As the world is slowly crawling out of the nearly two-year-long stagnation caused by the pandemic, the labour market doesn’t seem to be recovering so quickly.
In any other job market dynamic in the past, high levels of unemployment generally went head-to-head with high numbers of applicants. This time, however, things are looking differently. As nearly every continent is facing rising unemployment rates, the number of candidates willing to take the jobs remains stagnant.
High unemployment & lack of workforce
This report by Korn Ferry concluded that by 2030 we will be faced with a talent shortage of more than 85 million because of the lack of talent – there will be simply fewer skilled people to do the job. The prediction seems to have started becoming a reality.
As stated by Larry Summers, the former US treasury secretary:” We have a record high level of quits, a record high level of job vacancies and every employer in America is complaining how labour short they are.”
In Europe, things aren’t looking the best either. Based on the Eurostat report, in the second quarter of 2021, an average of over 2% of jobs in the euro area was classified as vacant (with Chechia’s 4.9% top score).
As for Denmark, in the first quarter of 2021, job vacancies peaked at over 39 thousand, nearly six thousand more than at the end of 2020, while the unemployment rate is at 3.6%. This Scandinavian country is a bit of an exception, though. It’s actually one of six European countries that managed to bring its economy back to pre-pandemic levels, and even more so – the unemployment rate is, in fact, lower than it was in 2019. The number, however, is still unfavourably high, and the country is struggling with labour shortages like many others.
Hence the question arises – how is it possible to have so many job vacancies and yet too few people who want to take them?
The debate over unemployment benefits has been more present in the past months than ever. The pandemic led to significant numbers of people being laid off permanently or put on hold, depriving families of the means to live without warning. That led pretty much every country in the world to increase unemployment benefits or provide citizens with stimuli packages.
Although essential and needed in the moment of crisis, can unemployment benefits create a candidate shortage for employers? According to an analysis conducted by Ernie Tedeschi, an economist at Evercore ISI, in more than half of US states, the average worker collects more money from benefits than they would if they stayed at the job.
Scandinavian countries, such as Denmark, have long been a desired destination to settle in. For many, one of the reasons is excellent social benefits – including those for the unemployed.
Two types of people can be eligible for unemployment benefits – members of an unemployment insurance fund (A-kasse in Danish) and those who have just graduated from university.
As far as the amount of money one can get from the unemployment benefit is concerned, it varies depending on which group one falls in. It can be anything from 6.441 to 19.322 danish kroner (not including tax).
Now, let’s compare it to the salary one could get in Denmark. Although Denmark doesn’t have a strictly defined minimum wage, it can be estimated at around 18.600 danish kroner (or 2.500 euros). That means that in the best-case scenario, the unemployed person taking benefits could be, in fact, making more money while not working, similarly to the US example mentioned before.
Even for graduates, things look brighter in Denmark. If you’ve just received your diploma and didn’t get a job immediately after, you’re also eligible for unemployment benefits – either 13,815 or 15,844 danish kroner. Again, comparing those numbers to the estimated minimum salary, the alternative looks very comfortable and inviting.
So much so that based on the data from Statista, over 100 thousand people were beneficiaries of unemployment benefits in Denmark in 2020, as compared to slightly over 70 thousand the year before, hence showing a 30% increase.
As for new graduates, in 2020, there was 21.8% of full-time unemployed graduates, according to the AE Council’s study referenced in this post.
Now, while the danish benefits make life considerably more manageable, they pose an additional (and hard to detect) obstacle to employers – fake applications.
A new type of candidate?
We’ve already heard about talent shortage and candidate shortage, which are both significant issues to tackle for all employers. But what if I told you that your recruiters might need to be on the lookout for a new type of candidate? The one that’s not really interested in working for you… regardless of applying for the job.
Receiving unemployment benefits in Denmark (but not exclusively) requires fulfilling several criteria, and especially one of them can be problematic to you as a business owner or a recruiter. As a receiver of the benefits, one must register at the jobcentre and actively look for a job. The word ‘actively’ is vital here because it means that you are obliged to send out a specific number of resumés monthly to prove that you’re indeed looking for employment.
As we’ve all looked for a job at some point in our lives, we all know too well that the intensity of our job hunt depends on many factors. The flow of job listings that fit our experience may not be steady. Maybe the jobs available don’t align with our dreams. Perhaps we’re not even that desperate to start working to begin with. All of that and suddenly the idea of sending out ten resumés every week does seem complicated, doesn’t it?
You get a resumé, and you get a resumé…
Everybody gets a resumé. That’s what can happen if you’re obliged to send out a high number of CVs – even if you’re not necessarily interested in the position.
A man from Australia did an experiment trying to find out how long it would take him to send out 40 resumés a month (the required number one must send to get Australian unemployment benefits). The result? It took him 9 minutes to automatically apply for jobs on a well-known Aussie job portal.
The possibility of fulfilling this requirement so effortlessly – although great for the candidate – has a plethora of negative consequences for your company.
Interview with a ghost
You’re on a hunt for talent; candidates are scarce. You receive a resumé from an applicant who looks good enough of a match. Your recruiters spent time going through the resumé, phone screening, invited them for an interview.
And then you realise that even though the credentials look good, the person simply isn’t really there. They’re not interested in the job – they’re there just because they must. But the time and other resources spent on the recruitment process for that one person are already gone.
Based on the calculations, the cost of the hiring process of one applicant can be as high as $100. Now imagine if you get more ghost-applicants like this. How much can it cost you from a yearly perspective?
Now, losing $100 per fake applicant is terrible, but what is worse is if you actually go through and hire the person who didn’t apply to your company for the right reasons to begin with.
