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The Scoop: Recruitment Trends & Industry Insights | September 2022

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Here is your September guide to the latest trends impacting the world of work. Every month, we provide perspective on the biggest news affecting the industry and explain what to expect as new trends continue to emerge.

IT’S TIME TO SIMPLIFY JOB TITLES TO HELP JOB SEEKERS FIND WHAT THEY’RE LOOKING FOR.

The significance of appropriate and meaningful job titling is often overlooked by recruiters and hiring managers, particularly when it comes to externally advertising them. Internally, job titles might need to align to organization-specific nomenclature, functions, teams and HR process and documentation. But externally, they need to be synonymous with general conventions and the expectations of job seekers to maximize the opportunity for them finding the most relevant jobs.

Examples of the challenge in practice can be seen in the retail sector, where job titles can vary considerably for fundamentally the same role (or at least for similar skills and experience requirements): retail advisor, retail assistant, customer assistant, customer team member, sales associate, crew member, store associate, cashier… the list goes on. Across specialist knowledge worker roles, it’s a more fragmented challenge where many job titles will not resonate, meaning potential candidates simply won’t recognize opportunities even if they’re presented to them. And let’s not even mention the overmarketed job titles that include words like ninja, guru, rock star, genius, etc.

Data from Radancy’s career site network shows the impact this is having on candidate job search behaviors. We took a sample from over 75 million job searches across our network of career sites from January to Sept 2021 and compared them to the same period in 2022.Here’s what we found:

  • 49% of all job searches come from candidates who leave both the keyword and location field blank (they just hit the search button), up 11.6% Year over Year (YoY)
  • 40% of all job searches include a location, down 16.6% YoY
  • 15% of all job searches include a keyword, down 3% YoY
  • 35% of all job searches include only a location, down 14.7% YoY
  • 11% of all job searches include only a keyword, up 15.2% YoY
  • 0.4% of all job searches included a location named “remote,” up 448% YoY
  • 2% of all job searches include keywords related to “remote” (e.g. telecommute, work from home, WFH, etc.), up 95.4% YoY.

What does this job search behavior data tell us?

The fact that almost half of all career site job searches are being left blank (with users just clicking the search button) indicates that job seekers don’t know what to search for and don’t want to limit their results. This is a by-product of job titles historically being over-engineered, overmarketed, too broad, too internally focused and often containing too many acronyms and abbreviations. Job seekers are instead wanting to see all results and filter their preferences accordingly, which is then likely to be by location (including any remote/hybrid preferences that might be available in the filters), job category/career area and/or by career level (such as graduate or experienced). Another driver of this behavior is the increase in people switching industries (covered in more detail in our segment below). When people switch industries, they are even less likely to know what to search for on an employer’s career site.

As remote and hybrid working preferences have become more prevalent among job seekers, it’s expected that we see locations being used by fewer users than in the same period last year. Country location will still be of importance to many, but less so at the town and city levels.

When keywords are used, the most common tend to be employer- and sector-agnostic words, such as “remote” (a significant increase on last year), “intern/internship,’’ ”marketing,” etc. There may also be employer-specific words used for their key volume hiring areas, such as “nurse” for hospitals. The key point here is that keywords do not get used that much by users, but if they do it tends to be “remote” (and synonyms thereof).

What can talent acquisition do to optimize job titles and the job seeker experience?

The future of work may very well see employers move away from job titles altogether, but until then, here are some tips to ensure you reach the widest possible audience with your job advertising:

  1. Audit your job titles to ensure they resonate with the widest possible audience when publishing them on your career site and your job advertising channels, even if this means changing the internal job title to something that better resonates externally.
  2. Consider the various rules and optimization techniques for job boards and search engines. Adding locations, reference numbers, etc. into job titles can actually be counterproductive as some boards may penalize you for trying to overoptimize or game the system, even if this was not the intention.
  3. Make sure your career site not only has the job search functionality front and center on the homepage, and is easily accessible sitewide, but that users can conduct a search without needing to enter any search terms (such as a keyword or location). Be sure to provide filtering options for as many variables as possible, and as with job titles, make sure that any job categories are clear and easy to understand for users. This might mean adapting them on your career site to be more suitable for an external audience.
  4. Don’t use abbreviations, internal language or uncommon acronyms. This goes for job descriptions as well within the job titles.  
  5. Use recruitment-specific programmatic job advertising technology that has the capability to dynamically optimize your job titles to ensure you get the best conversions from each job board you publish sponsored jobs to.

Research published by McKinsey (July 2022) provides insight into the current complexities in the labor market, squeezing traditional talent pools and making talent acquisition extremely competitive.

“People are switching jobs and industries, moving from traditional to nontraditional roles [and ways of earning money], retiring early, or starting their own businesses. They are [also] taking time-out to tend to their personal lives or embarking on sabbaticals.”

The data, gathered from 13,382 employees in 16 different industries across Australia, Canada, India, Singapore, UK and USA, identifies that “people are switching jobs and industries, moving from traditional to nontraditional roles [and ways of earning money], retiring early, or starting their own businesses. They are [also] taking time-out to tend to their personal lives or embarking on sabbaticals.” The report also highlights the top three reasons people quit their previous job were lack of career development and advancement (41%), inadequate total compensation (36%) and uncaring and uninspiring leaders (31%).

There is a fundamental mismatch between employers’ demand for talent, and the volume of “traditional” workers to supply it, states McKinsey. While employers are using the typical tactics to attract and retain talent (such as compensation and career progression opportunities), that only works for the traditional workers. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, has resulted in people re-evaluating and reprioritizing what they want from a job, career and employer – and from life in general – “creating a large pool of active and potential workers who are shunning the traditionalist path.”

Making things even more challenging, is the fact that people are exiting industries and not returning. McKinsey found that 48% of respondents moved to a different industry, and 17% exited the workforce altogether – that leaves only 35% taking a new job in the same industry.

In the report, McKinsey highlights five types of workers that employers can reach to fill open jobs:

  1. The “traditionalists:” career oriented, motivated to work full time for large organizations in return for competitive compensation, benefits, job title status and career advancement.
  2. The “do-it-yourselfers:” care mostly about autonomy and value flexibility, meaningful work, and compensation. Broadly covers people who are self-employed, those who are fulltime employed in nontraditional roles, gig and part-time workers.
  3. The “caregivers and others:” At home but wanting more. Motivated by compensation, but priorities for returning to the workforce include flexibility, employee health and well-being support, and career development.
  4. The “idealists:” Students and younger part-timers. Not tied to responsibilities such as dependents or financial commitments, such as mortgages. Care most about flexibility, career development, meaningful work, and a community of reliable and supportive people. Compensation is much lower on the list.
  5. The “relaxers:” Career doesn’t come first anymore. A mix of retirees, those not looking for work, and some may return to traditional work (or any of the above personas) under the right conditions. Money is not a motivator for this cohort. Need more than the traditional value proposition to be enticed back, which includes meaningful work.

While many employers appeal to the ”traditionalists” by default, that pool is shrinking fast, exacerbated by the ever-growing shortage of skills and the increase of people reflecting the other four personas identified by McKinsey. Talent acquisition teams will need to think creatively about how they appeal to the other four cohorts, which means redefining talent attraction strategies to cater to these audiences, considering the total employment offer and how it needs to adapt accordingly.

Read more about what employers can do to attract “nontraditionalists” by downloading “The Great Attrition is making hiring harder. Are you searching the right talent pools?McKinsey & Company (2022)

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