The COVID pandemic has provided businesses with a real opportunity to position their employer brand as a market leader in candidate experience. However it is often an afterthought with little care and attention given to it.
At the start, the number of job seekers far outweighed the number of job opportunities, thus creating disappointment for the vast majority. This was a time where companies could have stepped up and delivered an experience that was positive, memorable and respectful — even if landing a job wasn't the final outcome of that process. But so many failed.
Right now, the landscape is completely different. There is an abundance of opportunity and organisations are experiencing a talent shortage, so why is the candidate experience not prioritised?
Now is the time where brands need to seriously rethink their talent attraction strategies if they want to attract top talent.
I decided to speak to some internal recruitment teams at leading organisations to ask what they feel constitutes a positive candidate experience, get their take on why so many businesses are not prioritising it, and ask what they are doing to address this issue.
Nathan Nankivell, Talent Acquisition Manager at Optus believes that the candidate experience starts long before a job application is made and that companies should be considering their employer branding way in advance of starting a recruitment process.
“The respect for a person's time and consideration can sometimes be lacking. When a person applies for a role, often before they do they will spend considerable time researching the company. That is when the candidate experience starts. Organisations today need to make sure that a potential candidate is engaged from the time they have started researching whether they would like to work for you, right up to the time that they are either successful or unsuccessful for a job.”
This is key. For potential new hires to get to know a business and decide whether or not they'd like to work there they need to be able to find information that will help guide their decision making. This isn't usually done through press releases or corporate communications, but through real, authentic content and stories from within a business. A careers page is a great example of this. Alongside postings of open roles, there could be information on teams, workplace culture, any diversity and inclusion initiatives, benefits, office tours etc.
Lack of training on best practice recruitment processes is a major problem
One of the challenges with providing a great candidate experience is that hiring managers are often not trained in hiring. They're given the responsibility of bringing people into their business because a role sits within their team without being given adequate resources or training on processes to follow. This then leads to a disjointed and inconsistent experience, because the way that one hiring manager handles their interview process could be totally different to another. That's where the role of a recruiter or talent acquisition professional comes into play.
“A key function of Talent Acquisition professionals is to really show up as advisors in their field and act as champions for their candidates. Hiring Managers and Interviewers are not always the best at hiring and interviewing! It is the role of Talent Acquisition teams to up-skill, coach and support hiring teams when it comes to providing the best possible candidate experience. This can be done through workshops and interview training, however I have often found that on the spot real-time coaching/feedback works best when you see an opportunity for hiring practices to be improved.”
Of the many criticisms of companies' poor hiring processes, lack of communications tends to be the main one.
Job seekers find it extremely frustrating when, having taken the time and effort to submit their interest in working with a company, they get little or no response and even if they do, it doesn't tend to come in a timely manner.
“It is a false truth that you can't respond to every candidate. Although it is important to always consider the company's needs and navigate time pressure and manage the expectations of frantic hiring managers that need staff yesterday. It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that hiring staff quickly comes at the expense of the candidate's experience, however, there are plenty of tech tools to leverage out there, as well as keeping in mind the actual human experience.”
Dean Staples, Talent Acquisition Partner at Optus believes communication and momentum really define a positive or negative candidate experience.
“Be clear, be constant and be transparent through the entire process. Even an update saying there is no update is still engaging.”
Ultimately the human element is what's seen as being the best way to deliver experiences that candidate's will remember.
Alex Cain-Reed states:
“People buy from people and candidates should feel set up for success by companies looking to hire and their interview teams. Overall, a positive candidate experience is one where the candidate walks away feeling that their time is just as important as the time of the company or interviewer.”
With a lack of available talent and wealth of opportunity, employer branding and candidate experience is more important than ever. In order to attract the very few that are open to changing jobs, a positive candidate experience is a must. Those that do it well will reap the rewards of being able to hire despite a challenging market. Those that fail to do so will inevitably find that it comes back to bite them.
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