As we mentioned previously, the costs of one bad hire can amount to $15,000. Add to that the costs for yet another round of recruitment after you realise they were more of a miss than a hit – and the costs start being more and more visible.
Bad hires and employee turnover have many dire consequences for your business. You lose time, money, and the morale of your team plummets. Knight, Becan & Flynn conducted a study examining the impact of turnover on clinical staff. The results were short of surprising but definitely not optimistic. They note, among other things, that turnover disrupts the organisation’s efficiency, compromises co-worker support, and may even cause the remaining employees to leave.
All of that causes your employer branding to take hits. And how many of those hits can you afford taking?
Choosing the right candidate through screening and interviews is hard enough, as 74% of recruiters admit to making a bad hire. On top of that, it’s virtually a challenging task to accurately predict if your applicant is a ghost – anyone can send a resumé, and maybe your company simply happened to be one of the 40 recipients from our example above.
What can you, therefore, do to weed out those candidates?
Remove the resumé completely
Quick and simple may be suitable for applicants, but not necessarily for your business. If the type of documents you require when applying makes it easier for fake applicants to sneak into your company, then it’s time to change how you recruit.
Copying or editing the same resumé takes no time at all. What does take time, however, is solving a case.
Instead of asking your candidates to send a CV and/or a cover letter, we propose you present them with a case specifically designed to test the exact skills the applicant would use in the job. For example, if you’re looking for a translator, they’d need to translate something of similar content to what they’d actually do at work.
I myself solved a case once to apply for a position. After endless copy-and-paste applications, solving a case sounded like a breath of fresh air and a challenge (and I’m not the only one to think so!). It tested precisely the skills I would need in the future and, most importantly, proved I was committed to applying. Instead of taking me two minutes, solving the case from start to finish took me…. two hours.
Of course, depending on the case’s complexity based on the position and tasks, solving it could take less or more, but it’ll never be as simple and quick as sending the same set of application files.
In the end, you can get the taste of one’s performance and see if their skills match what you’re looking for. It’s also an opportunity for the candidate to check if they would like the tasks they would be dealing with.
The predictive validity for this type of screening, as talked in detail here, is also much better than relying on resumés – 0.54 out of 1 – bad hires suddenly seem more distant, don’t they?
Step up your recruitment game
Spending your resources on applicants who never wanted to apply in the first place is the last thing you need for your business. Economic instability, talent shortage, candidate shortage – all that forces us to look for more sustainable ways of recruitment.
As the world advances, resumés are becoming obsolete. We are finding better ways of testing candidates that are beneficial to both parties. And so far, case-based screening seems to win the cake! Rid yourself of fake applicants, predict with success, and avoid bad hires by removing the resumés and testing the candidates the right way.
Bias is a biological function of the brain present in all of us. It occurs when our brain makes quick assessments (200,000 times faster than the conscious mind!) and judgments of the world around us. As scientists say, it serves the purpose of clustering people into groups with similar traits, interests, or agendas. That means that bias helps us navigate the sea of information and possibilities without getting overwhelmed.
At the same time, however, bias can also be detrimental, especially in running a business. In the last week’s post, we discussed the most common types of bias that can emerge during the recruitment process. Unconscious bias can cause loss of revenue, talent, or face – as your employer branding may be badly affected.
Nowadays, more and more companies realize the importance of reducing bias. According to this paper, between August 2018 and August 2019, the number of job postings related to DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) increased by more than 25%. Are you one of those companies?
Here’s how it’s beneficial to your company to reduce bias.
1. Fight the talent shortage
We’re officially in the decade of a global talent shortage that will possibly result in as many as 85 million jobs going unfilled by 2030. It is, therefore the high time for your organization to make a talent strategy a priority – and reducing bias should be a part of it.
Gain & Retain
When you allow bias to creep into your recruitment process, you risk shrinking your possibilities or even missing on a great talent altogether.
Six out of ten recruiters stated they decide on a candidate’s suitability within the first 15 minutes. It’s impossible to guess how many great candidates get rejected within that time frame, but is it worth taking the risk?
Reducing bias means welcoming applicants regardless of their gender, age, or background. That way, you’ll create a larger, more diverse pool of talents to choose from. And when the talent pool is more extensive, you have a higher probability of finding the best people on the market, which is every recruiter’s goal.
Gaining new talents is undoubtedly crucial. However, what is equally – if not more – crucial is retaining the talent you already have. As we mentioned previously, losing a good employee can cost you as much as $30,000. Now, although collecting a paycheck is an important factor influencing whether an employee stays or leaves, it’s not the biggest one.
Following a 2017 Harvard study cited in this Forbes article, over 9% of the respondents reported noticing bias at their jobs. More alarmingly, 9% were three times more likely to say that they were planning to leave their company within the year. What if some of your employees share the sentiment?
In those difficult times of the talent hunt becoming more complex, creating the strategy to reduce bias in your organization is more than worth considering. It will help you amass bigger talent pools and, more importantly, keep the talent you’ve already found.
2. Make positive employer branding a necessity
People talk about your product, services, history, or the values you represent. In today’s highly competitive job market era, it’s of paramount importance to maintain and nourish a positive employer brand.
Employer branding is all about how you market yourself to potential job seekers. Hence, to get desired applicants, you should cater to their needs and values. Of course, branding consists of many factors such as the benefits you offer, the salary, etc. But one of the ways to tackle challenges connected to bias in the past years is through diversity.
Based on the data presented in this article, as much as 80% of the surveyed said that an employer’s stance on diversity and inclusion is an essential factor when deciding on whether they want to work for them or not.
