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With unemployment at an all-time low and rapidly evolving definitions of 'work,' it's harder than ever for recruiters and hiring managers to attract and retain the best talent. CBS Interactive contributor Natalie Zfat sat down with Sharlyn Lauby, HR consultant and author of the popular HR Bartender blog, and Matt Plummer, VP of Product Strategy at online employment marketplace ZipRecruiter, to get some advice for employers and job seekers alike.
1. Spend time understanding the role before drafting the description
One trend that seems to be growing is the need for workers with specific, sometimes niche skillsets. Lauby advises a holistic approach to gathering requirements and crafting the description:
"Whether you're trying to find general talent or you're trying to find niche talent, start with understanding what you're trying to hire. Is it a new position? Is it a replacement position within the organization? What are the job requirements? Maybe the job requirements have changed since the last time that we were filling that particular position. What's a typical day in the life of this particular position? Have all of those conversations, because once you do that, then you can create a candidate persona. That's going to help you then find the sourcing strategy that you want in order to fill that need."
2. When writing a job posting, remove optional qualifications so you don't scare off potential applicants
Plummer adds that less is more when it comes to writing job descriptions, and that once a position is posted, AI can help identify matches:
"I think people need to be very articulate about what the real requirements of the position are. A lot of times people will put idealistic requirements out there, and for a niche role, that can be too narrow. You may put in requirements that aren't really required, and you're scaring people away."
3. Use AI to find candidates from different industries
One of the key ways that artificial intelligence augments recruitment efforts is in making connections that humans wouldn't -- finding qualifications in one industry that align well with requirements in another, for example.
AI helps create awareness, Plummer says, on the hiring side and on the candidate side -- exposing both to potential opportunities. "AI looking at patterns and seeing millions and billions of signals can eventually connect those two things together, and create these pairings that weren't going to be possible before," he explains.
Another benefit of the AI technology that ZipRecruiter uses is that the company follows up with recruiters and candidates to find out whether matches were on target, and it uses that information to train its algorithms continuously. "I'd say we get better every time we get a new signal, every time a recruiter says, 'This person was a good candidate,'" Plummer adds.
Imagine somebody who's been in the business for years, and they've seen every type of position, they've talked to millions of hiring managers, they've seen millions of people get hired, and they've seen the outcomes of those transactions. So they have this infinite wisdom about what's worked in the past, and then they're able to look at something new: A new position has opened up for a company, and they're able to say, 'I know what's important for this position. And I know who has the type of skills relevant for that.'"
4. Give potential hires the experience of being recruited
When the AI does identify a strong candidate, Plummer adds, ZipRecruiter offers a new feature called Get Recruited, which flips the recruiting process on its head by enabling an employer to initiate first contact and invite those strong candidates to apply. "It really makes a big difference when somebody feels that sense of getting recruited," he says.
5. Make sure your application flow is mobile-friendly
Diversity and inclusion are trending very strongly in today's job market. Analysts link diversity in hiring and leadership to a higher likelihood of exceeding annual financial goals, and it's widely considered to be mission-critical for digital transformation. When you limit the applicant pool to people who have access to desktop computers, Plummer says, you've inadvertently put up a barrier to diversity:
"Mobile devices are limited in real estate; they're limited in functionality. So job seekers who only have mobile devices and don't really have day-to-day access to a desktop are inherently hindered in applying to jobs... You've drawn a wedge between who you're allowing to apply to your jobs just based on how mobile-responsive your applicant flow is. At ZipRecruiter, we've actually taken some steps to help address that. We have the number one-rated iOS and Android apps, and we've tried to make it really easy for candidates, not just to find jobs, but to apply to the jobs. And we've tried to integrate with as many of the corporate applicant-tracking systems as possible."
6. Commit to inclusion for new hires
Lauby points out that increasing the diversity of a workforce is important, but making sure that diverse viewpoints and ideas are valued is even more so:
"The question is, once you bring somebody into the organization, are you allowing them to be themselves? Do they get to speak up? Do they get to put their ideas on the table? That's where the innovation and creativity start within the company."
These tips boil down to employers letting go of preconceived notions around job requirements and making sure the application process is as seamless as possible for all candidates. ZipRecruiter is doing its part to help employers and job-seekers with AI matching and intuitive, user-friendly features. To learn more about ZipRecruiter and post your job for free, visit www.ziprecruiter.com/CNET.