In a way, business is like sports: The organizations with the best talent nearly always win.
The challenge is finding those superstars and convincing them to join your team. To recruit effectively, it takes creativity, dedication, and a firm commitment to quality.
Unfortunately, most companies approach hiring the same way they have for decades.
Roles are posted, résumés are screened, candidates are interviewed, and a final candidate is selected. There might be an occasional A-player who fortuitously enters the recruitment life cycle, but by and large, this archaic method only produces average talent.
“This traditional way of recruiting is also time-consuming and onerous, which is detrimental to landing the most sought-after candidates,” said Mark Mayleben, a partner at Jobplex, in a newly released report. “Indeed, the highest performers are generally available for fewer than 10 days. There’s simply not enough time to post an opportunity to an oversaturated job board and then wade through a slew of unqualified résumés to end up with only a few legitimate possibilities.”
The “Talent Board North American Candidate Experience Research Report” challenges hiring managers and recruiters to reconsider how they go about attracting the best talent. If landing the most qualified workers is paramount for thriving in the global marketplace, asked Mr. Mayleben, why do most organizations keep perpetuating this status-quo process? Could it be that recruiting departments are primarily focused on delivering candidates at the lowest possible cost? Could it be that recruiters are catering to the wrong customers?
“In this era of one-click shopping, same-day delivery, customer reviews, and social media, it’s time for companies to reimagine their hiring processes and create a world-class candidate experience that will keep them competitive,” Mr. Mayleben said.
When Candidates Become Customers
According to a recent study by the Talent Board, as many as 80 percent of candidates will share a positive experience with their inner circle, defined as close friends, significant others or spouses, and colleagues, said the study. More than 60 percent will share negative experiences with the same group. Percentages decrease when it comes to social media, but they remain significant with 51 percent sharing positive experiences and 35 percent opening up about negative ones.
More importantly, though, according to CandE Awards research, nearly half of candidates who ranked their job-seeking encounter as a one-star experience reported that they would take their alliance and product purchases elsewhere. For those with a five-star experience, almost three-quarters said they would not only apply to work at the company again, but they would also refer others and make purchases with the company when applicable. And 85 percent of these individuals weren’t even hired.
“For HR professionals and recruiters, then, it’s vital to view your recruiting process as a revenue driver (or killer),” said Mr. Mayleben. He said businesses should turn their candidates into loyal customers and brand advocates by implementing the following practical steps:
1. Treat Candidates Like Customers
Some of the most palpable qualities of an excellent candidate experience are speed, transparency and communication. “To do this effectively, show candidates at the outset what they can expect in their recruitment journey,” Mr. Mayleben said. “Be upfront about what’s coming, how long it will take, and what they can expect at each step in the process. Candidates also want to be able to track this in real time (just like they can do when placing an order with Amazon, Wayfair, etc.) so they’re not left in the dark for weeks or months on end.”
Johnson & Johnson, he said, is a prime example of a company that takes the right approach. The organization highlights exactly what to expect during the application process and provides updates at each stage. It has also partnered with The Muse, a career platform, to provide helpful articles and resources to help candidates prepare and succeed at each step of the process.
2. Remove All Friction
Put yourself in your candidate’s shoes. Would you enjoy uploading a résumé only to then be asked to fill out a dozen more fields about your employment history? Then, why are you requiring so many non-essential steps to the application process? “Cut out as much as you can and then watch your completion rates explode,” Mr. Mayleben said
AT&T, for example, removed half of the fields on its application, and over the next two years experienced a 20 percent increase in the number of applicants. “Also, stop sending five emails back and forth just to synchronize your calendars,” Mr. Mayleben said. “Instead, use a scheduling application like Calendly to make the process more efficient.”
Mr. Mayleben also suggested reducing the number of interviews conducted. Each candidate has no need to meet eight different people. Google, in fact, conducted an exhaustive study and found that the magic number of interviews is four. Hiring managers who conduct four interviews will make the same decision at least 90 percent of the time as managers who conduct more than four. “The key is to create a small team of experienced interviewers who have a proven ability to assess the intrinsic factors required for succeeding in a particular role within your organization,” he said.
3. Survey Candidates at Every Stage
“The most effective way to learn how you can improve your candidate experience is by asking your customers about their journey at every step of the way,” said Mr. Mayleben. “Ask them how long it took to complete the application or what they liked best about the interview process. Did they have an enjoyable on-site visit? What could be improved in the offer and negotiation stages? For a comprehensive list of questions, Talent Board is a great resource.”
“Finally, get an idea of each candidate’s overall satisfaction by determining his or her Net Promoter Score,” he said. “To do this, ask how likely he or she is to recommend that a friend apply for a job with your company.”
4. Close the Loop Quickly
Too many candidates never hear back from employers for months after applying, even when they’ve spent hours preparing their résumé, conducting interviews, taking time off work for an on-site visit, etc. “That’s atrocious service and wildly disrespectful,” Mr. Mayleben said. “When you decide a candidate is not the right fit, contact him or her directly within 48 hours.”
To create advocates, go above and beyond the current status quo by providing honest feedback about why he or she wasn’t the best fit for the role. “Sometimes the best way to do this is by simply highlighting the additional preferred experience that was lacking,” said Mr. Mayleben. “Additionally, you could point the candidate toward resources that could close the skill gap, such as online courses, certificates, educational boot camps, etc. Lastly, encourage him or her to apply again after applying your advice.”
“In this age of transparency and constant communication, organizations of the modern era must reinvent their recruitment processes to deliver world-class candidate experiences — or they’ll fall victims to those that do,” Mr. Mayleben said. “Treat your hiring practice as a revenue generator. Your bottom line will thank you.”