Today we’re making the full transcript of the interview available as well. Read below or download the full transcript for Cindy’s recruiting insights and advice.
Matt Rivera: Hi, this is Matt Rivera from TheSeamlessWorkforce.com. Today we’re speaking with Cindy Lombardo, Manager of Candidate Marketing at Yoh, about how recruiting is changing for both employers seeking qualified employees and for those seeking jobs. Thanks for joining us today, Cindy.
Cindy Lombardo: Thanks for having me, Matt.
Matt: Great. Let’s jump right in. Cindy, my first question is: What is the pace of job openings you’re seeing right now? Are companies hiring?
Cindy: Well, I can tell you that hiring was really strong through the end of last year into this year, 2012. But I think currently some businesses are somewhat hesitant regarding hiring due to one, it being an election year; and two, the turmoil of global economics, particularly in the EU. But despite that, I think that there are particular industries and geographies where hiring is very strong and in some cases growing. We recently released the Yoh Index of Technology Wages, and a couple of these areas were highlighted in that report, such as the Northeast. There are certain metropolitan regions there, as well as in the greater mid-Atlantic region, that are doing very well for hiring. And industries like IT, healthcare, and even aerospace still have solid hiring needs.
Matt: Excellent. So what about job seekers? Obviously unemployment is still high, and yet some of the companies you mentioned that are in hiring mode are asking, “Where are all the good people?” Are there a lot of qualified people out there looking for jobs?
Cindy: This is an interesting question because I think that the aggregate unemployment statistic is somewhat misleading and contributes to this question of where the good people are. If you break down the unemployment numbers you find that individuals with a bachelor’s level education or higher are unemployed at the rate of about 3.7 percent. And then if you look at an industry like IT, which I mentioned has strong hiring needs, their unemployment numbers are under 4 percent as well. What this means is that there’s a disparity between the job opportunities that are available and those individuals who are unemployed right now or unemployed at a higher rate. I’d say that the demand for highly skilled workers is just going to continue to increase, particularly because we’re such a technology-driven society, both professionally and personally. This kind of disparity isn’t really going to go away. Other things that impact this include the baby boomers that are already retiring and -- something that came to my attention recently -- in this country we do not have enough college graduates coming out with backgrounds in science, technology, engineering, or math. Quite possibly within the next eight years we will need about 1 million new candidates or college grads in those areas to keep up with demands. That’s really incredible and eight years is not that far away.
I read an article recently that mentioned that the top 10 jobs that were in demand in 2010 didn’t exist in 2004. This has to be a lot of technology jobs around social media and new mobile apps. If we think about kids today that are going to be entering college or are in college today, they’re probably preparing for jobs that don’t even exist today. I think that this talent gap problem is really only at the tip of the iceberg. There are still great, talented people out there that are looking for jobs, but there’s a disconnect between what type of job opportunities are available and the seekers that are out there or available at the current time.
Matt: It seems like that mismatch between what employers want and the skilled workers that are available is obviously happening now, but it also sounds like it’s going to continue.
Cindy: Exactly. If there’s anybody out there who’s interested in making a career change or somebody who’s younger and thinking, “What do I want to do when I grow up?” I would absolutely advocate thinking about the STEM areas (science, technology, engineering, and math). We’re going to continue to need people that have those higher-level skills in those areas.
Matt: That leads to my next question about the industries or skills that you think are hot right now. Where is some of the hiring happening today?
Cindy: Earlier I mentioned IT, healthcare, and aerospace. And in terms of the particular skill sets that are really hot right now, in the IT sector it’s anyone with a background in JAVA or J2EE. We really need a lot of software and web developers. If you have a background in mobile technology, you’re not going to have a problem finding a job. Same thing with .NET folks and IT project managers.
On the healthcare side, we’re seeing that a lot of specific types of RN skill sets are needed, such as occupational health nurses, RN case managers, infection control, nurse navigators, and clinical documentation specialists.
Finally, for aerospace, if you have a skill set in design and manufacturing engineering, that’s highly needed, as well as A&P mechanics and either structural repair or composite type technicians.
Matt: Interesting. I would think the need in aerospace goes back to your original point about the skills gap. There are probably not a lot of graduates or new workers coming into some of those aerospace, mechanical, and traditional engineering roles.
Cindy: Absolutely. Or the problem is that companies need somebody at a higher functioning level with more experience, but they have only entry-level people. Then there’s that mismatch -- candidates need to have more experience, but yet the Catch-22 is how do they get that experience?
I would advocate that, where possible, businesses invest more in training, both for new graduates and for individuals that are currently within their workforce, to keep individuals’ skills up and to teach new skill sets as technology changes things.
Matt: That’s great advice. Let’s switch gears to recruiting. What are some of the most effective techniques that you see employers using to find good people? Do you have some examples for us?
