This is day two of my look at the data and research that came back from researching the UK edition of the Candidate Experience Awards. There are three days to go in the series. You can get the full research HERE. This post is my opinion, and does not reflect the official line of the #CandeS.

Pre-application content.

Prior to application, the emphasis is on providing non-specific information. Detail like how often a job opening comes up, previous job holders etc is unlikely to be made public until deep in the application process. As most information is communicated by the recruiter in the process, the thinking behind this may well be that the recruiter can control the negative impact of a message to a candidate they are looking to attract. This is often referred to by recruiters as candidate control or selling the opportunity. By contrast, however, candidates are seeking this information before applying in order to opt in or opt out of an opportunity.
This could be a major factor in the high volume of applicants needed to fill a job. For many of the responding companies this was in excess of 85 per filled post, of which 60% are considered unqualified.
Only 44% of candidates were aware of the values of the organisation before applying, and an amazingly low 34%, the workplace and culture. Only 25% had access to the job spec before they applied.This can only result in candidates being in the process in order to find out there is no fit and opt out. With the reliance on recruiters to communicate this type of critical deal making or breaking information on a one to one basis, a high volume of response will significantly reduce the time available and opportunity to do this.

Full transparency in public channels reduces applications, because people choose to opt out or identify themselves as unqualified to apply. This creates the time needed to give a great candidate experience to those who remain in the process.

Feedback during the attraction phase

Only 1 in 8 of the companies who responded surveyed candidates during the application stage. Fewer than 10% of the candidate respondents felt the hiring company were interested in listening to feedback at this stage. The pre-application stage is the time when their is the most people in the process. Companies are relying on guesswork to determine if they are providing enough information in the right way to enable candidates to make informed choices. A good mantra for decision making over strategy is that “In god we trust, everyone else bring data.” Relying on random feedback between recruiter and candidate, when the candidate may well be doing their best to impress, will only lead to a false sense of security.

Good candidate experience is dependent on consistent data collection at every stage, including from those who determine not to apply.Companies who offered a good candidate experience for the most part collect data at every stage, and work to K.P.I.’s for satisfaction delivery throughout the end to end process.

Expression of interest

To the serious candidate, the expression of interest is a big decision. The point at which they are going through the conscious phase of potentially leaving their current employer and joining another, or committing their future to a hiring company. For many, it is not an easy decision to move from curious to committed. It requires time, and a sharing of what is considered confidential information. Hiring companies must respect this level of commitment in a candidate, and respond accordingly. A number of the CandE winners spoke of having a separate process and view of a candidate, and an applicant. The commonly held interpretation being that a candidate was anyone involved in the process,wether an interested party, a target or a visitor to career content, whereas an applicant is more specifically a candidate who expresses an interest in joining the organisation, usually by commencing the formal application process.Acknowledgement of the application, simplified admin through technology (CV parsing), and opt-in additional information to support an application are common practice in most of the organisations replying, with the underlying thinking being courtesy and convenience. It was interesting to note in the winners interviews that some of the winning companies had moved to a direct sourcing methodology in order to get the candidate enthusiastic and qualified before asking them to formally apply through technology.

Screening and knock out questions

Given the lack of information available pre-application in areas like job description, company values and culture, it is not a surprise that open jobs receive high volumes of response, and that employers have responded by looking to technology and screening questions to cut down the volume before applications get the recruiter’s attention. The longer the technical application process takes to complete, and the more intrusive the questioning, the more likely applicants will abandon the process before completion. 61.1% of the responding companies enable unqualified candidates to complete the full application process before rejecting them for being unqualified. Transparency over minimum requirements at the start of the application process would change this, perhaps offering an alternative route to connect with the company for future opportunities they may be qualified for such as a talent network, whilst increasing the probability that those who stay in the process meet the minimum criteria. Each of the distinction winners offer some level of talent network, that offers an alternative option to applying for a specific role.

Be sure to sign up for this years competition. It is free, and there is no excuse for not taking part.


Sign up HERE for the #CandE’s 2013