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When Recruiting Improves Candidate Communication

“Do you hear the phone when I call?

Do you feel the thud when I fall?

Do you hear the crack when I break?

Did you lock the door when it shut?

Did you see the knife when it cut?

Do you keep your ear to the ground?

For the kid in Lonely Town…”

—Brandon Flowers, Lonely Town

Work. There comes a time when we reflect on whether or not to defect. Of whether we stay the course of a complicated, even painful relationship that does not reinvest to retain, or if we close our eyes and leap.

We see these reflections as a possible jumping off points, opportunities to start anew and find:

  • An employer that maybe, this time, will celebrate all that we bring and reward us accordingly.
  • A job where we can do what we do best – the work we love to do and that we’re the most loyal to.
  • Meaningful work that generates a positive prismatic return for us and for those who employ us.

Its one of the most difficult things we do in the modern age: apply for employment. From hourly contract work to salaried jobs to management and executive positions, it’s a highly personal journey of putting ourselves out there to be assessed, reviewed and ultimately judged as to whether we’re deemed worthy of working for an individual, a team, a company.

The recruiting and hiring process from employer to employer can vary so dramatically, with only a few providing a more positive candidate experience than the many, the path from pre-application to even onboarding for those who get the job can eviscerate the hearts of even the most hopeful.

Which was how I felt five years ago. I remember going through a job search with a high-visibility firm. That combined with my industry visibility at the time made me feel even more vulnerable, especially considering that I made it to the final selection process, and I had much more than pride on the line; I had to provide for a family.

Considering the industry they were in, they should’ve known better, the best practices of recruiting and hiring. Instead, I was left with inconsistent acknowledgement and no closure. And even though I didn’t get the job, of which the other primary candidate definitely had the edge on me, I was led to believe that there were other opportunities. It took weeks to know I wasn’t hired and longer still to hear there weren’t other opportunities.

I know. Maybe I’m being melodramatic. I mean, not everyone gets the job and the employment trophy, right? It’s a messy business, this world of work. Stiff upper lip and all that. Of course, I survived and joined the global non-profit research organization called The Talent Board that highlights the good, bad and the in-between of recruiting and candidate experience via the Candidate Experience Awards and Research (CandE). We survey both employers and candidates about the recruiting process, from pre-application to onboarding.

The CandE winners know it’s a constant work in progress – those companies that have improved their recruiting experience for candidates. They are raising the bar and sharing compelling stories as to their talent acquisition journeys of making candidates their number one customers. They know that candidates themselves want to be valued and have an engaging and transparent experience. How they’re treated has a direct impact on employer brands. In today’s digital age, where people share experiences online, a poor candidate experience can be bad for business and translate to millions in lost revenue annually.

When I read through the candidate open-ended survey responses, I empathize viscerally; we’ve all been there; we’re all perpetual candidates. Here are a few paraphrased and sanitized examples (and these were the nicer ones):

  • If there is anyone I could speak with about where my application stands, I would appreciate it. I put my heart into applying for that job. 
  • They should have been more specific as to why I wasnt selected and given me some constructive criti 
  • I did not hear anything until I received a notification that I was not hired two to three months after my interview. 
  • It took a week after I followed up with HR to receive an automated message saying that the position had been filled.

Tens of thousands of similar responses. Yes, progress continues to be made year after year since the first report was released, and the 2015 North America Talent Board Research Report is now available to download. (Companies interested in participating in the 2016 survey research can register here.)

However, there has been a bit of a backslide:

  • 2015 results show an increase in the number of employers not contacting candidates post applica
  • Overall, the percentage of organizations that acknowledge applications with a “thank you” correspondence dropped from 89.5 percent to 85.3 percent
  • The percentage of recruiters required to respond dropped from 49.3 percent to 39.6 percent, which is too bad since, at the very least, talent acquisition systems today are more than malleable enough to accommodate hundreds of disposition codes and better personalize automated messages.

