Recruiting Efficiency Can and Does Improve Candidate Experience

Recruiting is made up of a million different moving pieces. Literally. And they’re not linear either; they constantly loop back and in on themselves. Some of them help with talent attraction. Some do the heavy lifting of recruitment itself. And others help us with the final stages of the hiring process.

These pieces don’t have to operate in perfect harmony because that just doesn’t exist. But to strive for peak efficiency is key, even if it means only focusing on two to three areas your team can improve today. This kind of harmonic efficiency is only possible when the right technology, systems, people and processes are in place.

Without this critical infrastructure, recruiting would grind to a halt. Tapping into today’s richest candidate channels would be almost impossible, and we wouldn’t be able to build robust candidate relationships and pipelines or effectively track and manage the million-and-one details inherent in recruiting. And that great candidate experience we’re all working so hard to deliver? Without the right infrastructure and processes that are tested and measured and adjusted, that isn’t happening either.

In fact, one of the best ways to raise the bar on your candidate experience is to relentlessly monitor and improve your overall recruiting efficiency. Because that’s what you should be doing anyway, and by doing that, you’re effectively raising the bar for your candidates (and your teams).

The Importance of the Big Picture

Recently at one of our spring candidate experience workshops (that still have seats available for the upcoming ones here), talent acquisition leaders and their teams were talking about the application process and how they’ve reduced the number of questions and fields. But before they did so, they ensured the back-end screening, assessments and dispositioning communications were in place via their technologies and processes. Otherwise it becomes a hot mess that just lets lots of unqualified candidates in the door.

Capital One, a multi-year Candidate Experience Awards winner, is a perfect example of a company whose focus on the big picture of overall recruiting efficiency has helped to reinvigorate its candidate experience.

It simplified its digital engagement for candidate exploration by rolling out both a mobile application and mobile referrals. Last year, the company saw 25 percent of its applicants come through its mobile channel, and 40 percent of its referrals come through mobile applications as well. Here’s an example of efficiency and candidate experience lifting each other up.

As detailed in a case study in the Talent Board’s 2016 North American Candidate Experience (CandE) Research Report, the company also applies candidate experience data and reporting to its broader talent acquisition organization. For instance, it uses a recruiter scorecard to tie key attributes of the candidate experience to specific recruiters and their lines of business. Capital One also examines data at every point in the recruiting process to encourage recruiters to continually improve candidate interactions.

In addition, the company implemented a new recruiting technology platform last year to provide a “central support structure” and uniform parameters for use by all hiring managers and recruiters, regardless of location or business group. According to Capital One, this has made interacting with candidates more consistent and efficient—and helped to consolidate and improve the various ways candidates apply to jobs.

Other findings from the CandE Report show just how widely these types of recruiting technologies are being invested in:

  • 97 percent of employers participating in the CandE Awards have an applicant tracking system (ATS) in place.
  • 81 percent utilize assessments and testing systems.
  • 76 percent utilize talent network/community systems.
  • 69 percent have CRMs.

As the CandE Report data also shows, participants expect these kinds of infrastructure investments to grow. (Read more about that by downloading the Report.)

Improving the Candidate Experience

The candidate experience. Those three little words have unleashed an avalanche of articles, blog posts, white papers and reports—and rightly so. The candidate experience is one of the most important aspects of recruiting success, yet it still needs to be streamlined and enriched at a staggering number of organizations.

One of the most basic problems our candidates have is just getting their foot in the damn door! Let’s be honest—the online application process can be a navigational nightmare. A time- and patience-sucking beast built on systems and processes that are poorly integrated (if they’re integrated at all).

One organization that recently overhauled its online application process—and another CandE Award winner—is NewYork-Presbyterian, one of the nation’s most comprehensive academic health care delivery systems. As recounted in the 2016 CandE Report, NewYork-Presbyterian had no problem attracting candidates. But getting them to complete online applications and assessments was another matter. Too many candidates were simply dropping out of that process.

