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        Re-Humanizing the Candidate Experience

        In recent years, the corporate landscape has witnessed a notable shift towards prioritizing employee experience. Organizations have recognized that a content and engaged workforce translates to higher productivity, reduced turnover and improved profitability, as I previously wrote about. Consequently, companies have invested considerable resources in creating a positive work environment and enhancing the overall experience of their employees. While this emphasis on employee experience is undoubtedly essential, it is equally crucial not to overlook the significance of the candidate experience during the recruitment process. A positive candidate experience not only enhances the organization's reputation but also plays a pivotal role in attracting top talent to foster long-term success.

        Not long ago, I decided to buy a new car. I’d researched and narrowed brands and models and then went for test drives, all with the intent of making a purchase that day. One dealership I entered refused to show me vehicles, let alone go on a test drive, because I didn’t have an appointment. I shared that I knew the car I wanted to drive and that I was going to make a purchase that day, somewhere. They sent me away with an appointment for two days later. I drove home that night in my new car from another brand and that first dealership had a new negative review on Google. At its core, recruiting is a complex sales job, and organizations have got to put their best foot forward to have any hope of closing the deal. In today's digital age, information spreads rapidly through social media and online platforms, giving candidates unprecedented access to insights about potential employers. The candidate experience during the hiring process can significantly impact an organization's employer brand. A positive candidate experience creates a favorable impression of the company, even if the candidate does not ultimately secure the position. Conversely, a negative experience can lead candidates to share their dissatisfaction publicly, potentially deterring other prospective applicants and even influencing potential customers or clients.

        In an era of hyper-focus on employee experience, companies must understand that the candidate experience sets the tone for the entire employee life cycle. Just as organizations strive to provide exceptional experiencesVR_2023_Assertion_Talent_Talent_Journey_Recruiting_48_S for their existing employees, they must extend the same level of care and attention to candidates throughout the recruitment journey. In fact, we assert that by 2028, two-thirds of organizations will have merged talent acquisition and talent management into a single function to ensure a consistent experience throughout the entire talent journey. Recruiting is not merely about filling vacant positions; it is an opportunity to build and strengthen the organization’s reputation in the job market. To entice the best talent to choose them over their competitors, companies need to go beyond simply communicating job responsibilities and qualifications. Instead, they must effectively convey the company's values, mission, and work culture.

        Technology, of course, can and should play a pivotal role in shaping the candidate experience. A properly configured HR tech stack can target and assess even the most passive candidate; curate content down to an audience of one to showcase the employer brand and how that individual’s specific skills and career aspirations will add value to the organization; and time the communications just right so that when the opportunity arises, that potential candidate already has a good feel for the organization and how they’ll fit into it. Technology can ease the application process, eliminating the dreaded duplication of information entry. It can automate interview scheduling, finding mutually agreeabletimes for the candidate and interview panel to move the process along as quickly as possible. It can efficiently create an offer package but also, and equally important, rejection communications, personalizing the content so that the candidate still feels valued and dignified, is left with a positive feeling about the organization, and is willing to pursue other opportunities later if a better fit should arise.

        The obvious caveat is that technology itself cannot override a terrible process and, in most cases, cannot replace high-value human interaction. Nearly one-half of those we surveyed are not confident that their HR teams are 9Ventana_Research_Dynamic_Insight_Employee_Experience_9_Confidence_in_Team_20220502 (1)able to deliver a positive employee experience. And while I will always contend that employee experience is a team sport, encompassing not just HR but the entire organization, the recruiting process is most often owned by the HR team, and often the only interaction candidates have within an organization is with a recruiter. Employers must take a candidate-centered approach to recruiting process design. They need to ask themselves how they would feel if they were the candidate being subjected to the experience. Would it help or hurt their decision-making process and view of the organization? Wherever the answer would send the candidate down the road to the next employer, the process is broken. Technology is a fantastic enabler, but employers need to be sure they aren’t just using it to make a horrible experience faster.

        A close friend and former colleague of mine was recently going through the job search process and had the opportunity to interview at a well-known company for an executive-level position. Her initial communication was with a C-suite executive who was extremely responsive, first in writing and then in a phone call. His direction to the executive recruiting team was to quickly move her through the process. My friend was a finalist for the role, having gone all the way to the point of creating and delivering a required presentation to a final panel. And then … she heard nothing. After several attempts at follow-up with the recruiter and that C-suite executive, and more than one promise of “I’m out of the office but will call you tomorrow,” she removed herself from the process and accepted an offer elsewhere. Whether she was going to be made an offer or not is irrelevant. At the very least, every candidate should receive follow-up communications, and at that stage, and certainly that level, it should come from a human. Recruiters that provide any less than this are the ones in danger of being replaced by artificial intelligence (AI). The irony is that this potential employer was not just a well-known brand, but one in the HCM technology space, whose very brand touts its ability to promote the best candidate and employee experiences. Organizations simply cannot afford to undermine their own brand in this way. The candidate experience serves as the first touchpoint for potential employees with the organization, setting the tone for their entire employee journey. Just as organizations prioritize employee experience, they must extend the same level of care and attention to candidates. By doing so, companies can create a ripple effect that enhances employer branding, attracts top talent, and fosters long-term success in the competitive business landscape.


        Quincy Valencia


        Ventana Research

        Ventana Research, now part of Information Services Group (ISG), is the most authoritative and respected market research and advisory services firm focused on improving business outcomes through optimal use of people, processes, information and technology. Since our beginning, our goal has been to provide insight and expert guidance on mainstream and disruptive technologies. In short, we want to help you become smarter and find the most relevant technology to accelerate your organization's goals.


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