Recruiting in a digital world: The desires and demands of the digital candidate

In a digital and data-driven world, companies are hiring more tech-savvy specialists to keep up with the game.

And you won’t just find them tucked away in the IT department.

These analytical, scientific and technological minds are no longer in just the domain of big Tier 1 companies. They now frequent almost every operational department in every industry and play a crucial role in driving engagement, strategy and financial turnover as companies compete globally for the attention of the customer – and the candidate.

But what employers are looking for – and what they are promising – isn’t necessarily what candidates are looking for.

SEEK research has uncovered key insights that can help identify what messages best resonate with the sharpest minds in the field.

SEEK’s Laws of Attraction survey, of almost 6,000 candidates across 20 different industries, found that while there are four key streams - ICT, science and technology, data science & analytics and digital – you’d be mistaken if you treated them all as one and the same during the hiring process.

Similarly, if you are too exclusive you could be ignoring potentially great talent that would be willing to jump stream if you reached out to them.

SEEK’s research manager Caroline North says the data found a significant overlap between the four streams so it’s important to keep an open mind as to who might be wanting to hear your messages.

Who wants what?

The study found that while everyone is playing in the digital sphere, the factors that drive them are distinctly different.

Data science & analytics candidates, says North, desire an internationally renowned company with a strong reputation that is at the forefront of cutting edge data analytics. They see it as an opportunity to hone their skillsets and be innovative.

Driven and dedicated to a project, these employees like to segregate work from everyday life, therefore can be content to have a structured roster and be attracted by the ability to purchase additional leave.

By contrast, North says, the study found that those working in digital, in roles such as digital marketing, communications and strategy, are lured by big brands with great consumer engagement. They like to live and consume the brand they work for and integrate it into their life so flexibility in their work hours, an in-house gym or team events with colleagues can enhance the appeal.

But if you think it is Millennials and Gen Y’ers that dominate the digital space, think again.

It is true that a younger workforce dominates science and technology, but ICT has a lot more employees aged 35 and 54 than the other industries which North says cannot be overlooked.

“It is not only digital natives that play in this arena,” says North. “They can be across all demographics and you are missing an opportunity if you fail to attract candidates from all age brackets.”

Where employers miss the mark

SEEK spoke with specialist consultants from recruitment company Bluefin Resources to find out whether their experience reflected the findings of the Laws of Attraction study.

Both Bluefin’s data analytics divisional manager, Stuart Garland, and marketing account director, Lucy Bolan, agree there are some areas where employers are off the mark in their search for candidates.

Garland says the biggest mistake is not offering experienced data analysts the career progression they crave.

It is a bugbear of many, says Garland, that they reach a point where to get the salary they deserve they must move into management.

He says companies need to find different ways to reward excellence through career progression.

These highly skilled and passionate employees want to retain their skills and be respected, he says. They love digging deeply into layers of data and emerging with solutions and strategies. Being made a manager can take away from what they most enjoy.

Garland suggests recognising their expertise as a senior member of the team with a different reporting line, or giving them a seat at the leadership table so they can share their strategic and tactical insights without the responsibility of overseeing other people – while paying them accordingly – are some ways companies can attract the most astute analytic minds to their business.

“People in their 30-50s are the lifeblood of analytics in Australia,” says Garland.

“Without them Millennials wouldn’t have people to learn from but…there is this archaic idea that to move up it is the same for everyone so you move them to management, but just because they are great analysts doesn’t mean they make great managers.”

Bolan says candidates in the digital arena are all about the lifestyle and the culture. They are the messages these people want to hear.

“Back in the day as recruiters we were ticking technical skill boxes,” she says, “but now it is much more focused on culture and behaviour.

“We are stretching the parameters and trying to match people to the company that share the same interests and personal goals.”

Bolan’s key warning is that companies need to practice what they preach.

“Candidates tell me they have hit a glass ceiling or they were told they’d have flexible conditions or great training opportunities but it didn’t happen,” says Bolan.

“If you make a promise to deliver in an interview, you absolutely have to deliver on that.”

The overarching message, says North, is that in a rapidly evolving world companies need to be thinking ahead for what they want in their digitally skilled employees and to not box in these highly educated and innovative minds.

Tell them how you are at the cutting edge of your industry, show them how you embrace work-life balance or reward career progression and be aware that many are willing to move industries to try something new.

“The need for these skills are everywhere,” says North.

“In an emerging field where language is constantly evolving and there are roles that didn’t exist five years ago, you need to maintain currency of language used in your job ads if you are to attract the brightest and sharpest minds.”

 

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