And then every once in a while you come across a positive one, even from those not hired:

I thought the hiring and recruitment managers both did a fine, professional job in conveying this information to me at the conclusion of their process.

Amen. So I wish the true wish of every candidate and current employee around the world: the hope for consistent and personable acknowledgment and closure, knowing that you may not be the chosen one.

When recruiting reflects on its effects, and then improves its candidate communications and follow-up and through, it can retain the relationships outside and in that impact the brand and the business.

And then it may just be a happier year for some of you who start anew.

Candidate Experience: Survey Insights #TChat Preview

(Editor’s Note: Are you looking for full highlights and resource links from this week’s events? Read the #TChat Recap: “Candidate Experience: Getting It Right.”)

Candidate Experience.”

The concept has been gaining visibility in HR circles for years. Along the way, we’ve explored the topic multiple times at #TChat events, and on this blog.

The term isn’t yet part of a typical job seeker’s vocabulary. But people don’t need to speak HR lingo to know if a prospective employer treats them with courtesy and common sense. Regardless of whether a candidate is hired, those impressions make a lasting impact. And in a world where both top talent and brand loyalty are scarce, companies ignore these fundamentals at their peril.

Candidate Feedback: Thunder Rolls

Of course, word now travels incredibly fast on social channels. And with organizations like The Talent Board (the “CandE” Candidate Experience Awards people) paying close attention, the voice of the candidate is getting louder all the time.

In fact, response to this year’s “CandE” survey was thunderous. Nearly 50,000 former job candidates invested 40 minutes each to tell The Talent Board how employers managed their application and interviewing process. Imagine the insights that will come from all of those data points!

Fortunately, we don’t have to wait much longer to find out, because this week, we’ll hear “early returns” from two of the leaders behind the survey:

 Elaine Orler, President of Talent Function Group and chairman of The Talent Board;
Gerry Crispin, Staffing Strategist and Co-Founder of CareerXroads Colloquium.

Sneak Peek Survey Results

To kick-off this week’s discussion, Gerry joined me for a brief G+ Hangout, where we discussed the focus and importance of this year’s analysis:

If you’re an HR professional, or a business leader who wants to know how to win hearts and minds through recruiting best practices, you won’t want to miss this week’s #TChat conversation!

#TChat Events: Candidate Survey: Early Insights

#TChat Radio — Wed, Dec 11 — 6:30pmET / 3:30pmPT

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Tune-in to the #TChat Radio show

Our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman talk with Gerry Crispin and Elaine Orler about early findings from the candidate experience survey — and implications for HR. Tune-in LIVE online this Wednesday!

#TChat Twitter — Wed, Dec 11 7pmET / 4pmPT

Immediately following the radio show, our discussion moves to the #TChat Twitter stream for an open chat with the entire TalentCulture community. Everyone with a Twitter account is invited to participate, as we address these 5 related questions:

Q1: Why does “candidate experience” continue to be a hot topic?
Q2: As a “perpetual candidate,” what would you like employers to fix?
Q3: What hiring process improvements have you seen that worked?
Q4: Why don’t more companies request + act on candidate feedback?
Q5: What technology traps keep the candidate experience painful?

We look forward to hearing your feedback, as talent-minded professionals — so bring your best ideas from both sides of the hiring table.

Throughout the week, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed and on our LinkedIn Discussion Group. So please join us share your questions, ideas and opinions.
We’ll see you on the stream!

Hiring Is Hard: May The Best Brand Win #TChat Recap

The hiring scene today is like two sides of a rolling coin. On one side, five generations of diverse candidates are clamoring for what’s on the other side — a mash-up of full-time, part-time, outsourced and freelance jobs that continue to be redefined on-the-fly by disruptive economic, business and technology forces.

This controlled chaos challenges job seekers to demonstrate professional value through new social channels — while simultaneously challenging employers to recruit the right talent through those same social channels. It sounds like a perfect candidate fit should be easy to find. But as #TChat-ters know, the world of work isn’t perfect — and it leaves a lasting impression, for better or worse.