That aligns perfectly with yet another report, this time a 2020 survey by Monster where 83% of Gen Z candidates claimed that it is vital for them to choose an employer with a solid commitment to diversity and inclusion.
Lack of bias is also crucial regarding your current employees. As mentioned in the previous point, retaining talent is as important as gaining the new one. Following the Forbes article, 9.2% of respondents who noticed a bias in their workplace were twice as likely not to feel proud to be working for their current employer. Now, we all know that if we don’t feel content about something – or someone – we’re not likely to talk about it positively.
And what happens when your employees are not satisfied with their boss and job in general? In the best-case scenario, they’re less likely to advertise you as an employer to others. This study by Coqual showed that eight out of ten respondents said they don’t refer other people to work at an organization where they noticed bias.
Fighting bias within your company structures sends a positive message. You show what you stand for and communicate that you’re welcoming to anyone out there. That makes you a reliable employer, which boosts your employer brand on the market. Send a positive message, and a positive response will follow.
3. Boost the performance & innovation
If there’s one thing every business is striving for, it’s high-class productivity. But if you thought that a high salary or an occasional bonus would assure that – you’re wrong. Dapulse conducted a survey asking 10,000 of its users a simple yet insightful question: what makes you happy at work?
The respondents were given eight options and were asked to rank them from the most important factor in their happiness to the least. The salary wasn’t even in the top 3. It came last. People need a certain amount of money to survive, yes. But once that basic need is satisfied, they need to fulfill their non-material needs. That feeling was reflected in the survey results.
What the respondents noted as making them most happy – hence more productive – were things like working for a company that was the best in its field, supported innovation, and had a culture they wanted to work in. And indeed, as data will show below, a company with present bias is not the culture people want nowadays. And what you shouldn’t want is employees who only do enough not to get fired.
Bias undermines team morale
68% of the respondents to this Deloitte survey stated that experiencing or witnessing bias in their workplace had a negative impact on their productivity. That’s an alarming number when you think about the possible consequences. If your employees see their colleagues experience bias, it undermines the whole team’s morale – and they probably lose respect for you, too. And the employees experiencing bias may lose confidence in their potential, in the end downsizing their career aspirations.
Another study found that discrimination or bias at work can have a detrimental effect on the well-being of your employees. They experience more frustration, stress, a sense of helplessness, and even feeling depressed. 75% of the surveyed said that a treatment like that had a significant impact on their engagement in what they do and the overall commitment to the organization.
Your workplace suffers through those sub-optimal contributions on many levels. The performance drops, your people lose faith in your organization, they don’t enjoy coming to work. People talk. And if they talk bad, it can negatively impact the employer brand, as we talked about before.
Performance peak, rather than a drop
Reducing bias in your company leads to more diversity. And it’s been proven by now that diverse companies work smarter.
This 2019 McKinsey report on diversity and inclusion found that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity were 25% more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the 4th quartile (a 4% increase from the previous report). Regarding ethnic/cultural diversity, the report has shown that the top-quartile companies outperformed the ones in the 4th quartile y 36% (3% more than in the previous report).
A team of people with different backgrounds can provide a wider variety of perspectives and opinions, leading to finding even better and more innovative solutions to your company’s problems or challenges. Following the study conducted by Forbes, inclusion and workforce diversity is crucial driver of innovation within your organization and your growth.
Innovation is the key to delivering outstanding results. And unfortunately, bias stands in the way to achieving that goal. Following the findings from this Coqual study, 34% of the surveyed who noticed bias at work stated that they withheld new ideas and solutions in the past six months. Something your business shouldn’t be risking.
At the end of the day, having a team of people believing in what they do, standing strong together, and feeling happy in the workplace, that’s precisely what makes your business reach the peak of performance. Reducing bias on all levels of your organization has a significant impact on your employee’s well-being and your company’s performance.
4. Keep the money in your pocket
As mentioned in the previous point, bias causes your employees to be less engaged in the work they do. Based on the Gallup study quoted by Forbes, this phenomenon leads to direct money-loss for your business.
Disengaged employees have 37% higher absenteeism, 18% lower productivity, and 15% lower profitability.
To put those numbers into money, this costs you 34% of the annual salary of each disengaged employee, which rounds up to almost $16,000 per year for a single employee with an average wage. How many of such employees could your business handle in, say, a 10-year perspective?
Letting unconscious bias go unseen in your company can also expose your company to the risk of lawsuits that may very well financially cripple a business. In the U.S., federal compensatory and punitive damages alone can cost you as much as $300,000 per case, depending on the size of your organization.
For example, in 2015, Walmart fired their employee because of their disability. In July this year, a jury from Chicago closed the court case by returning a verdict in favour of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The sum? A whopping $125 million in damages. Of course, Walmart is an example of a massive business, but at the end of the day, that’s what many companies aspire to be, right?
The bottom line is, bias costs you a lot of money, both directly and indirectly. Whether it’s by undermining your employer brand, causing your employees to be less engaged and productive, or – in the most extreme cases – by being sued. But it is essential to say that reducing bias is not only about the financial side. Everyone deserves an equal opportunity to get a meaningful work-life, regardless of race, nationality, gender, etc.
Changing a behaviour, you’re aware of is hard enough. But changing something you may not be aware of, like unconscious bias, is an entirely different story. The challenge of addressing bias in your workplace will be demanding but also very rewarding. There’s plenty of ways you could reduce bias, starting with your recruitment process – improving the interviewing process or applying case-based screening. The means are there; it’s all about reaching out for them.
By welcoming more diversity into your structures, you strengthen your employer branding, create bigger talent pools, and save money in the long run. Therefore, reducing bias is central to your company’s ability to develop among the competition.
