THE SCIENCE OF TALENT ATTRACTION - Argyle Executive Forum Events
Aaron Schwartz


A decade ago, the norm was for recruiters to reach out to passive candidates in an attempt to woo them. That approach doesn’t resonate well with today’s

The three top factors candidates consider before choosing an employer are change, company, and opportunity. Knowing what drives people to consider changing jobs, the methods they use, where they are looking and how often is essential. Once HR professionals understand these changes and adapt their approach, they can more easily appeal to top candidates. Those were a just a few of the main points made during a recent Indeed-sponsored Argyle webcast. Aaron Schwartz, Senior Manager, Employer Insights at Indeed, launched the virtual event by highlighting some key findings from two internal talent studies the company recently conducted. “Recruiting is the No. 1 source of business impact, and because of this the responsibility of talent leaders is huge. This role is going to be even more important going forward,” said Schwartz.

Sociology of the Job Search

To better understand the job search process, Indeed studied thousands of job seekers and employers, looking in part to test the belief that 80% of candidates are actively searching for jobs and 20% are passive. Schwartz says they discovered the opposite was true. “The overwhelming majority — 91% of job seekers — said they search for jobs at least a few times a year. While it’s not surprising people are looking for jobs online, what was astonishing is how many are using a mobile job search app.”

On Indeed’s site, 70% of global traffic comes from a mobile device. For these reasons, Schwartz said the concept of active/passive job seekers no longer exists. “What’s even more interesting is we found candidates expect us to come to them via mobile devices as well.” These are clear indicators, Schwartz said, that mobile optimization is a must. In particular, he noted the increasing frequency that candidates are relying on job alerts as a search tool. “We found people rarely turn these alerts off because they view job searching as an ongoing process. One of the most surprising things we found in our job seeker’s survey is that even starting a new job does not stop people from continuing to look.”

About two thirds of candidates, are back on Indeed within about three months of being hired, Schwartz noted. “Truly passive candidates are rarer than you may think. Online job searching is the top activity for those who get hired,” he said.

The Psychology of the Job Search

Schwartz emphasized that candidates put a lot of time, effort, and thought into switching jobs. He broke it down into steps:

• Step #1: Consider making a change.

• Step #2: Evaluate your company

• Step #3: Search for a position that meets their skills and interests.

• Step #4: Apply for that position

• Step #5: Commit to the process

• Step #6: Accept an offer

• Step #7: Show up on the first day

“We all know how difficult it can sometimes be to get a candidate to move from accepting an offer to actually showing up to start the job,” he said. “People are wired to resist change, especially career change. What’s more, change requires people to be visionaries and determine whether the benefits of something outweigh the risks.” If change is so stressful why do employed people consider making a career change? Schwartz said people often look to change jobs because they are disillusioned or disenfranchised by their current role. The other reason, he noted, is they are attracted and inspired by the idea of a new opportunity.

Ways to Improve Your Talent Attraction Strategy

When you are pitching candidates, you are selling your brand, Schwartz reminded the audience. “You will be more successful if you lean on the positive side by being uplifting and inspiring when it comes to helping people make that change.” Instead of thinking about hiring in terms of active/passive job seekers, he suggested recruiters approach it as an inbound/outbound process. Inbound candidates are applying and are ready for change. He said this group has already done all the thinking and the decision-making. It is also important to sequence your recruiting tactics to maximize for quality, cost and performance. “Free inbound traffic is a great place to begin. Start by looking at the people who come to your career site and at internal candidates or referrals. Lastly, focus on outbound tactics which can include you actively searching out the right candidate,” said Schwartz. Recruiters, have an opportunity to shape and control their candidate pipeline by placing the focus on job titles, job descriptions, your career site and your reviews. “All of these things draw a candidate in and shows them what’s in it for them,” said Schwarz. Schwartz also stressed the importance of being transparent and talking honestly to candidates about what they can expect. “In the end, you need to make sure you own your employer brand and make sure your messaging is consistent. Remember that at the end of the day you are who you hire.” 

