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The New Normal: Rethinking Staffing Communications - How To Effectively Recruit And Retain Staff

Hiring Is Hard

Let's admit it: hiring has become more challenging during pandemic times. For one thing, remote working has been made possible and remains widely popular. For another, people's increased awareness of social distancing has heightened to a new normal. Better job opportunities may have arisen elsewhere, and unemployment benefits have kept some people less concerned about joblessness.

No one can eliminate the pandemic overnight, and few companies can drastically raise salary budgets to attract candidates. However, despite all these social-economic difficulties, there is one thing organizations can always do to facilitate the hiring process: communicate better.

The Problems In Communication

Today, although the internet and social media have made communication more effortless, many problems keep haunting companies, that still need to be solved, especially during recruiting seasons. To fix them, we need to first understand what these problems are.

Which Channels?

The first problem lies in the choice of channels for posting a job. Think of your latest job post. If you're unhappy with the number of applications you've received, ask yourself: is it in the right place?

Over the years, young people have been changing their favorite channels to communicate and connect with the world. From live streaming and influencers, to forums and social media, you need to have heightened alertness. Also, don't forget Google Reviews, Yelp, Blind, and Glassdoor, where digital natives do their due diligence. Is your company present or absent on these platforms? Are you active enough, updating your pages with new, helpful information? If you hesitated, it's time to conduct a quick audit to pinpoint the exact issues.

Based on what I've seen, the harsh reality is that few organizations are fully catching up with the ever-changing digital world:

• Absence on social media (especially the emerging ones)

• Zero response to reviews and questions

• Outdated contact information on profile pages

When hiring, they keep using outdated tactics that cause confusion and even disconnection with potential employees.

What's In The Message?

The second problem is about content. Think like a job seeker, specifically a Gen Z jobseeker: what matters in a job post? Obvious, evergreen answers include salary levels, benefits, and growth opportunities, but what's new?

Through decades of teaching at USC, I've had the privilege of staying connected with young people who are about to enter the job market. Here's one observation: they are paying increasing attention to company culture. To further break it down, they prefer companies where employees are respected and trusted, feel confident due to good feedback and mentorship; and where coworkers form a supportive community that cares much more beyond getting tasks done. Sometimes, these factors are even more important than financial compensation.

Now, let's return to your case - have you sufficiently highlighted your unique strengths to your target audience? If you haven't, you can do better.

Facilitate hiring with better communication

From a professional communicator's standpoint, I'd like to share some recommendations for organizations to fix the problems above and hire more efficiently.

Use Social Media

My first recommendation: be present and active on social media. Specifically, ensure you're on the same platforms as young people, such as Instagram and TikTok; also note that Facebook is no longer the top social network among Gen Z.

An excellent social presence makes your organization more visible and, more importantly, connected with your young target audience. You may be intimidated by the potential workload of managing multiple social platforms, but many tools can help. For example, you can manage Facebook and Instagram pages on Meta Business Suite and do much more with third-party tools like Hootsuite, Sprout Social, or Loomly. With proper planning, you'll be able to develop a pipeline that maximizes the power of social media and online sharing.

Let Influencers Help

Talking about sharing, here's my second recommendation: consider influencers. Not those fancy celebrities with millions of followers, but the individuals in your community where you typically look for candidates. For example, your current employees or the career service coordinators at your target schools are great influencers who can help you spread the word. They know your target audience, and their experience makes their words credible. Unlike official "we're hiring" announcements, these influencers add "human power" to the messages and make them stick better.

Best Practices

Based on the analysis and recommendations above, here are some best practices that you can quickly incorporate into your organization's communications:

Combine Social Media With Additional Digital Tools

Echoing what's briefly mentioned above, I recommend using more than just social networks to boost your visibility among potential candidates. Getting your organization listed on Google (create a Google Business Profile), Yelp and Glassdoor is an excellent start to expand your reach. These listings are free, and by setting up notification emails, you can keep track of all new reviews or messages within your email inbox.

Be Clear, Informative, And Friendly

Follow these three principles in every message, even the simple ones. For example, is there enough information about the start/end dates, daily hours, and responsibilities in a job post? Are the sentences easy to understand by young people, or do they include many confusing jargons? Does the tone sound like a boring boss or a passionate manager?

Think Like A Candidate

Attention, hiring managers: adopting a customer service mindset is always wise. In simple terms, think like your candidate and make their lives easier. Provide what a candidate would care about in a manner that a candidate would appreciate - be responsive, facilitate processes like form submission, and prepare sufficient information, such as reviews, for people to learn more about your company and the openings. In return, the candidates will respect you and treat this job seriously.

I want to share a special reminder for responding to reviews: do not leave any negative reviews unaddressed. It's human nature that when we browse reviews, we look more carefully at the bad ones. Therefore, addressing complaints or rants is crucial for your company image and a great way to communicate clear information to potential candidates. Show your professionalism and be helpful; these responses will lead to suitable, new applications.

Warning: Don't Do These

While working hard to improve your communication, here's a list of things you should never do. Of course, you may always refer to the following checklist to audit your communication.

1. Never have invalid contact information on your pages. In many people's eyes, this is important because invalid information equals poor credibility.

2. Never ignore messages on any platform. If you're overwhelmed by watching too many platforms, consider using a third-party tool or setting up automatic responses to help people reach helpful humans quickly.

3. Keep track of your correspondence. You can use a shared spreadsheet to track all your ongoing conversations and hiring progress.

Create Value With Communication

Good communication goes a long way, not just in hiring, but in every aspect of a business. By implementing some, or all of the recommended tactics discussed above, all organizations can leverage communications to start strong in the hiring process.

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