The interview continues to be the most relied-on form of recruitment. 57% of respondents to this Murray Resources’ survey said that an interview is the most crucial factor when evaluating a candidate. And while this form of screening is generally a poor way of predicting a candidate’s performance it has another faulty feature – various types of bias that can emerge during interviews.
We like to think about ourselves as objective and open-minded people. However, it’s impossible to rid ourselves of all (un)conscious biases – no matter how well-intentioned we are. Daily, we all make approximately one decision every two seconds, which rounds up to around 35,000 decisions a day – most of which we don’t even notice.
That’s because our brains generally operate within System 1 – the fast, habitual, and automatic way of thinking we discussed in more depth in this post. This coping technique gets us through the day, but it can harm both your company and the candidates when it occurs during a job interview.
The recruitment process should be objective, pragmatic, and free from bias – at least in the perfect world. But the world is not perfect, and so aren’t interviews. Being aware of the types of bias that can emerge during an interview is the first step to making the process fair to candidates and beneficial to your company.
Bias in recruitment
Bias in recruitment emerges in any instance where you form an opinion about a candidate based on an impression or lack of information. We constantly make assumptions based on the information we have, experiences, preferences, background, etc.
Has it ever happened to you that you instantly clicked with a candidate and couldn’t explain why? Maybe it was because they are from your hometown, spoke the language you like, or made a good impression. Impressions we don’t even realise are biased. But in the job interview context, making a biased decision can have long-term consequences for your business down the line because…
(Un)conscious bias can cost you money & talent
Buying a car is a long-term and expensive investment, and getting one solely based on ungrounded assumptions is a risk few want to take. Then why let that happen when hiring a new employee?
Unconscious bias during an interview is a problem as it can lead your recruiters to make decisions based not on the candidate’s skills, but on assumptions and personal perceptions. That, in turn, can lead to bad hires.
Based on this Harvard Business Review article, as much as 80% of employee turnover stems from bad hires, a fair part of them possibly resulting from unconscious bias. Hiring the wrong person and then starting the process from scratch is a costly and time-consuming process you should avoid.
Moreover, allowing bias to cloud your judgment when hiring can cost you a true talent. 60% of interviewers stated they decide on a candidate’s suitability within 15 minutes. Is that truly enough to test one’s skills? Since we’re currently in times of talent shortage, letting talent walk away for irrational reasons can prove even worse than making a bad hire.
Recruitment bias is usually referred to when we talk about sexism, ageism, and so on. It can, however, take many different forms. So, let’s have a look at the 50 shades of bias.
1. Similarity Bias
We, as humans, look for commonalities between us and other people all the time. The same process can emerge during an interview – it’s called similarity bias.
It occurs when a candidate seems much like the interviewer, thus making them believe they’d be the best fit for the job (or because they’d make better co-workers?). In this 2012 research, Rivera demonstrated that similarity is one of the biggest factors influencing attraction during an interview. Meaning, that those candidates similar to the interviewer have a higher chance of being offered the job.
We tend to favour people with the same interests, personality, style, or background, and it can greatly influence a hiring decision, making us dismiss the truly important factor – skills.
2. Recency Bias
Our brains are wired to remember most vividly information that was presented to us most recently. In an interview setting, this may lead to recency bias. Since our short-term memory lasts between 15-30 seconds, after hours of interviews you may have a better recollection only of the most recent candidate.
This may lead to the last applicant you interviewed leaving a disproportionately strong impression on you, and most memorable – for better or worse. At the end of the day, you may not remember the person who impressed you in the morning and make you miss a great addition to the team.
3. Nonverbal Bias
Body language can be extremely easy to misinterpret because it varies from person to person and from culture to culture. As Malcolm Gladwell writes in his book Talking to Strangers, one’s group look of anger is another’s sad face.
Personal interviews include many nonverbal cues, and if the interviewer puts too much priority on them it may lead to a nonverbal bias. A weak handshake, no eye contact, folded arms. How many times have we heard about the importance of those? Plenty. And for a good reason. As much as 55% of the information we convey comes from our body language.
But can they be taken as a clear sign of being a good or bad fit for the job? No. The way a person moves through the world may show a thing or two about their personality, but at the end of a day, it’s not indicative of how successful of an employee they might be.
4. Halo & Pitchfork Effect
The halo effect is when a single positive characteristic or information about the candidate impresses you so much that it influences the entire interview. For instance, if your applicant has graduated from a prestigious university, it may make you see him as a stronger fit.
The pitchfork bias does the exact opposite. It occurs when a negative trait or information sets the tone of the rest of the interview. If you see that your candidate’s last job lasted only four months, you may draw false conclusions because to you it relates to being lazy or unreliable.
Let’s remember that a single piece of information is not enough to form the complete picture, hence judging your candidate through the prism of that is short of rational.
5. Contrast Bias
Do you know that trick based on optical illusion, where you are asked to decide whether two squares embedded within another two squares are the same shade of grey – and they turn out to be the same? Our cognitive abilities are reflected in the language and contrasting two or more items is a normal thing. It can, however, lead to contrast bias.
Contrast bias is closely related to the recency bias, as it happens commonly when there are multiple interviews back-to-back. It occurs when a candidate is compared to another candidate interviewed before them. A strong candidate coming after a very bad one may seem even better than he actually is and vice versa. Contrast bias magnifies our perception of the candidate’s abilities, making us see things differently from what they are.
6. Confirmation Bias
This type of bias is the most common one, as it appears outside of the recruitment process daily. Confirmation bias means favouring information that confirms our pre-existing beliefs. It may, for example, mean preparing a set of interview questions based on a CV that will later during the interview prove or disprove our thesis about the candidate’s suitability.
