Why a Candidate Experience Strategy is Important for 2021

GILES HECKSTALL-SMITH • 30 Oct 2020

2020 has been a year which has transformed our way of life in ways we couldn’t have imagined. Despite the huge challenges we have been faced with, some wonderful stories of support and greater consideration for one another have emerged.

Employers are being judged on how they are treating and supporting their employees during COVID-19, and this is translating directly to Employer Brand. Those who have shown a focus on support, consideration and wellbeing of teams are now seen as attractive potential employers by job seekers. And with a huge increase in those looking for work, delivering a consistent and positive candidate experience strategy is more important now than ever.

Here’s a few practical areas to focus on to make sure your candidate experience really stands out in 2021 and shows that all important consideration.

Tell your story

Conveying exactly what it’s like to work for your organisation is vital for job seekers before they decide to apply. The more informed candidates are, and the clearer they are on what to expect, actually increases the quality of applications too.

We live in an age of visual media, so make sure you’re telling your story through video and images as much as possible. Employee generated content is far more relatable, so encourage colleagues to get actively involved. Your applicant tracking system should support including ‘media rich’ adverts to really bring the advert to life and better inform candidates.

Break down the barriers to applying

We are all used to really slick consumer experiences when we are shopping online and it’ll come as no surprise that your candidates are expecting to meet just the same thing when searching and applying for jobs - but that’s often not the case. Challenge your own online experience; how easy is it to search for jobs? Is your application form too long and risks candidates abandoning it? Make sure the job search is simple and relevant, so that candidates can find your jobs in a couple of clicks.

If you do have to collect quite a lot of information from applicants, consider implementing a 2-stage apply process to keep the initial stage as quick as possible. Our online behaviours now mean that this is what candidates expect, so try and remove barriers wherever possible – your ATS should offer this.

Keep it personable and human

The use of technology and an ATS is almost the norm now but when implemented well, it should support personalisation and consideration.

Consider the tone of voice you use throughout your candidate experience and ask yourself is it clear, personable, inclusive and personalised. This should be consistent from application, to email and text communication, and all the way through to offers and onboarding online. A review of this and making changes shouldn’t be a big task with a flexible recruitment system.

Setting expectations

Candidate volumes are on the increase but that should not mean you can’t be really clear on the process, how long it will take, what stages are involved and how long it will be before you respond to candidates. Personalised acknowledgement emails and regret emails should be the very least you can aim for, and a good recruitment platform can positively automate this but with the right personalisation.

Make booking interviews online for candidates simple with self-service, and send out packs with all the information interviewees need before they meet you. It is likely to mainly be video and virtual meetings for the meantime, so provide clear guidance on what to expect and how to get ready. It will reduce their nerves and you will get the most from the interviews.

Make sure your hiring managers have access to their own packs ahead of interviews and include clear guidance on how to deliver virtual interviews and ensure that best practice for a positive candidate experience is clearly communicated. They will feel more confident and again perform better.

Onboarding and new hire engagement virtually

In this new world of living with COVID-19, most new hire onboarding is going to be virtual. Managing compliance and connection elements are equally important and the best applicant tracking systems provide functionality to manage this well. Get onboarding right and the results are very tangible…

  • You can decrease time to settle and perform by 30%
  • Improve new hire retention by 82%
  • Increase productivity from day one by 70%

Source: Brandon Hall Group

The best candidates will be receiving other job offers even after accepting yours - 30% of new hires continue to look for new roles after accepting an offer, and 10% accept offers elsewhere before starting.

Speed is critical, so you should have a well refined offer and contract processes – ideally managed online via a self-service portal. It’s also essential you provide new hires with a sense of connection, culture and belonging, even before they join you virtually.

The best applicant tracking system will also include a ‘Green Room’ as part of the onboarding process. A dedicated portal for new hires, it contains video introductions from their new manager, an ability to connect with their new team, and answers to all those questions that new hires have ahead of their first day. However, you can still achieve this using personalised messaging and send welcome videos or pictures using WhatsApp.

Final thoughts

We are all getting used to new and inventive ways of harnessing technology to manage work and hiring in the virtual world and this is set to continue in 2021. The best recruitment technology will allow you to deliver a really strong and consistent candidate experience throughout your hiring process and actually enhance the communication, culture and connection elements of hiring. 

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