How to Compete With Amazon for Talent – and Win

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When Amazon announced its shortlist of cities for its new HQ2 in January, many job seekers rejoiced. Most talent acquisition professionals, however, were filled with dread. With Amazon planning to hire about 50,000 employees to staff its forthcoming compound, the tech giant poses a serious threat to other companies’ abilities to attract and hire key talent.

Competition in the shortlisted cities is already fierce, especially for those high-potential people who can deliver innovative solutions or go above and beyond for your customers. What can recruiters do to make sure their pipelines won’t be decimated if Amazon comes to town?

Data-driven recruitment is one smart strategy that can help mitigate the risks — and identify the opportunities — associated with Amazon’s big move. Here are some people analytics best practices to use in order to prevent talent shortfalls in case Amazon or a similarly powerful competitor moves to your town:

1. Focus on Candidates Who Fit Top-Quality Hire Profiles

People analytics gives you the ability to track hires across the employee life cycle, including their successes and failures from the moment they apply to the moment they leave. This way, you can see which candidates end up being the best employees in the long term.

There is a finite number of top candidates in any given city, and focusing your efforts on these candidates is one way to snag them before Amazon comes calling. Create a profile of quality hires based on data such as:

– Number of qualified applicants per requisition (which indicates whether your sourcing practices are delivering the right kinds of employees)

– Resignations and involuntary turnover for among employees with less than three months of service

– New hire performance by lead source

– The typical characteristics of top talent (advanced “in-memory” people analytics solutions make it easy to run tailored algorithms to help identify these; otherwise, you can manually calculate using some elbow grease)

2. Estimate Speed of Hire Times With More Accuracy

Getting to great candidates before Amazon does is key to keeping your company filled with high-quality talent. People analytics can help you predict how long it is likely to take to hire for a certain role, including the time frame for each stage of the hiring process. With this information, you can provide more credible timelines to stakeholders.

Likewise, this data-driven approach can reveal the bottlenecks that slow down your hiring, as well as inform you of the right actions to take to fix them.

feet3. Create the Best Candidate Experience Possible

While candidate experience has been a hot topic for decades, many organizations still struggle to improve this important component of the hiring process. Analytics brings the factors that impact candidate experience to the forefront so you can measure the effectiveness of each.

Whether it’s time since initial contact, time between stages, interviewer name, or something else, you’ll be able to tell what is increasing or decreasing the likelihood of a candidate withdrawing their application. Based on this information, you can implement strategies to decrease the chances of strong candidates dropping out of your recruiting process.

4. Attract More Diverse Candidates

Hiring diverse talent is in a company’s best interest: According to McKinsey and Company, ethnically diverse companies “are 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.” Gender-diverse companies are 15 percent more likely to outperform their competitors.

Traditional recruiting methods make it hard to tell whether you’ll hit your diversity targets or ensure equity during the process. Instead of guessing, use analytics to continuously monitor your hiring funnel for important demographic ratios along lines such as gender, ethnicity, and veteran status. This level of insight enables you to better track diversity and implement effective evidence-based programs to increase diversity throughout your pipeline.

5. Build Realistic Hiring Plans

Recruiting requires striking a fine balance, especially in a high-risk situation like a large competitor moving into the neighborhood. While over-hiring can create an unnecessary cost burden, under-hiring can reduce productivity. This is why it’s important for talent acquisition to work closely with HR and finance on data-driven workforce plans that keep recruiters on target and everyone on budget.

Position Your Team For Success

The entire HR function is making strides in using data to inform a variety of workforce decisions across the entire employee lifecycle, from choosing the best recruiting sources to planning for impending talent shortfalls.

If there’s one thing you should do to prepare for a possible Amazon move to your city, it’s look beyond your applicant tracking system for analytics. Since these systems are unable to pull data from the full employee life cycle, you may be at a disadvantage when Amazon — or another risk — comes calling. Cloud-based people analytics solutions can offer the complete end-to-end view needed to monitor your entire recruiting pipeline. These solutions can also aggregate historical information on top-performing employees, enabling you to hire better and faster.

Whatever method you use, remember that analytics is not a one-and-done process. In order for recruitment to be successful, you must continuously look for ways to improve your hiring process. Analytics enables you to confidently double down on your strengths and improve the areas where you’re weakest so you can meet your organization’s every talent need.

Ian Cook is head of workforce solutions at Visier.

Read more in Recruitment Methods

Ian Cook heads the workforce domain for Visier, which develops cloud-based applications that enable HR professionals to answer workforce strategy questions. Ian has been involved in driving forward the datafication of HR and is a speaker and blogger on the subject. Prior to Visier, Ian built Canada's leading source of HR benchmark data. His expertise has also been developed through years of international experience solving strategic HR problems for brands in the Fortune 500 and FTSE 100.