2021 was the year the global economy rebounded from the pandemic and companies looked to hire. Then in 2022, the "great resignation" forced companies to address a high level of turnover with more rapid, large-scale hiring. Now, with higher inflation creating cost-of-living pressures, the perennial need to retain and attract skilled workers has taken yet another turn that organizations must learn to address.
While there are many strategies to consider to win what remains a fierce battle for talent, the candidate experience is crucial in attracting talent and a key focus of HR departments. It also informs the following strategies for better hiring in 2023.
1. Optimize your career site
Your career site is likely the first place a potential candidate interacts with your company. With hiring likely to continue at high volume in 2023, it is critical to optimize your career site, so candidates can find it easily and it is both appealing and easy to use.
The site should be slick and enable candidates to quickly and easily set up a profile, search for jobs and apply. Candidates who are potentially applying for multiple jobs and can't perform these activities quickly will look elsewhere.
You can make things easier by using career site or recruitment marketing software. (Some recruitment marketing software includes a career site capability.) Your career site should use search engine optimization to maximize the likelihood of search engines directing people to the site. It should also be attractive and representative of your company culture, set up to work inside and outside the organization and configured to place surveys throughout the site, so candidates can provide feedback on their experience. Using a chatbot to provide real-time responses and information to candidates also adds real value to your career site.
Content such as videos and infographics makes the site more attractive to qualified candidates. Videos showing aspects of working at the company can appeal to candidates who place a high value on the work environment. Interviews with employees can also tell candidates a lot about the culture and the people they will work with if their application is successful.
It's important to make sure your career site and the job search and application processes are mobile-ready. The changing demographic of the workforce means that, for many people, their smartphone is their computer and may be their only method of accessing your career site and applying for jobs. The key features and content of the site need to work well on mobile devices and be optimized for the platform to give the same experience as through a desktop web browser.
Remember to freshen up your career site periodically, so returning candidates see new content and not just the same old site.
2. Implement an applicant tracking system
Alongside your career site or recruitment marketing software, you should be using an applicant tracking system (ATS) throughout the hiring process. An ATS is for more than simply tracking candidates and applicants; it is also about the end-to-end management of candidates, job postings, applications and job offers, as well as creating a searchable database of candidates, resumes and job descriptions. An ATS also helps recruiters schedule interviews, sends automated emails and notifications to recruiters and candidates, and keeps recruiters and hiring managers notified about the status of each hiring process.
An ATS is a wonderful tool to manage the entire recruiting process. Once candidates filter through to the talent and applicant pools in your ATS -- whether from the career site or external job posting or social media channel -- you will able to view, identify, compare and rank them against job openings.
Even if you already have an ATS, you might want to see if it is the best system available. A good ATS will be able to post jobs to external job sites and social media sites, such as LinkedIn and Twitter, which can improve your reach and target a wider range of candidates. The ATS can reuse content from other jobs -- such as the company overview, employee benefits or skill sets -- to streamline the creation of job postings before they are pushed out by the ATS. Some ATSes come with AI capabilities built in, which can add significant value to your recruiting processes.
Using an ATS is a good way to manage the hiring process so candidates receive an impressive experience and therefore a great first impression of the company they may soon work for. Having a professionally managed process with regular communication that sets out expectations and next steps will entice candidates to accept an offer. This can make the difference in hiring top talent before your competition does.
3. Identify your best source of talent
To optimize your sourcing of candidates, it's important to identify where the best candidates are coming from. You should track and regularly review the source of hire (SoH) for successful candidates who become high-performing, value-adding employees. SoH will tell you which sources candidates and current employees come from -- for example, your career site, job boards, social media postings or employee referrals. You can track this metric for different types of candidates, such as unsuccessful candidates, successful hires and passive candidates, and for different geographies and jobs.
By using SoH, you will get a good idea of where to focus your talent acquisition resources and attention. SoH will help you understand why those sources work well for you and how you can improve your approach on sites where the sourcing return is low. You might also decide to drop some of the low-performing sources from future postings and look for new sources to add.
