The rise of technology has turned high volume recruiting into a numbers game. This often comes at the expense of human connection. It’s time to fix this.
As an employer, there’s no worse feeling than having to go out and find new talent. This is often not part of your daily responsibilities and adds extra work to your plate. To make matters worse, filling multiple roles in a short amount of time can add extra pressure to your already stressful life. Enter: online job boards. These sites were created and initially provided great value. Simply post a job and come back to review hundreds of applications. While it seems great in theory, this technology has greatly impacted the candidate experience.
Picture this – you’ve been unemployed for a few weeks and are desperate to find a job. You smash the apply button on hundreds of job boards yet continue to not receive any replies from employers.
When you finally hear back, you have to jump through hoops to make an account in an employer’s applicant tracking system and get spammed with automated reminder emails if you don’t finish your account creation. This model, while efficient for employers, creates a terrible candidate experience.
High volume recruiting is broken. It’s become a numbers game with the goal of getting as many applicants as possible, even if it means spending 10+ hours screening all of the low quality applicants out. When it comes to high volume hiring, applicant volume is often one of the measures for success.
This is a mistake. Applicant volume is a vanity metric – one that looks good on the surface but doesn’t translate to meaningful business results. After all, you can get 500 applicants, but if none of them are qualified, it doesn’t mean your process is a success.
Rather than scrambling to get as many applicants as possible, consider other metrics for evaluating your talent attraction strategy like candidate quality, time to hire and cost per hire as ones that will better reflect the success of your hiring process.
When evaluating candidate quality, look at the retention rates across different sourcing channels to see which talent pools contribute to the highest retention. If you notice that your longest retained employees were sourced the same way, consider how you can follow those trends to improve your retention.
When looking at time and cost per hire, reflect on which talent pools or technologies are bringing you the fastest time to hire and the lowest cost per hire. After all, time is money. Reducing the time and money you spend on attracting talent gives you more time and money to focus on retaining existing talent.
How recruiting technology can help
Keep in mind that not all technology is bad – especially when used in the right place at the right time. Technology can help us as employers become more efficient in our roles, saving us time to focus on other areas of our roles. Generative AI tools like ChatGPT can make you more efficient in your role by helping generate interview rubrics, create training scenarios, or personalise development plans.
These are appropriate uses of the tools as these are back office tasks that don’t negatively impact anyone’s experience or interactions with you. Unfortunately, technology that facilitates relationships between two parties, such as recruiting technologies, can create robotic experiences and negatively impact the candidate experience.
When it comes to using technology in your candidate experience, consider applying to your own jobs or those of your competitors to get a thorough understanding of what it’s like on the other side of the table. As employers, it’s easy to get caught up in the pressure of trying to quickly fill a high volume of roles.
Make sure you don’t forget that those numbers are in fact real people with feelings. If your Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is clunky and requires entry of repetitive information, this might be troublesome. If your application process asks six screening questions, reflect on whether you can get away with three or four instead.
Is the information you’re gathering critical to obtain at the application stage or can you source the information at the interview stage? Consider using technology to enhance your candidate experience while not taking away from the efficiency you need to do your job quickly.
I put this advice into action and recently applied to a cashier position on Indeed. I was given an online customer service skills assessment after applying. I didn’t mind this as it gave me an opportunity to differentiate myself from other candidates.
The rest of the process went downhill though. I received four automated emails over the next three days asking me to finish my application by creating a profile in the company’s ATS. I was confused as I’d already submitted my application on Indeed and completed the skills assessment. After the fourth reminder email came, I finally caved in and made an account in the ATS.
It asked me a series of questions irrelevant to the decision making process. For example, one of the questions asked if I was capable of doing the job. It’s unlikely that any candidate will choose any answer but yes. This is an example of an unnecessary screening question that can be removed. If this story raised some eyebrows for you, consider applying to your own jobs or those of your competitors to understand what job seekers go through every day.
What job seekers are looking for
FindWRK conducted a survey with the goal of understanding the experience of job seekers and the impact technology has had on their candidate experience. The FindWRK Picture of the Hourly Workforce report highlights data-driven insights directly from job seekers about what they’re looking for during their job search and how employers can use technology to improve their experience.
