Q&A: Solving talent shortages through great candidate experience

Employers are facing fierce competition for talent, with high demand for skills and low availability of candidates driving wage inflation across many industries. The solution? Developing a personalised candidate experience and using data to make informed interventions argues Lisa Skinner Källström, chief HR officer at applicant tracking system Teamtailor

The great resignation, technological advances and skills gaps are creating an extremely competitive talent market. What can organisations do to become an employer of choice?

While the importance of salaries will never go out of fashion, employees are increasingly looking beyond just compensation when it comes to an employer. There are so many things that have happened in the past few years that have changed how people view work.

For example, the impact of Covid has shown that employees have needs and desires that companies may not have known about before, such as support for mental health and wellbeing. The pandemic has offered a lot of new conditions for people to work under - such as remote or hybrid working - but it also increases the pressure on employers.

It’s important to remember that all ages want flexibility at work, not just young people. One size no longer fits all - you need to think of the wider population and be flexible on what you offer different people. This can open up your candidate base to new types of people and new competition. Consequently, it’s vital that you consider your candidate experience when recruiting.

What does a great candidate experience look like?

It has to be a mix. Technology is really having an impact, so there are so many tools available that can help make the application process as frictionless as possible. Candidates expect a process that is automated, without the need for manual uploading or entering lots of text. The process needs to be smooth and mobile friendly.

At the same time, you need to retain the human element of the application. Candidates don’t want to feel like a number in a process that might randomly get picked for an interview. So, in the tools you choose to use, there should be room for personalisation.

As a company, you can’t just have one brand for everyone. It depends on the role you’re hiring for, the state of the market and the candidate profile you desire

Think about where in each step of the application process you can build in personalisation. This might be adding individual names into the process or thinking about where candidates can have contact with a recruiter. With Teamtailor, if a candidate sees a position they like, they’ll also see a portrait image of the recruiter with contact details and option to get in touch. It helps to personalise the process and the recruiting organisation.

It’s about finding that combination between a candidate experience that makes people feel individually valued, but also ensuring that the technology you use allows you to manage multiple applications at pace and gives you the data you need to analyse your
recruitment process.

How important is employer branding to candidate experience?

As a company, you can’t just have one brand for everyone. It depends on the role you’re hiring for, the state of the market and the candidate profile you desire.

If you’re a value-driven organisation, then you need new team members to be motivated by working in a value-driven company. It has become fashionable to talk about diversity and inclusion, but what does it actually mean in your company? If your employer brand talks about being inclusive when it comes to, for example, different nationalities, but you don’t have the tools to support applications from different nationalities, or offer support for visa applications, then you’re not setting yourself up for success.

Every company should have a mission, but you need to really understand why your values are important and connect them to your recruitment process. If your recruiters don’t understand, relate to or apply your values, then candidates won’t either. It makes the whole endeavour pointless.

How is HR technology changing recruitment?

Technology is having a huge effect on talent acquisition, not least in that it gives you much more opportunity to handle larger volumes of applicants. It is increasing diversity and removing bias (I’m currently hiring for a recruiter and I’m anonymising all applications) as well as opening up roles to a bigger market.

You need to retain the human element of the application. Candidates don’t want to feel like a number in a process that might randomly get picked for an interview

HR technology means using data and statistics to analyse your recruitment processes. You learn from the data. For example, if you have a certain number of candidates applying for a job, you shouldn’t just focus on the gold and silver candidates - you should try to learn from the entire pipeline. Who is applying? What source are you getting your applicants from? How are they finding you?

Working with data has helped me a lot. It teaches you where you need to make investments, how to better understand your applicants and how to intervene. It also means that HR has become more strategic and more influential in the C-suite.

What advice would you give to leaders in the current talent market?

Use data to improve your candidate experience. Ten years ago, talent acquisition was a buyer’s market. Organisations were stricter about candidates fitting job roles and were more likely to reject applicants to wait for a closer fit.

Now, the market has changed. Companies need to look at candidates in a different way. How can we fit candidates with adjacent skills or experience? They might not fit the role they applied for, but can we attract them to another role? How do we engage applicants with our brand and use that talent pool?

Second, everyone is looking for talent that can help their business grow and achieve their goals. The market is tough. However, it’s vital that you stay true to your brand and company values and try to find a match for them in the market. Be open to looking at different profiles and outside your usual talent pools. Above all, think about your candidate experience, personalise it and use technology to your advantage.

If you’d like to hear more from Lisa on candidate experience, join our webinar: teamtailor.com

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