The New Candidate Journey Has Changed the Candidate Experience Game

The New Candidate Journey Has Changed the Candidate Experience Game

The nonprofit Talent Board has released its 2019 Candidate Experience Awards, a benchmarking report covering over 200 companies in North America and 130,000 job seekers that looks at what organizations focused on in their talent acquisition strategies in 2018 and what they are planning for this year, particularly with regard to candidate experience and employer brand. These issues were top of mind for recruiters going into 2019, Talent Board president Kevin Grossman tells SHRM’s Roy Maurer, with employers paying more attention to the perceptions and experience of not only job applicants, but passive and potential candidates as well:

“The candidate experience begins during talent attraction and sourcing, even before a potential candidate applies for a job,” he said. “Attracting candidates is one area of talent acquisition that has been given more and more attention and investment due to such a strong job market throughout 2018, with many more employers big and small across industries understanding just how competitive attracting and sourcing quality candidates truly is.”

The Talent Board’s report shows that 70 percent of candidates do some research on a prospective employer before applying for a job, leaning primarily on employers’ careers sites, job alerts, and careers pages on LinkedIn. According to our research at Gartner, however, candidates are doing less in-depth research into prospective employers before submitting applications than they did a generation ago. That means candidates aren’t engaging that much with employers’ recruitment marketing and branding materials early in their job search. As Craig Fisher, an industry thought leader and head of marketing and employer branding at Allegis Global Solutions, explains to Maurer: “A lot of candidates just apply, apply, apply and don’t really get into the employer brand materials you work so hard at creating until they get further into the process. They’ll begin to scout around when they’re brought onto the company’s careers site to start an application.”

Indeed, this shift is the key insight of our recent research at Gartner on the changing shape of the candidate journey.

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A Ghost in the Pipeline: What to Do About Disappearing Candidates

A Ghost in the Pipeline: What to Do About Disappearing Candidates

In recent months, many employers have been noticing a trend of candidates and employees “ghosting” them — a term borrowed from online dating that refers to someone dropping out of contact without so much as a goodbye. Recruiters are seeing candidates make it halfway through the hiring process, then simply stop responding to phone calls, text messages, or emails. Chip Cutter, then a managing editor at LinkedIn, was among the first to spot the trend last June:

Where once it was companies ignoring job applicants or snubbing candidates after interviews, the world has flipped. Candidates agree to job interviews and fail to show up, never saying more. Some accept jobs, only to not appear for the first day of work, no reason given, of course. Instead of formally quitting, enduring a potentially awkward conversation with a manager, some employees leave and never return. Bosses realize they’ve quit only after a series of unsuccessful attempts to reach them. The hiring process begins anew. …

Some of the behavior may stem not from malice, but inexperience. Professionals who entered the workforce a decade ago, during the height of the Great Recession, have never encountered a job market this strong. The unemployment rate is at an 18-year low. More open jobs exist than unemployed workers, the first time that’s happened since the Labor Dept. began keeping such records in 2000. The rate of professionals quitting their jobs hit a record level in March; among those who left their companies, almost two thirds voluntarily quit. Presented with multiple opportunities, professionals face a task some have rarely practiced: saying no to jobs.

It’s not only candidates, either; in December, the Washington Post reported that more employees were also “ghosting” their employers, walking out of work one day and not showing up again, with no notice or explanation:

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ReimagineHR: 5 Ways HR Can Take the Lead in Digitalization

ReimagineHR: 5 Ways HR Can Take the Lead in Digitalization

In his keynote address at the opening of Gartner’s ReimagineHR conference in Orlando, Florida on Sunday, Gartner Group Vice President Brian Kropp shared a very salient figure with the hundreds of HR executives gathered in the room: 67 percent of CEOs tell us that if their organization does not make significant upgrades to its digital capabilities by 2020, it will no longer be competitive. “And if you work for one of the 33 percent,” Kropp told the attendees, “start polishing your résumés,” because those two-thirds of CEOs are probably right.

Digitalization is one of the most pressing challenges facing businesses today, and it’s not hard to see why. When CEOs talk about digitalization—in meetings, in employee communications, and increasingly on calls with investors—they frame it as a means of driving increased efficiency, productivity, and growth, the better to compete in a fast-paced and constantly changing business environment. However, Gartner research has shown that over the past five years, employees are exhibiting dwindling rates of discretionary effort: Just at the moment when organizations need to get the best out of their people, fewer of them are going above and beyond the call of duty. Meanwhile, labor markets in the US, Europe, and around the world are historically tight, so organizations have to work harder to find the right people and hold on to the valuable talent they already have.

As a result of these trends, HR leaders today find themselves in a situation where the CEO is demanding improved performance from employees, while employees are demanding an easier and more seamless experience at work that matches the app-driven, on-demand experience they are increasingly used to in their personal lives. Digital solutions are needed to meet these demands, but those solutions involve much more than merely adopting new technology; fundamental aspects of the way the organization works need to be rethought and redesigned for a digital world. HR has an enormously valuable role to play in ensuring a successful transition into the digital enterprise, but it’s not always obvious how to achieve that goal, and many organizations have been going about it the wrong way.

