Attracting Key Talent in a "Noisy" Labor Market

Many businesses are operating under widely-held myths about recruiting talent in the current global labor market. Several of these myths, as identified in The Corporate Executive Board's recent study "The New Recruiting Realities," revolve around the belief that good talent should be easier to hire. For instance, two of the most common myths hold that:

More applications means organizations can find more high quality candidates faster. Prospective candidates are desperate, willing to take any job, and easier to win over.

In reality, the surge of activity in the labor market has made recruiting efforts more challenging—as it has caused more "noise" in the system from unqualified candidates, thus flooding recruiters' sourcing channels. In fact, CEB's study shows that among candidates actively looking for a new job, weekly job-seeking activity has increased 30% in 2009 as compared to 2006. By contrast, the quality of the candidates being hired has not changed since the first quarter of 2008.

Conversely, "passive" candidates—those currently employed and not actively looking for a new job—are more passive than they've ever been. The current economic uncertainty has made passive (yet potentially qualified) talent more risk-averse and entrenched out of fear of being "last in, first out" at a new organization. In addition, CEB study found that compared to those in 2006, passive candidates today are 40% less likely to switch jobs for higher compensation, and 66% less likely to switch for better management.

Such active/passive extremes in the current labor market necessitate a shift from traditional sourcing strategies toward more refined talent pipeline strategies that position organizations well for the short- and long-term. CEB suggests that firms adopt three strategies:

Prioritize and focus on high-ROI sourcing channels that cut through the "noise" caused by excess application volume. Leverage market signals from other organizations (e.g., salary freezes) to proactively identify and dislodge passive candidates. Deploy scalable approaches that offer interactive outreach and customized messages to build pipelines for future hiring needs.

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