The organization realized it was “putting candidates through an obstacle course” before even considering them for a role. To remedy this and other application-related problems, NewYork-Presbyterian dissected its entire online process and implemented fixes such as pulling key data from its ATS, reviewing responses from its candidate experience surveys, and extensively testing its application process.

If you’re interested in improving your own application process, here are three good places to begin:

  1. Ease up on some of those prescreening fails. Initial screenings don’t always tell you the whole story about an applicant’s viability or qualifications. CandE research reveals that 86 percent of employers now allow more individuals to complete an application even after they fail screening questions. And they probably have the back-end in good shape, too.
  2. Make it easier to apply on mobile devices. As mentioned above, after rolling out a mobile application and a mobile referrals program, Capital One had 25 percent of its applicants engaging the company on mobile devices after just six months—and 40 percent of its referrals came through mobile applications. And even though according to the CandEs, nearly 80 percent of the participating North American employers offer mobile apply, only 12 percent of candidates are using it, so improving that experience is critical to candidate conversion.
  3. Prepare your candidates for success from the get-go. At Hyland, a leading software solutions provider, recruiters use an applicant tracking system to determine where candidates might best fit in the organization. As a result, during job interviews, recruiters often talk with candidates about more than one position. Chicago-based consultancy, West Monroe Partners, helps its candidates prepare for an interview, even offering them tips even about the interviewers themselves to help facilitate introductions and fruitful conversations.

Without question, the candidate experience needs to improve. But it’s only part of the larger recruiting the equation. If we pay attention to our company’s overall recruiting efficiencies—and to implementing the best possible infrastructure on the back-end—the candidate experience can and does improve.

That’s the heavenly beauty of harmonic recruiting efficiency.

Registration is now open for companies that want to participate in the 2017 Talent Board Candidate Experience Awards Bench Program. Register today!

Photo Credit: npausuav006 Flickr via Compfight cc

How Leaders Hire Top Tech Talent

The competition to hire top talent, especially top tech talent, has never been fiercer. And no wonder. There is no substitute for raw tech talent. It can take your organization to a whole new level of performance. Here’s a little not-so secret: one sizzling star employee is worth 50 so-so employees.

The question becomes: How do you find these stars and then successfully recruit them for your company? Especially the passive recruits — those people who are perfectly happy in their current positions and will only leave when an offer is really tantalizing.

What you don’t want to do is contact them cold with a form e-mail and a generic or uninspiring job description. What you do want to do is slowly engage them in a genuine dialogue that intrigues, engages and inspires them to want to make a bold career move and discover your employer brand and other offerings.

Fortunately, social media and other technologies have handed Leaders, HR and Recruiters breakthrough tools to facilitate this delicate recruiting dance. Social networks and the vast amounts of professional and personal “big data” available today make it possible to get to know a potential recruit before you make that crucial first contact.

The key here is to mine and leverage the networks and data looking for a recruit’s true interests and passions, and to see where they align or dovetail with your organization’s mission, vision and values. Culture fit is always an important consideration.

A simple search of Google, Facebook and LinkedIn (and more) can uncover valuable insights into a recruit’s history, accomplishments, motivators, personality and passions. Then there are technologies and companies that can perform this profiling and vetting process for you. The bottom line in any case is actionable information.

Once you feel you’ve got a clear, 3-D picture of the talent you want to woo, you can take the first steps. You want to personalize your initial contact, key it into something you know will pique their curiosity. Don’t mention a specific job in your opening. Talk about the kind of work they’re passionate about, and how you may be able to offer them fresh and rewarding career challenges that will help them grow and flourish. Remember to keep the focus on the skill set and personality characteristics of this person, not on you or your organization at first.

Don’t throw around a lot of buzzwords or try to dazzle talent by tossing in references to the latest technologies. The latest technologies are a given these days for tech talent. It’s the big picture, interesting and innovative challenges that will excite them. So be specific. Talk about what your organization has accomplished, and wants to accomplish in the future. Get them interested in outcomes. Focus on the work.

