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The candidate journey: 3 essential tips for attracting the best talent

Dean Sadler, CEO of TribePad

For the most sought-after skills, it’s long been a seller’s market. But, with Brexit looming and the demand for specialist workers growing, the available talent pool is getting even smaller. This means it’s now the top candidates choosing you, rather than you choosing them.

As a result, companies can find themselves with serious problems if they don’t offer a quality candidate experience, from rejected job offers to damaging word of mouth. The recruitment process therefore needs to be firing on all cylinders, and from working with some of the UK’s biggest employers, we’ve gleaned some insights into how this can be done.

Step 1: Make a good first impression

As with most things, making a good first impression is absolutely vital. And just as the candidate will hope to impress in the application stage, so too should the employer.

For businesses, this starts at the initial point of contact, i.e. your recruitment portal. First impressions count, and the best talent is not going to waste time on job boards with poorly-written ads, clunky load times, or an ugly user experience such as broken links, outdated information or worse. Your recruitment platform is a representation of your business; if it looks boring, old or behind the times, you’ll likely miss out on the best talent.  

Take the Church of England for example, they need to hire 1,000 staff, over 8,000 Ordained Clergy Post Holders and 10,000 volunteers every year, but when we started working together their encompassing recruitment process was pen and paper on a board outside churches. Not only did this reach just a small pool of candidates, but when it did, many were put off by the outdated nature of the process. It was time for the Church to make its application platform fit for the 21st century. So we helped transform their entire recruitment and advertising process, which, in turn, resulted in an incredible 119% increase in candidates and had a positive impact in terms of candidate diversity and quality. Proving that your first impressions really do matter.

2. Setting expectations

So you have aced first impressions, and engaged the candidate - the second stage is in the details. And as with most things, these really do matter. To attract the best talent for the right roles, you have to be really clear about exactly what it is you are advertising.

Be straight about what you are looking for. If you are hiring a project manager, then don’t beat around the bush, write ‘project manager’! Don’t use vague titles such as ‘lifecycle manager’ or ‘document controller’ - nobody is going to apply for a job if they don’t understand what the title means. Another thing to remember is don’t oversell job specifications. If a job is largely admin-based, then be honest and upfront about that. Far too many companies fail to list this out correctly which can lead to low retention rates in the long term, something that can be hugely costly for an organisation.

Another great way to attract candidates with the job description is to ask the line manager to record a quick video on their smartphone, explaining what the position involves as well as a bit about who they are and the company. This can be a far more engaging way of describing the job, when compared to a written description.

It’s also essential to be clear on the non-negotiable criteria. This will not only save your candidates’ time, but yours too. It will ensure that you only get applicants with relevant qualifications, saving you hours of weeding out the not-quite-right CVs. However, this can also be a double-edged sword, as you can’t be too greedy with your “must haves” – the more you have, the less likely it is that your perfect candidate actually exists.

Ultimately, the aim is to not just attract any job seekers, but to secure the talent that’s right for your business. Being clear and setting expectations is not only the easiest way to do this, but the most cost effective too.

3. Use technology to make things easier for you, and the applicant

On the candidate journey, communication is essential. Yet we are often working at such a speed, that keeping in touch is not always possible. However, it is an essential part of helping the candidate feel involved and happy with the process - with many citing that they feel forgotten about or ignored during the recruitment process.

Whilst a specific candidate might not be right for the current role, that shouldn’t rule them out of the next, which could be more suited to their skills. It’s essential then for candidates to receive feedback at every stage of the recruitment journey. When they submit their application, they want to know it’s been received. When they sign a contract, they need confirmation that everything is in order. And equally importantly, if they’re not offered the role, they would like to know in a timely manner.

This is where tech enabled solutions, such as a talent acquisition platform, can make a huge difference. You can deliver personalised emails that automatically go out to candidates at key points in their experience, and even add important attachments, such as contract and policy documents. Or, to save time and speak with more applicants, you can also utilise video interviewing, with candidates submitting recorded answers to set questions. For the candidate, this reduces elements of a negative experience; they never have to wait for a response, always know what stage they are at, and they don’t have to pay for travel to a job interview they might not get.

Going forward, recruiting the best talent is only going to get tougher. Taking steps now to ensure you have the key milestones in place in your recruitment journey to keep the candidate happy will make a world of difference. Not only does it give you a great reputation in the sector, but also ensures you are getting the best talent for the right roles in your business.

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