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In the bustling landscape of today’s job market, where the competition for top talent is fiercer than ever, Coffee Mornings Season 2, Episode 2, explores a critical discussion ” Candidate experience: Why that is important in attracting and retaining top talent.” Sam and Robbie discuss why a positive candidate experience is not just a nice-to-have but a critical component in winning over the best candidates.

The episode kicks off by addressing the highly competitive nature of the current job market, where the most sought-after talents often juggle multiple offers. It sets the stage for insightful dialogue on the importance of not only delivering an exceptional candidate journey and being comprehensive in the hiring process but also moving with speed and efficiency.

“In a time when the vibrancy of startups and our typical clients face challenges due to the shifting economic climate, the once abundant funding has become scarcer. This shift demands a renewed focus from companies on how to effectively engage, attract, and retain top talent. The urgency of scaling often overshadows the critical step of nurturing the candidate journey—from the initial awareness to the final on-boarding. As the job market tightens and candidates become cautious about making moves, it’s imperative for companies to not only hit their hiring numbers but to genuinely sell their unique attributes. Ensuring a candidate’s journey from point A to Z is seamless and engaging has never been more crucial.” – Sam Ingram, CEO of Northreach


The battle for Top Talent

In the current, swiftly changing employment landscape, the competition for attracting elite talent has become fiercer than at any previous point. A broad array of sectors, including technology, finance, healthcare, and retail, are witnessing a heightened demand for competent professionals capable of promoting innovation, leading teams, and aiding business advancement. The Global Talent Climate report, as referenced by Emissary, notes that the initial quarter of 2023 saw a rise in the average duration it takes to hire across various industries, highlighting the intense competition to attract exceptional talent. This report reveals that such durations have peaked, with the hiring cycle now extending to an average of 43 days. This prolonged hiring timeline underscores the challenge employers face in identifying and securing suitable candidates within a competitive job arena. Consequently, top-tier candidates frequently find themselves in the favourable situation of selecting from multiple job propositions.

For sought-after candidates, the paradigm has shifted. A survey conducted by Glassdoor in early 2023 revealed that 60% of highly skilled candidates received multiple job offers, reflecting their strong bargaining position in the job market. These candidates prioritise offers that not only provide competitive compensation but also promise a culture of growth, work-life balance, and alignment with their career aspirations.

Employers are increasingly recognising the need to differentiate themselves to win top talent. According to a 2023 survey by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 85% of HR professionals stated that improving the candidate experience is a top priority for their organisation, acknowledging that a lengthy hiring process is a significant barrier to securing top talent. No longer can they rely solely on the attractiveness of a stable job offer; they must also craft an appealing candidate experience that stands out from the competition. Employers need to sell themselves, showcasing their culture, values, and the opportunities for personal and professional development they provide. This involves not just a compelling recruitment process but also an efficient one, as any delays can result in losing the candidate to a faster-moving competitor.

In such a competitive landscape, the speed of the hiring process becomes a critical factor. A lengthy and drawn-out selection process can be detrimental, as top candidates may lose interest or accept other offers. Employers must find a way to streamline their hiring practices without compromising on the thoroughness and integrity of their evaluation process. This balancing act is crucial to not only capturing the interest of top talent but also maintaining it through to the job offer and acceptance stages.

In search for the right talent, organisations are often caught in a tug-of-war between the need to conduct thorough hiring processes and the urgency to fill positions swiftly. This balance is crucial because a comprehensive evaluation process ensures that a candidate not only has the right skills but also fits the company culture, which is essential for long-term success. However, in a job market where skilled candidates are in high demand, taking too long can mean losing out on top talent to competitors who move faster.

Understanding Candidate experience

Understanding what makes a good candidate experience is crucial in today’s job market, especially in the UK where talent competition is fierce.

“Yeah, the world’s changed massively. We’re not in this space of you should be lucky I am employing you. It’s so different now and having an exceptional candidate journey gives you the option of hiring who you want. If you don’t, you hire who you can.” – Robbie Blake, Senior Recruitment Consultant

A positive candidate experience hinges on effective communication, respect for the candidate’s time, and transparency throughout the hiring process.

Recent research from PeopleScout underscores the importance of the candidate experience, revealing that less than two in 10 candidates would rate their recruitment experience as excellent. This statistic points to a significant gap between candidate expectations and the reality of their experiences during the recruitment process. It highlights the need for businesses to scrutinise and improve each step of their hiring process, ensuring that it is not only efficient but also respectful and transparent.

Additionally, the CIPD’s Resourcing and Talent Planning report sheds light on the broader recruitment challenges facing UK employers, including skill shortages in the STEM workforce and the need for more proactive talent attraction strategies. This context underscores the importance of not just attracting diverse candidates but also providing a positive experience that respects their time and offers clear communication and transparency. A positive candidate experience is multifaceted, encompassing every interaction a candidate has with your company, from the initial job advertisement to the final hiring decision.

