Executives Know Recruiting Is a Problem — So Why Aren’t They Trying to Solve It?

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DartsIn a new study, iCIMS calls it “the elephant in the room”: the fact that CEOs and CIOs know recruiting the right people is critical for company success, and they know that talent acquisition is one of their companies’ biggest challenges, but despite this knowledge, they aren’t taking the steps necessary to improve recruiting efforts and address the challenge of finding the right people.

“The best summary is that executives — particularly CEOs and CIOs — are finding talent acquisition to be a huge challenge for them — their biggest challenge actually,” explains Susan Vitale, chief marketing officer at iCIMS. “But they’re not actually prioritizing the technology and investments they need … to overcome that challenge.”‘

When it comes to technological strategies, CEOs and CIOs are focusing on customer engagement first and foremost: 30 percent of respondents to iCIMS’s survey said “digital engagement of customers” was their No. 1 priority. More CEOs and CIOs are focusing on technology as a customer-engagement solution than on any other technological priorities.

And yet, when asked about the biggest challenges that stand between their companies and the achievement of their technological goals, more CEOs and CIOs cited “difficulty finding talent” as their biggest obstacle than any other option (28 percent of CEOs and CIOs, to be specific).

Stats from PwC’s “17th Annual Global CEO Survey” paint an even more dramatic picture: 93 percent of CEOs say they need to change their talent acquisition and employee retention strategies, but a staggering 61 percent of these CEOs don’t know where to even start.

“They say it’s a big deal, and they want to fix it, but they don’t even know what the first step — or any of the steps — should be in overcoming the challenges,” Vitale says.

And so, we end up in a situation like the current one: executives know their companies need to improve their recruiting and retention strategies, but they don’t know how to do that. And so, the companies continue to struggle with the challenges of recruiting, and executives never really take steps to help solve the problem.

Outdated or Ineffective Technology May Be to Blame for Some Companies’ Recruiting Woes

All of these CEOs may not know where to start when it comes to fixing their talent acquisition problems, but Vitale has an idea: begin by looking at the kind of recruitment technology the company is working with.

“When it comes to technology, a lot of those same companies who state that recruiting talent is a top challenge for them — and that things are broken and they don’t know what to do — have really old-school ERP [enterprise resource planning], or payroll, or HRIS [human resources information system] platforms in place as their recruiting technology,” Vitale says.

These platforms are not really built with a focus on recruiting, and so it’s no wonder that 64 percent of the companies using ERP- or HRIS-provided ATSs are dissatisfied with them.

“Well, that might be a good place to start,” Vitale says. “If recruiting is a big challenge, then you should get a recruiting system that focuses on that challenge.”

But how do companies get saddled with these slapdash “recruiting” systems in the first place? Vitale says it’s often the result of a faulty decision-making process.

“We’ve seen that, a lot of times, the decision around what technology should be implemented or used is not taking place at the right level,” Vitale says.

For example: say a CIO is making purchasing decisions, and they decide to purchase an HRIS from Vendor X. Vendor X then offers to throw in its recruiting application for free. Many CIOs would jump at the chance to get a free recruiting solution for their company. The only problem is: the CIO isn’t consulting with the recruiter who will be using the system. The CIO doesn’t know if the system will meet the recruiting team’s specific needs — or if it’s even a good system in the first place.

“And now, recruiting hates [the recruiting software], and they never got to be part of the decision,” Vitale explains. “So, the wrong people are making the decisions, or they’re not necessarily getting the right systems that they need to prioritize recruiting or talent acquisition.”

Vitale continues: “[If companies are saying], ‘We have all these problems, and we’re dissatisfied with our technology, and our technology is not focused on or built for our company’s biggest problem,’ then the obvious first step should be: why don’t you take a look at that technology? Chances are there’s a lot you can do to succeed against this challenge if you think about reexamining or adjusting the technology that you’ve used thus far.”

Recruiting Tech Is Only the First Step — Not the Cure-All

While Vitale recommends that companies begin to address their recruiting challenges by assessing their recruiting systems and ensuring that they are truly built for talent acquisition, she is quick to point out that this is only the first. There’s more that companies can do if they want to implement recruiting strategies that bring in the best-fit talent:

1. Make Sure the Company Has the Right People in Recruiting Roles 

Put simply, those who are spearheading talent acquisition efforts should know what they’re doing and how to do.

“For example, if you don’t necessarily have the right types of people sitting in recruitment marketing or sourcing-type roles, [the team] might buy a [recruitment] CRM and not know how to use it, because [it doesn’t] have the background or knowledge to actually implement the system,” Vitale explains.

2. Make Sure the Company Leverages Social Media

iCIMS found that only 21 percent of companies surveyed were using social recruiting technology. Bluntly speaking, that’s outrageous, especially considering that 44 percent of recruiters say social recruiting improves the quality and quantity of candidates.

3. Make Sure the Company’s Application Process Is Mobile-Friendly 

According to iCIMS, only 19 percent of businesses have implemented mobile-optimized career portals. Again, that’s a ridiculous stat, given the drastic increase in mobile Internet activity in recent times.

“[Companies] are saying they’re not getting enough candidates into their systems, but they don’t have tools that allow candidates to browse or apply for jobs on mobile,” Vitale says.

Vitale suggests that companies should look at candidates the same way they look at sales leads: “If people couldn’t sign up on your website or talk to a sales rep on mobile, you’d be missing out on a ton of revenue opportunity. I don’t think people are looking at the same concept as it applies to recruiting.” That is to say, if interested candidates can’t apply via mobile, they’ll move on to a company where they can.

Vitale says that some of these suggestions may seem obvious, but given how many companies fail to address them, executives and recruiting teams should really take the time to ensure that their organizations are truly doing what they need to do in order to improve talent acquisition efforts.

“If recruiting is your top priority, than find the system that prioritizes recruiting,” Vitale says. “If social is one of your top challenges, find a tool that focuses on integrating social.”

By Matthew Kosinski