Cindy: Sure. First, it’s really important to have a multi-faceted approach to recruitment. Technology provides so many different avenues for advertising jobs and interacting with candidates. There’s no silver bullet or one-size-fits-all solution for attracting and engaging with talent. You have to consider how technology impacts the way that job seekers look, so that recruiters and employers can get in front of those individuals.
It wasn’t all that long ago when the newspaper classified section was the go-to location for job seekers. You laugh because it’s all but obsolete now. The Internet changed that, and that’s when the job boards such as CareerBuilder and Monster came to light. Job boards were fabulous because you could look at job opportunities all over the country, not just what your local paper had.
Then technology changed things again, and Web 2.0 came around. Instead of just a repository of information, the Internet became more interactive. And now you have LinkedIn and job aggregators, and search engine optimization (SEO) technology is much better than it once was. As recruiters and employers looking for talent, we have to keep pace with the changes.
Over the last two years, I have seen a shift in job seeker habits. People are using job aggregators, such as Indeed.com and SimplyHired, at a higher frequency than job boards. From Yoh’s perspective, it’s impacted our strategy in what tools we’re providing to our recruiters in order to find the talent that our clients need. Five years ago, our sourcing techniques were probably predominantly invested in major job boards, both on the resume mining and posting sides. And while job boards are still an integral part of our strategy, they’re only one element. We have diversified and invested in things like SEO, SEM, aggregators, and more niche boards. A vast majority of job seeker traffic to Yoh’s career site, jobs.Yoh.com, can be attributed to search engine optimization efforts.
Things have changed so radically in the past five years, and I would bet that given another five years, this conversation is going to be radically different because technology continues to grow and evolve and impact our industry.
Matt: That’s real interesting. Let’s talk about a couple of things that you mentioned -- in particular, social media. What do you think is working right now? And what’s not working?
Cindy: Social media is a big one that everyone likes to talk about. I think that social media can be a complement to a sourcing strategy. But at the same time, it can be very time intensive in order to provide results in terms of locating or even placing candidates.
We have to talk about social media platform by platform regarding how it impacts our industry. The big one is LinkedIn. It’s become an asset to employers and recruiters alike, as far as being able to network and find candidates. Then there’s Facebook and Twitter, which also offer ways to engage individuals but might skew toward being more media sources or sources to interact with friends. Facebook and Twitter give employers a great opportunity to interact in a more personal way with candidates that otherwise might not have the opportunity to ask recruiters or employers, “Would you help me and give me advice about my job search?” Or, “Could I ask you to provide me an update on a job that I’ve applied for?”
I think social media is effective in those avenues because we can interact in ways that we couldn’t before. But I would caution people against thinking that social media is going to be their primary recruiting resource or that it’s not time intensive.
And the last thing is that, as wonderful as it is to connect people and employers via social media, it is more of an informal type of communication platform. I always advocate that when you are in job-seeker mode you must have the professional cap on, if you will, as far as professionally reaching out with your inquiries via social media and making sure your profile picture matches that persona.
Matt: Don’t use the kitten profile picture, right?
Cindy: No. [Laughs]
Matt: So what do you see as the future of social media recruiting? Where do you see it going?
Cindy: One of the things that I expect to see, probably in the near future, is better search capabilities with regard to Facebook. I think Facebook is going to try and push to be more competitive with LinkedIn as a professional social networking site instead of being completely a friends and family site. As that happens, you’re going to see more of a shift with employment practices and recruitment utilizing Facebook for professional networking and locating candidates.
And then of course, anything in the social media realm that is able to keep up with mobile technology -- specifically being able to effectively and easily function on mobile devices -- is going to have staying power or relevance to recruitment. I believe that this year mobile device sales are expected to eclipse that of PCs. Even personally I can tell you that I don’t access Facebook or Twitter on my PC, just very rarely. The same thing goes for tools that someone might use to locate jobs or candidates. Platforms that can keep up with mobile technology will have staying power. Just as Pinterest is the hottest thing today, I’m sure that there are going to be a lot of different sites that pop up and impact not only social media, but recruitment.
Matt: Interesting. Earlier you also mentioned job boards. Do you think job boards are dying? Are they going to go away anytime soon?
Cindy: A lot of people talk about this. I do not think that they are dying. But as I mentioned earlier, they are not the dominant resource for recruitment now because technology has changed the environment and how job seekers seek. But as far as long-term viability, I think that job boards have to adapt their business models, products, and services to maintain relevancy. I’m already seeing this with some of Yoh’s partners. Some of the major job boards have new mobile applications. They’re extending their partner networks. There are even data tools that are fabulous for talent acquisition planning because they enable users to look at compensation rates and labor pressures. As long as the job boards keep up by adding services and product offerings, I think that they will remain relevant to our industry.