The problem is, by doing so we dismiss certain information that could be relevant. You shouldn’t try to validate your assumptions about a candidate but evaluate everything relevant.
Minimise bias in your recruitment process
Eliminating, or at least reducing, bias from interviews is a tedious and difficult process. But knowledge is power, so by acknowledging the existence of the biases mentioned above you’re already a step forward. Here are our 3 suggestions on how to un-bias your interviews.
1. Structure your interview or drop it completely
Following the research quoted by Harvard Business Review, unstructured interviews, i.e. those lacking pre-defined questions, are often unreliable when trying to predict the job success of a candidate.
Standardise the interviewing process by crafting a list of questions. They should be relevant for the position and presented to all applicants in the same order. That way you can focus on the information about skills and experience rather than what the person is like.
Structured interviews increase accuracy and reduce bias, as claimed by the 2002 study by Bauer & Baltes. That’s because a go-with-a-flow type of job interview is hardly accurate. You end up asking each candidate a different set of questions, very often based on their profile which in turn leads to a possible bias.
As found in this Humanly article, a good way to start creating your list of questions is to focus on behavioural and situational questions. They allow your applicants to have enough room for expressing themselves – yet within the scope relevant to the job. Some of the questions mentioned in the article are:
Tell me about a time you failed. How did you deal with the situation and what did you learn?
What would you do if an important task was not up to standard, but the deadline to complete it had passed?
Interviews in the form of a casual conversation are more pleasant. However, they make it difficult to accurately compare the candidates afterwards and allow room for bias to emerge.
Giving structure to the interview minimises such a risk. However, it is still not the most reliable screening method. As discussed in depth in our blog post, structured interviews scored only 0.51 points (on a scale from 0 to 1) in a study researching the predictive validity of different screening methods. For comparison, an unstructured interview scored 0.38 – which means they’re both not the most reliable methods of predicting future job performance.
If you, however, opt for switching from interviews to case-based screenings combined with GMA (general mental ability test) – you’ll go from 0.51 (in the best case) to 0.63! Maybe the upgrade is worth rethinking?
2. Set criteria for the position
One of the biggest pearls of wisdom I’ve learned is that you cannot obtain your goals if you don’t know what you’re chasing after. And looking for the perfect talent is a goal to be chased. Therefore, you need to define specific criteria for the position.
Which skills are essential? Which can be learned? And which are simply nice to have? Make a list of the skills you require and rank them from most to least important. Doing so will allow you to diminish the bias by sticking to a given schema. Mark each candidate’s skills in a table and compare after the interview. This will give you a fairly good way of evaluating which applicant has the actually needed skills – and it may not necessarily be the one you thought!
3. The more – the wiser
The wisdom behind teamwork is, generally speaking, that groups tend to make more accurate judgments than a single person. Following that, incorporate multiple interviewers into the process.
Having more interviewers minimises the risk of subjectivity – it’s no longer one person’s voice that matters. When your candidate has the chance to interact with different people, the risk of personal bias decreases. If one interviewer succumbs to bias and simply doesn’t feel like the applicant is the right fit, the other panel members can discuss the issue and decide whether the intuition is right or not.
4. Don’t rush it
As we mentioned before, our brains are wired to remember the most recent information the most. That being said, give yourself enough time for both the interviewing process and decision-making afterwards.
Making rushed decisions may mean that you based it on bias, and that’s the last thing you want. Get together with other panel members, compare notes, discuss the interviewees, and make a collective, well-thought decision.
It’s sometimes difficult to realise all the biases around us, and especially those we succumb to ourselves. But they do occur, and they occur during job interviews, too. Each tip provided above helps minimise the impact of bias on the process, but it’s best to incorporate all of them at once.
Unbiased interviews are not only fair for your applicants, but they also ensure you hire the best talent out there.
In the last week’s blog post we talked about five recruitment strategies to implement in the upcoming year, and now it’s time to have a look at recruitment challenges we may be facing in 2022.
The job market still hasn’t recovered from the fall it took because of the pandemic, and we’re already getting prepared for another year – perhaps not much easier than the past 18 months. With rising unemployment across the world, finding, hiring, and retaining talents is a growing challenge for many employers. Let’s dive into the topthree recruitment challenges to tackle in 2022.
1. TALENT SHORTAGE
The talent shortage is one of the most discussed recruitment topics in recent years. Many companies are experiencing problems with filling up positions which in turn leads to loss of revenue. According to this extensive report by Korn Ferry, by 2030 more than 85 million jobs could be unfilled. And it’s not caused by automation or robots taking those jobs. It’s because there won’t be enough skilled people to take them.
As all eyes usually look up at the U.S. in many aspects, it appears that this prediction may have already started becoming true. As of July 2021, there were more than 10 million open positions in the U.S. alone, and yet businesses are scrambling to find new employees. It’s a contradictory situation – the U.S. is experiencing high unemployment and a labour shortage at the same time.
Based on a study conducted by the Global Supply Chain Institute at the University of Tennessee, cited in this article by Forbes, 91% of CEOs see a need to change their strategy for finding and recruiting talents. However, most of them (61%) claim they still haven’t taken any steps to do that.
What can be therefore done to tackle the challenge of talent shortage?
Change your hiring strategy
Based on statistics, such as the Korn Ferry report mentioned above, it looks like a talent shortage is neither going to slow down nor disappear after the pandemic work imbalances are dealt with. Therefore, recruitment teams need to develop a long-term strategy to attract talents in the next years.
If you want to overcome the talent challenge, you need to focus on adjusting your recruiting, training and retaining strategy to fit the circumstances. Some key aspects worth implementing/adjusting are the following.
