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Top 5 Ways To Have The Best Candidate Experience | Filling The Hiring Gap – Episode 03

Filling the Hiring Gap is a five part series, presented by Mosaic Human Capital Solutions, a professional services company focused on delivering human resources to client companies. In addition to maintaining an HR consulting book of business, Mosaic Human Capital offers fractional HR services, turnkey startup support, and we are quite effective and active in the talent acquisition and retention space.

The premise of this Lunch and Learn Series is to offer practical guidance to mid-market company leadership on how to fill the gaps we see in talent acquisition practices today. In this episode we will discuss candidate experience. Henry Martinez, Founder of Mosaic Human Capital and former Senior Vice President of Human Resources for Valero Energy Corporation and CST brands, speaks directly to middle market owners and operators in this series.

Henry states that candidate experience is just another one of those gaps he notices, with many clients he interacts with, from a talent acquisition standpoint. As discussed in previous episodes, the labor market has gotten dramatically more difficult, particularly for those employers that are trying to recruit 100% on-site employees. He has noticed the candidate flow reduced to almost nothing. So in that context, if employers are experiencing dramatically reduced applicant flow then it increases the importance of how you treat each candidate that applies to your positions.

And while Mosaic HCS focuses on middle market companies, this concept can apply to companies of every size. If an applicant says “Hey Company ABC, I would like to work for you!” And the company gives no response or delayed responses, then you’re experiencing what we call friction. This friction has to be removed if you want to perform better. So for this episode we’re going to discuss our top five practical topics to focus on if you’re an HR Director or VP and you want to give candidates a better experience with your company.

#1 Increase Employer Responsiveness

When wanting to provide a better candidate experience, being more responsive as an employer is at the top of the list! There are two words that we like to use in our office, and we think employers in general need to adopt, are the words “real” and “time”, “real time”. There are many steps to your hiring process, and being responsive to your applicant each step of the way is critical. There are still hiring processes that were sort of functional and productive pre-pandemic, when you had 150-200 applicants. You could afford to have a little bit of delay in your response and not be as proactive managing the process. But that has really gone by the wayside.

Let’s be honest, real time is not easy. It’s not easy for a company that has a recruiter managing multiple requisitions. But that is the sort of unpacking that owner operators and HR Directors have to do. It sounds simplistic, but when you have a candidate that’s applied, that has the qualifications and that is willing to work the schedule you need for the amount of money you want to pay… being “real time” can truly pay off. Don’t think of it in the way that you just have to be quicker than you competition. Think of it in the way of mapping out your workflow, from the time of application to scheduling, from interviews and making decisions, all the parts of the journey your applicants see from their end. Building your workflows using best practices will reduce the friction and improve candidate experience.

#2 Make Your Employer Brand Accessible and User Friendly

Our Director of Operations, Luke Sesler, explains that marketing is equally as important to a company as recruiting. And when it relates to a company’s brand, the careers page and social media need to be the most user friendly.

Optimizing the Careers Page on your website

This also sounds simplistic, but the most important thing is to make sure the page on your website that displays what jobs you have available is easy to find. You don’t want a candidate to go to your website and have to click under Resources and Opportunities, then Careers and then View Jobs. The next thing you know you have four or five different steps just for someone to access your job opportunities. The internet today has made it so easy for people to just find jobs, whether it’s on Google, Indeed, ZipRecruiter, etc so if you want people to come to your website directly and apply, you need to make it easy for them to find.

Once they find your Careers page, you want to make sure your applications are shortened and not super long. If your applicant pool is very small you want to make sure not to disengage someone in the process with an overly long job application. Otherwise they will move on.

And while having them apply to your open positions is the most important, it’s also important to put highlights of what benefits your company offers. Testimonials would also be impactful. The goal is to lure and attract, provide valuable information an applicant would look for.

A time saving tip for candidate experience is to integrate your ATS on to your Careers page. You could do this with an iframe, which is basically an extended window of an ATS. Or you could go further and fully build your own custom careers page where the “apply” button is a shortcut to your ATS and the job posting content lies on the web page itself, allowing search engines to index it as your own.

Utilize your social media as a broadcast and communication tool

We have found Facebook and LinkedIn to be the best platforms to find job seekers on social media. Making sure to build a cadence of creating job ads, both as paid and organic posts, so you can build a following. The more following and reach you have on social media, the less you will have to spend money on ads to find applicants. Integrating your ATS into your social media will also enhance communication and make the candidate experience better.