Do leverage any connections you may have to the candidate. If you’ve both worked with some of the same people, that creates an instant common ground. If the person has done something amazing or interesting, reference it. This could be a product development strategy, a blog post or completing a triathlon.

Don’t overload the first connection. The goal is initial personal engagement. Mention an opportunity, and then ask to schedule a ten-minute call or video connect to discuss it, sometime in the near future. If the talent agrees to this, go for it and keep your promise to follow-up. You can then line up someone they will be working with directly, preferably a leader or someone very hands-on with the technology, to be a part of the next step of the recruiting process.

In the follow-up, get them talking. Although social media and data mining has given you a full picture of the recruit, the more they talk, the closer you will be to closing to the deal. Listen. Respond specifically, never generally. Ask them about what they’re working on and look for passion points – those places where their voices grow excited, their adrenaline flows.

Remember that the potential recruit has probably (definitely) researched you and your company brand since your initial contact. So make sure your profiles and posts are up-to-date, savvy and intriguing. That said, never be immodest or pushy. When someone (recruiters often get a bad rap for this approach) pushes too hard, the natural human instinct is to pull back.

Finally, invite them in to see for themselves what your organization is doing. Don’t fall into the recruiting trap of putting on a unrealistic or flashy show that does not genuinely reflect your workplace culture when candidates phone screen, video interview or arrive for an in person round – that’s false advertising and usually comes back to haunt you in the form of an unhappy, disillusioned, unsatisfied employee.

As I’ve said many times – a one size workplace culture fits no one. Use these guidelines and tools, provided by social media and technology, to craft a customized approach that will exponentially increase your ability to connect with, hire and hopefully retain superstar talent.

A version of this was first posted on Forbes.

photo credit: Expression via photopin (license)

5 Ways To Use Mobile To Recruit Top Talent

These days, desktops and laptops are starting to seem like relics from an earlier age. Mobile rules. Any company that isn’t using mobile for recruitment and referrals is in real danger of losing out on top talent.

Here’re a few quick stats to give you a clearer picture:

77 percent of job seekers use mobile job search apps in their job search;

81 percent of employees use their personal mobile devices for work;

23 percent of keyword searches that contain the word “job” come from mobile devices.

It’s clear that mobile is the new HR frontier. Mobile is where top talent goes when it’s looking for a gig. And it’s where smart companies are increasing their presence, including Intel,, and Pepsi. The imperative is clear: up your mobile recruiting and referral presence or risk being an also-ran in the talent hunt.

Here Are 5 Ways To Fully Exploit The Mobile Marketplace In Your Recruiting Efforts:

1) Invest in a great interface. Your career site must be designed to be mobile friendly from start to finish. Remember, your mobile interface is the first thing many applicants see — it’s a reflection of your company and culture. You want it to be appealing, honest and easy to navigate. This not only ups the number of top-flight applicants, it ups referrals. People who may not be right for a current opening may well refer someone who is.

2) Streamline the career application process. Mobile lends itself to action. Especially for the initial phase of recruiting and filtering candidates, make the application process fun. Don’t force this, and always stay true to your workplace culture, but within those parameters make the process easy and engaging.

3) Use social networks. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social networks are HR powerhouses. Fully 70 percent of iPhone and Android users visitFacebook on their devices and there are over 2 million jobs listed on Facebook’s Social Job Partnership application. Twitter can spread word of a great job like wildfire. LinkedIn, of course, is the ultimate mobile recruiting tool. It’s a great marketplace where talent and HR meet, assess each other, and if the match is right, partner.

4) Use the mobile tools. Mobile is the perfect platform for gamification, videos, and rewards. It’s all about engagement and personalization. Get the people who will be working with the new recruit involved in the hiring process. Videos are a great way to do this – a potential coworker talking about your organization and what the job entails is worth a thousand words of description.

5) Know mobile’s limits. Mobile is a priceless recruiting and referral tool, but to seal the deal you need personal contact. HR is about filtering and attracting top people, so once mobile has connected your enterprise with talent, pick up the phone and make human-to-human contact. There is no bigger booster of HR technology than me, but there is a danger in over-reliance on it. You want to meet people in person and bring them into your organization before you hire them.

