Recruiting in Washington, DC is a world unto itself. In most cities, recruiters and talent professionals don’t have to worry about the intricacies of government bureaucracies, security clearances or how federal elections will impact the industries they work in or the available talent. But most cities are not home to one of the largest employers in the nation - the Federal Government of the United States.
DC is different. Our job market includes two states and “the District” (and one of the toughest commutes in the country). We have major industries that range from high tech to manufacturing to defense contractors, NGOs, healthcare, the military, government and everything in between in a small, saturated talent market. Not to mention that every federal election can potentially change the hiring landscape as different administrations prioritize different agenda items. If there’s anything you can say about recruiting in DC, it’s that it is never boring.
Last week, more than 40 talent leaders gathered in Tyson’s Corner at “Cracking the DC Talent Market” for a frank discussion of the world of recruiting in the District. I was fortunate to participate as part of the panel alongside comScore recruiting consultant Alan Henshaw, Appian Director of Talent Acquisition Dawn Mitchell, and Frontpoint Director of Talent Acquisition Bill Blackford.
Between the panelists and more than 40 attendees, we had a sterling group of the DC metro’s top recruiting minds on hand. Here are some of my key takeaways:
- Train your teams.
It’s worth the time and money to invest in your team’s competencies. The better and more consistent your team is at sourcing, interviewing, candidate outreach, vetting a candidate’s fit and all of the other aspects of recruiting, the better equipped they will beat managing the hiring process and identifying great candidates.
- Standardize your process.
A standardized hiring process helps ensure that you are offering a consistent hiring experience while also giving you the data and feedback to make effective, accurate decisions in a timely manner.
- Keep your digital footprint polished and current.
Don’t underestimate the power of your employer brand to get candidates over the finish line. An updated, current Glassdoor or The Muse page with recent reviews and employee testimonials is one of the best ways to communicate to candidates a genuine perspective on why your company is a good place to work.
- Technology is pivotal but being human still matters.
Technology is hugely important in modern talent acquisition, but it doesn’t make the human touch any less important. Finding great candidates more quickly is one thing, but building relationships with them will always be the most important part of recruiting.
- Be as transparent as possible.
Transparency sets clear expectations for everyone in the hiring process. It manages candidate expectations and minimizes the risk of misunderstandings that may damage the candidate experience.
- Strive for authenticity.
No organization is perfect. Build messaging about your organization’s values and frame your org’s successes and challenges in a way that shows the potential challenges and opportunities that exist within the role. The best candidates aren’t looking for easy jobs, they’re looking for growth opportunities.
- A great candidate experience pays dividends.
Treat your candidates like gold, and they will pay you back tenfold with referrals, positive reviews and other priceless ways of paying the goodwill forward. Even if you don’t hire them, candidates remember being treated well and, who knows, they could make the perfect hire in the near future.
- Persistence pays off.
It takes an average of 16 touchpoints to get a sourced candidate to engage. It will almost always take more than one message to get candidates into the pipeline, which means the most important thing is to try and try again.
With technology changing faster than ever and a talent market that is the hottest it’s been in years, recruiting is not for the faint of heart, but the good news is that it always comes down to candidates and what matters to them. If talent teams spend the time to get to know the people they are pursuing, they’ll figure out how to recruit them.