Over the course of our recent audio blog series, I've touched on the foundational elements that help to create a strong candidate experience including:
- Why the candidate experience matters more than you think
- The power within your internal talent pool
- Why the candidate experience doesn't stop at an offer letter
And throughout the series there has been a recurring theme: the root of an excellent candidate experience is strong communication between the hiring organization and the candidate.
Your people and processes should be integrated to support a personalized and engaging candidate experience. And while technology isn't going to solve all of the challenges associated with the candidate experience, it can certainly support it.
Technology doesn't replace strategy
Technology is moving quickly to keep up with rapidly changing priorities. Gone are the days where you post a job and hope that the right candidate will apply. Instead recruiters are working like marketers to strategically attract and retain top talent.
People and processes play an important role, but technology is breaking-through to influence the candidate experience. According to a recent Brandon Hall Group report, 93% of organizations said that they plan to use email and 81% plan to use phone calls to communicate with potential candidates over the next 12-18 months. To compare, 44% plan to use texting and 36% plan to use an automated system based on their talent management software.
So, what are the top trends in talent management software that you can implement to ramp up your communication and ensure a top-tier candidate experience?
Mobile-friendly is no longer optional, it's mandatory
Our current technology landscape encourages 24/7 connectivity. We use our mobile phones from the moment we wake up until we go to sleep – from making phone calls to online shopping, ordering groceries and applying for jobs.
An application process that is easy to navigate can be the differentiator between you or your competitor getting the application. Picture this: a candidate lands on your career site on their mobile phone, eager to submit their application. Is your application process mobile responsive and easy to navigate? If not, there is potential that candidates will drop off. It's important that those who persevere have no issues completing the application process. URL redirects, username and passwords, and portal interface changes make for a poor user experience and increase your bounce rate, especially if a candidate is applying on their phone.
It's mission-critical that your application process supports the devices that candidates are using to apply so you don't miss out on the top talent!
Interact with candidates before they even apply
Linking the functionality between your CRM to your talent acquisition software allows you to engage with candidates outside of the recruitment function. Capturing information at events, sharing industry-relevant topics, blogs and content and sharing that information will gradually build and strengthen your employer brand so you can convert them to an applicant when the time is right.
The bots are taking over – chat bots, that is
Expectations around the application process are changing as chat bots become the norm. Directly integrating a chat bot personalizes the experience for career-site visitors by:
- Answering frequently asked questions
- Pushing relevant jobs that match the candidate's skills and experience
- Guiding candidates through the application process
- Telling the candidate what to expect next and where they are in the application process
And the MVP of the candidate experience is... Communication
The root of top-tier candidate experience is strong communication between the organization and the candidate, and technology has the power to enhance that.
Statistically speaking, there will only be one successful candidate. But don't write-off the pool of applicants! At the very least, an impactful candidate experience increases the likelihood that they will speak highly of their end-to-end application experience among their peers. Strong communication that exhibits transparency, trust and personalization with your candidates will only help you in the long run.
Listen to my Q&A chat with Cliff Stevenson, Principal Analyst for Workforce Management and Talent Acquisition at Brandon Hall Group in the last installment of our candidate experience audio blog.
In this conversation, we'll discuss:
- How your career site can make or break the candidate experience
- How to interact with candidates before they even apply for a job
- The rise of chatbots and how they can help to personalize the experience
Cliff Stevenson: Hello, everyone. This is Cliff Stevenson with the Brandon Hall Group. I am the Principal Analyst for Workforce Management and Talent Acquisition and today I have Nick Hutchinson from Saba joining us from about five time zones away. Thank you for being here late in the day, Nick.
Nick Hutchinson: Absolute pleasure, Cliff. It's great to be here.
Cliff Stevenson: Nick is the Head of Solution Consulting, Talent Acquisition at Saba, and that is the topic that we've been on. In a much broader sense, we've been talking about candidate experience and what that really means because it's a term that gets thrown around without really being clearly defined sometimes. In a broad sense, what we want to talk about for the next few minutes are the top priorities that we're seeing as it pertains to technology in this space.
With candidate experience, Nick, what we're seeing from research is the top technology priorities for the coming year from the organizations we surveyed are looking at how it can be integrated. How the candidate experience technology can be integrated with the other facets of the employee experience. So, what sort of things are you seeing from a technology standpoint that are coming forward that you're seeing as the top priorities from the organizations you've talked to?
Nick Hutchinson: Yes, absolutely. It's an amazing subject. One of the things I love about technology and candidate experience is things are moving quickly out there. What we're finding is that technology is moving very, very quickly but sometimes employers don't always keep up with that. Changing technologies is a big thing and it's something you have to get right.
