Due to the increased competition in the marketplace, the last few years have witnessed significant changes in the employee resourcing strategies as employing the best talent has become a calculated competitive advantage for businesses. Taylor and Collins (2000) point out the importance of recruitment for organisational survival and success. They suggest that recruitment is the most critical human resource function to achieve business success. Schneider (1987) mentions that attracting and selecting the right candidate for a particular job has always been a major concern for most organisations. Increasingly, Organisations are developing aggressive strategies to persuade and attract the right employees and help them align with the business objectives to achieve competitive edge. With the growing concern over the shortage in labour markets, it is obvious that the balance of power has greatly shifted towards the applicant. Today, it has become important that organisations looking to attract the most talented workforce, consider all aspects of the employee resourcing process from an applicant's perspective. Many researchers emphasise on considering recruitment and selection as an interactive social process (Herriot, 2002) where the role of applicant in the selection process is as critical as the organisational procedures. This essay aims to examine the increased emphasis upon the applicant perspective in the employee resourcing space. For the purpose of this essay, several journals and books are reviewed and the ideas supported by several researchers in the context of recruitment and selection from an applicant's perspective are analysed and presented later.
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Searle (2003) notes an important recent development in the area of recruitment and selection. He observes that in the last few years greater attention is paid by organisations towards attracting the right talent and also towards understanding how individuals become applicants. Billsberry (2007) refers to this as understanding the applicant's perspective. Understanding applicant perspective towards recruitment helps in developing a two way relationship between the organisation and applicants. Recruitment as defined by Barber (1998) is a set of 'practices and activities carried out by the organisation with the primary purpose of identifying and attracting potential employees'.
Literature suggests that the applicant's perceptions and decision-making is important to the success of the recruitment and selection process. Today, the changing trend in the recruitment space suggests that applicant's perception of the organisation is as important as the efficiency of organisation's procedures during the recruitment process. This is supported by Saks (2005) who suggests that organisations should develop their recruitment activities in a way that enhances the applicants' interest in the organisation as an employer. Further, Maurer, Howe & Lee (1992) observe the positive relationship between applicant attraction and the amount of information provided by the recruiter during the interview. Thus, there is a need for an increased emphasis on understanding the applicant's perspective. Earlier, the balance of power was more inclined towards the employers and hence it was important that the applicant impressed the interviewers in order to get selected. This is clearly not the case. As Chambers (2001) observes, today applicants seek information from the potential employers to evaluate if the organisation is a good fit for their skills.
Chambers (2001) further suggests that organisations today need to emphasise on understanding the applicant's perception in order to show the applicant that they offer a challenging work environment that meets the applicant's interests and objectives. Also, it is observed that increasingly, potential applicants, particularly older applicants, are reluctant to apply for jobs unless they gather sufficient information about the organisation and its values along with specific job requirements. This implies that there is a greater need today to provide the right information. Organisations can achieve that by making the application process clear and simple and by providing informative job descriptions. Moreover, it is important that organisations convey the most accurate information to the potential applicants during the recruitment and selection process as the events that occur during the process play a critical role in applicant's decision of whether to accept or reject the employment offer.
Considerable research has been conducted in understanding how applicant's views of the organisations and its activities are formed (Ehrhart & Ziegert 2005; Zottoli & Wanous 2000). These studies look into the different aspects that draw applicant's attention towards a particular organisation such as recruiter behaviour, brand image and the overall attractiveness of the organisation. Jex (2002) observes that increasingly applicants evaluate potential employers and determine which organisations are most attractive to them based on certain factors such as job relevant skills, employer reputation, organisational culture and perceived values along with job location and job attributes. It also comes to notice that applicant decision making may also be influenced by other job offers or informal information about a company. Therefore, providing a realistic preview of the job helps the organisations in recruiting employees who are more committed and productive.