You can use an ATS to measure SoH based on records of where candidates were sourced. You can also use analytics from recruiting websites. A recruitment marketing platform will provide analytics to show which recruiting sites provided candidates. Google Analytics is an alternative or complementary option.
4. Ramp up remote hiring capabilities
The early days of the pandemic made remote work a necessity for many organizations, and being able to hire remotely remains important.
Having an entirely digital hiring process is critical for remote hiring. You must be able to have your jobs available online, interview on video conferencing software, and send, receive and sign documents digitally.
A career site, recruitment marketing application and ATS that can post and track jobs -- all of them mobile-enabled -- form the backbone of a digital hiring process. Coupling them with video conferencing software, such as Cisco Webex, Microsoft Teams or Zoom, that is integrated with interview-scheduling and analytics software gives you a complete set of capabilities -- not just to recruit candidates remotely, but also to automate many parts of the process and track metrics about sourcing and hiring to continuously improve your hiring processes.
Remote interviewing is a fairly new part of the hiring process for many recruiters. While a lot of hiring has been done remotely for a while, interviews have always tended to be in person. That's not the case now, and interviewing via video conferencing software has become the norm.
When remote interviewing, there are a few things to consider. Numerous video conferencing apps and video interviewing platforms are available, but it's worth picking one of the more reputable platforms. This will show candidates you're serious and improve the reliability of video calls. Candidates don't want to download yet another app for a video conferencing service they haven't heard of. Technical problems can hinder an interview and prevent you from understanding enough about the candidate. Candidates should be given a certain amount of empathy for having to do interviews this way. Their personal situation might mean that they can't be in the most quiet or professional-looking location, although that has become less of an issue as the pandemic has eased. In some cases, candidates might not be fully comfortable because of the surroundings or noise. Doing what you can to make them feel comfortable will ensure a better interview.
Onboarding new hires smoothly and effectively is an important step that you should start immediately after a candidate accepts an offer.
5. Use artificial intelligence and machine learning
AI and, especially, machine learning (ML) are hot areas in recruitment and talent acquisition technology. AI and ML are being applied to improve and automate a wide variety of recruiting processes, such as the following:
- screening and sorting large volumes of candidates;
- scanning resumes;
- matching candidates with job openings;
- scanning job descriptions, offer letters and other communications for unsuitable or biased language;
- chatbots; and
- analytics, metrics and trends about the recruiting process.
Many of these tasks -- particularly tasks involving reviewing and sorting candidate profiles and resumes -- are time-consuming and cumbersome when using traditional methods, but AI-powered software can do them automatically in a fraction of the time. Chatbots provide a communication channel for candidates to quickly ask questions and find out information. Natural language processing powers chatbots, but it also enables scanning of text for certain words or language patterns that are unsuitable, biased or potentially offensive.
Some ATS platforms have these AI capabilities, but sometimes you need other specialized recruiting software or add-ons. When investigating an ATS, check if these types of capabilities are available and, if not, whether the ATS vendor has partners that provide them.
6. Skills-based hiring
Skilled-based hiring is becoming more prevalent again, largely due to AI-based technology that is improving the accuracy of skills identification and matching. Many employers are moving away from using academic degrees as a way of measuring the skills of candidates and instead using skills-based methods.
Using skills to identify the job requirements for a position can help attract suitable candidates who may be put off by educational requirements they don't meet, even though they have the skill set to do the job well. Soft skills like communication, problem-solving and critical thinking are crucially important to many roles and not easily demonstrated through holding a degree.
A skills-based hiring process can improve sourcing, screening and matching of candidates. The technique has been used in some talent management processes for quite some time, particularly in succession planning and career development planning. However, you need to make sure your candidate profile section is set up to enable candidates to select verifiable skills that match your jobs. To identify soft skills, you can use behavioral and situational questions through a questionnaire or an interview.
7. Request candidate feedback
Despite your best intentions for talent acquisition planning, there are often areas that still need improvement. The best way to understand what they are is to gather feedback from candidates about their experience throughout the process. You can use an employee listening platform or survey tool, such as Qualtrics, Medallia or SurveyMonkey, to request feedback from candidates. When aggregated, this feedback can point to issues that need attention to improve the candidate experience.