But, number one, still, is mobile friendly. If a candidate is visiting your career site, they might not apply on their first visit, they might go away and check you out on Glassdoor, speak to some ex-colleagues and find out more about your organization. But when they do apply, you want to make sure you get that application. And we're still seeing, time and time again, where companies will have nice-looking career sites, but when that candidate hits the magic apply button – which is our goal, right? We want them to click apply – they get rooted off to a new URL, a different portal, it's probably not mobile-responsive, they have to create a username and password. And you know what? Nine times out of ten, or I'm probably exaggerating slightly Cliff, but a lot of the time, people just drop off because they're like "Woah, where is this taking me now? I was on this great looking career site and now I'm being taken to this portal. I can't see it on my phone. It's asking me to set up a username and password. What do I want to do that for? I just want to apply to this company."
So, for me, that's really number one. Companies are still looking to make sure they get that mobile-friendly easy-to-apply. We all use our mobiles from the minute we wake up and it's most important.
More and more, as well, we're seeing technology, certainly recruitment technology, to enable recruiters to start working more like marketers. Gone are the days where we post and pray a job. Built-in CRM functionality is key and we're starting to see customers wanting that more and more so they can engage with potential talent. And not necessarily engage with them in a recruitment-like way. Capturing information from events, publishing industry-relevant topics, blogs, and content – all around gradually building that employee brand and then converting them to an applicant when the time is right.
What else are we seeing? Referrals. We have spoken throughout this series about how important referrals are and how referrals should be your key source of hire. For me, top talent acquisition technology should allow you to make your internal workforce into mini recruiters if you like. Encouraging them to refer, gamification, rewarding them. If they refer, it makes your life a lot easier as a recruiter but secondly, those candidates that they are referring to your organization are going to be a lot higher quality as well.
The wonderful world of chat bots! Chat bots have been knocking around for the last couple of years, but I think they're getting to a stage now where people really start to expect them. I think if a chat bot can be directly integrated as part of your ATS, that's amazing. What I mean by that is first off, they can help career-site visitors and engage them; they can answer questions; they can start to push jobs in-front of them that are relevant. A chat bot can also take that application and guide them through the application experience and tell them what to expect next and where they are in the process, then that's really cool and people are psyched to see that.
That leads me on to communication. It's still really, really important both for candidate experience and for companies looking for new technology. We've been talking about how important that candidate experience is and really the most important part of that is having really strong communication.
We're not always good at that, Cliff. I think that for recruiters, it's important to communicate but sometimes with the volumes that we deal with, it's difficult to do that. But technology can really step in and help that: thanking the candidate straight-away for their application, keeping them up to date throughout the whole recruitment process, telling them what to expect. People don't want to apply to a black hole, they want to know what to expect.
I think it's important for us to tell candidates that. I think a lot of companies are a bit scared to do so because they might be giving away internal information about their organization and how they recruit but to me that's nonsense. I think you should be keeping your candidates updated, telling them what to expect and if your technology will do it, making those notifications very engaging, personalized, and feel real to the candidate as well. It's all about showing you care. We need to show these candidates some love, quite frankly.
Cliff Stevenson: Yes, and it's setting a precedent of transparency and trust.
Nick Hutchinson: Yes.
Cliff Stevenson: We made a point earlier in the series about the way the math works. Most of the candidates that apply aren't getting the job, but that doesn't they aren't going to come back. They may one day get the job, or they may talk to somebody else and say "Hey, I really like this company" and if they go away feeling like it was a good experience that can be impactful. It's important to think about everyone's experience that comes in – whether they receive the job or not – that they feel that trust and feel like you were an open book during a process, it really can be impactful in ways that are sometimes hard to measure and quantify.
Nick Hutchinson: Exactly, yes. And I think as a recruiter, what you should really be engaging yourself on is the service that you provide both through your own recruitment and your technology is, is that candidate even if they haven't got the job, going to turn around and say, "Thank you very much for your time." If that candidate says thank you for your time, it's been a really positive experience – that's worth gold dust. Yes, they are going to come back and probably apply again, but they are going to speak highly of your company and organization to everyone else as well so that's key.
There's so much technology can do for us now. A lot of our customers and clients are asking for gamification. Gamification is, in high-volume especially, where you get lots of applications. Instead of the days of completing assessments on un-mobile friendly questions and answers, there's a lot of really cool gamification out there which can be implemented in this part of your recruitment process – either in the application or later on, which is fun and engaging for the candidate but also enables you to check that they have the skills that you are looking for.
Cliff Stevenson: Yes, love it. With that, we're going to sign off on this particular audio blog. Be sure to check out the other ones in this candidate experience series. Other topics we've covered include the importance of looking at the internal candidate experience, retaining top talent that you've hired and developed, and how candidate experience fits into the bigger picture of employee experience and why that all matters so much.
Nick, thank you for joining us throughout this series. And thank you all for listening.