As employers build out their talent acquisition plans for 2020, they’re putting a greater emphasis on the strategies and technologies that can deliver a standout candidate experience. That’s why we made candidate experience the focus of our latest RallyFwd™ Virtual Conference: See the Future of Candidate Experience, held on December 4, 2019.
The caliber of candidate experience insights that we heard from the 6 speakers at RallyFwd left us inspired and motivated to lead courageous change that could make a real difference in our ability to attract, engage and retain a top-notch workforce for our companies. Since we partnered with the Talent Board and the Candidate Experience Awards to put on this event, many of our speakers were multiple time CandE award winners. Their forward-thinking approaches to candidate experience and employer branding have really set their organizations apart from hiring competitors — and, as we learned, have helped to support their overall business performance too!
We asked attendees what candidate experience strategies they were taking away from RallyFwd, and here’s what a few people said:
- “The 80/20 rule has left a deep mark in my mind.”
- “Developing a candidate journey map that balances the “Goldilocks” effect.”
- “The real life examples & data points shared to back a business case were super helpful.”
- “I am newly energized to make to our candidates’ experience better.”
If you missed RallyFwd, don’t worry: We’ve put together this recap blog to summarize all of the innovative candidate experience strategies, tactics and perspectives we learned from these talent industry leaders. We hope these insights will show you how to make candidate experience a differentiator for your organization in 2020 and beyond!
And good news: if you want more insights and ideas after reading through this list, you can now watch (or re-watch!) all of the RallyFwd Virtual Conference sessions on demand at your convenience! Plus, you can access the presentation slides and see product demonstrations from many of our sponsors: Breezy, ConveyIQ by Entelo, Fountain, Glassdoor, iCIMS, InFlight, Lever, Talemetry, The Muse, TMP Worldwide and Vizi.
Before you dive into the list, here’s a visual note summarizing five ways to create a future forward candidate experience.
5 Ways You Can Provide a Future-Forward Candidate Experience, from RallyFwd Speakers and CandE Award Winners
1. Commit to authentic, transparent and frequent candidate communications
As Rally Founder, Lori Sylvia, says, “The candidate experience is a communications experience.” The quality of your candidate experience really boils down to how well you communicate with candidates at every stage of the candidate journey.
And as our closing keynote speaker, Kevin W. Grossman, President of the Talent Board, shares, “The candidate experience begins during talent attraction and sourcing, even before a candidate applies for a job.” The importance of your communications starts during the attraction stage because it can determine whether candidates choose to apply in the first place.
Shavonne Thomas, North America Employer Brand & Recruitment Marketing Partner at AstraZeneca, presented her approach to crafting communications that tap into candidate emotions during this critical talent attraction stage. Shavonne works with the entire hiring team to uncover how to emotionally connect with candidates to create employer brand messaging that speaks directly to what’s important to candidates, professionally and personally.
From there, Shavonne crafts mini Employer Value Propositions that act as a guiding star for communications to that group. These mini-EVPs are then infused throughout job descriptions, Recruitment Marketing campaigns, landing page and careers site copy, social media posts and job ads to really create a compelling initial experience to show that the organization understands the candidate and cares about the emotional experience they’re going through.
Of course, communication is critical throughout the entire candidate experience, beyond just the attraction stage of the candidate journey. Many of our other speakers revealed their own strategies and approaches for providing memorable and timely communications during their hiring process. A sampling of these approaches includes:
- Operationalizing weekly email status updates for all candidates, so they always know where their candidacy stands (Chris Mulhall, VP Talent & Organizational Effectiveness at PointClickCare)
- Creating videos that remove the mystery of the “black hole” by explaining the recruiting process to candidates (Stacy Van Meter, VP of Talent Acquisition & Employment Brand at Deluxe)
- Conducting regular communications audits to ensure recruiters and hiring managers are communicating optimally with candidates (Stacy)
Finally, when we get to the last step of the candidate journey for unsuccessful applicants, we learned that taking a high-touch communications approach can pay off here too. As shared by Kevin, and according to the Talent Board’s research, the perception of fairness increases by 23% when a candidate is declined from a role via a phone call rather than email or text. On top of that, when organizations provide job-specific feedback during the decline stage, the perception of a positive candidate experience increases by 20%!
2. Prioritize resources on the moments that matter in your candidate journey
Another important theme from RallyFwd that you can focus on to improve your candidate experience strategy is considering the moments that really matter in the candidate journey. Typically, as recruitment marketers, we have small teams and limited resources. So this approach helps us to focus our efforts on where we can add value to the recruiting process to see big results.
Kristen Magni, VP of Talent & Culture at Bozzuto, takes this approach in the way she determines what technology to implement and at which stage of the candidate journey. We’ll learn more about her strategy in focus area #3 though!
Chris also expanded on this concept at length during his session. Chris and his team at PointClickCare use the 80/20 Rule (a popular business principle) to determine what 20% of activities can have 80% of the impact on the candidate experience.
Using this exercise, Chris and his team have focused their efforts on the following stages of the candidate journey:
- Pre-interview stage: Chris’ team developed a pre-interview correspondence template along with a video that shows what the interview experience will look like and offers tips for success.
- Post-interview stage: Once candidates have had an interview or pre-screen, Chris’ team updates candidates at the end of every week using a strategy he calls Follow-up Fridays. Recruiters use a customizable email template that they can send out easily and efficiently, so no candidate is forgotten.
- Decline stage: There is another correspondence template that the team leverages for declines that includes a spot to provide the job-specific feedback that candidates are craving. This message also encourages certain candidates to apply again in the future and lets them know that their experience is normal — typically candidates apply a few times before landing a role.