Here’s a deeper look into its key components:

Effective communication

Effective communication is foundational to a positive candidate experience. This means keeping candidates informed at every step of the process, from acknowledging receipt of their application to providing clear timelines for feedback. Regular updates, even if just to say there are no updates, can significantly reduce candidate anxiety and show respect for their engagement in the process. According to the PeopleScout 2023 report, the disparity between candidate expectations and reality often lies in the lack of communication, underscoring the need for companies to maintain open lines of communication.

Respect for the Candidate’s time

Respecting a candidate’s time is crucial, especially in a competitive job market where skilled candidates are often exploring multiple opportunities simultaneously. This respect can be demonstrated in various ways, such as scheduling interviews at convenient times, ensuring the interview process is as streamlined as possible, and making decisions in a timely manner. StandOut CV’s 2023 statistics highlight the importance of efficiency, with the average UK interview process taking 27.5 days. Reducing this time where possible, without compromising the quality of the selection process, can significantly enhance the candidate experience.

Transparency in the Hiring process

Transparency is another critical element of a positive candidate experience. It involves being clear about the job role, compensation package, expectations, and the stages of the hiring process.

“Being forthright about the realities of a position and the company culture can build immediate trust with potential hires. This year, more than ever, we’re striving to peel back the layers, showing candidates the genuine challenges and opportunities within our organisation. Honesty not only attracts the right talent but also sets the stage for long-term success and satisfaction on both sides.” – Sam Ingram, CEO of Northreach

Candidates appreciate knowing where they stand, what’s expected of them next, and any potential timelines for decisions. Transparency can also extend to feedback, where appropriate. Constructive feedback after an unsuccessful application or interview can provide candidates with valuable insights for their professional development.

Additional considerations

  • Candidate feedback: Encouraging feedback from candidates about their experience can provide organisations with insights to continuously improve their recruitment processes.

“In today’s job market, candidates often juggle multiple offers. This reality makes it imperative for companies to go beyond the basics, offering an exceptional journey through the hiring process. Feedback is a two-way street; it not only improves our processes but also signals to candidates that their experience and input are valued.” – Sam Ingram, CEO of Northreach, and Robbie Blake, Senior Recruitment Consultant

  • Personalisation: Tailoring communication and interactions with the individual can make candidates feel valued and respected, further enhancing their experience.
  • Technology use: The strategic use of recruitment technology can improve accessibility and efficiency for candidates, as noted by the CIPD report, which found that 80% of organisations saw benefits from increased use of technology in recruitment.

At Northreach, we believe in setting a higher standard. Here’s what every candidate deserves—and what we strive to deliver:

  • Consistent communication: Whether it’s daily check-ins or weekly updates, staying connected throughout your job search is our priority.
  • Transparency in compensation: Understanding the full package, including salary and benefits, is crucial. We ensure you have all the information upfront.
  • Interview mastery: From detailed coaching sessions to tailored preparation, we equip you with the tools to shine in your interviews.
  • Feedback loop: Post-interview debriefs are essential. While we may not always have feedback, we guarantee you’ll always know where you stand.
  • Your champion: Advocating for you is what we do best pushing for the best possible offer to acknowledge your worth.
  • Definite answers: We promise closure, providing clear outcomes even when specific feedback isn’t available.

Adding to this foundation, we also believe in:

  • Personalised career guidance: Tailoring our advice to your unique career aspirations and industry trends. And we have multiple resources available for you. We customise our guidance to fit your career goals and current industry trends, offering a variety of resources for both candidates and clients. Our offerings range from Coffee Mornings to practical How-To guides and insightful blog posts, all designed to enhance your understanding of how to optimise hiring, retention, and workplace practices.
  • Market insights: Sharing our in-depth knowledge of the sectors we recruit for, gives you a competitive edge.
  • Long-term relationship building: We’re not just about the immediate match; we aim to support your career growth over the long haul.

Why does candidate experience matter?

Enhancing Employer Brand: A positive experience during the hiring process can amplify an organisation’s employer brand, making it more attractive not just to current candidates but also to future ones. When candidates have a good experience, they are more likely to share their positive impressions with their network, both offline and online, including on platforms like Glassdoor and LinkedIn. This word-of-mouth endorsement can be incredibly valuable, as potential candidates often research a company’s reputation as an employer before applying.

Attracting Top Talent: Organisations known for their positive candidate experiences have a competitive edge in attracting top talent. High-calibre candidates are more likely to choose an organisation that respects their time, communicates effectively, and provides a transparent hiring process. In a competitive job market, where skilled candidates may have multiple offers, the quality of the candidate experience can be a decisive factor in their choice.

