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Flipping the funnel in recruitment

With so many companies struggling to fill their vacancies, one would expect them to scour all possible touchpoints with employees to become more attractive. However, this isn’t the case for the majority of European companies. ‘A major opportunity lost’, says Veerle Coffé, Marketing and Communications Director at SD Worx Staffing Solutions Belgium.

    Don’t start a job interview by asking what a candidate can offer you. Instead, explain what you have in store for them.

    As the EU continues its recovery from the pandemic, unemployment fell to a record low of 7% at the end of 2021. Also, youth unemployment, which has long been the scourge of the European labour market, dropped to 14.9%. But even so, many companies are reporting a shortage of available workers as demand for goods and services increases. The influx of young workers simply doesn’t make up for the mass exodus of baby boomers. While it’s true that automation and digitalisation have offered some relief, employers should urgently rethink how they approach jobseekers. If you get those first touchpoints wrong, chances are that there won’t be any others – however attractive you think you are as an employer.

      The tables have turned

      When asked about the main reasons for the difficult recruitment environment, employers expectedly cite the lack of suitable profiles and the structural tightness of the labour market. More remarkable is the third reason: the unmotivated and demanding attitude of candidates. Many companies still fail to understand that the tables have turned and that candidates now pick their favourite employer, not vice versa like before. This requires a totally different approach. You need to convince talent that you are a good match for them and can cater to their needs, not the other way around.


          Dealing with conscious jobseekers

          To be successful, recruiters should forget the idea that their organisation is obviously the best out there and that candidates should consider themselves lucky if they get a chance. That type of arrogance especially doesn’t go down well with millennials. The trick is to explain, step by step, why and how you do business. For example, what’s your contribution to society? Which values can people expect to find in your workplace? And how do you preserve a healthy work-life balance? In short, paint a clear picture of yourself so candidates can make an informed choice.

            “Over 4 in 10 European employees claim they now weigh up their employment options more consciously – with Dutch and French employees leading the pack.”

              Show your true colours

              Putting the candidate’s interests first will probably alter your current recruitment efforts, from changing the angle of your vacancy postings – writing more about your organisation than the position itself – to inviting candidates over to have a chat with your team. It’s all about finding a cultural match. Because even if a candidate is a perfect fit for the position, they might not feel at home. In that case, they might leave before they’ve settled in – something most employers have experienced more than they’d like. This implies that what you tell candidates during recruitment has to be authentic, and not just a nice façade to boost your employer brand.

                When an 8 becomes a 10

                Turning back to the number-one reason for faltering recruitment, the lack of suitable profiles, we can make a similar observation on persistent traditionalism among employers. Although there’s undoubtedly a shortage of certain profiles, we haven’t yet learned to hire for potential and attitude rather than skills and experience. The new, complete profiles we’re all looking for simply don’t exist. So, why not select somebody who is a 7 or an 8 instead of a 10? You can then turn them into a 9 or a 10.

                The condition, however, is that you accept that some new hires will take longer to be fully productive. So, you’ll also have to adapt your coaching and onboarding programme. But in the long run, this type of investment always pays off. Additionally, this mindset might open new talent sources.

                  Wanted: recruiters who can relate to jobseekers

                  Last but not least, millennials often have a totally different outlook on life than the HR professionals who need to lure them in. The result: much of the communication isn’t on target. Strange, because it’s no secret what most young potentials want: a transparent, healthy and meaningful environment. And yet, how many recruiters create vacancies with their target group in mind, use new technologies to add some entertainment or communicate via platforms like WhatsApp? Even within the companies, faith in recruitment success is low. It’s time to flip the funnel.


                    Only half the European organisations explicitly claim that their recruiters are competent enough to find the right people. This seems to be an issue mainly in Austria (40%) and the Netherlands (43.1%).

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