Mobile is only going to grow in the years to come. It’s exciting technology – there’s a reason billions of people use mobile every day. Be savvy in exploiting it for your recruiting and referral process when hiring new talent. Bring in outside if you need to. Get this right and talent will flow your way.

A version of this post was first published on Forbes

Photo Credit: TechStage via Compfight cc

7 Hottest Trends In HR Technology

Technology has been dominating the HR and Talent Management space for the past decade – with more “real serious widespread adoption” happening in the past year. Has its application plateaued? Is HR finally taking a more active role in driving user adoption? Are there more exciting developments on the way that help to recruit, retain and engage your talent? Where do things stand and where are they going? These are definitely exciting times.

Here’s My Take On The Top 7 Trends in HR Technology:

1) There Will Be A Move From Quantity To Quality. We’ve been deluged with technological advances, and many Leaders and HR departments have embraced some, or if very innovative, many of them. Only to later find out (after spending money and resources) that some are a terrible match for their organizations. I see much more selectivity in the year ahead. Instead of asking, “Is this amazing technology?”, the question will become, “Is this technology a good match for us?”

2) The Number Of So-Called Breakthrough HR Technologies Will Diminish.We’re now in the second decade of the computer revolution, which has indeed changed the way we live and work. But even something as epic as the computer reaches its limits. What we’re seeing now is a welcome emphasis on refinements of the core technologies. Beware of vendors who try and dazzle you with hype, or are selling wildly complicated products. Look for smart (and often simple) technologies that are user-friendly and deliver targeted results.

3) It’s All About Implementation. Smart people are shutting out all the clutter and asking themselves: “Is this technology going to be easy to implement and will be my employees actually adopt?” Ignore all the bells and whistles, the shiny toys and pretty graphics. In the end it’s about usage, smart data and building stronger teams. Will this product be worth the effort and expense? Deconstruct the technology down its core deliverables. The rest is just a waste of time.

4) Analytics Is The Special Sauce. Software analytics, single stack software and any tool that enables relevant data to be collected and shared between departments with ease and consistency is basically good. It allows everyone to be on the same page, speaking the same language. It’s a fantastic leadership and HR tool. We can see what’s happening – the good, the weird, the amazing and the stuff that makes us ask better questions — across the organization and respond quickly. We are now seeking numbers to back up what we say. We have the tools – let’s use them.

5) Social Media And Continuous Learning Continues To Grow In Significance. Social media is one area that has lived up to its hype. It’s an amazing talent management, branding and employee engagement tool. For example – by creating a 3-dimensional profile of an applicant (Google the person’s name-Wink), talent simply leaps out. Peoples quirks, interesting detours, offbeat skills all come to life as we learn more about people’s personalities and “real lives”. As do certain negatives like rigid ideology, or a tendency to be snarky or combative. Within an organization, social media, social learning and big data are an unparalleled communication and cohesion tool if understood and utilized correctly.

6) Real Time Talent Management Matters. Tools that allow continuous monitoring of performance are better for everyone. A formal employee review every six months is fast becoming obsolete. What is far more important is software that enables us to stay on top of things in real time. Problems are nipped in the bud and the good stuff like recognition, gamification and rewards are in place to offer more productive employee relationships that can be nurtured. No more playing catch-up. Real time monitoring gives HR and Leaders more power to do more good and weed out the people who are not a good fit. 

7) Mobile, Mobile, Mobile. There’s a new generation of talent coming up that views desktops as a relic from the past. The world is growing evermore global and mobile and HR has to be, too. To reach the right talent, you need to be mobile-friendly in design and ease of usage. HR should always go where the talent is – and these days it’s on mobile.

It’s going to be an exciting, if at times overwhelming, week, year. I’d love to know what you think of my list. We live in fascinating times for HR and Leadership and the conference is always interesting. Have a blast. Let’s keep learning and innovating together.

A version of this post was first published on

photo credit: Brain Health via photopin (license)