SW Recruitment Society Event – The importance of a great candidate experience

As the first event held by the newly established South West and South Wales Recruitment Society, it was an undeniable success. Entering a room filled with lively chatter, curiosity took hold. It was easy to see why this event was so popular.

Sponsored by TMP UK and Penna and hosted by David Thompson the Chair of the South West and South Wales Recruitment Society, the evening considered the place of candidate experience; why we should measure it and its importance within an organisation.

Why candidate experience matters…

Mystery Applicant’s Client Relationship Lead , Emma Campbell, kicked off the presentations by discussing what position the candidate experience held within recruitment strategy and the wider business arena.

Emma marked it as the next mega-trend due to demand and supply, rising candidate expectations and the growing popularity of social media – When you live in a feedback culture, it’s something that needs to be addressed; it won’t go away.  The importance of actively analysing the candidate experience was emphasised. By doing this, companies are then provided with the tools to control and influence not only their recruitment process, but also the effect it has upon their organisation’s brand image.

Research, conducted by Mystery Applicant, was drawn on to highlight why measuring the candidate experience is key. Without it, a company is merely guessing what the candidate expects; a sure way to get it wrong.

Creating a great candidate experience…

Emma was followed by Samantha Lawn, Lloyds Banking Group’s Head of HR. Samantha’s presentation considered why measuring the candidate experience had improved Lloyds TSB’s resourcing. Lloyds TSB, as a company, understand that ‘the candidate experience is becoming more and more important’. With many of their applicants already customers – and if not, always a potential one – the importance of producing a great candidate experience is paramount for their company image to continue to thrive.

Their previous recruitment process gave no consistent experience for applicants and resulted in high first year attrition figures in some regions, with many individuals not performing in their assigned roles. As each recruited position could incur a cost of up to £40,000, this was worrying.

By bringing in a new candidate management system to regulate the recruitment process, making advertised roles more explicit and introducing a more consistent approach to resourcing throughout the company, they reduced the time and cost of hire, decreased their first year attrition rate and gave candidates a consistently better experience. Whilst Lloyd’s TSB is still continuing to improve this process – with the hope of implementing their next stage, ‘Banking made easy’, in the near future – the results they’ve had from measuring their candidate experience are clear to see.

On-boarding as a key recruitment strategy…

Last to present was Adrian Thomas, Network Rail’s Head of Resourcing, who reflected that it was still necessary to monitor each candidate’s experience past the initial recruitment stage. A bad resourcing strategy can result in lost talent; combine this with an inadequate on-boarding process and your first year attrition rates will be sky high.

Adrian drew on Network Rail’s experience at their new Milton Keynes base as an example of how understanding your candidate can reinforce your business infrastructure, building a strong and loyal workforce.

Whilst their recruitment strategy involved three phases, their last phase will fortify the successes of the first two. With its focus on ‘On-boarding and Retaining’, their new CEO David Higgins is attempting to replace the old command and control culture of Network Rail, with one of openness and equality.

Through introducing an on-boarding day (hosted by senior Network Rail employees); a new employee website; and a policy stating that all employees must be fully equipped and briefed by their first day, Network Rail hopes there will be less segregation between the senior management and their workforce. This will ensure that new employees feel confident in their respective roles.

As the event drew to a close with a question and answer session, there was no doubt about the importance that monitoring the candidate experience has within a business, and will continue to have – as, unintentionally, candidates have become ‘the best ambassadors that you can get for a company.’ By understanding this, companies are recognising the potential this group has to affect the quality of their workforce, their sales and their company as a whole.