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Further, organisations across the globe have acknowledged the importance of applicant's perception of the job and the employer, as the labour markets have become highly competitive. Due to the labour market shortages of skilled and talented workers have led to the current scenario often considered as the 'war for talent'. This implies that in certain situations where there is shortage of skilled labour, organisations have to strive hard to persuade, attract and convince the potential applicants to maintain their interest in the company. As a result, understanding applicant's requirements from the job and the organisation becomes imperative. Today, several researchers acknowledge that organisation's reputation as a potential employer is a critical parameter in applicant's selection of a particular job. As a result, many organisations are conscious of the image that they project in front of their potential applicants. Cooper and Robertson (2003) support this view as they highlight that the image that organisation creates as an employer or a potential employer is increasingly recognised as a competitive differentiator. They note that in this challenging business environment employee's perception of the organisation is as critical as customer's perception of the business in order to achieve long term growth and success. However, every individual's perception of the organisation would be different from the other. Therefore, it is important that organisations present a clear and consistent image to its potential applicants.
Tversky and Kahneman (1974) suggest that since first impressions lead to the formation of opinions, it is important that initial contacts between organisational representatives and applicants are clear and credible. Needless to say, organisations that establish a credible reputation and project themselves as an approachable employer will be able to attract and recruit the best candidates, and will eventually achieve sustainable competitive advantage. This is evident from Schreurs et al. (2005) observations which suggest that potential candidates are more likely to apply based on the competence of career counsellors in recruitment outlets. Organisations can build long term relationships with the candidates by projecting and communicating a credible image of the organisation. Jackson et al (2008) observe that many organisations that created a positive image were able to make unattractive jobs appear attractive. For instance they note that JP Morgan Chase made it fun to apply online to their jobs by creating a job hunting game that helped the applicants to match their interests to the relevant openings. However, employers should pay attention to not divulge too much information as they can often end up providing negative information about the jobs.
Employee retention is a major issue for organisations in this competitive environment where heavy costs are involved with recruitment and selection of an employee. Understanding applicant's perspective of organisations that they wish to work for gives an insight into what organisations need to do differently to retain them. This helps the organisation to bring down the attrition levels and can save essential and expensive resource for any company. Employees leave organisations when they feel that the job is not a proper fit for their abilities and skills and the organisation fails to provide a challenging work environment, encouragement and support. These issues often affect employee morale and performance and hence the employee makes a decision to quit the organisation. Researchers are of the view that organisations can avoid such situations by understanding the applicant's requirements and clearly projecting the job offerings. Jackson et al (2008) acknowledge that recruitment strategies based on applicant's perspective enhance employee retention. Providing accurate information to the potential candidates allows them to make better decisions and facilitates self -select out from the hiring process is they do not feel satisfied. This helps the organisations in preventing unnecessary turnover. Further, Jackson et al (2008) are of the view that recruitment strategies should create positive experiences for all applicants. Their observations highlight that understanding the behaviour and preferences of the workforce is as critical for retaining the employees as it is for attracting them. In this era of knowledge workers, where business success is greatly dependant on the workforce, employee retention is critical. Studies suggest that those employees who are provided with positive and relevant messages about the job and the organisations tend to be more committed and are a better fit to the needs of organisation and less prone to turnover as such messages affect their perceptions of the job/organisation and their intentions.
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The above discussion suggests that understanding the applicant's perspective has become crucial for organisations to attract and retain potentially skilled candidates. It is no longer sufficient to simply advertise the job vacancy and wait for the appropriate candidates to apply and accept job offers. In this competitive business environment, such approaches are tenuous. Organisations need aggressive strategies to attract and retain the best candidates. Hence recruitment methods should help in projecting a favourable image of the organisation and should help in developing a two way interactive process. This will help the organisations to compete in these competitive labour markets and successfully attract and retain the best talent by consolidating its position as an employer of choice. In certain situations where there is shortage of skilled labour, understanding an applicant's perspective helps the organisation to devise strategies and adopt approaches that would help in maintaining their interest in the company. Organisations should provide a clear, credible and realistic view of the job, its requirements and values. Projecting a realistic image will help in attracting candidates who have accurate expectations and hence would be a better fit to the job. Employees leave organisations when they feel that the job is not a proper fit for their abilities. Lastly, organisations can bring down attrition levels by understanding the applicant's requirements and clearly projecting the job offerings.