3. Keep the human touch omnipresent while using technology to support your strategy at scale
It’s no surprise that recruiting teams are using more tech than ever before to support hiring processes. Kevin shared with us that in 2018-19, for instance, the usage of text recruiting campaigns increased by 56% and chatbot usage saw a 100% lift!
However, according to Kristen, as we implement more tech we need to be very thoughtful about balancing out our “tech stack” with our “human stack.” Finding this balance is called the “Goldilocks Effect” and is important to making candidate experience “just right.” Kevin stated a similar idea in his closing keynote when he shared that the technology we select should help ease repetitive processes, so we can focus on delivering a more human candidate experience!
So how do we do this?
Kristen recommends creating a candidate journey map before deciding which TA and HR technology to implement. Consider which technologies would enhance the experience or address problem areas during the different stages of your hiring process.
At the end of the day, candidates are turned off by extremes. These are experiences that are so hyper-automated that it feels like there are no humans involved. Candidates are also turned off by experiences that feel too complicated or lengthy, because companies don’t have the right platforms and tools to keep the experience streamlined. Finding something in the middle is the ultimate goal for providing an outstanding candidate experience.
Of course, to know which tech can help you deliver on this “just right” experience, you need to know which candidate experience technologies are out there on the market today! To help our community learn about new technology, you can access the RallyFwd technology showcase to show you demonstrations of key solutions that can deliver on a modern candidate experience.
4. Align all your stakeholders and hold them accountable to the candidate experience
While everyone reading this post understands the importance of delivering a positive candidate experience, not everyone at your organization will get it right way. That being said, helping these stakeholders get on board is mission critical! You can’t overhaul your entire candidate experience yourself, particularly since candidates will be interacting with a range of other people throughout their hiring experience with your company.
To get your stakeholders on board, you may need to start by educating them on the business impact of a poor candidate experience. During his closing keynote, Kevin shared a range of stats on the business outcome of a poor candidate experience, including the fact that candidates who have a poor candidate experience will often sever their relationship with your organization in the future (meaning they won’t apply again and will no longer refer other candidates or purchase your products or services).
Kevin’s team at the Talent Board has even built a Candidate Experience Resentment Calculator that you can use to determine the kinds of losses your organization could be suffering as a result of your candidate experience.
Once you have your stakeholders on the same page, next you can focus your efforts on giving stakeholders and hiring teams the knowledge they need to help provide an outstanding candidate experience. Here are some ideas for how to execute on this from Stacy’s session:
- Provide video training: Stacy and her team have produced video training that shows how to provide a positive candidate experience. This video training is delivered to anyone who might come into contact with candidates.
- Create candidate experience training guides: In addition to the videos, Stacy’s team has put together cheat sheets that hiring managers and other stakeholders can quickly reference and check off to ensure they’re delivering a great candidate experience on an ongoing basis.
5. Have the courage to lead change for your organization
Candidate experience expectations are rising and, as we learned from Kevin, candidate resentment rates are increasing (up 40% since 2016 in North America!). Alongside this, our stakeholders often do not understand the candidate experience space.
Our opening keynote, Ryan Berman, Founder of Courageous and Author of Return on Courage, provided an extremely inspiring talk to help us tap into our inner courage to overcome these barriers and drive our organizations forward to create a modern candidate experience. Ryan’s session was jam-packed with tips and tools for building Courage Brands® based on thousands of hours of research that he has conducted for his book, Return on Courage.
To overcome resistance and drive real change, we need to help our organizations become courage brands that people want to advocate for. Change is inevitable and if your organization doesn’t critically look at and reinvent your approach to the candidate and employee experience, you will fall by the wayside and lose your competitive advantage.
That being said, in order to turn your organization into a courage brand the change needs to start with YOU. Since change starts with one person and grows from there, you will need to consider how to build your own personal courage brand to help your organization improve over time.
During his session, Ryan presented his P.R.I.C.E. methodology to help you build your personal and organizational courage brand and drive change:
- P = Prioritize your values. People want to do business (or work with) companies and individuals who know what their values are! Infuse your core values into everything you do to drive change. Put your values front and center in your hiring process to improve the candidate experience.
- R = Rally believers. Consider how you can get your team members and other stakeholders on the same page to make change happen! Think about how you can help contribute to an organizational culture that employees love and advocate for. Don’t be afraid to get rid of people who aren’t real believers in what you’re building along the way (you need to make believers, not deal with fake believers!).
- I = Identify fears. You need to address your fears before you can overcome them! What perceived fears (both personal and organizational) stand in the way of driving change for your organization?
- C = Commit to a purpose. As Simon Sinek shares, you need to know your why! From an organizational standpoint, what is the social good you perform? Candidates want to understand and contribute to something bigger. From a personal standpoint, why does driving this change matter to you? Think about this and use it to motivate you forward on the journey ahead.
- E = Execute your action. What can you do now inside your organization to start influencing change and turning your company into a courage brand?
If you follow these steps, you have a real shot at reinventing candidate experience at your organization — from the inside, out! Do not be afraid to fail, experiment and move forward on your quest to drastically improve the candidate experience your organization provides.
At RallyFwd Virtual Conference: See the Future of Candidate Experience, we learned that we need to courageously drive change and adopt a new mindset to put candidates at the center of our talent acquisition process. We were inspired by a range of stand-out strategies and tactical approaches for making this happen.
That being said, we can’t come close to covering all of the tips, insights and stats on candidate experience that were shared throughout the conference in one blog post! If you want to access many more ideas and approaches for creating a future-forward candidate experience, you can watch the on-demand RallyFwd recordings for free at your convenience.
Good luck with your candidate experience enhancements — we are rooting for you, Rally community, and we know you have the courage to make big things happen in 2020!