Today’s recruitment environment can feel like a battlefield. But the battle isn’t always between two candidates or competing employers. All too often, it’s a clash between hiring organizations and prospective employees — the result of an inflexible, one-sided hiring process. To attract and retain top talent, employers can’t simply look to plug holes. Instead, they need to communicate with candidates and broker conversation that leads to positive results for both sides.
Job seekers have become more discerning, and their expectations have evolved. Companies that prioritize the job seeker’s experience won’t just stand out; they’ll also secure the best talent.
How have job candidate expectations changed in recent years?
Generally speaking, job seekers feel confident about quickly finding employment. In turn, their expectations of potential employers have changed in recent years. These expectations reflect the changing dynamics in the job market, where candidates have more options. They’re seeking employers who can offer competitive compensation, a positive work environment, and opportunities for growth and development.
When it comes to vetting a potential employer, several critical variables set the stage for how candidates ultimately feel about the organization they’re considering employment with:
- Quick hiring process. Job seekers expect a relatively fast hiring process. Most people believe their job search will take one to three months. They often believe that certain aspects of the recruitment process should be deprioritized, including areas that candidates feel are unnecessary, such as multiple skills assessments.
- Improved communication. After applying, job seekers expect communication from employers. This is usually either an automated email from the company or a personal email from a recruiter. They also want communication throughout the interview and hiring process. Most importantly, they want closure no matter the outcome.
- Flexibility. Flexibility is a highly desired benefit for job seekers, from interviews to the work itself. This also applies to jobs that cannot be done remotely. Flexibility may include factors like scheduling predictability to support health and wellness, childcare, and caregiving responsibilities.
- Professional development. Candidates value employers that invest in their professional development through training, upskilling, and tuition assistance programs. In an era where employees are expected to evolve within their roles, there’s a mirrored expectation that employers will provide pathways for that development.
- Clear career paths. Job seekers look for clear and transparent pathways for career advancement within the organization. Whether it’s the opportunity to internally interview for new roles or an active internal mobility strategy that affords them exposure to new opportunities, growth within the organization is a priority.
- Competitive compensation. Job seekers expect competitive compensation packages, with a focus on wages and benefits, including career development opportunities and flexible work arrangements. Creative and meaningful benefits, such as mental health support, well-being programs, and financial planning, are particularly important.
- Culture and work-life balance. Job seekers report looking for employers that offer a positive company culture and emphasize work-life balance. Diversity and inclusion measures are especially important for younger generations.
- Remote work. Remote work opportunities have increased since the pandemic. In turn, candidates now expect greater flexibility in terms of location and scheduling. For organizations that can’t (or won’t) support fully remote work, hybrid or coworking options are a middle ground worth exploring.
How talent acquisition teams can improve the candidate experience
It’s one thing to rewrite job descriptions and pitch new benefits to prospective hires; it’s another thing to completely re-tool the candidate experience. When it comes to toning down the friction of antiquated interview processes and impersonal recruitment strategies, there’s a lot companies can do.
Here are some tips to improve the recruitment experience for each candidate, and to create positive expectations for potential hires:
- Streamline the application process. A lengthy, complicated application can deter potential candidates. To improve the job seeker experience, simplify required information — focus only on essentials. Consider offering the option to import resumes or LinkedIn profiles, or even accept video resume submissions.
- Prioritize communication. Keep candidates informed throughout the hiring process, such as sending automated emails upon receiving applications. Update candidates on their status in a timely manner, even if it's a rejection. When candidates move forward in the recruitment process, set clear expectations of the timeline.
- Personalize interactions. Tailoring communication and engagement with candidates can make a significant difference in their perception of your employer brand. Address candidates by their names in emails and during interviews. Reference specific qualifications or experiences in your discussions, and show genuine interest in their career aspirations.
- Emphasize employer branding. Your company’s mission is more important than ever. Highlight your company's values, culture, and benefits to stand out in the job market. Each stage of your recruitment process should reflect your company’s values. Choose recruitment tools that allow you to personalize both outreach and the application process itself.
- Improve the interview process. Job interviews are crucial, so make them as effective and respectful as possible. Use structured interviews that focus on skills and qualifications. Whenever possible, offer interview feedback to candidates, regardless of the outcome. Finally, ensure that interviews are conducted professionally and efficiently. Candidates who feel like their time was wasted are less likely to sign on if you tender them an offer.
- Simplify onboarding. A smooth transition into the company is crucial for long-term job satisfaction. Provide new hires with comprehensive onboarding materials and resources, and pair new employees with mentors or buddies to help them acclimate. You can also seek feedback from recent hires to continuously improve the onboarding process.
Create a flawless candidate experience with Symphony Talent
Hiring shouldn’t feel like a battle — for either side. Improving the candidate experience is an ongoing process that requires continued investment in how you engage with them. By focusing on a candidate's journey and using it to pave seamless inroads to a fruitful career, you can build a reputation as an employer of choice.
Symphony Talent’s recruitment marketing and branding solutions can help you streamline the hiring process — and save you time and money. From imbuing your recruitment campaigns with your unique brand values to analyzing and assessing potential candidates, you can easily improve the candidate experience with Symphony Talent. Find out more by scheduling a consultation today.