Recruitment is becoming more competitive and complex. Tight labour markets, with low unemployment rates and increasing skill shortages, restrict supply, whilst candidates are becoming ever more savvy.
Candidates are behaving far more like consumers, utilising their ability to identify the organisations they want to work for in much the same way they assess and engage with consumer brands.
Chief Marketing Officers have long been alert to the fact that reputational factors underpin brand integrity and future profitability. Not surprising then that most leading brands have focussed heavily on customer experience as a key differentiator.
Toni Clayton-Hine (CMO at Xerox) sums this up by stating “Each interaction a customer has with your brand – positive, negative, seamless or slow – shapes their perception of you, and those perceptions translate to dollars spent – or not.”
Similarly, every interaction between an employer and their candidates has an impact on the employment brand and the ability of that organisation to compete for top talent.
As Google put in their recent article:
“The Candidate Experience is Your Best Opportunity for Improving Hiring Performance”
So what can Talent Engagement functions learn from best practice in Customer Experience to help deliver an outstanding Candidate Experience and recruit more effectively?
1. Know your audience
Understanding customer preferences and motivations are key to positioning any product offering and to effectively engage an audience. That’s why most leading consumer brands are listening organisations. They want to know what influences people to come to them, shop with them and remain loyal to their brand.
“Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves.” – Steve Jobs
Findings are segmented, geographically and by a range of demographics, and buyer personas, with these insights being used to tweak the content and offering for each segment.
Understanding what motivates and influences candidates to apply for roles can significantly help employers to differentiate themselves. Making it easier to craft and deploy more engaging content that speaks directly to those aspects of their employment proposition that are of most interest to the skilled individuals they need to attract. This drives application rates and importantly is proven to attract more passive job seekers.
2. Treat me as an individual
In order to build rapport and trust with their customers leading brands are investing significantly to personalise and humanise the experience they offer.
Personalisation throughout the customer experience makes people pay attention to the brand and drives the buying process. Salesforce’s recent study reported that 84% of customers said that being treated like a person, not a number, is very important to winning their business.
“Customers really value having a trusted, human relationship in business and they are willing to pay a premium when you recognise them for the value they bring and serve their bespoke needs” – Steve Sinclair
A great candidate experience similarly hinges upon providing a personal touch that conveys to an applicant that their time is valued. This can be challenging when recruitment is increasingly reliant on technology to automate processes.
Case in point: According to The Talent Board’s 2017 research 85% of rejected applicants doubted a real person had ever reviewed their application.
Our own research, at Mystery Applicant, discovered that a lack of personalisation was a top reason why applicants declined an offer*.
Lack of personalization is a top 3 factor for job offers being declined
Conversely, employers that invested in adding some form of personalisation throughout their process (in terms of both the means and method of communication) saw reductions in the levels of candidates opting out of the process (by 16% on average). Declined offers also fell sharply, by 18%.
3. Create an insider feeling
Marketers frequently seek to establish a sense of belonging that builds a stronger connection between customers and their brand. The aim is to foster a sense of loyalty and advocacy for their products and services.
Apart from overt product branding, this “insider feeling” can be achieved encouraging participation in social media discussion, special offers, and by inviting customers to rate or comment on products and to share their experiences.
“If people believe they share values with a company, they will stay loyal to the brand.” – Howard Schultz
Great recruitment processes build the level of engagement with candidates as they progress further through the process. A number of well-known consultancy firms have taken this approach and developed content that is sent out before and after each stage of the process, sharing more about values, culture and the experiences of other employees. As a result, candidates report feeling better prepared for an interview and that they find those interactions more engaging. Not surprisingly the payoff again is more hires and improved Hiring Manager satisfaction.
4. Test drive your process
Your average e-commerce platform is in an ongoing state of change with real-time data leading to each iteration being tested and monitored rigorously to maximise how it influences customer behaviour.
Thankfully most recruitment functions don’t need to be quite so responsive but it is worth considering when was the last time you revisited your processes and looked at them through a candidate’s eyes?
We have found that the longer a technology has been in use by an employer the greater the number of “black holes there are, where candidates disappear, within the system. This directly translates to a poor experience and can result in unnecessary candidate frustration and reputational damage.
In 2017 just 43% of candidates felt they were able to monitor the progress of their applications and over 20% stated they had not received a clear outcome from their application.
Gathering feedback from your applicants will obviously provide a lot of insight into the Candidate Experience, as will taking your process for a “test drive” especially if you haven’t done so for some time.
5. Reputation, Reputation, Reputation!!!
Don’t do anything that damages your reputation! It’s a simple mantra held by most marketing professionals.
That may not be so easy for recruiters. More often than not they are in the business of rejection and the way this is done can have a serious impact on your reputation and brand. The point is well illustrated, in the much publicised, Virgin Media case study that made a direct connection between rejected candidates and $6m of contract churn.
Good candidate experience is driven by managing the expectations of candidates. Ensuring that they feel valued and aware of where they are in the process at all times. Providing clarity on what the employer or role can offer them whilst also providing valuable feedback if they are unsuccessful.
Social media and third-party review sites such as Glassdoor have meant that meeting and exceeding candidate expectations is more important than ever, with candidates becoming less trusting of corporate career sites.
Poor candidate experiences also spread quickly: 60% of job seekers have reported having had a poor candidate experience, with 72% of those candidates sharing their experiences online.
The scope of customer experience has made it an absolute necessity for brands to deliver engaging marketing, efficient customer journeys, and faultless aftercare whilst having the interest of the customer in mind. This is no different for candidate experience.
Businesses that bring candidates onboard by offering exceptional candidate experiences maximise their chance of gaining and retaining top talent. IBM found that applicants who were satisfied with the recruitment process were 38% more likely to accept an offer than those left dissatisfied. At this final stage, when candidates consider factors such as salary, career opportunities, and role, the Candidate Experience still accounts for just over a third of their decision making process.
Ultimately, high-quality hires are made from having a high-quality hiring process and therefore it essential to put candidate experience at the forefront of your recruitment.
In a commercial sense, the benefits of a candidate experience go hand in hand with that of customer experience: positive brand perceptions encourage applicants to share their experiences with friends and family. Therefore, unless businesses build exceptional experiences around their recruitment process they risk losing the loyalty of their customers.
*Mystery Applicant gathers feedback from millions of job applicants and Hiring Managers each year, providing world-class analytics and decision making tools for Talent Engagement professionals. If you would like to know more about the insights in the article or about our service please get in touch.
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