Candidate is King: The Applicant Strikes Back -

Candidate is King: The Applicant Strikes Back

The burning issue that is at the very front of every employers’ mind at present is:

How to attract the talent they need to be successful.

We all know that there is a talent shortage epidemic approaching every sector. Businesses are spending more on employer branding and talent attraction than ever before and those of us who develop tactics and strategies ahead of our competition are going to be the winners. It’s clear however that power is certainly shifting to the applicants.

Research shows that applicants and candidates who have a positive experience during the application and interviewing process are more likely to stay longer with the employer once appointed; but recent data shows that the applicant experience is getting worse.

It is imperative that we grasp what is really important to candidates when they first apply for a job, failure to do so can jeopardise our ability to find and appoint talent, resulting in wider implications to our bottom lines. As demand returns to the economy and businesses look to hire more staff, fine-tuning our recruitment strategies is becoming more critical.

The very latest research conducted by the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) highlights how information is shared and candidates are influenced by the views and experiences of people within their professional peer group, as well as family and friends. Latest figures show that;

  • One in five people find out about a role through word of mouth
  • One in four people have talked to other people in their professional networks about an organisation’s recruitment process
  • One in ten people have advised someone not to apply for a role based on their own experience.

Candidates are scrutinising us as employers as much as we’re judging them. They have more choice and are much more value driven; we need to keep evolving and improving our recruitment processes so that candidates have a positive experience with us every time.

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We all need to take the applicant experience very seriously. Negative experiences can go beyond the interview process. Candidates are now very vocal about their feelings and will share them on social and professional networks. This can erode the brands that we have all worked so hard to positively build.

By making the recruitment process more transparent, more informative and more inclusive, we will be certain to produce more engaged and happier employees.

To become as successful as possible in the attraction, selection and hiring of people, it is vital to ensure that good practice prevails throughout the whole recruiting and appointing process.

So, here are my 6 Top Tips to help us all be better recruiters…

  1. Set out the true Culture of the Organisation:

Applicants value information which captures the culture of the organisation. This could include information on flexible work practices, dress code and opportunities for socialising with colleagues.

Set out the culture of the organization. What are the values? Are they aligned to the people of the business?

Recruit the very best people in terms of behavior and attitude and not necessarily always for core skill. Creating a positive culture is massively important and those with the right attitude will embrace this.

  1. Streamline The Application Process:

Applicants will not invest ‘excessive’ time in an application process if it’s too long. In some of the skill shortage areas, applicants recognise they do not need to apply for a role.

Improve the job related content – be explicit about what the candidate can expect as an applicant and measure yourself against your stated expectations. Provide a clear and concise specification which sets out the tasks and describes a typical day in the job, whilst giving the candidate an understanding of where they will fit in the organization.

An indication of salary and benefits information in your advertising is crucial.

  1. Personalise the Interview:

Don’t make the interview process a box ticking exercise! Applicants are looking at the possible working style of the hiring manager, the working environment and the office culture as well as the extent to which they will feel respected and valued as an employee – keep them interested!

Engagement, interaction and being interested in the potential hire as a person, as well asking relevant interview questions specific to the job role, (preferably not in the style of a written list) shows them that you are interested in the person and that what they can bring to the organisation that matters. Give candidates an opportunity to discuss and demonstrate their skills and capabilities.

Unsurprisingly they need to be provided with a rounded view of the organisation and value the chance to be shown around the office, meet some of the staff to gauge the culture and atmosphere of an organisation.

It is also important to note that applicants think it is important that they have an opportunity to meet with the hiring manager, even if it is only for ten minutes. It’s crucial that hiring and line managers understand the role completely and are extremely skilled in the interview process.  

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  1. Look On Feedback As a Gift – Give and Invite It!

Provide clear, specific and personalised feedback for successful and unsuccessful applicants. Agree who does this at the outset – the manager or HR. It’s also important to invite feedback on the recruitment process to allow you to continually improve and develop.

  1. Stay Close Once a Job Offer has been made:

What is apparent, is that applicants do expect a fast turnaround on a decision. Reduce average time between interview and decision and do not approach the applicant’s current employer for references until the applicant has had the opportunity to formally resign.

Suggesting that the applicant resign from their existing role before putting a formal offer on the table is unhelpful as is introducing a final interview after a verbal offer has been made.

For some applicants, the period between job offer and start date can be quite long and therefore communication is all the more important. Ensure line managers contact the successful applicant regularly before their start date.

  1. Smash the Induction!

It’s important that the employers extend their line of sight beyond just the job offer and also take into account the first few months of a role. As one employee said of his current employer, ‘They have a great process for the applicant but their on boarding process is poor.’ It is important to note that an applicant may still have live applications, and can still withdraw from the role at a cost to the hiring employer.

When reflecting on the on-boarding experience, applicants want to feel like they are prepared but also want to know that the employer is equally prepared for them. The probation period works both ways.

 

In Summary

Our priorities as an employer are to appoint the most suitable applicant in a timely and cost-effective manner – research shows that applicants have the same priorities.

Applicants want to feel that their time and effort is respected and valued. Therefore a timely, personalised response to an application, clear timescales and specific and concise feedback following an interview are all small changes which would be welcomed by applicants.

 

It’s also crucial for us to train and develop our hiring managers to ensure that their behaviours and attitudes reflect well on the organisation. Ultimately, the cost of not getting the recruitment process right for the applicant is significant. It jeopardises not only an organisation’s ability to find and appoint talent but has wider implications for an organisation’s bottom line.

 

The research conducted identifies common pitfalls that employers make in designing their recruitment process and the negative consequences that can result from a poor applicant experience. By ensuring the applicant experience is featured in the forefront of our strategic thinking, small improvements in the recruitment process can yield significant benefits.

 

The power is shifting to the job applicants across all sectors of industry – it’s our responsibility as employers to be mindful of this and step into the shoes of the potential talent we are looking to attract. Never before has the saying “The Candidate is King” been so true!

 

To view the full survey click here

 

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