Matt: Let’s talk about other technology that affects recruiting, such as applicant tracking systems. How do you see them affecting recruiting today?
Cindy: The applicant tracking system (ATS) is something that I’ve been thinking about lately, pertaining to job seekers. I’ve had many conversations with friends and acquaintances that are looking or know people that are looking for job opportunities. And the one thing that stands out is that none of them know what an ATS is or what it does. And quite frankly, one’s resume and its ability to be processed through an ATS will impact whether an actual recruiter reviews it and whether the person has viability as a candidate for the role. That means that someone who is perfectly qualified for a job could potentially be overlooked if their resume isn’t formatted correctly. Or if a person didn’t use the correct keywords, the ATS will parse the information into a database and a recruiter will not see it.
While I think technology like an ATS can facilitate the recruitment process, it’s not fail-safe. And I see this with other technology too, such as social media. As I mentioned, social media is wonderful for providing new opportunities to network and locate opportunities. But it can be overwhelming and difficult to determine what site to go to when there are so many out there.
In general, my advice is don’t get lost or overly reliant on technology, regardless of if you’re on the recruiting side or you’re a job seeker. There’s such a plethora out there, but focus on a few tools and use them well and make sure that you’re not overlooking things. Technology can enhance what we’re doing, but I don’t think that it’s ever going to replace critical decision skills or personally going out and making connections and networking.
Matt: That leads me to my next question. In your opinion, do you think that some companies are too reliant on technology when it comes to recruiting?
Cindy: I don’t necessarily think so, particularly because we are completely reliant upon technology personally and professionally. And I do think that technology can complement core functional recruitment skills. What becomes a problem is when we rely on technology to replace those core skills. Nothing, in my opinion, is ever going to replace a good recruiter that knows how to proactively go out and source candidates or a recruiter that really knows how to network and develop and maintain relationships with candidates. And when a good recruiter is matching a talented individual to an employment opportunity, he or she is able to critically assess whether the person’s skills match and whether there’s a cultural match. Nothing replaces that. But technology that’s used strategically can really enhance our industry and our ability to match and find talent.
Matt: Great. So you have already given us a few tips and things to look out for, but what other tips would you give the companies looking for great talent today?
Cindy: Maybe to hire Yoh. [Laughs]
Beyond partnering with Yoh, focus on a diversified recruitment strategy, but also be willing to be flexible regarding your hiring needs. It’s not easy to discover that you have a need and then turn around and find that talent quickly. It’s important that companies increasingly be prepared with succession planning and that they are proactive with their talent acquisition process. Start early. That’s going to make it easier to locate talent and to avoid negatively impacting your business.
Matt: And on the other side of the equation, what tips would you have for job seekers?
Cindy: Well, there’s a lot. First, if you haven’t tried contract job opportunities, really consider it. Contract opportunities are a great way to keep your skills fresh and to work with wonderful employers, and they often open up opportunities for permanent, direct-hire jobs.
Regardless of whether you're seeking contract or direct-hire employment, networking is crucial to being able to make the right connections and even come across job opportunities that you haven’t been able to find online or that haven’t been advertised yet.
Next, remember that networking is a two-way street. It’s not just “Can you help me find a job?” It’s “What can I do for you?” as well.
Lastly, sometimes people get into the habit of over-applying and just apply for any job. What’s really going to help an individual be successful is to clearly define what their skill set is, what jobs they’re qualified for, and how their interest matches up to that. If you’re able to clearly define that and hone in on it, you’re going to do much better in your applications and networking, and you’ll find that you’ll get a lot further faster in your job-seeking efforts.
Matt: That’s great. I have one last question for you: How is this advice different or similar from the advice you would have given two or three years ago?
Cindy: Well, I know networking is something that people have always talked about. But what I think is different is that with the reliance or the interdependence on technology in our personal and professional lives, sometimes we forget that in-person communication, or even just picking up the phone, is important. We don’t want to solely rely on messaging through LinkedIn or email. Job seekers need to get out there and remember that face-to-face communication is effective.
I mentioned earlier that there are so many things out there vying for our attention as far as how you can effectively do your job seeking; don’t get overly concerned about that. You want to stay fresh in the ways that you’re looking, but you’re never going to be an expert in everything. So it’s important to take a couple strategies, hone in on them, and that’s how you’ll be most successful.
Matt: OK, that’s great. We’ve been speaking with Cindy Lombardo, Manager of Candidate Marketing at Yoh. Cindy shared some great information for both job seekers and companies looking for talent. Thanks so much for your time today, Cindy.
Cindy: Thanks for having me.
Matt: Also, look for Cindy’s blog posts on TheSeamlessWorkforce.com, where she’ll be sharing more thoughts with us in the future. Thanks for listening.