Do you know your market? You probably think you do, but we’re here to tell you: you can never fully know your market. Some part of your knowledge is always outdated, and most of the time you’ll be chasing that perfect understanding. And that’s okay: just make sure you understand it as best you can, and use your energy where it matters most. We’ll give you some tips on how to optimize your understanding of your target market. Not for perfection, but for functionality and to help you spend your valuable time as effectively as possible.
So why do market research? Well that speaks for itself: how can you offer candidates what they want if you don’t know what kind of market they’re facing? You’ll want to get embedded in their world and see what they’re seeing, but take a step back and have a look at the bigger picture as well. It’s important to keep doing this from time to time, as you’ll notice that both your market and your audience are constantly evolving around you. Here are a few tips that we’ve found essential when conducting market research for talent acquisition.
Start on the candidate side
Dive into your talent’s world to get a clear picture of what your candidate encounters on their side of the equation. By the way: this goes for both active and passive candidates.Get a feel for what’s on offer on job boards: This is a good place to start. Visit several well-known job boards and check how many job openings would apply to the candidate you’re targeting. This will help you get a picture of what the job market is like for them: do they have a lot of choice? What kind of compensation is offered? Compare this with what you’re offering to see if it would be as interesting to a prospective candidate as you think.
- Do social media research: Find out what makes candidates in this field exceptional. A good place to start is social media, as it lets you look at a large number of candidates fast. If you’re looking for a developer it’s worth diving into programming languages and platforms like Github to see what their skills mean and what they’ve accomplished in the past. Candidates for other roles may have blogs, portfolios or a website that you can use to judge their capacities. These are all part of a candidate’s personal branding.
- Compare candidates: What type of candidate usually gets hired in this industry or for the position you’re trying to fill? Go through their work history and consider background factors, you might stumble onto a common denominator. Try not to look at specific job titles, but at skills: which skills would also work in the job you’re hiring for? It makes sense to collect some data in a spreadsheet that you can easily filter.
Have a closer look at the industry
Candidates don’t exist in a vacuum: they’re usually part of an industry, and that industry has a will of its own. Continuous development, innovation and competition change the playing field every day, and it’s in your best interest as a recruiter to understand the state of a specific industry before jumping in.
- Collect broad industry insights: Now set your aim a little wider and try to get a feel for the state of the particular industry. Many numbers are publicly available, for instance on the US Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Are there any trends you can identify? Try to paint an image of the reality your candidate is facing. Are their skills in high demand, or are they becoming less relevant?
- Find data on recruitment processes: For every industry, location and position, try to find out how long the process usually takes. This will give you an idea of the average time it will probably take you to set up interviews, go through the process and get a position filled. This is especially valuable when tackling a new industry, or a role you haven’t hired for before.
- Get an idea of how the future looks: Try to get a feeling for where the industry is going. By being able to judge what type of skills will be needed in the near future, you’ll be able to better predict what kind of candidate will thrive in it. You’ll also improve your retention rate!
- Find out what competitors are doing: This may be an obvious one, but look at who’s getting hired at competitors. Bonus points if you can identify how their teams are set up and what kinds of skills they’re targeting in their own recruiting.
Staying on top of things
Market research isn’t a finite thing, as markets shift and change all day long, every day. It’s up to you to check back every now and then to see if your assumptions still hold true.
- Follow current events: Stay up to date with the market: if there are mass company lay-offs or major relocations happening, you want to be aware of those. Sign up for local news and business alerts so you have insight into market shifts.
- Join professional groups: Many industries have professional groups and associations that your candidates will be members of. Everyone in these groups is at least a passive candidate, so it’s good to join and see if anything comes up that may be of interest to you.
- Keep working on your position knowledge: Make sure that you fully understand every position you need to recruit for. This will help you think outside of the box, as you’ll be able to holistically assess the required capabilities. Meaning that you won’t be too focused on job titles or experience, but can simply assess a candidate based on their array of skills. The best fits aren’t always readily apparent.
Automate where you can
A final tip from us: if you can automate even part of your market research, you’ll save lots of time and can stay updated without breaking a sweat. Set e-mail alerts, follow RSS feeds or get an aggregator program like Curator or Hootsuite that will keep you up to speed on what’s happening on every channel.
You could also save time on other fronts, by automating your job ads for instance. Wonderkind’s Talent Attraction Technology can take this off your hands! This tried and tested system automatically creates tailored job ads on many different social media channels at once. The results are fed back to you in an easy-to-use dashboard, full of functionalities that will make your eyes water! We know Talent Attraction Technology is a proven way of reaching passive candidates, and we’ll give you the data to back it up as well. Contact us if you’d like more information!