Make talent a priority
If you want to retain your talents, show them that you see them as such. This report by WorkForce Institute shows that 57% of Gen Z worldwide expects to be promoted at least once a year. The generation you will soon be hiring knows its worth, and they expect you to acknowledge it, too. So don’t ignore that and award your employees when they deserve it, as it will motivate them even further.
Sometimes the right talent you need is closer than you think – in your own company. Whenever you’re trying to fill in a position and you’re struggling to find the right candidate, look around at your own employees. Internal hires are 1.7 times cheaper than the external ones, the promotion will motivate the employees even more (see above!), and you will save resources on onboarding. There is, however, a pitfall to this strategy. If you overuse it, you risk creating an echo chamber and miss on diversity. It is thus recommended to apply it carefully.
If you still don’t offer internships regularly – do it now. Many recruiters state that it’s hard for them to evaluate if candidates can do the job before they hire them. Why not test-drive the talent then? Offering internships in your company allows you to try out candidates before you hire them and – more importantly – gives you a chance to attract talents you may overlook otherwise.
Apply the right tools
Resumés and cover letters, although still a preferred form of screening, are not the best tools to predict a candidate’s fit for the position, and the costs of a bad hire can be as high as $15,000. It is, therefore, optimal to use tools that actually do show you whether the applicant has the right skills in practice, such as case-based screening.
As we mentioned in this blog post, case-based screening (together with the General Mental Ability Test) is the most successful available tool to predict future job performance. It gives everybody a chance to show their talent in an unbiased way and allows you to test one’s ability to solve tasks required in the job.
Solid results require solid, long-term strategies. And if you want to make sure to hire and retain your top talents and hire new ones, your recruitment team needs to implement sustainable programmes into their hiring processes. The talent shortage is going to stay with us for longer, so apply suitable strategies that help you fight the challenge.
2. ATTRACTING POTENTIAL EMPLOYEES
Now, we already know that talent shortage is a big issue. But what about those talents that are out there? How can you make sure they even take interest in your company? Talent shortage and the pandemic make it more challenging for many companies to convince people to choose your job offering over the others.
Following data from this article, three times more organisations are having difficulties attracting employees as compared to last year. Moreover, 70% of asked employers are expecting to still have those challenges throughout 2022. What are some possible reasons for this labour shortage?
The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Survey, cited in this CNBC article, shows that many workers believe they have the upper hand while looking for a job.
Over half (55%) of the respondents believe there is plenty of jobs to choose from, and only 12% believe jobs are hard to find. For comparison, in Q1 of 2021 only 25% stated that jobs were plentiful. Job seekers simply tend to think that it’s your job to come to them, not the other way around.
The pandemic also has a huge impact on the outlook job seekers have on working. The survey by Willis Towers Watson says that collecting unemployment benefits and postponing the return to work are the most common reasons for attraction and retention problems given by hospitality, restaurant, and warehouse workers.
The Wall Street Journal mentions another big factor for why people are hesitant about getting back to work – fear of COVID-19. Based on a survey from April 2021, more than 4 million people stated that they were out of jobs because they were afraid of contracting covid. On top of that, another 6.8 million said they had to stay at home to take care of children who couldn’t go back to school.
Currently, 73% of American employers are having trouble attracting new employees as compared to just 26% in 2020, and the issue is widely spread across different industries. What can you do as an employer to encourage people to work for you?
Be open about wages
Western society has an unwritten rule of not asking about one’s salary – but we all know that people go to work primarily to make a living.
The survey by HRD shows that for almost 56% of job seekers the most important aspect of a job application is seeing a salary range and information on offered benefits. Yet, it is still fairly uncommon, especially in Europe, to mention salary before the interview. Therefore, it’s crucial to be open about that in your job listing if you want to stand out.
Salary, however important, is not the only thing that matters nowadays. To win the war for attracting new employees you will need to offer more than a monthly bank transfer. In order to attract potential employees to join your company, you should carefully plan your benefits package. For example, almost half (44%) of zoomers consider good healthcare coverage more important than paid time off. As time goes on, we are all more aware of the importance of healthcare, especially the mental one, so offering good health security for your employees is becoming a must.
It is generally best to research what your potential employees would be interested in most. A gym membership? Happy hours? Free snacks? Try to learn more about what they need and provide them with that option and surely, it’ll become an asset.
Human-friendly recruitment process
As an employer – and a brand – you’re responsible for ensuring the efficiency of the recruitment process as well as a positive employee experience. The survey by HRD mentioned above shows that almost 41% of the respondents consider a long-term relationship with the recruiter as the most important after the interview. Use it to your advantage and add all candidates – those you hired, and those you rejected – into your talent pool. Then, whenever you have a similar position to offer, don’t hesitate to notify those candidates you’d consider a good fit. Lastly, don’t forget about the courtesy of feedback. Whether it’s positive, or negative – we all want clarity, so opt for clear communication even after rejection.
3. REMOTE WORK
As the world became more and more digitalised, so did our work. Remote work is all but a new concept in the work environment, but the shift towards this mode of work has accelerated in the past 18 months because of the pandemic. Now working from home is no longer a preference – it’s a demand among employees to be allowed to work remotely whenever possible.
Based on the blog post by DataServ, it is estimated that by 2025 one in four Americans (i.e. around 36 million people) will be working remotely, which would mean an 87% increase from the pre-pandemic reality. It is great news to many employees, as working from home means more flexibility, saving on commuting, and having more freedom (no boss in sight!).
For employers, however, it poses certain challenges that need to be tackled.
Productivity – decline or improvement?
It’s no doubt that managing your work from a home office is more challenging than physically being in the office. It takes a mix of personality traits and skills for someone to thrive under such conditions. Although based on this research, productivity among employees working remotely tends to be high, it remains an area of concern to many employers, and especially their hiring teams.
