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Hiring well, when so few are looking

The shrinking talent pool is one of the top concerns of CEO’s in 2018. Jack Dorsey, CEO of both Twitter and Square, put it simply: “My primary focus is recruiting.” With the U.S. jobless rate at its lowest levels in fifty years, the talent market is tighter than ever. A new survey commissioned by Textio found that only 5.8%* of Americans are actively looking for work.

Luckily, even though most people aren’t actively looking for jobs, they’re probably still willing to switch employers. A recent study by Indeed showed that 71% of people in the labor force say they are open to a new job. Which is why sourcing passive candidates has become such a valued skilled in recruiting. Sourcers are masters of the Boolean search; they spend hours scouring the web for people who fit the distinct requirements of your role.

Sourcers are also deeply familiar with rejection. Only 5.2 %* of Americans have responded to a recruiter message in the last three months. The vast majority of your recruiting emails sit unopened or go straight to the recycling bin. Of the ones that do get read, most passive candidates will take one look at your job description and walk away.

So how do you change your response rate on sourcing emails? Follow the data. Here are four areas of opportunity that the data shows can work:

1) Know your audience: In the past few years there has been a major push by companies to focus on their “Employer Brand.” It’s a misleading term, because it implies a focus on the employer, when the first step is really getting to know your future employees and what they’re looking for. With that knowledge in hand, you can invest in your presence on social media, remake your careers page, or rewrite your job descriptions to be more enticing to that audience. After researching and writing an employer branding playbook, Hootsuite saw 50% more applicants per job. Financial tech titan Broadridge overhauled the language in their job posts to make them more attractive to candidates and doubled the number of qualified applicants in their talent pool. Bottom line: spend the time to clarify how well your brand appeals to both active job seekers and passive candidates.

2) Reach for the Silver Medalists: Just because a person wasn’t a perfect fit for one role doesn’t mean they won’t be a great fit for another. In a 2017 survey of more than 800 U.S. recruiters and hiring managers by recruiting-software firm Jobvite Inc., 88% of respondents said they had tapped previous second-placers to fill new jobs. Citrix reports that they have filled 15% of positions at the company with former silver medalists.

3) Take another look at required skills: A 2016 survey from Indeed found 86 % of companies face challenges finding technical talent, and they find that applicants often meet less than half of the criteria in their job posts. That criteria could be holding you back from getting talented workers. Take engineering talent for example: 90% of developers on Stack Overflow are self-taught. Consider which skills are really required for a role, and which are just nice to have. Almost 40%* of job seekers said they didn’t apply for a job because of a bad job description. Don’t inadvertently scare these people out of applying for your role.

4) Make every word count: The job of a recruiting email is get someone to consider taking a whole new job. It’s a potentially life-changing decision. A single wrong phrase can turn someone off, and the perfect choice of words might just convince them. Fortunately you don’t have to be a poet laureate to write emails that will win talent. Using augmented writing software will optimize the language you send to candidates so they are statistically more likely to respond. When Johnson & Johnson and Zillow used this augmented writing platform they saw their response rates to cold emails jump by 25% and 16%, respectively.

While facing the talent shortage is difficult for any CEO, consider trying new approaches that will inspire passive candidates to come work for your company.

This story originally appeared on Forbes.All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from a survey run by Google Inc. Total sample size was 1037 US adults, ages 18–65. The survey was carried out online in March 2018, and all figures have been weighted and are representative of US adults (aged 18–65).

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