The importance of prioritizing the candidate experience
The COVID-19 pandemic brought economic uncertainty and disruption on a global scale over the past year — but today, as we emerge from the height of the crisis, the focus turns towards recovery and getting back to work.
With the widespread availability of vaccinations providing a pathway to normalcy, companies are looking to increase productivity and hire more workers amidst unprecedented competition for labor.
A shrinking workforce and abundant employment opportunities have created an unprecedented competition for top talent. This competitive hiring environment has put the candidate experience in the spotlight like never before. Extensive research has been done on the topic, such as in a recent IBM study which affirms that the candidate experience is directly linked to advocacy, retention and allegiance to an employer's brand.
This IBM study found:
- Applicants who experience a positive candidate experience are 62% more likely to recommend the organization to others
- Over 60% of applicants talk about the experience with associates
- Candidates who have a positive experience are more than twice as likely to become a customer of the hiring organization than those who had a negative experience
As companies consider new approaches to candidate hiring, it is more critical than ever to ensure the candidate experience is prioritized — complementing automation with a balanced, meaningful human connection
Balance hiring technology and the human experience for better candidate care
Recruiting automation has introduced a range of efficiencies into the candidate hiring and selection process. Tools like AI-powered chat can assist candidates to ensure they are able to get questions answered and follow the application process. Assessments are leveraged to identify aptitude and behaviors that are linked to predicting performance and retention of new hires.
Other functions like on-demand video interviewing enable a pre-recorded interview question and answer exchange, while applicant tracking systems can stack rank or rule out applicants based on responses they provide.
The combination of these and other automated enhancements have a strong impact for companies as they hire the best candidates, but when they are solely relied upon without a point of human access or interaction, the results can adversely affect the candidate experience. While this process of commoditization makes it easy and efficient for organizations to focus on achieving their candidate hiring numbers and productivity targets, these companies must also maintain a human perspective — remaining focused on the candidate experience from start to finish.
Today's candidates are highly knowledgeable — with an abundance of options — making it vital for companies to recognize and appreciate the role of mutual respect and earned loyalty in the hiring process. While the company's needs (time to fill, talent selection, cost considerations, quality impact, etc.) must be satisfied, the candidate's needs must be equally addressed from all angles (personally, financially, emotionally, etc.).
Striking the proper balance between automation and human connection ensures that these tools can be optimized and utilized in a way that respects candidates at every step.
Create a more fulfilling candidate experience by looking within the company
To have a truly positive impact on the candidate experience, employers first need to know what they are doing well and where there are areas for improvement. It is not sufficient to focus solely on how to recruit, process and assess talent. To be successful over the long term, organizations must create a candidate experience that will attract and motivate talent.
It all starts by looking within — gathering valuable feedback and key insights to honestly evaluate the strengths and opportunities of your organization — then using these findings to inform the candidate experience.
Employers cannot just talk the talk — they must walk the walk. To be competitive and successfully attract top talent, companies must translate their employer brand to candidates in the earliest stages possible.
This means demonstrating what it means to be a part of your company, how it can personally benefit employees and what it is really like to work there. These are all critical elements to enhancing the candidate care process.
Evaluate your company's hiring process
Many companies are using surveys to evaluate their hiring processes — but these surveys must be properly constructed and administered to ensure transparency and anonymity in results.
Employers should quantify candidate impressions at each phase to pinpoint areas of vulnerability and opportunities for meaningful change. How do those optics from candidates align to impressions among your current workforce? Are there disparities?
Focus on candidate well-being
The candidate experience in 2021 is all about catering to people's needs in new ways. There is an increased focus on health and wellness that is highly relevant as we continue to return to the normalcy following the pandemic.
Relying on recruitment marketing materials from before or during the pandemic will become increasingly irrelevant and outdated. Candidate messaging should appeal to a sense of transparency about the organization's identity in the present — and what a new recruit could expect if they chose to come on board. Empathy, authenticity and accuracy are all important factors when communicating with candidates and employees in 2021 and beyond.
Promote the company through brand ambassadors
Any successful candidate hiring process also boosts retention. By equipping candidates with the insights they need to understand organizational culture and corporate responsibility, employers can foster a greater sense of belonging — being part of a workplace that stands for something meaningful.
Another way employers are promoting awareness and connecting on a human level is through brand ambassadors. These influencers are not just focused on marketing the company's brand — they are creating a following of interested prospects by sharing their own experiences.
This direct-from-employee messaging is more valuable — and more personal — than paid advertising, enabling employers to build trust and confidence in their organization from the inside out.
Adopt a radically human candidate care process today
Candidate care is paramount to developing and implementing a radically human hiring process.
Employers who can build trust in their brand through actions, advocacy and candidate care initiatives will attract and retain the best talent in the long run. Becoming an employer of choice in 2021 requires investing in messaging, increasing transparency, and giving candidates the confidence and desire to be part of your organization for years to come.
To learn more, contact our consultants today.
Author: Marcy Maul, VP, Client Services