No one is looking. Everyone is open.

It sure is interesting times in the recruitment industry. From the entire beginning we have been taught to advertise our vacancies in the hope for the right talent to happen to come by. In the early days the candidate profiles weren’t too detailed or picky. A simple sign of “Help wanted” could be seen in the window of your favorite store. If you love our products, you could be an ideal employee was a tag line many used.

Some of the best adverts through time has been close to this kind. An advert or poster simply announcing you’re needed. If well expressed, skills and profile weren’t even needed to be described. It tried to tell you who you should be by its message or design. One of my old time favorites is the classic Uncle Sam.

As recruitment communications went online the smaller firms could compete with the big sharks. Suddenly we could recruit people for a lower fee in various cities without having to buy a full page in the local newspaper. This also massively increased the toughness to spot the right job. Jobs used to be something the general citizen dedicated a few minutes of his time to scan through while reading the newspaper in the morning. We never discussed active or passive candidates back then. It was simply a matter of “we’re hiring” and “we hope a hard working sound bloke will apply”. There were jobs and with growth and prosperity it was about how many we could hire. Loyalty was not a problem either. Most people joined in and we assumed they would stay and make career.

And so times changed. Mass communications of jobs to the public combined with poor if not even horrible match techniques between candidate profiles, ambitions, seniority level etc with actual job attributes made people suffer from job fatigue. It came more a coincidence if a job agent contained something interesting than it containing something irrelevant. This made people gotten used to view communications from online job boards as irrelevant and sometimes even as spam.

A client, a huge pharmaceutical global company, once asked me why they had such low opening rate on their mail communications from their career website. They were surprised since those they mailed were people having subscribed themselves. When I tried their service myself it proved to send me complete rubbish matches for my profile which I even had detailed to some extent in their database.

The example above is a small one but correlated with any other study or client case I’ve experienced; People don’t read crap! And even worse: People get mad if you send them crap! – And then the chance they will read your communications again lowers massively!

This job fatigue is something many channels are suffering from still today. A strong debate today is the challenge to lure passive candidates since most people don’t actively look for jobs. It is in itself a dead end debate. Why would there ever be many active candidates? Look at your own behavior. How long period of your professional active life, 40 years approximately, are you actively looking for jobs? Let’s pretend you’re a job hopper. Even if you change jobs every second year and thus work for 20 employers in a life time, how long time have you spent of your life to look for those jobs? On average 4 months per job is what statistics tells us. That’s 6,5 years of your life looking for jobs in total. Out of 40 working years it doesn’t add up to more than 16% of the time being actively looking.

That only 20% of candidates are actively looking for jobs shouldn’t come as a shocker, should it? Fact is talent are rarely looking for jobs and it’s about time we get real about this. There are services which are better to create job interest but that said, the strongest motivations to change a job often comes from a present situation, not the lure. That means a current job situation have a stronger impact on a candidates willingness to start looking than anything else.

Am I saying that a good job advert is not going to make someone interested and make an effort? No. Definitely not. I said that people aren’t looking for jobs. Period. And I also said that it isn’t a shocker that most are passive. It is pure common sense that a clear majority of people are not looking – at present.

The good news is people are open to new possibilities. Most are in fact. Even those loving their time the most with their current employer. Even the most loyal. Yes, even those. Everyone are open. We just need to work harder to make them interested. And it all starts with us getting their attention. It starts with us presenting something relevant where they happen to be and with as little disturbance to their everyday user journey as possible. If we can compliment them and make them feel valuable and appreciated at the same time we are on a roll.

Your message is as important as the channel and exposure. And a message is not just text. You got to mean it. By -being- your message. Acting like it. Be real.

And that is why I’d like to highlight a perfect example of that. McDonald’s in Sweden. With a message that goes hand in hand with what you experience when you enter their restaurants. A message that everyone understands, attracts a clear majority and has deep meaning. It is also a message which echoes in troubled political times.

When no one is looking and everyone are open this is what makes the difference.

Thank you,

Daniel Sonesson