move job within the next six months. However, they have become a lot more selective and are applying for fewer positions than before the pandemic. Furthermore, if the new position doesn’t offer hybrid or remote working, more than 50 per cent say that’s a deal breaker. Also feeding into hesitancy and attrition rates is employee discomfort around employers’ plans for returning to the office.
“There’s serious pressure to hire and hire quickly, and while organisations are slowly refilling empty positions, they’re also aggressively trying to grow and they need more people to pull that off,” says O’Cuinneain says. “I think one of the reasons we’re seeing more jobs but fewer applications is linked to the impact of Covid.
“We’ve come through a very uncertain time and this makes people less likely to take a risk. They are more picky about the types of job they go after and more focused on it being with the right type of company with the right type of culture, especially in context of remote/flexible working. That said, referrals (where someone refers a friend, colleague or family member for a position) are back at pre-pandemic levels, which we see as a strong indicator of business confidence.”
Asked what determines how well an interview goes, Irish respondents identified a number of musts, including the interview starting on time, being asked precise and relevant questions, being given a good sense of what the job would be like and interviewers who were knowledgeable when asked a question about the company or position.
O’Cuinneain adds that companies that want to “win” on candidate experience need to follow a few simple rules, such as offering speedy initial interviews and giving quick and thoughtful feedback along the way. “Sixty-nine per cent of employees will stay for longer than three years if their onboarding experience is good,” he says. “One in five will leave within 45 days if it’s bad. Companies that treat candidates with respect and deliver an inclusive, welcoming and flexible recruitment experience will stand out from the crowd.”