Candidate Experience is a critical part of the Recruitment process that organizations have traditionally not given much importance too. This was because when talent was plentiful in the market it was a buyer’s market. However the candidate experience impacts not just the employer brand, but the overall corporate brand, and sales. A CareerBuilder survey (http://www.careerbuilder.com/share/aboutus/pressreleasesdetail.aspx?sd=5/21/2015&id=pr894&ed=12/31/2015) found that 58 percent of candidates are less likely to buy from a company that did not respond to their application, and 69 percent are less likely to buy if they had a bad experience in the interview. Meanwhile, an Indian survey found that only 20% of job seekers have had a good experience (http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/business/india-business/not-hired-but-thanks-for-coming/articleshow/59798893.cms)
What is candidate experience?
A candidate experience comprises the whole journey of a candidate from awareness about a company, specific roles that she/he is suitable for, the application process, and the communication with the recruiter, hiring manager during the interview process (telephonic, video and in-person) to the offer letter and joining and onboarding. Each of the touchpoints where a candidate comes into contact with the prospective employer is a “moment of truth” to build a great candidate experience.
To illustrate the fact let’s take come conservative numbers, suppose an organization hires 100 people in a year. And it gets 50 applications per role it advertises on job portals and professional networking sites.
That means 5000 people come into contact with the company at an annual basis – of which 4900 don’t get hired.
The experience these 4900 people have during the recruiting process can either make or break the brand of the company. Handled well they can either be neutral to having positive impression of the organization. Handled badly, though, they can become detractors and in the age of social media can negatively influence the reputation of the organization.
So from our earlier example let’s say 20% candidates had a very bad experience during the recruitment process. That’s 980 people. Let’s assume that each of these people have an active network of 150 people (Dunbar’s number) but bear in mind they probably have much more than that, on various social media platforms. Of these 980, assuming 10% post scathing reviews of their experience on sites like Glassdoor, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, that’s 98×150 or 14,700 people would know about it. And if it gets further shared that number can quickly go in a geometrical progression to impact your brand image in front of an audience of hundreds of thousands.
What can Talent Acquisition Leaders Do?
- Understand it is not just a TA issue, it is a business issue that impacts the revenue and brand equity of the organization, and therefore build a business case for the CXOs and getting them to understand the criticality and importance of candidate experience and to become the sponsors for it
- Education and training of everyone involved in the Recruiting lifecycle – both within the company (sourcers, recruiters, hiring managers) as well as recruiting vendors of all types.
- Measuring Candidate Experience by using surveys to measure Net Promoter Score (NPS) and regularly analyzing the data to find areas of improvement
- Linking the CE metrics to performance measures of vendors and recruiters
- Looking at the online application process regularly to find out the response time to get back to the applicant on suitability or lack thereof.
Challenges for TA
- Recruiters are overwhelmed with meeting the needs of the business when hiring demands grow and number of applications is large per open job requisition that responding to the candidate becomes difficult.
- Linkage of career portal of the company to the internal Applicant Tracking System is frequently broken (only very recently have some ATS’ built linkages in a seamless manner) so applications that are sent usually get into the infamous “black hole of recruiting”. This gets compounded if the jobs are posted on job portals and social networking sites, and also spread through employee referral campaigns.
How Automation and Recruitment Process Outsourcing can help
The biggest concerns job seekers have is timely communication from the organization on the status of his/her application. Automation of responses would be a great way to let people know where they stand in the process. It is a great way to deal with the top of the recruiting funnel.
When a recruiter shortlists resumes on an ATS, automation can send a communication (via email/text messaging) saying whether he/she has been shortlisted for the next round or not and thanking for interest shown in the role. If the candidate is not suitable an email can state that he/she isn’t suitable for the role but would be contacted once any suitable role is found for that person’s specific skills and experience. This would also be a suitable time to ask the candidates if they would like to be added on a mailing list.
Future Trends using Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
Application of artificial intelligence (AI) technology to recruitment process helps recruiter to identify best candidates. AI tools, with application tracking systems, help the organizations to simplify the recruitment process. AI researchers are continuously developing innovative tools that can streamline the end-to-end recruitment process. Start-up firms are mainly developing AI solutions for the recruitment process. For instance, Connectifier Search, a product developed by start-up firm Connectifier, uses machine learning AI technology to identify the best suitable candidates from online sources. Connectifier was acquired by LinkedIn. This acquisition clearly indicates that recruitment firms are heading toward the next-generation technologies to smoothen the recruitment process. Advanced technologies such as AI and machine learning are specifically designed to reduce the complexities in identifying the best suitable candidates from available data bases. The adoption of AI is gradually increasing in organizations, and the investment of recruitment firms in the technology is likely to increase during the forecast period.
Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO)
Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) is a form of Business Process Outsourcing whereby a company outsources or transfers all or part of its recruitment activities to an external service provider. Traditionally, recruitment is seen as the cost incurring process in an organization. Outsourcing helps the HR professionals of the organizations to concentrate on the strategic priorities and processes. Outsourcing the recruitment process helps to cut the recruitment costs by 20 % and also provides economies of scale to large sized organizations. The global RPO market is forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17.66% from 2017 to 2021, according to a Jan 2017 report by Technavio (https://www.technavio.com/report/global-it-professional-services-global-recruitment-process-outsourcing-market-2017-2021 )
RPO can help in Candidate Experience by:
- Being flexible to respond to candidates when hiring activity peaks at certain times. Since they are a third party it is easy for RPO partners to increase number of people working on a client’s requirements when needed. This saves the client the administrative burden of hiring temp/permanent staff to own recruiting team.
- A client can build Service Level Agreements that ensure positive Candidate Experience like response to the job seeker in a given time frame and linking revenue to NPS scores
- The RPO partner can also take over running and analysis of the NPS survey for the client. In the case of a global TA function an offshore RPO services provider can centralize the reports and insights for various different businesses and functions for the TA leadership’s actions.
- Since an offshore RPO is exposed to best practices from across industries, they can act as advisors to a client who is just starting out in the journey to build a great Candidate Experience.
- An RPO partner can also manage the career pages of the client and use automation tools listed earlier – saving the client precious time in evaluating and buying a tool. However if the client has an existing tool the RPO partner can also manage it for the client.
Candidate Experience is a critical component of a company’s Employer Brand and has implication beyond it to impact the larger organizational brand and revenue too. Building a positive candidate experience is a way to build advocates who, even when they are not selected, still talk positively about the organization with others. To do that Recruiting partners as well as Internal Recruiters, Hiring Managers, and Senior Leadership all have to appreciate its importance and work together. Having automation and relying on an RPO partner can help take away most of the challenges in building a great Candidate Experience.