Steve Smith, President International at Sterling
One of our key objectives when we set about producing our “Hiring Reimagined” report, in which we surveyed over 1,200 HR professionals and nearly 3,800 candidates, was to understand the factors behind a leading candidate experience during the hiring process. With half of the organisations we surveyed telling us that they are struggling to find the talent they need, having a concerted focus on improving the candidate experience will be a key differentiator in not only enhancing a brand and standing out as the employer of choice, but also tackling these persistent and growth-limiting skill shortages.
A significant positive from our findings is that the vast majority of companies (89%) recognise that they need to make changes if they want to boost their talent outcomes. Almost half (49%) told us that tech investment is a big priority in making processes more seamless, with over a third (36%) saying that integrating background screening and identity verification into the hiring workflow would play a significant role in achieving a more optimal state. A fifth were partnering with compliance experts to ensure that candidates and potential hires are carefully vetted and adhere to local regulations.
While it’s promising to see the desire from companies to improve hiring processes, there is still a way to go before the perfect experience is delivered, as the candidate responses revealed. Worryingly, over a quarter (26%) had actually dropped out of their most recent application process, with almost half (45%) considering that option. In essence, over 7 in 10 had either dropped out or were very close to doing so. That’s a clear warning bell and message for organisations to heed if they want to get top talent to Day One.
So what areas should organisations focus on? The chief culprits for candidates were overly lengthy processes (39%), which were too complicated (37%), as well as too many touchpoints (27%). It’s also important to note that one in four weren’t happy with the background screening process with the majority of HR professionals (52%) surveyed also revealing that they wanted to add more services to this part of the hiring cycle over the next two years. The most popular of these screening components in all key global regions were identity verification and social media searches.
What candidates really think
The differences in perception between what candidates actually said about their experience and what HR professionals thought, was also enlightening. While both parties were aligned when it came to the simplicity needed in the hiring process, 15% of candidates felt that the process was either somewhat or very complicated compared to 9% of HR professionals. In other words, maybe those processes aren’t quite as straightforward as they believed. These details highlight that organisations must continually review and refine their hiring processes – complacency is simply not an option.
These differences were further exposed in our findings, particularly when it came to communication, one of the most important elements of the screening process. In fact, over three quarters (78%) said that communication and updates were key. However, it was deemed to be the least critical component for HR professionals, who felt that speed and seamlessness would be most important for candidates. The screening experience also made six in 10 jobseekers feel more confident about the organisation with a quarter feeling less confident.
The communication aspect is a really important part of the process, and as mentioned, candidates don’t want to be kept waiting about the status of their applications. Even if the news isn’t positive, they must be informed quickly, and where possible feedback should be provided. These individuals will not only talk to their friends about their experience, they can also post negative reviews on review sites such as Glassdoor, which can do damage to a brand’s reputation. Communication must be consistent throughout the experience, from day one to the onboarding process.
Understanding how candidates feel and perceive the hiring process is key. Asking them for their opinions via feedback surveys will help organisations identify areas of improvement. A positive, engaging candidate experience, which seeks to engage with the individual and which presents an authentic image of the company’s culture and values, should be a focal point of any talent attraction strategy. It requires a willingness to listen, learn, and gain priceless insights from the most important people in the process – the jobseekers and would-be future superstar employees.
The companies that prioritise and get the candidate experience right throughout the hiring process, including background screening, will enhance their brand’s standing in the market. And crucially, they will be far better placed to compete for and secure talent, which is in scarce supply.
Steve Smith, President International at Sterling
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