Job Search Influences

A panel discussion regarding job search influences and top methods to find jobs followed the presentation of the study results. Carrie David, Chief Human Resources Officer at Interstate Hotels & Resorts, said it is important to keep in mind that for many the right career path doesn’t have to be a vertical move, it can be a lateral one as well. “Sometimes people need to go back or sideways to make a bigger jump later on or to round out their skill set,” David said. “Breaking out of that traditional hierarchical way of thinking about career growth has opened up a world of opportunity enables people to manage their careers in ways that are meaningful to them.” Liz Osterhus Fleuette, Chief People Officer at Ipsos, said that career change is not necessarily about upward mobility. It can often be about finding a new challenge. “Growing one’s career can be about getting a new title or developing a more diverse skill set. During recruitment, we highlight the opportunity for the candidate’s personal growth as well as business gains.” For Rodney Whitmore, Chief Human Resources Officer at George Washington University, it comes down to familiarity and brand reputation, which he noted, places a tremendous amount of pressure on HR to have a quality, strategic communication plan in place. “We need to remember, candidates are looking at whether they trust an organization with their future.” 

To Job Search Methods

Networking remains one of the most valuable ways to find a new job, Whitmore said. “For all of the technological support associated with talent acquisition, we know statistically and experientially that most quality or high end senior-level candidates with very specific and targeted skill sets find the most success by leveraging their personal and professional networks to advance their careers.” Interstate Hotels & Resorts’ David said a surprising number of leads result from people casually telling friends and peers that they are open to opportunities. She also stressed that many times the best prospects for a position already work at the company. “Sometimes it just takes having a conversation outside of your direct chain of command with HR or a recruiter to really understand the breadth of opportunities your current company can offer. For our part as employers, we just rolled out our new values so that people have something to feel connected to and understand the bigger picture of where we are focused as an organization, how we give back to our associates and our community.” When it comes to more junior positions, Fleuette said Indeed and other job network sites have proven to be ideal ways to get one’s resume seen by a diverse array of employers. “Attractive candidates should always know what their best-case scenario looks like and what will it take to make them successful in their next endeavor. As employers. we have a responsibility to stay focused on what our brand is, what our message is and what we have to offer.” 

Prioritizing Diversity

While recognizing the value of internal referrals — about a third of her candidates fall into that category — Indeed also looks to external sources to ensure a well-rounded talent pool. “For us, diversity extends beyond race or ethnicity to nationality, skill sets, expertise and backgrounds. We do a periodic skills gap analysis to see where we have deficits or anticipated deficits and forecasting of what we anticipate we’ll need, what we have on board, what we think we’ll need to bring on board. Because, we have clients that operate globally, it is important that our team reflect their global footprint as well.” To promote diversity and inclusion, David’s company routinely reviews its core framework of who they are, including their values, hiring practices and assessment tools. They also use different recruitment channels to ensure they are reaching a variety of demographic candidates, especially for upper level positions. “As an organization, we believe that diversity of thought, backgrounds and experiences helps raise the level of performance across the entire company.” Whitmore pointed out that his company has established a broad set of values that are directly integrated into its talent acquisition, development performance management and recognition systems. “Diversity and inclusion have become a part of the overall approach that we take starting with our customer or our patient, and then working our way back through.” 


To attract quality talent, recruiters must adapt to the changing ways in which candidates are seeking their next job. To do this often requires recruiters to broaden their perspective of the best places to find the right candidates. In today’s climate that often means online job sites and mobile apps. In addition, many companies are discovering that some of the best candidates are right under their noses. Regardless of where the candidate comes from, taking a new job is a life changing and often stressful decision. Recruiters can make the process easier by knowing how to appeal to candidates, leveraging the company’s brand and being clear about the position.


➢ Career change is stressful. By being uplifting and inspiring you can help ease the transition.

➢ To appeal to candidates, focus on job titles, job descriptions, your career site, and your reviews.

➢ Leverage mobile apps to find and communicate with candidates.

➢ Don’t overlook internal candidates and consider creating a referral bonus policy.

➢ Own your employer brand and have consistent messaging.

➢ Be clear what you are and are not looking for so that you don’t waste anyone’s time.