What companies can learn from the first European “State of Candidate Experience” report
The “Great Resignation” (aka the “Great Shuffle”) has disrupted the global labor market. Many people are moving about and looking for new, better work environments, sometimes in their current job, sometimes in completely new areas. Companies, on the other hand, are, at times desperately, looking for skilled workers and all-rounders. They invest a lot of resources into answering the question of how to stand out from other employers when recruiting qualified candidates. Phenom’s first European “State of Candidate Experience” report attempts to offer some insight. It shows that in most of the 100 companies surveyed the application processes are anything but optimal. According to the conclusion, candidates shy away from the job search due to poor user experiences even before having spoken to someone from the company.
At first glance, many of the shortcomings highlighted by the report are technological, such as the fact that many career sites work neither with smart search functions nor with chatbots or other AI-based orientation aids. At a second glance, however, this is exactly what highlights the general lack of understanding of the cultural shift taking place in the working world. Companies that want to attract the best employees need to (learn to) understand what moves people – both on an individual level as well as regarding the changing values and needs of society as a whole. They need to be aware of megatrends, as well as innovations in science and practice and incorporate these into their entrepreneurial actions. This includes the recruitment of new employees. Keeping all this in mind, we would like to take another look at the “State of Candidate Experience” report.
The megatrend of individualization: custom-tailored jobs
In the 1950s, only 12 percent of young adults considered themselves to be “special”. Today, 80 percent believe they are, writes Rutger Bregmann in “Utopien für Realisten” (“Utopias for Realists”), referring to a study among North American youth. Young people in particular are increasingly striving for something special, for things and environments that correspond with their values, goals, and lifestyle. They want to stand out, be seen, and be authentic at the same time. Visibility and authenticity – this claim can be applied directly to companies and their communication with potential candidates. Companies and candidates should meet at eye level and have a mutually positive experience from the first contact. With good candidate experience, companies stand out from the competition. The experience is part of the corporate brand on the outside and the corporate culture on the inside.
To align the candidate experience with the expectations of applicants, HR managers can draw inspiration from the customer experience. In the development of consumer products and services, the trend has been moving continuously toward customizable offerings for years. For a long time, we have been able to choose our new laptop in the color of our choice, vote online on which products companies should implement next, or have our new decorative objects, building components for the house, and sneakers made according to our wishes using a 3D printer. This development also sets new standards for recruiting: A good candidate experience means valuing the individuality of applicants and guiding them through the job search process in a personalized way so that they can find the right job for themselves. Even after an application has been received, it is important to communicate with candidates in a way that values them and meets their need for information.
The “State of Candidate Experience Report” provides tips on what this can look like:
- Automated suggestions based on the search terms entered
- Location search to display open positions in the vicinity of the applicant
- The consistent display quality of information independent of the device
- Display of recently viewed jobs
- Shopping cart and/or favorites function to save jobs
(Read the complete report here.)
Attention economy: Showing relevant information with just a few clicks
The fact that information is readily available at any time has had a huge negative impact on the attention span of people in recent years. You can view this as a loss, or you can choose to see the opportunities that arise from it. In an article on t3n, Dieter Petereit points out that the speed at which we process information has increased at the same time. This means that we “scan” websites briefly, for example, and decide within a very short time whether it is worthwhile to engage further with the content. Applied to candidates, this means that, within minutes or even seconds, they filter which employer they want to look at more closely. Therefore, companies are challenged to provide content that is relevant to the values, goals, and lifestyles of potential candidates. The latter have become more diverse in recent years and continue to differentiate themselves. Correspondingly, the information offered to candidates should be just as diverse, starting with formats ranging from general information about the company and its culture to testimonials and video content from employees to tools that enable personalized communication with potential candidates on the site. The following should be communicated clearly:
- These are our values, this is our WHY
- This is why you want to work with us
- Tips for your application
- Role descriptions within the jobs
- Diversity of the staff
(For more tips see the complete report)
Employees are also candidates
After the hiring process, the candidate experience seamlessly transitions into the Employee Experience. You could also say that candidate experience is an ongoing state. Because employees are also candidates, for example for projects, gigs, or new roles and positions within the company. A hyper-personalized candidate experience should therefore also be possible for internal talent. Suitable new roles and individual development opportunities should be visible and easily accessible. On AI-supported talent marketplaces, employees can automatically be matched with suitable offers in the company based on their skills and interests. This way, digital marketplaces ensure an outstanding employee experience for everyone – applicants, recruiters, and managers.
These are some of the must-haves for a good internal candidate experience:
- Login area on the career site (access to the talent marketplace)
- Automated notifications about suitable roles, jobs, and short-term assignments (gigs)
- Automated suggestions based on previously entered search terms or profile information (skills, interests)
(For more tips see the complete report)
Developing individuality in a community
In addition to filling roles with suitable candidates, talent marketplaces have another important function: networking among employees. After all, despite all the individuality, being well connected remains one of the most important reasons for staying in a company and doing your best. In an increasingly complex (working) world, we need other people to help us find our way, but also to help us achieve our personal goals. Sharing knowledge and experience and being able to learn from each other at any time is a key feature of a good employee experience. Smart automated processes, like those that digital talent marketplaces are based on, save employees a lot of time and energy, giving them the necessary freedom to build strong human connections.
For some, it may be “just” a chatbot on a career site or “just” another social login area, but for the people on the other side of the data interface, these are the very things that can make all the difference, and pave the way for entirely new experiences – including finding truly fulfilling work.
Download the complete “State of Candidate Experience Report” here.