2014-10-30_13-10-53If you think about the myriad steps required in full cycle recruiting, the fact that we’re so focused on that very small slice of stuff that happens before a candidate even actually applies underscores how much of the talent acquisition conversation seems misplaced.

In fact, until a candidate is actually captured in an ATS (or proprietary database), it’s not recruiting – it’s marketing.

And whatever trending topic we’re talking about in talent today generally falls outside of the core recruiting process, not to mention core competencies.

That’s because for some reason, looking at what’s next has overtaken looking at what really works in recruiting.

The thing is, in the world of HR technology, products are developed not to meet a demand, but to create it. This has resulted in an endemic of employers with the recruiting equivalent of FOMO. Not to mention the somewhat misinformed belief that technology is the key enabler of keeping up with the Joneses in the ubiquitous “war for talent.”

The Cloud’s The Limit: Much Ado About Nothing

2014-10-29_17-50-35From social platforms to big data solutions to video interviewing, there’s a whole layer of solutions solving problems that didn’t exist prior to their relatively recent category creation.

That’s why what really matters isn’t what happens before the point of apply; it’s during (obviously) and most importantly, after the application that really matter.

You just wouldn’t know it looking at the recruitment technology landscape today.

The rise of SaaS has lowered the barriers to entry and increased the already cutthroat competition for the billions spend every year on recruiting technologies. This has led to a proliferation of VC-backed vendors more focused on developing sleek UX and UI than developing software that meets the daily needs of actual end users.

It’s also led many enterprise employers to develop something of an unhealthy fixation on technology, entirely forsaking the fundamentals of recruiting in the process of getting swept up by shiny object syndrome.

Because in the new world of recruiting, old school skills still make the biggest difference– and it really all comes down to communication. You can’t hire if you can’t get through to the talent you’re targeting. That’s why, in a time where recruitment automation is becoming increasingly prevalent, moving more or less from the HR technology margins to the mainstream, when it comes to separating a new hire from a missed opportunity, personalization still matters most.

Like a lot of things these days, we’ve got the data to prove it – and the story behind the statistics is pretty revealing when it comes to recruiting.

Back To the Candidate Experience Basics: Looking for Luddites

According to the most recent research from CareerBuilder, respondents resoundingly reinforced the fact that for candidates, a positive experience is inexorably intertwined with a personalized experience. In their brand spanking new study, “How The Candidate Experience Is Transforming HR Technology,” hundreds of job seekers were surveyed about what attributes they ascribe to having a positive experience with an employer.

Turns out, technology has nothing to do with the candidate experience problem – one that it purports to solve, but likely only exacerbates. It turns out, the best way to destroy the “black hole” is by closing the loop:

  • 61% of job seekers reported “employers responded quickly throughout the process, tied as the top overall attribute of a positive candidate experience with “I am being notified if I am not the correct fit for the position.”
  •  58%, meanwhile, place a premium on “I am updated where I am in the hiring process” as defining a positive experience with a potential employer. In sum, these suggest that the maxim “no news is good news” is old news in recruiting and hiring.

Moreover, even bad news leads to a good candidate experiences – and potentially powerful brand advocates. Remember: in the world of online marketing, word of mouth matters the most. No software could ever automate the positive sentiment and organic goodwill generated by simply saying “thanks, but no thanks.”

What a "good" experience means to an applicant (via CareerBuilder)
What a “good” experience means to an applicant (via CareerBuilder)

Personalize It: 3 Things Recruiters Can Do Right Now To Improve Candidate Experience

The good news is, recruiters can be on point even without the myriad of emerging point solutions proliferating on the market – because the cool thing about pretty much every recruiting technology out there, no matter how outdated or obsolete, is capable of immediately improving the candidate experience.

Here are three quick fixes almost any recruiter can do today to make an impact:

MjAxMi04MzFkYWI3MTc0NDhlOTA11. Rejection Letters: 9 out of 10 job seekers in the CareerBuilder study report that they expect an automated confirmation when they apply for a job, a capability that’s pretty mundane and mainstream even by HR system standards. The thing is, the same feature that triggers a notification e-mail as soon as an applicant enters a system can easily be configured so that same candidate is notified immediately when they’re no longer under consideration in your ATS.

Why companies don’t build this easy fix into their process is mind boggling, but being proactive about creating a template to let applicants know when they’re no longer being considered is a no brainer. So too is setting up this feature; in most on premise and legacy systems, sending a mass notification is as easy as checking a box next to a candidate record while dispositioning incoming applicants.