The rise of online job boards has created an opportunity for job seekers to have thousands of roles at their fingertips. How can they choose one job over another? Many employers typically think compensation is the driving factor for a worker’s interest in a role, but oftentimes, budgets are tight and compensation can’t be adjusted.
The report found that job seekers are most interested in learning and growth opportunities as well as scheduling flexibility. These are two great levers you can pull to entice job seekers to your roles if compensation isn’t a lever you can adjust.
Diving further into what job seekers are looking for, the report asked why they left their previous role. The overwhelming response pointed to management. Avoiding micro-managing and ensuring your employees feel like their voices are heard and valued is key to retaining staff.
After all, what better way to fill open roles than to not have them open up in the first place? Instead of conducting exit interviews after people resign, consider conducting stay interviews to better understand how you can support current employees.
The key thing to remember is that not all job seekers in every industry, company or department are the same. Many companies will invite new hires to provide feedback on their hiring experience. However, the real learnings are more likely to come from unsuccessful candidates or those who ghost during the hiring process.
Instead of automating reminder emails for candidates to finish their applications, consider sending a note to ask for feedback. Acknowledge that their unfinished application might be due to difficulties in the application process and invite feedback on how you can improve it for them moving forward. Worst case, you get some authentic feedback you can implement.
Best case, the candidate finishes their application and becomes more loyal to you given you’ve shown your culture of being receptive to feedback.
How to improve your candidate experience
Including compensation in your job posting is the top request from job seekers on how you can improve your candidate experience. This saves both parties time up front and eliminates unnecessary steps. You know what you can afford to pay – it’s not a big secret. There shouldn’t be a stigma around disclosing compensation or discussing it early in the process.
Job seekers also want to see a streamlined application process without needing to re-enter their information. A people leader in the hospitality and tourism industry saw a 300% increase in applicant volume after removing the requirement for candidates to re-enter their information. Adopting a test-and-learn mindset while closely analyzing your analytics can help to continuously improve your hiring experience.
Finally, candidates are interested in receiving confirmation of next steps after they apply to roles. Consider automating a message to thank them for their application and specify the timelines and next steps, even if you don’t have capacity to start reviewing applications and responding to candidates right away.
Keep in mind that automations can be personal and don’t have to feel cold. You can automate by segments and use engaging language to build rapport with candidates so they know you’re not ghosting them.
How to drive change internally
After reading this blog, you might be excited to start implementing some changes to your high volume recruiting practices. The problem is, sometimes these changes can take time and require input and resources from other teammates and departments. Analyse your current hiring practices before meeting with your team.
Identify the current recruiting metrics and set goals for where you’d like them to be. Ensure you benchmark your goals with industry averages to strengthen your credibility internally. Reach out to previous applicants to gather statistics and qualitative feedback from them to help make your case.
You’ll have a much easier time selling change if it’s driven by candid feedback from job seekers in your geography and industry.
Creating a case for change is key to securing resource allocation and buy-in from colleagues. Speak with colleagues to understand where their frustrations lie. One team might be frustrated with the low retention rates. Taking the angle of improving candidate experience to increase retention and reduce turnover might be a good play to consider for this conversation.
If speaking with the marketing team, you might tap into benefits that an improved candidate experience can have on employer branding or customer acquisition costs if job seekers are more likely to refer friends and family to your organisation.
Getting executive buy-in might come via the time to hire angle, allowing for less downtime with empty roles, spurring the organisation to reach goals faster.
Finally, focusing on cost per hire when engaging with financial decision makers and budget holders will likely bring positive attention to the change you’re trying to create.
As technology continues to shape the landscape of high volume recruiting, it is crucial for employers to strike a balance between efficiency and human connection. By addressing candidate frustrations, understanding job seekers’ decision-making factors, and implementing strategies to enhance the candidate experience, employers can find ways to authentically attract and retain top talent. Empathy, transparency, and personalisation should remain top of mind to create an exceptional candidate experience.
About the Author
Matt Parkin is the Business Development Lead at FindWRK. He shares talent, branding and entrepreneurship advice with 10,000 LinkedIn followers and his writing has been featured in publications like LinkedIn News and HR.com.