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As data science and engineering continues to thrive, the job market in these fields is becoming increasingly competitive, with top talent in high demand. In this blog post, we discuss the importance of shifting your recruitment strategy to focus on attraction and candidate-centric marketing. We’ll explore the crucial role of messaging and the three key elements of a successful hiring campaign: a compelling job value
proposition, a well-crafted job advert, and a thoughtfully executed messaging campaign. By prioritising these strategies, you can stand out in the current market and consistently attract the right candidates for your organisation.

Most developed nations are reporting the lowest levels of unemployment in 50 years. This trend is set to continue, especially in candidate-scarce disciplines like Data Science & Engineering. This means the current candidate market is the tightest in the history of our sector, and it’s going to get worse before it gets better. Data Scientists and Data Engineers with any interest in moving jobs have more choice than ever, and can expect higher remuneration levels than previously seen before.

Recruitment is now primarily a marketing function.

There is nothing anyone can do about the size of the current candidate pool or any shortages that exist within it.

However, you and your company can significantly increase the number of Data Scientists and Engineers in the candidate pool who are open to talking to you about your vacancies.

This requires an acceptance of how important marketing now is to recruiting, and that doing it well requires considerable effort and expertise.

The first principle of successfully recruiting Data Scientists & Engineers.

Successful recruitment is about two key things: attraction (the first principle) and assessment. Everything in recruitment is derived from these two foundational elements.

But, attraction comes first. Despite this, most hiring guidance (and it’s been this way for 50 years) tends to be about how to assess better and avoid hiring mistakes. There is very little being done about how to attract a better quality of people at the beginning of the process-aside from generic employer branding. Most information on the topic of attracting people in candidate-scarce niches is superficial and tactical.

The problem with not focusing on attraction is that unless you’re able to attract a consistently healthy stream of people into the hiring pipeline, then you don’t get to assess anyone in the first place. So, the most important place to start – if hiring is going to be a continual endeavor for you and your team- is to fix your attraction problem.

The best candidates are assessing you, long before you start assessing them.

Put it another way – 10 years ago, you were the buyer. Now, you are also the seller at every stage of the candidate funnel.

This is what a typical candidate marketing funnel looks like:

NB:This is a non-linear process with overlap between stages and ongoing feedback loops.

As the image shows, the candidate is assessing you and your company from stage 1 through to stage 5 – so you need to sell your proposition at each stage of the process. You are only actually assessing the candidate in the final two stages.

This means that throughout the funnel, you have to sell the benefits of coming to work in your team more than ever. If you don’t, the best people won’t consistently show up for you to interview. Most companies spend a lot of time and money selling and marketing their product or service. Marketing departments have huge budgets to invest on product strategy and value propositions. Yet, little to no energy is spent on their hiring strategy or how to market jobs.

You don’t have a candidate scarcity problem. You have a weak messaging problem.

Most companies who are currently experiencing difficulties with hiring, think they have a market conditions problem. They don’t. They have a weak messaging problem. They take an ill-considered proposition and communicate it badly, and then blame this on a lack of candidates.

If your company operates in any major Western economy, there are literally thousands of potential Data Scientists or Engineers that could be the right fit for your team. Your issue is due to the fact that you’re not reaching these individuals, and even when you do, they’re not listening because you’re failing to talk to them about what they want to hear. In fact, it’s likely that your entire approach is company-centric in terms of the process and the messaging.

The concept of customer centricity is well-established in business. However, this concept is usually ignored when it comes to recruitment. We call messaging – and recruitment marketing campaigns that talk to the candidate about what’s important to them – candidate-centric.

Candidate-centric marketing campaigns work even in the current market conditions.

Ad-hoc recruitment activity is becoming less and less effective as the candidate pool gets tighter.

The good news for you is that most companies’ recruitment marketing is very poor. Very few of the companies you are competing with for talent have put much effort into their recruitment marketing. This offers a big opportunity for you, if you take it seriously.

As an absolute minimum, any consistently high-performing, candidate-centric hiring campaign needs 3 things:

1. (Job) Value Proposition – 4-6 page document that describes every possible job and company benefit to the candidate, and looks good visually.

2. Compelling job advert written by a professional copywriter – this is a 1-page attraction piece that generates the initial interest.

3. A well thought-out messaging campaign with multiple touch points, executed across multiple channels.

These 3 things will set you up for success. They’re not a silver bullet, because there’s no such thing in recruitment. But, if you execute these tactics well, you’ll find it much easier to consistently hire the people you had in mind all along.

For most companies, improving candidate attraction is more important than improving assessment. If your job is properly defined from the start, and communicated in a highly candidate-centric and specific way, you’ll attract the people you want and repel the people you don’t want. If attraction is done well, then it makes everything else easier, including assessment and retention.

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