The other social media platforms we consider are Glassdoor and Indeed. Now we know that candidates and companies think of these as traditional job boards. But the fact remains that they are integrated and show employee reviews of your company. Employees (both current and former) review what it was like at your company on Glassdoor and that “star score” is also published on Indeed. Making sure your logo, company message and brand on Glassdoor has a good presence is imperative.

#3 Founding the Employee/Employer Relationship on Communication

If you are engaging your candidates in real time, and they are now taking your brand seriously because they see you on social media, the next “must do” to great candidate experience is to stay in communication. The employer who reaches out first, who has good people managing their workflow, establishing good rapport. Good, timely feedback can go a long way. There’s something to be said for an old fashion phone call and give a status update that way.

There are many tools out there that can facilitate communication, we’re big fans of Calendly here in our office. Setting up a link to make it easy for candidates to schedule a time to talk with the recruiter or hiring authority. Texting is another method that people have gotten very accustomed to. We’ve found candidates are very reception to it, particularly if you already have the relationship established and you just need to text an update. Maybe the next scheduled meeting needs to change the start time or there is a quick, on the fly level conversation that needs to happen. This is a perfect opportunity for a text.

And of course integrating all methods of communication into your ATS makes it even more seamless for a candidate to interact with you company because all hiring team members can stay in the loop when it’s all on one record.

#4 Make Your Interview Process as Clear as You Can

When we think of the interview process, we focus on three words: fast, clear and transparent. So you definitely need a fast interview process but it also needs to be accurate. Questions to ask yourself are, what’s the candidates impression? Who are they interacting with and how fast or slow is that person in the process? How transparent are people being with the information that they’re giving to these candidates?

And most of all, how accurate is the job description? Because every job interview begins with a candidate reading a job description and wanting answers to what they’ve found there. It sounds simple enough but whatever you’re putting out there, make sure it’s accurate, clear and concise. Think about if you’re going to share salary information. Is your position remote, hybrid or on-site? Candidates are hypersensitive to this facet of a job right now. You have two different worlds; one that wants to work fully remote and one that wants to work on-site, perhaps hybrid. If you truly want only on-site employees, you have to put that out there. That way folks who want fully remote aren’t wasting their time or your time. Your goal is to attract the right candidates.

When you do begin to engage candidates in the interview process, being transparent about how many steps there are, what type of interviews they will be doing (virtual, in-person, panel interviews, etc) and then moving as quickly and accurately as you can to the job offer. Candidates do not stick around as long as they used to. We’re seeing candidates apply to five, six, even twelve jobs that are similar to the one you’ve posted. So you need that transparency so the candidate doesn’t feel like you’ve dropped them. And if you decide not to select them for the position, the best way to ensure good candidate experience is to send some kind of message saying “you were not selected” instead of completely going dark. Keep in mind, the way you interact with candidates, even the ones you do not want, reflects on your employer brand.

You will hear this in other episodes, that we are advocates for panel interviews, but they have a time and place and should not be used for all hiring positions across the board. In todays job market, it is not cost effective to have five or six highly compensated employees involved with a selection of one FTE that is perhaps not as compensated. And you have to weigh the fact, how much influence do all these panelists have in this FTE position? Are they really being selective or are they just endorsing the hire to move things along?

Assessments can be both good and bad to keeping things fast, clear and transparent. What we see particularly here in the local market is assessments that are not validated for pre-employment selection are being used as such. We think that’s something that an organization needs to have an internal discussion about. Assessments have an impact on the candidate, depending on how long the assessment is and the person’s knowledge of whether that instrument is validated or not for pre-employment.

#5 Make Sure your Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is Helping You

You really want to make use of all the tools out there to engage job seekers in the way they want to engage. Candidates have become much more electronic today than they were historically. In episode two we talked about the ATS. The ATS is always the nucleus of what your talent acquisition experience is going to be. All the features available; workflows, texting, integrated voice, automation, all exist to make your internal processes faster so you can hopefully have more and more hires. The data that exists within these systems is valuable to tell you where the friction is and allow you to refine your touchpoints. How quickly did you engage? What tools did you use for scheduling? How responsive was the candidate? How quick was your decision?

And ultimately you cannot improve anything that you did not track. Otherwise you’re just guessing. You want to chose the right technology for what your company needs, not the one with the most bells and whistles. Because you need your ATS to help you, not hinder you. Whether that’s a core payroll that has an ATS component, or just a standalone ATS. You start somewhere and build upon it, then you have a baseline of data and build upon that.

Taking these five ways to have a better candidate experience and processing them internally in your company will serve you well in your future hiring efforts.