Want to Attract Talent? Follow These Top Guidelines

Every candidate matters in the hiring process. Treating each prospect with respect is not only the right thing to do – it is the smart thing as well. A new report by WinterWyman Executive Search outlines how companies can provide a strong candidate experience.

May 23, 2018 – In today’s digital age, it’s easy for anyone to become a company’s advocate or critic. No matter your industry, the internet has given a new voice to the masses.

When thinking about your company’s hiring practices, it’s crucial to consider the experience your candidates are having from start to finish. There will come a time when they share their experiences with the people in their networks, and you want them to have good things to say, according to a new report authored by Amy Finn, director of candidate experience and marketing at WinterWyman Executive Search.

For companies looking to attract top talent, it’s important to recognize and understand the impact that websites like Glassdoor and Vault have on potential job candidates. “Furthermore, there’s a very real trickle-down effect that happens when candidates share their experiences on social platforms such as Facebook and Snapchat,” said the Waltham, MA-based search firm’s report.

“In addition to considering a company’s work, salary and culture, candidates evaluate opportunities based on how they have been treated during the interview process. This makes it critical for companies to develop, implement and refine processes, from recruiting to onboarding, that create positive experiences.”

Hiring leaders should keep in mind how quickly word travels within their industry. “Now think about what happens when job seekers leave interviews feeling mistreated,” said Ms. Finn. “There’s a good chance that their friends and colleagues will eventually hear about it – and that could mean future candidates swiping left on your company’s opportunities.”

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Candidate and Employee Experience

A negative candidate experience can create the perception that working for your company would be as negative as interviewing with your company. The interview experience is often thought of as a test drive for the job itself, and if job applicants feel mistreated or left in the dark during the interview process, it’s unlikely that they will want to accept your offer. “This ultimately hinders your ability to attract talent, especially in a tight market where talent is at a premium,” said the report.

“Always treat job applicants with respect – even those who just aren’t the right fit,” said the report. “Those who don’t have the right skills for a job may still know people who do. People who feel good about an employer despite not landing a job are far more likely than people who were treated dismissively to pass along a good word to friends or colleagues who are on the market.”

Improving the Candidate Experience

Improving the candidate experience is simple and doesn’t require a lot of resources. “You can make improvements with small changes in the way candidates are viewed and treated,” said Ms. Finn. “My No. 1 tip for keeping candidates engaged and happy is to always remember the Golden Rule: Treat job seekers the way you would want to be treated – or the way you would want your parent, sibling, child or best friend to be treated. By treating candidates with respect and professionalism, you’re guaranteed to make the entire process positive.”

WinterWyman laid out some key steps that organizations can apply to develop a strong candidate experience:

  • Overcommunicate. It’s important to be responsive and avoid the “black hole” of job applications. Professionals applying for a position at your company should always receive timely responses.

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  • Set and manage expectations early on.When you’re interviewing candidates, let them know your timeline and how often you will be in touch, said the report. Whatever the response, it is crucial to have the expectations clearly outlined. The factors that give candidates negative impressions of companies vary, of course, but poor communication consistently tops the list. Job applicants expect a level of communication that they often fail to receive.
  • Make it clear you value their time.Do your best to make the in-person experience as seamless as possible. Candidates often take time off work to come in for interviews, so it’s inconvenient if they’re left waiting for an unreasonable amount of time or are asked to reschedule at the last minute. It sends the message that they are not valued – even if that’s not your intention.

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  • Be helpful.Whenever possible, try to offer candidates a bit of free advice, even those you aren’t likely to hire. Give them tips for improving their resumes or point them in the direction of helpful blogs or websites. If they leave feeling that you were helpful, even if you didn’t hire them, it will pay off in the long run.
  • Be transparent.We hear consistently that candidates hate being strung along, said WinterWyman. If you don’t think you can work with a candidate, be honest. Most job seekers would rather interact with someone who is upfront and direct.
  • Don’t forget to listen.Hiring managers and recruiters fail to listen more often than you would think. If a candidate expresses frustration over something that happened during the hiring process, start by listening. Let candidates tell their stories without interruption and avoid being defensive. Then follow up with an apology – it’s almost always helpful to tell candidates that you’re sorry.

Veteran Search Consultants Weigh In

Simon Clark, founder and CEO of the Clark Partnership, said that his firm pays close attention to keeping candidates in the loop. “Our experience and feedback is that candidates praise the candidate experience with us because we constantly communicate with them,” he said. “We set and manage their expectations and anticipate the delays and keep them informed even when we know nothing will happen for days, sometimes weeks.”

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“Communicating with everyone, letting them know the process vision, what to expect from whom and when, reassuring them that our clients can be slow, so they are aware, and they have peace of mind every step of the way,” Mr. Clark said. “Preparing candidates for every interview, for every new client stakeholder, adds real value to them all as they feel coached and led through what can be at times very lengthy, chaotic, dispersed interviews and informing them of what our clients can be like upfront helps. Ensuring they know where misalignment could appear within the process helps them to mitigate this and plan for it rather than getting surprised.”

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Patrick Van Lijsebetten, CEO of Rialto Recruitment | Atlantae Executive Search, said treating every candidate with respect can pay dividends down the line. “In Rialto’s hiring processes, a strong candidate experience equals ‘candidate intimacy,’ as all our recruiter consultants should be aware that one day, our candidates can and will become clients,” he said. “Investing in candidates and the way they perceive our internal processes, is key to being recognized in the market as the HR reference partner.”

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By investing considerable resources in finding the five-star candidates, Rialto differentiates itself from the competition. “Top candidates have no desire to work for disrespectful organizations that don’t care about their internal recruiting processes,” said Mr. Van Lijsebetten. “While personalizing the recruitment process, we put candidates in front of their future employers and hiring manager; have an open communication, thus showing human courtesy; and finally give them feedback about their strengths and weaknesses, advising them about the next steps to maximize their chances of being hired for the job they are looking for, and if not withheld, explain why they are rejected.”

Bill Weber, president of Development Guild DDI, said that throughout the interview process, attention should be paid to the candidate experience: “First, put the candidate at ease,” he said. “Offer the person a glass of water, chitchat about the weather, etc. Make it easy for them to put their best foot forward by asking right away why they are interested in the position and why they should be strongly considered. End on a strong and positive note. Candidates will be most likely to most remember their last few minutes of the interview. Give them a candid assessment of their strengths, and leave the weaknesses for your notes. Explain the follow up process . . . and then, follow up!”

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Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Will Schatz, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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