As we mentioned in our previous post, from 2022 onwards your company should focus more on searching for the right soft skills in your candidates. To successfully assess the applicant’s ability to work outside your physical office, your recruitment team will now have to look out for candidates who are (among other things):
Now, as straightforward as it looks, evaluating those skills can be difficult through the classic resumé-then-interview screening. Anyone can list having these skills on a paper, but how can you check if it’s true?
Applying case-based screening in your recruitment process has the potential to reveal at least two of the mentioned soft skills – and many more positive and sought-after personality traits! To begin with, the sole fact that your candidate decided to invest his time and other resources to solve your case means they can act and motivate themselves.
Another recommended way of assessing soft skills is by incorporating psychometric tests. They allow you to not only get insight into what personality traits your candidates have but also help you understand their strengths and weaknesses that can be used later to get out of them the most.
Communication & Synchronisation
Communication as such can be problematic in any type of environment, and the workplace (whether physical or digital) is no different.
Based on this State of Work 2021 report, 41% of the respondents said that the way they collaborate and communicate with co-workers has changed since they started working remotely. Moreover, 16% of them consider communication and collaboration as their biggest struggle with remote work.
The reasons for those struggles can of course be different and vary from team to team, but the ones that come to mind straight away are time zones and schedule management differences within teams.
Remote work makes it possible for people from around the world to join your company, which is great for enriching your diversity and talent. However, depending on the nature of work your employees do, the recruitment team may need to take into consideration certain limitations to ensure a positive employee experience for everyone.
The same issue may arise when it comes to collaboration. 32% of the respondents from the previously mentioned report claim that the ability to have a flexible schedule is the greatest benefit of remote work. What follows, however, is that in many cases it allows your employees to work when they want. And collaboration between a night owl and a morning riser can prove problematic in the long run.
As an employer (or a manager) it is your job to provide and maintain the right communication process, but it’s also up to your recruitment team to take a close look at candidates in terms of how they communicate, what their work schedule is, and how physically possible it is for them to follow your communication routines.
The possibility of hiring people remotely opens many doors with benefits behind them, but it can also pose challenges that need to be acknowledged and dealt with. 2020 changed the way we perceive remote work and, as a result, businesses must adapt to this new reality. The key is to be aware of the issues that may arise as well as remember what benefits we can draw from this.
2022 is undoubtedly going to be full of recruitment challenges, and the above ones we mentioned cover only the most prominent ones. Talent shortage, issues with attracting employees, and problems connected to introducing remote work as a staple are going to be the main ones we will have to tackle. Make sure you acknowledge them now so that they don’t become a bigger problem down the line.
The past 18 months have put us through many challenges that changed our mindsets and expectations on both personal and professional levels. We learned the importance of human bonds, stability, respect, and unity – it’s all about people again. Those re-invented values are expected to be guiding the recruitment processes in 2022 and most likely in the years to come. Are you ready to succeed in the race for the best talent out there? Here are our five recruiting strategies to implement in 2022.
1. Make remote recruitment a staple
The most visible impact Covid-19 had on us all is the introduction of remote work on a daily basis. According to Pew Research Center, the number of surveyed Americans working from home grew by 51% counting from before the pandemic, to its middle stage in December 2020. Moreover, 54% of the respondents claimed they’d like to keep working remotely after the pandemic ends.
Certainly, the willingness – and sometimes necessity – of employees to work remotely forced many employers to quickly adjust their recruitment strategies to fit the demands, and it looks like this outlook is staying with us for longer.
Remote work yields several benefits for employees, but also for you as an employer. Online recruitment speeds up the hiring process and saves money. But most importantly, it makes recruitment much easier and more diverse. The fact that you can hire people from around the world means your talent pool is quite literally unlimited. That means a wider opportunity for you to find a fitting candidate as well as introduce more diversity into the company – something many companies are striving for more and more.
As they say, competition doesn’t sleep, and it couldn’t be truer in this case. While two years ago offering work from home (WFH) was an asset, now it’s more of a necessity. It no longer makes you stand out as an employer, it means you don’t fall behind. As one research shows, 54% of workers would quit their job if they couldn’t work from home. Another shows that 80% of respondents said they wouldn’t accept a job not offering flexible working.
If you want to even be considered an attractive employer in 2022, your HR needs to meet the highly demanded expectation of offering remote work, and what follows – remote recruitment and onboarding. That’s step #1. If you want to increase your chances of attracting the best talent out there, then….
2. Assure positive candidate experience
Last year, I landed an interview at a company with a good reputation and even better pay. Needless to say – I was very excited, especially since it was harsh to find a job during the pandemic. I knew this position would be a big chance for me, so I took time and prepared my best.
Long story short – the meeting was horrible. The interviewers were late, they kept exchanging smirks with each other, asked personal questions I wasn’t comfortable answering. I was promised to have feedback by Friday, yet I never heard from them again. The experience left such a bad taste in my mouth that I left a bad online review of the company and made sure to discourage my friends from applying there. Perhaps my reaction was exaggerated, but how many candidates like me do you want your company to have?
Candidate experience pre, during, and post-recruitment contributes to your employer branding and can affect your company’s reputation in the job market. It also affects the kinds of talents you attract and retain. As we mentioned in this article, by 2030 we will be faced with a talent shortage of more than 85 million people. Considering that and tight competition all around – the companies cannot allow bad reputation to cause loss of any potential talents.
As the world is becoming more and more digital, it’s the role of HR in creating, updating, and monitoring the brand’s reputation as it affects both your present and future employees.