Long-term business success: Within the industry, a positive candidate experience contributes to a company’s reputation as a forward-thinking and employee-centric organisation. This reputation can be beneficial in multiple ways, from partnerships and collaborations to attracting investors. Companies that are seen as desirable places to work can more easily forge strong relationships within their industry.

Reducing Hiring costs: A strong employer brand, bolstered by positive candidate experiences, can reduce hiring costs over time. Organisations that are known to treat candidates well may find that they receive more unsolicited applications, reducing the need for extensive recruitment marketing and headhunting.

Higher Offer acceptance rates: Candidates who have a positive experience during the hiring process are more likely to accept a job offer. This is because the recruitment process is often seen as reflective of the company’s overall culture and approach to employee management. A smooth, respectful, and engaging process suggests a positive work environment, increasing the likelihood that an offer will be accepted.

Points for reflection

On one hand, a detailed hiring process involves multiple interviews, skill assessments, and perhaps even trial projects. It’s about getting a 360-degree view of the candidate – understanding their capabilities, work ethic, how they solve problems, and how they collaborate with the team. This depth is invaluable because it significantly reduces the risk of a bad hire, which can be costly in terms of both time and resources.

On the other hand, the reality of the current job market dictates a need for speed. The best candidates often have multiple offers and limited patience. A lengthy hiring process might signal to them that an organisation is indecisive or bureaucratic, potentially pushing them towards more decisive competitors. The key, then, is to streamline the hiring process without compromising on the quality of assessment. This might mean using technology to automate parts of the screening process, conducting more focused interviews, or setting clear timelines for decision-making stages.

Striking this balance is not just about filling a vacancy but ensuring the long-term effectiveness of the hire. It’s about being thorough enough to ensure fit and quality, yet agile enough to capture the interest of top talent in a competitive landscape. This delicate equilibrium is what can set apart successful organisations in their talent acquisition strategies, making them attractive to high-quality candidates while maintaining a strong evaluation standard.

Lengthy processes risk losing top candidates to other offers, underlining the critical reasons behind such delays. Whether it’s indecision, the quest for the ‘perfect’ candidate, or inefficiencies in the selection process, each factor contributes to the challenge of keeping candidates engaged.

Improving one aspect of the hiring process can significantly benefit the other. Streamlining interviews and making decisive hiring decisions can greatly enhance the candidate experience by mitigating uncertainty and reducing wait times. This section introduces strategies to maintain high selection standards while expediting the process, like leveraging technology for rapid assessments and employing structured interviews for quicker, more informed decision-making.

Takeaway

The episode concludes by stressing the critical role of agility in the hiring process. It’s not merely about filling positions swiftly but about attracting and securing the finest talent. The discussion advocates for a culture that equally values the quality of hire and the candidate’s journey, promoting a balanced approach that benefits both the company and its prospective employees.

“Setting clear timelines and enhancing communication within hiring teams are key to navigating the recruitment landscape effectively. Regular updates and the wise use of technology can significantly enhance the candidate experience. By streamlining interviews and actively seeking feedback, we ensure our process is both efficient and respectful, prioritizing the candidate’s journey from start to finish.” – Sam Ingram, CEO of Northreach, and Robbie Blake, Senior Recruitment Consultant

To balance speed and experience in the hiring process, here are concise and clear guidelines for employers:

  • Set clear timelines: Establish and communicate specific timelines for each stage of the hiring process to all stakeholders, including candidates.
  • Enhance internal communication: Ensure that hiring teams communicate effectively among themselves to facilitate quick decision-making and a unified approach to candidate evaluations.
  • Provide regular updates: Keep candidates informed with timely updates on their application status to maintain their engagement and trust in the process.
  • Streamline interviews: Optimise the number of interviews and use panel interviews where possible to gather diverse feedback efficiently.
  • Use technology wisely: Implement applicant tracking systems (ATS) and other HR tech tools for efficient CV screening and candidate tracking.
  • Prepare interview questions: Develop a standardised set of interview questions focused on essential skills and competencies to ensure relevant and quick assessments.
  • Feedback loop: Offer and request feedback from candidates post-interview to improve the process continuously.
  • Prioritise Candidate experience: Ensure the hiring process is candidate-friendly, from the application to the interview stages, to leave a positive impression regardless of the outcome.

This episode of Coffee Mornings serves as a comprehensive guide for organisations striving to navigate the complexities of modern hiring. By embracing both efficiency and an outstanding candidate experience, companies can position themselves as desirable employers in a competitive talent market.

Seeking exceptional talent within the Advanced Therapies, Fintech or Financial Services industries? Contact us for assistance. Our experienced team is dedicated to facilitating your hiring process efficiently and cost-effectively.