I was honoured to be asked to be a judge in the UK version of the Candidate Experience Awards this year. I’m a big fan of the essential work Gerry Crispin and his team are doing in this area.
As part of the judging, I got to see all of the data that came back from the candidate and client surveys. I like these awards because they recognise and benchmark best practice, are free to take part and are not a “first place” competition. They are free to take part, and its not a prize for the best company to buy a table, or belong to this or that trade association, organisation or group.It is not a prize for who has the best PR company. The results are data and research based, on the real candidate experience. It is open to every company who wants to take part and get a benchmark report, and it is free. I see no reason why any company should not want to take part, unless they are not really bothered about candidate experience. Please sign up for 2013!
Over the next 5 days I’m going to be publishing my thoughts on the public data. This is not the official report or comments. You can register for a free copy of the full report HERE. These are my learning points from having been involved in this process.

War for talent. (Engagement)

The term “war for talent” is a commonly used term to describe the competition for great potential employees. Universum describe this perhaps more accurately as the “battle for brain power,”The survey results suggest that the war for talent is in fact a war for other peoples talent. If we accept that this war is being waged on a daily basis, the results suggest that for 50% of the candidate respondents, poor process, untargeted talent attraction tactics, and poor use of technology results in many employers shooting themselves in the foot. Where a candidate has more than one potential employer, engagement and experience is critical in their decision making.

On line and traditional communication methods

It is encouraging to see employers experimenting with a wide range of methods to communicate pre-hire. The career site is unsurprisingly the primary source of communication. Mobile apps and text messaging received the second and third highest “do not use” response. Given the significant growth in Smartphone usage for web access, I would have expected greater experimentation in this area. This will become critical in candidate experience, as an increasing number of potential employees move from desktop access to mobile device, Traditional methods like career fairs and career sites dominate communication. This might make sense for active job seekers, but ignores the passive browsers. Employer communication is still largely broadcast, rather than engaging, with little or no use of features like live chat.

Referral

The awareness, by job seekers, of the opportunity to get referred by a contact within an organisation is low (16%). This is largely because hiring companies are concentrating their efforts (and investment), on the traditional application process. Career site to ATS, rather than promoting, or offering, alternative routes to application. Where a company operates an E.R.P, (employee referral program), these are predominantly dependent on the internal employees making the referral. Making connections within a company visible changes the emphasis, and drives the volume of referrals. Visibility is critical in this, through the use of social plug ins.

Social media in the job search

It is interesting to note that UK job seekers are twice as likely to use social media in the job search than their North American counterparts, whilst North American hiring companies are twice as likely to use social media channels to promote opportunities and employer branding content. It is surprising to note that despite heavy use of social media in the job search, the information provided has little impact on their decision to apply for a job. My feeling is that this is a reflection of the lack of mobile compatibility, (when job seekers are browsing the web in down time), and the redirect from social media to career site to ATS, with little opportunity to complete the whole application process within the channel.
Unsurprisingly, LinkedIn dominates in the areas of candidate engagement and prospecting, with 73.7% of the respondents using the channel in the job search, and Facebook with 44.4%. Google+, despite being a relatively new channel, is being used by nearly a quarter of the respondents, suggesting that this will only grow in importance over the coming year. The other results worth noting are that Twitter is almost non-existent in results, and that review site Glassdoor is making some serious in-roads in the UK with 11.4%. With the launch of a dedicated UK site by Glassdoor during 2013, we can expect this destination to grow in importance over the yeae, with potential applicants seeking reassurance from current employees and previous applicants before hitting the apply button. The absence of Twitter perhaps reflects the move by employers to replicate what they know i:e: the career site, on social pages rather than move to more open forms of engagement like live chat or twitter, where it is harder to control the message.
The LinkedIn result reflects the growing trend amongst direct employers to move to a direct sourcing model via LinkedIn, as reflected in the CandE winners interviews, with direct sourcing being cited as a big factor in improving the candidate experience, where relationships are established early in the process on a one to one basis, where candidates are pre-selected according to their profile.

Transparency

There is a general recognition that all job seeking data indicates that potential employees look to research potential employers on-line in the application,interview and decision making process. In line with talent attraction, LinkedIn dominates the communication channels, with over 70% of responding companies adding content, followed by Facebook pages with 40% and unlike the job seekers, Twitter features with 21%, slightly behind Google+. Smart employers are recognising that individuals have preferred channels to communicate in, and are spreading their content across all of the available channels, whilst others are communicating almost exclusively in LinkedIn, reflecting the dominance of the channel in recruiting terms. Employers continue to communicate through single destination career pages on LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+, replicating the thinking behind single destination career sites. The growth in culture branding, personal brands for recruiters, referral networks, talent networks (like StackOverflow), and mobile will cause some disruption to this thinking, with individuals looking to connect with individuals for authentic communication over corporate marketing content.
The majority of information is made available via the website or through direct contact with a recruiter. Information is least likely to be made available through social media channels, although awareness to why people work for an individual employer, awards and sustainability are the content most likely to be shared in social media. This is perhaps a perception of what content interests candidates in social media channels, with access to more varied information being dependent on access to individual recruiters. Where volumes of candidates are small, this is manageable, but sectors attracting higher volumes make individual one to one communication harder to sustain, impacting on candidate experience. The conversion ratio of applications to interview to hire is a far more effective measure than volume of applicants, though the latter is often the principal measure for talent attraction.

Be great to hear your thoughts,

Bill

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