Thanks to a challenging hiring environment, companies are struggling more than ever to hire people for open positions, in many cases “it’s taking longer to fill jobs today than in any other period in the postindustrial era.” In today’s competitive market in which 51 percent of applicants keep “[looking] for other jobs even when an offer has been extended” and 67 percent of employers report that “up to 25 percent of employees drop off between accepting a position and starting at their company,” a candidate’s first introduction to an organization is a pivotal moment. A candidate who isn’t impressed may not finish applying, accept an offer, or even show up for his or her first day on the job. A key differentiator for top talent is how organizations show, during the recruitment process, how valued candidates will be as employees.
Employees are in high demand
In a tight labor market that’s increasingly job-seeker–centric, employers need to hire from the candidate’s perspective. If they don’t understand what employees want in a recruitment and new hire experience, employers risk losing prospective candidates and current employees.
Employees are the backbone of every company, regardless of industry. Because the workforce is the sole driver of product creation, client service, and customer service, it’s imperative for an organization to demonstrate an understanding that its employees are the core of its business. A company’s failure to embrace an employee-centered approach often leads to issues with productivity, engagement, and retention.
For the past few years, the unemployment rate in the United States has been dropping steadily. In October 2018 it hit 3.7 percent, its lowest point in 50 years, and since then it has stayed near that number, with projections for the economy and job growth to remain strong. The current job market is shifting the leverage in the job search process to the candidate: with more job opportunities and a strong economy, a job seeker who is evaluating prospective employers has more options now than when jobs are scarce.
Difficulties in recruitment and retention have a significant impact on productivity and a company’s speed to market. The fight for talent will only intensify as candidates have more choices in employment. In order to attract and retain the right candidates, U.S. employers need to meet job seekers’ continuously evolving expectations.
Currently, 68 percent of employees report that “their experience as a candidate reflects how the company treats its people,” and 43 percent of them “say they have higher expectations for how employers will treat them as a candidate.” Clearly, this is an evolve-or-die-moment for companies when it comes to managing talent pools. Organizations that want to attract and retain talent need to change their recruitment processes in six fundamental ways.
Make the job application fast, easy and convenient.
Candidates’ experiences when completing applications on websites or career portals can drastically shift how they view potential employers and determine if they will finish applications, accept offers, or even show up on day one. Employees today are easily frustrated and turned away when an application is cumbersome and repetitive. Among the top complaints candidates have about looking for a job are dealing with “applications that take too long to complete” (35 percent) and “uploading a resume when they [also] have to manually complete fields” (33 percent). With many candidates willing to give only a few minutes’ attention to an online job application or mobile job portal, companies need to do a better job of engaging them.
Communicate early and often with applicants.
When the Internet and technology playing such strong roles in everyday life, candidates know that it’s possible for companies to send “We have received your application” confirmation notices with a click of the button. Candidates want transparency in the application process: 82 percent “expect employers to keep them updated throughout the process when they apply for a job.” As consumers they receive plenty of e-mails, confirmations, and notices from other industries, and as candidates they want a similar stream of communication from potential employers. Increasing the frequency of communication with candidates is key to keeping them interested.
Go mobile and automate.
With more and more candidates applying to jobs via mobile devices,, having a mobile-friendly application helps prospective employers stand out. Similarly, automating touchpoints of the recruitment process so that candidates know when their resumes and applications are received, when they can expect to hear from a hiring manager, or how long the review process may take not only makes things easier for HR and hiring managers but also helps the organization stay in a candidate’s good graces.
Speed is key—don’t leave candidates hanging.
More than half of applicants (55 percent) will give up on a potential employer if they haven’t heard from it within two weeks. Although the longtime standard in recruitment has generally been to let candidates know they are out of the running only after someone else has accepted an offer for the position, people today are accustomed to speedy communication from companies such as Amazon, Uber, and Netflix—and they expect the same speedy communication in the hiring process. People aren’t used to waiting and may be unwilling to go through time-intensive “hoops” (such as screening calls or in-person interviews) that have often historically been part of the hiring process. Companies are increasingly recognizing that if they don’t accommodate those preferences, they may be force to choose from the lower tiers of talent pools (which is why many seasonal hires are made after only one phone call—and managers don’t even meet those new employees until the first day of work).
Start onboarding before day one.
Many companies spend an employee’s first day (or even first week) on paperwork. But that can all be done before he or she sets foot in the office. Providing materials to employees ahead of time gives them time to review them carefully, ask their loved ones for advice, and make decisions on insurance and other benefits. Also, open communication prior to the start date gives employees a chance to ask their hiring managers about logistical matters related to a new job (such as commuting tips, where to park, whom they’ll meet the first day, and where they’ll eat lunch). These seemingly small things can actually have a big impact and can turn first-day jitters into excitement and hope rather than anxiety and frustration. Tackling transaction elements ahead of day one allows employees to focus on what will truly make them strong contributors to their roles, to their departments, and to the company overall.
For long-term engagement, integrate new hires purposefully.
Many companies fail to foster engagement from day one with strategic onboarding. In fact, nearly 10 percent of employees cite “poor onboarding experience” as a reason for leaving a company. The value a company places on its employees is communicated through its employee experience: how it orients and acculturates employees through onboarding and whether that process is meaningful to them.
Today, companies are increasingly able to leverage digital assets and capabilities to learn more about and anticipate their customers’ needs, wants, and desires. Through this process, many organizations have recognized a strong correlation between their internal practices and their external results: a positive employee experience often leads to a positive customer experience. Companies that want to build on the strong relationship between engaged employees and satisfied customers need to work on developing those engaged employees right from the start—with the recruitment experience.
Start recruiting quality candidates today through our job portal for employers.
With more than 20 years of consulting experience, Lilith Christiansen is vice president of onboarding solutions at SilkRoad, where she leads a team dedicated to partnering with customers to develop world-class strategic onboarding practices and programs that transform their employee experiences and drive business outcomes. She can be reached at Lilith.Christiansen@silkroad.com.