Improving the Candidate Experience

HR Outsourcing

A trio of strategies organisations can leverage to attract top talent.

By Michael Switow

Most HR professionals say that it’s harder to recruit candidates now than it was a year ago. In fact, the two issues most likely to keep HR leaders up at night, according to a global survey commissioned by Korn Ferry Futurestep, are quality of hire and competition for talent.

At the same time, the single most important factor driving talent to choose a company—more significant than money or even career progression—is corporate culture. Is the company inclusive? Does it focus on employees? What about the candidate experience during recruitment and onboarding?

“If candidates are gold and we know how hard it is to find really fantastic people for the jobs that you need, not only for today, but also for what your business needs tomorrow, why don’t we treat them like gold?” says Sue Campbell, managing director for Asia for Korn Ferry Futurestep.

The impact of candidate experience cannot be understated. Within Asia Pacific, 38 per cent of job applicants say that if they have a bad experience whilst applying or interviewing for a job, they are “not at all likely” to remain a customer of that company. More than half say they would urge friends and family to boycott the company, and an equal portion (52 per cent) say they are unlikely to accept a job offer. Even if the candidate accepts a position, there is a strong correlation between negative onboarding and turnover.

“Applicant tracking systems (ATS) are wonderful, because they move things forward. We are able to find duplicate candidates, but ATSs have become compromised tools,” warns Korn Ferry Futurestep Marketing and Communications Vice President Neil Griffiths. “ATSs were always meant to be the tool to attract candidates [and] for us to engage with candidates. Somewhere along the line, that connection was broken.”

Tech tools need to have a human face, Griffiths explains. Job descriptions need to market a company; they should be easy to read, not filled with technical jargon. Candidates need to be engaged; the vast majority of negative comments on the social job search platform Glassdoor are about companies that never contact a candidate or only send an automated rejection letter.

“Managers love head hunters; they hate in-house recruiters. Why? Because in-house recruiters talk about process and controls,” Griffiths explains. “The one gripe most recruiters have is that business leaders treat us as transactional recruiters. We don’t get the respect as a business partner.”

The best way to change this mindset is for recruiters to focus on candidate quality—not simply the speed at which they can fill a position. And the best way to identify quality candidates is to tap the knowledge of people already in the company. Encourage managers to share the business cards of people that they meet at conferences; allow them to provide feedback on candidates in the pipeline. Recruiters enable the process, but everyone is responsible for recruiting.

There are three actions that can help transform companies into more contemporary recruitment organisations:

1. Employer Brand Strategies

  • Get the basics right. Focus on candidate interactions at a basic level to ensure that they are done correctly before moving on to employer branding.
  • Have consistent communication. Ensure that both recruiters and managers deliver consistent messages regarding employer branding when interacting with candidates.
  • Be authentic. Present a real image of the organisation throughout all the touch points of the talent acquisition process.

2. Technology and the Candidate

  • Connect through video. Increase use of video, particularly for job descriptions and interviews.
  • Make scheduling easier. Leverage tech tools that automate scheduling with candidates.
  • Introduce e-onboarding. Ensure that all of the documentation and welcome interviews for new employees are online.

3. Transforming Recruiters into Business Partners

  • Closely examine processes. Do a deep dive to determine which procedures are essential. Eliminate inward-looking processes if they are too time-consuming and do not add value.
  • Communicate differently with managers. If colleagues believe they already know everything, such as whom to hire and what recruiters do, change the perspective. Identify recruiters’ strengths and find ways to work together collectively.
  • Change how recruiters are assessed. Have an approach that makes recruiters think more like business partners— focusing on quality of hire—and less like transactional recruiters, who zero in on time to fill and cost to hire.

This piece covers the interactive workshop Attracting Top Talent – Does the Candidate Experience Really Matter?, presented Sue Campbell, managing director for Asia, and Neil Griffiths, Marketing and Communications Vice President, for Korn Ferry Futurestep, at the HRO Today Forum APAC in Hong Kong.

SIDEBAR: Moody’s Case Study—Recruiters as Business Partners

Forming links with colleagues outside of HR—with the goal of improving your company’s talent pipeline—can be challenging, particularly when new processes or platforms are introduced. When encountering resistance, the best solutions are often the simplest. Listen to colleagues, understand their critiques, and then determine how to address them.

When the credit ratings agency Moody’s extended access to its applicant tracking system to managers across the company, it faced pushback from people who thought HR was imposing on them. In the end though, the managers were won over, and the company’s candidate acceptance rate skyrocketed.

Nikhilesh Mathur, head of talent acquisition in APAC for Moody’s, explains:

“Over the last six months, we’ve gone around to managers saying: You do realise you have access to Kenexa [the applicant tracking system]? You can login anytime you want. You can look at the applicants in the system. You keep chasing my team to say I need a report of how many applicants you have. I need to know who am I interviewing, and yet this information is at your fingertips. I had a couple of managers come back to me saying: Are you asking me to do your job?

So as a team, we sat down and said: Okay, well that’s the piece of feedback. Where is this coming from? You’ll be very surprised at how easy the solution was. Some of the brightest ideas come from others, honestly. On the website, where we have the Kenexa link, it said Manager Self Service. I was at an event, where someone said they changed Self Service to Direct Access to Information. So we went to our website and made a similar change, calling it Manager Direct Access (MDA).

Then we started going back to managers, after working on our spiel, and said: We’re not saying you should do this. We’re just saying that we’re empowering you and you have this information any time you want. You want us to provide the information, we’ll give it to you. But if you’re waiting for us to get back, you might want to use that bit of time, just to try this.

In six months, our acceptance rate in Asia has gone from zero to 75 per cent, six months only, and all we did was change Self Service to MDA, and said: We are empowering you to do this.

Previously, our process was to download CVs, check which ones were sent before, then only send new ones. Now we have managers who go on line, and have figured out that they can actually shortlist and reject candidates.

As a result, my team is spending less time screening CVs. Guess what we’re doing with that time? We’re talking to candidates, and that’s impacting our quality of hires.

The managers love this. In surveys, our hiring manager response on the quality of hire—as well as how it’s done—has gone from a score of 3.5 on a five-point scale to 4.7. And this is only because we changed that one piece in there.”

The above story was originally shared during a breakout discussion about Attracting Top Talent at the 2017 HRO Today Forum APAC.


Posted January 2, 2018 in Talent Acquisition

Leave a Reply