Based on a survey conducted by Kelly Services, 97% of candidates who had a positive experience with your company’s recruitment process would encourage others to apply, and 55% of them would share their positive experiences on social media. Hence, assuring a positive candidate experience not only betters your reputation but also attracts new talents long after the interview is finished.
This is especially important now while we’re about to get out of the pandemic. People will want to join companies that show they value and appreciate their (potential) employees. Covid-19 has changed our perception of various things, one of them being the way we evaluate employers. We will now pay more attention to the organisations that show respect and appreciation – and the way to go is to start with assuring the best candidate experience from the get-go.
3. Maximise employee retention, minimise bad hires
The pandemic affected financially nearly every person in the world, and businesses were no exception. Companies were forced to lay off many employees, quite likely many of them being good. Almost every business, no matter how big, hat to cut down their budges significantly, and that’s why now – more than ever – we cannot afford bad hires and the loss of the good ones.
We mentioned in the previous blog post that a bad hire costs the employer around 15,000$, and losing a good hire is double – 30,000$. If your company makes just one bad judgment and loses one good employee in a year – you’ll lose 45,000$. It’s a lot of money that could be spent differently.
Stepping into 2022 should be marked with implementing the use of tools that prevent the two problems mentioned, and one of them is case-based screening.
Case-based recruitment to predict better applicant performance
Case-based screening is a screening tool that allows your candidates to show their potential in practice so that it’s easier for you to determine whether they have the actual skills required for the position – something not so easy to do in a ‘regular’ screening process.
52% surveyed HR leaders stated that the hardest part of recruitment is to determine which candidates from a big pool are the best choice. Why is that? Well, the answer might be that a great deal of recruitments is still based on resumés and cover letters which don’t seem to be the best indicator of one’s potential. In fact, following the article by Talents Unlimited, the correlation between experience and job performance in the future is only 0.06 on a scale from 0 to 1.
Meanwhile, in contrast, a study by Schmidt & Hunter from 1998 proved the predictive validity of case-based screening combined with the GMA (General Mental Ability Test) to be a whopping 0.63!
The way to go now – and post-pandemic – is to work on maximising employee retention and minimising bad hires. Looking for the right talent is a tough job, so why not focus on keeping the ones you already have? And to make sure you avoid hiring the wrong candidates, start applying the tools that work – such as case-based screening.
4. Put soft skills into the spotlight
Following McKinsey, over the next decade or so the implementation of automation and AI, combined with a talent shortage, will transform the workplace specifics even more than they have so far. Machines and the overall automation will bring certain benefits such as higher productivity, but they will also contribute to the change of skills required of human employees. What is one thing that (so far!) machines lack, compared to humans? Soft skills.
For a very long time hard skills were considered the most important in any recruitment process – the higher the competencies, the better. But with time it became clearer that while hard skills can be learnt, soft skills must be earned, mostly through experience. Shortly – hard skills without soft skills don’t assure success.
In a report from 2017, mentioned in the article by Torque Business, it is estimated that soft skill-based professions will make up at least two-thirds of all jobs by the year 2030. It is therefore logical to assume that it’s time to start adjusting the recruitment approach now and focus on more than degrees.
The soft skills that will matter the most in 2022
According to the article mentioned above, some of the soft skills that will matter the most in 2022 (and onwards) are:
Adaptability & resilience
Integrity & ethics
With the skill deficit deepening year by year, it’ll be a hard task for HR to find individuals with the right soft skills. Finding and retaining the right talents for your business is crucial for long-term success. Hard skills such as education are currently of no concern. In 2018 alone, approximately 4 million European students graduated from tertiary education. It’s therefore important to look past that and focus more on soft skills to ensure a well-trained workforce that can take your company to the next level.
5. Target Gen Z
Knowing how to target different generations with your recruitment process is a key factor for successful hires. And now, as Generation Z (zoomers) is entering the workforce, it’s time to start tailoring your recruitment process to suit them.
Gen Z, like any previous or future generation, is characterised by specific values and expectations that need to be considered when attempting to attract them. Not surprisingly, the biggest trait defining Gen Z is undoubtedly technology, and it’s through its implementation in the recruitment process that you can become an employer of interest in their eyes.
Millennials were to ones to see technology grow, but zoomers are the ones that have been immersed in it since they were born, they are digital natives. Hence, to target them successfully, you need to know their technology and get fully online. Based on the report by WorkForce Institute, 21% of zoomers would not tolerate outdated technology in their workplace. The best way to prove them wrong, therefore, is to fully adapt the recruitment process to the technology they use.
Start simple – make sure your application process is fully mobile-friendly. The youngest generation considers e-mails to be passé, they grew up with instant messaging and sending quick Snapchat, not novels. According to this brief by BenefitsPro, 70% of job seekers search for job offers using smartphones and tablets. Therefore, you should make it possible for them to apply on their phones within a few clicks.
You’ll also find that recruiting this generation will require you to post bite-sized content, preferably in a high-quality video format. They’d rather watch a quick video presenting your company than read your career portal. The year 2022 may be the high time for your company to revamp the website and make it more GenZ-friendly.
It feels like yesterday when Millennials were ready to change the world, but now we need to get ready to welcome another generation. One, that is an absolute must for HR teams to attract, since they will soon make up most of the workforce.
Your recruitment process needs to change together with the world to keep pace, and nowadays the HR industry is now less about paper-pushing and more about diversity, modern technology, and adaptation. Rapid changes in recent years have brought about new trends that should be adopted to attract and maintain the right talents, bringing profit to everybody involved.
Regardless of what recruitment strategies are trending, the final objective is always the same – building your brand with the right talents in a way that enhances their experience.