The Candidate Experience: A Reality Check

Let me illustrate. As a member of The Talent Board Candidate Experience Council, I have more than a passing interest in the topic of hiring practices. And frankly, last year’s CandE Awards insights concerned me. Here’s a good news/bad news slice of life from employers who sought CandE recognition in 2012:

Good News: The so-called recruiting “black hole” (that awkward space where employers fail to share any status or notifications with job candidates) is fading.

Bad News: There’s still room for improvement, even among pace-setters.

Only 1 in 3 companies ask for feedback from job candidates who don’t advance to the final evaluation round. And +90% of rejected candidates say they weren’t asked for feedback after they learned about their status. This means employers are missing meaningful insight from a broad spectrum of candidates.

– More than 50% of candidates say they’re likely or very likely to tell close friends about their experience — regardless of whether it was positive (74%) or negative (61%). Connect the dots and you’ll see huge implications for employer brands.

So, how can we improve upon today’s standard of practice? That’s exactly why applications for 2013 CandE Awards are being accepted. It’s also why #TChat focused on the topic this week — to encourage creative thinking and knowledge sharing among members of the TalentCulture community. We’ve captured highlights and resources below — feel free to review and comment anytime, and share with others who might benefit.

Together, we can raise the bar — so every brand can win.

#TChat Week in Review

SAT 6/1

GerryElaine

Watch video interviews in the #TChat Preview now

#TChat Preview + Sneak Peek Videos: Our Community Manager, Tim McDonald, introduced this week’s topic in G+ Hangout interviews with our special guests, Elaine Orler, president of talent acquisition consulting firm Talent Function, and Gerry Crispin, staffing strategist and co-founder of CareerXroads. See the videos now in Tim’s post: “Does Your Hiring Process Speak for Your Brand?”

 SUN 6/2

Forbes.com Post: In her weekly Forbes column, TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro examined some of the key ways companies can recruit top-notch talent by improving their recruiting experience. Read “4 Steps Of Leaders Who Win Stellar Talent.”

TUE 6/4

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Listen to the #TChat Radio show

#TChat Radio: Guests Elaine and Gerry sat down with hosts Meghan and me to examine the candidate experience in detail — the increasing importance of recruiting as a living “face” of corporate brands. Listen to the recording now: “Hiring: The Candidate Experience is Everything.”

WED 6/5

#TChat Twitter: #TChat-ters came together on the Twitter stream to share thoughts, concerns and opinions about the impact and influence of the candidate experience in today’s world of work. If you missed the real-time Twitter action, or would like to review highlights, watch the slideshow below:

#TChat Twitter Highlights: “Does Your Hiring Process Speak For Your Brand?”

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Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

SPECIAL THANKS: Again, a nod to this week’s guests Elaine Orler and Gerry Crispin. We’re inspired by your expertise and passion for improving the candidate experience.

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about your hiring experience? Suggestions perhaps? We’d love to share your thoughts. Post a link on Twitter (include #TChat or @TalentCulture), or insert a comment below, and we’ll pass it along.

WHAT’S AHEAD: Next week we move on to the topic of open leadership with enterprise learning expert Dan Pontefract. We’ll talk about collaborative leadership models that drive productivity, engagement and improved business results. Stay tuned for details this weekend!

Until then, the World of Work conversation continues each day. Join us on the #TChat Twitter stream, or on our new LinkedIn discussion group. And feel free to explore other areas of our redesigned website. The gears are always turning at TalentCulture, and your ideas and opinions are always welcome.

See you on the stream!

(Editor’s Note: This post is an extension of commentary that originally appears in Kevin Grossman’s “Reach West” blog. Read the full original post: “Go Ahead And Roll Your Big And Gaudy Candidate Experience Dice.”)

Image Credit: Pixabay