What The Smartest Companies Know About Attracting Top Talent by Mark Stoever @FortuneMagazine November 18, 2015, 10:32 AM EST E-mail Tweet Facebook Linkedin Share icons I believe we just might be approaching a Golden Age of Recruiting. What do I mean by that? According to the dictionary, a “golden age” is a period when an activity leaps forward to create a new normal. In television or even space exploration, golden ages are moments we later recognize for their quality, vision, and daring—and the ways the world changed in response. Maybe it’s hard to compare recruiting with putting a man on the moon, but you get my point. A Golden Age of Recruiting requires a culmination of many forces—market-driven, people-driven, technology-driven—that will seamlessly match the right people to the right jobs. It sounds massive, doesn’t it? But this kind of transformation is beginning to happen all around us every day. On the verge of a golden age Forces are converging to drive forward the ways in which employers and individuals connect. First, as a society, we are always on, thanks to the rise of mobile and the ability to be constantly connected. Second, from the recruiting perspective we are finally awash in truly big data. Databases of millions of jobs and candidates were the start. Now, as people’s days are filled with digital engagements—tweeting, texting, Snapchatting, liking, IM’ing, and more—they are generating exponentially more data, much of it public. They are leaving a trail of information for employers to discover. And candidates are discovering billions of data points across millions of companies. Meanwhile, the ‘gig’ economy, bluring the lines between on-demand and traditional employment, is growing gangbusters. This requires vastly more agile recruiting—in a matter of seconds sourcing from millions of candidates and distributing millions of job opportunities. Then, there are people themselves. Millennials, now the majority of the workforce, have different expectations for their careers and employers. Knowing more about companies than anyone ever did before, they can make more informed decisions; and research shows they are attracted to employers whose brands they admire as consumers. One final force that’s at play: the “talent gap.” The labor market hasn’t kept up with shifts in the economy or technology—so sometimes it feels like there are jobs but not people and other times there are people but not jobs. The truth is, there are plenty of jobs and plenty of people, but they are just not connecting. And recruiters have long recognized the untapped opportunity in “passive” candidates, the 75% of the global workforce not currently looking for work. A new way to think about talent According to McKinsey, we could add $2.7 trillion in global GDP by better matching people and jobs. The question is: How? I think about this every day: How do we bring order to chaos to meet today’s recruiting challenges and fulfill future needs? I believe it starts with a shift in perspective… Used to be we saw hiring as an episodic process that took the company and candidate from point A (job requisition) to point B (hiring). We now realize that this “candidate journey” is neither linear, nor ever complete. By its very nature, this journey is cyclical. This image below is how Monster views the candidate journey. It attempts to take into account all aspects of candidates’ relationships with a company, from candidate to employee to alumnus. Notice the similarities to the customer journey? That’s intentional. We need to start viewing and treating job candidates as customers. Economic success —and solving the labor-matching problem—will depend upon our ability to shift the viewpoint in this way. The stages of the new candidate journey Let’s take a look at the phases of a candidate’s journey. The first is awareness—typically the longest phase—in which the candidate becomes aware of a company as an employer. Next comes consideration. So the candidate knows the company, but does he or she want to work there? If you’ve done everything right, and built a reputation or relationship with a candidate, next comes preference. Finally, for the candidate there’s the apply or hire phase, in which the applicant is either hired or rejected. Unfortunately, for many employers today, this is where the journey ends. But employees should be considered as candidates for any open job, which is why we believe the candidate journey is inclusive of an employee journey with its own phases. There is engagement, which can be established once the employee determines if the job is a good fit. A good experience then leads to loyalty. Loyal employees are potential advocates. These are individuals who believe in the company’s mission and actively share their experience with friends and family. No matter how many recruiters a company has, none can compare to the power of an employee operating as an extension of the brand. In fact, one study found that employees are three times more credible than the CEO when talking about working conditions. Finally, we have engaged alumni who remain positive about the employer, and may still advocate on the company’s behalf. There’s another reason to keep in touch with alumni: the boomerang. The best companies out there are proud to see talent leave for great opportunities, recognizing that ex-employees are potential customers. This mentality should extend to hiring. If you’ve invested in training someone, you might eventually want to bring them back to your company. How to use this new candidate journey Brand marketers think about how they will develop relationships with people over time, not only when a specific need surfaces. Recruiters must think like this, too. This means listening and engaging, all the time, in real time. It also means breaking the journey down to decide what messaging and medium will engage at each touch point. Another takeaway is the importance of starting with a strong talent brand. Since all customers are potential candidates—and vice versa—the candidate experience should be no different than the best customer experience. So companies have to consider what candidates think of them and manage that reputation. From the tone of recruitment emails to the follow-through to rejected candidates, every touch point makes an impression. Of course, creating and scaling recruitment efforts along the candidate journey is tough to do today, as we lack a way to do this efficiently. Navigating this challenge will take the right tools to work across the journey and across your workflows. The first generation of talent software took manual processes and added basic automation—like applicant tracking systems to help candidate workflow management. The next generation added basic integrations with other internal and external HR systems. Now the goal is to create technology that automates the processes of finding candidates at various touch points so that recruiters can concentrate on the people, gaining a real understanding about their abilities, ambitions, and values in order to match them to appropriate positions. I believe we can do that, and it’s why I see that Golden Age of Recruiting on the horizon—an age I believe will be enabled by technology, but defined by humanity. Mark Stoever is the chief operating officer of Monster Worldwide More from Monster: The thing nobody asks about when considering a job offer —but everyone should Who’s getting raises right now—a story in 3 charts Mark Zuckerberg is learning Mandarin. Here’s why you should too.