GEM Recruiting AI

That’s a pretty quick fix for the nearly 6 out of 10 job seekers who say that this simple act of just letting them know would translate into a good candidate experience. And no one has to know it was easy to automate. Of course, automation without personalization is pretty pointless. That’s why you’re better served having personal interactions with qualified candidates – from adding a personal message to an e-mail to actually picking up the phone – than you are spending your time figuring out how to more effectively message en masse.

Remember, recruiting isn’t about consistently generating new leads – it’s about segmenting and nurturing qualified ones. No machine on earth can ever replace a relationship, nor can you ever automate an authentic individualized interaction. That’s where recruiters come in, after all.

turnt2. Make Career Sites About Careers, Not Culture: Only a third of respondents in the CareerBuilder study say being able to easily find information about what it’s like to work at a company important defines a “good” experience. By contrast, nearly half of job seekers surveyed (48%) say that easily being able to search for open jobs on a career site is important to improving their experience – meaning most a higher premium on careers than culture.

That’s likely because the critical question candidates want answered is a simple one: what’s in it for them? For most, “a good job” is a good enough answer – so it’s incumbent on employers to make it as easy as possible for users to see these active listings. No one really cares all that much about culture fit if there’s no job fit there in the first place.

The purpose of a careers site, simply stated, for a sweeping majority of visitors is a simple one: to see what jobs you currently have open. The primary design element and UX/UI consideration of any career site, therefore, should be on search – look no further than Google or Indeed to get an idea of what consumers (and candidates) expect when searching online.

If search isn’t center on your careers site, and is lost in crappy copy about your culture, it’s time to take immediate action. You’ll lose enough candidates during your Byzantine application process as it is, so at least make it as painless as possible to get them there.

By the time they’ve decided to apply for a job, they don’t care about employer branding – they just want to get through the application process as easily as possible.

ae08d99ce5113a4e34779be0d901bf0c3a09e1f9145830dac3eb40a9b0a1c9553. Put Social Media To Work: The nice thing about social media is that while it’s not proven it’s a particularly effective source of hire or method of sourcing candidates, it’s still a public, scalable communications platform.

With CareerBuilder’s study suggesting that the key driver of candidate experience is simply keeping them informed through timely communications, social media provides an ideal outlet for instantly letting everyone know where you’re at in the process.

Most ATS or HRIS systems automatically create a requisition number each time a new position is open, a number that’s tied to each candidate record on the backend. That legacy of legacy systems, however, actually is the perfect way to keep applicants in the know about where you are in each phase of the hiring process.

One easy way to do this is to let candidates know that you’ll be posting each time you move to the next step in the process on Twitter (or Facebook) using the requisition number as a hash tag; similarly, you can use this strategy to keep your LinkedIn network looped in, too. Simply tell them the hashtag at the front end of the process, and post every time you move from one stage of the process to the other, in 140 characters or less. Many systems are actually able to automate this easy fix for candidate experience, but even the busiest recruiter should find the minimal time doing this manually requires.

These social media updates not only give real time insight into the process as well as closure to candidates who weren’t selected, but also put the onus on candidates to check on their status on platforms that don’t require credentials to log in. That’s all the engagement most job seekers really want on social.

The fact of the matter is, automation and personalization have to work together. But technology has to be an enabler, not a replacement, for personalized interactions and individualized experiences. Automated messages might help close the gap, but without personalized communication, they’re more or less worthless.

Because in recruiting, high tech will never be a substitute for high touch.

To learn more about how candidate experience is transforming HR Technology, click here for a full copy of CareerBuilder’s latest study, along with the insights, observations and action items talent pros need to know in order to put the human back in Human Resources.



Disclaimer: Recruiting Daily was compensated by CareerBuilder for this post. But their data and action items are actually pretty priceless, so in this case, the facts and opinions contained herein do, in fact, represent those of the publisher. Because we’re all about making candidate experience better, too.


By Matt Charney

Matt serves as Chief Content Officer and Global Thought Leadership Head for Allegis Global Solutions and is a partner for RecruitingDaily the industry leading online publication for Recruiting and HR Tech. With a unique background that includes HR, blogging and social media, Matt Charney is a key influencer in recruiting and a self-described “kick-butt marketing and communications professional.”