“What does digitalization mean to you?” Prompted with this question in a poll, Sunday’s audience responded with words like “efficiency,” “easy,” “seamless,” “simplicity,” and “experience.” These answers reflect HR’s unique mission today of driving business outcomes while (or better yet, by) improving the employee experience. Here are five of the key challenges posed by this new environment, and what—in brief—HR can do to tackle them:

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ReimagineHR: How Digital Recruiting Has Changed the Candidate Journey

ReimagineHR: How Digital Recruiting Has Changed the Candidate Journey

“Writing a check,” Warren Buffett famously quipped, “separates a commitment from a conversation.” This used to be true of submitting a job application as well, but not in today’s increasingly competitive, digitally enhanced recruiting environment, Gartner Principal Executive Advisor Dion Love explained at Gartner’s ReimagineHR summit in London on Wednesday. The path most candidates take through the recruiting process has fundamentally changed, which means organizations must also change their approach to recruiting in order to remain competitive.

Prior to the digital era, the typical candidate’s journey looked something like this: They researched companies to find out whether they wanted to work there, narrowed down their choices to a shortlist of preferred employers, applied for jobs, and finally spoke with recruiters. This candidate usually only made it to the interview stage with organizations they had already researched and were certainly interested in joining. Recruiters could assume that a candidate who sent in a résumé was committed to seeing the process through to the end.

Yet whereas the job application used to come toward the end of the candidate journey, it now often comes at the very beginning. Here’s what the journey normally looks like now: A candidate casually applies to a number of jobs they may or may not want, speaks with recruiters, then researches the employers that are interested in hiring them and narrows their choices down to one.

This shift in candidate behavior creates a whole new set of challenges for recruiters.

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Survey: Candidates Prefer Recruiting with a Human Touch

Survey: Candidates Prefer Recruiting with a Human Touch

A study published recently by the Dutch HR consultancy Randstad found that a whopping 82 percent of job seekers found heavily automated recruiting processes frustrating, especially if they never hear back from employers about the status of their online applications. SHRM’s Aliah Wright highlights the report’s key findings:

  • 95 percent said technology should be used to assist the recruiting experience, not replace it.
  • 87 percent said technology has made looking for a job more impersonal.
  • 82 percent said the ideal interaction with a company is one where innovative technologies are used behind the scenes and come second to personal, human interaction. …

Too much technology with too few recruiters has hurt the process, said Dave Marko, managing director, On-Demand Analytics Solutions and Information Management for Acumen Solutions in Washington, D.C. Increasing automation without increasing staff creates an imbalance “that forces people to be less personable.” Every touch point that an organization has with candidates is significant, he said. “The goal is to increase candidates. But with all the technology, there’s not enough [recruiters] to make that human connection.”

These findings jibe with another candidate survey conducted a year ago by the American Staffing Association, a staffing industry lobbying group, which found that over three-quarters of respondents preferred some human interaction in their job search.

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Like Them or Not, Online Employer Reviews Have Power

Like Them or Not, Online Employer Reviews Have Power

Many employers are understandably wary of sites like Glassdoor that allow employees and job candidates to publicly post anonymous reviews of their current or prospective employer, which can create tension between employees’ free speech rights and employers’ rights to be protected against costly defamation. In the age of social media, however, managers who would hope to put a lid on this pot are probably fighting a losing battle, and it is becoming increasingly important for organizations to pay attention to how online reviews affect their employer brand. Last week, CIO’s Sharon Florentine highlighted a recent survey from Future Workplace and CareerArc exploring the influence of online reviews on job candidates’ perceptions of an employer. Candidates are more likely than ever to research a prospective employer online before applying, the survey found, and are making more decisions based on those reviews:

[J]ob seekers increasingly trust reviews from other candidates and current employees to give them the lay of the land before applying. One in three job seekers has shared at least one negative review of a previous or prospective employer, and 55 percent of job seekers who have read a negative review have decided against applying for a position at that company, according to the survey. The survey also found that those employees and job seekers who do leave online negative reviews are 66 percent more likely to spread those opinions on social media, compared to those who only share their opinions directly with a friend or colleague.

And job seekers give more weight to the opinions of their fellow candidates and employees than a company’s official stance. The survey showed that job seekers rank current employees as the most trusted source for information about a company, followed by online reviews from job applicants and former employees, respectively. The CEO or other company executives were ranked the least trusted source by job seekers.

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The Gaps in Talent Relationship Marketing

The Gaps in Talent Relationship Marketing

At ERE, Phenom People CEO Mahe Bayireddi discusses the results of an audit his organization conducted of 600 Fortune 1000 companies in 2016 to “evaluate each company’s talent experience from the perspective of the candidate,” which “identified several consistent gaps in the overall talent experience”:

95 percent of the career sites are failing to provide relevant and personalized content: Today’s candidates expect a personalized touch when they visit a company’s career site, yet a lot of companies are either failing to provide any content or they are providing static, one-size-fits-all content.

97 percent of companies are hiding their employee reviews on Glassdoor: I’m a firm believer in radical transparency; companies should get in front of what people are saying about their company before candidates find it themselves.

86 percent of companies are inconsistently tracking visitor source information: In a lot of cases, companies aren’t tracking source information at all.

Changes in labor market supply and a more open exchange of information have increased the importance of a candidate’s perception of the recruiting process. With broad and diverse candidate pools, organizations could previously afford to ignore Glassdoor and social media comments such as “What a waste of time, I went through several rounds of interviews to be told there wasn’t a role available at this time” or “The recruiting process is broken. I was contacted by two different recruiters from the same organization and decided to progress with another company instead.” However, competition for attracting the best from limited talent supplies has placed the candidate’s experience center-stage in recruiting process design.

At CEB, we’ve been looking into this problem in some of our latest research. In a survey of over 5,000 job candidates, we found that over 60 percent still found the application process frustrating and stressful.

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