5 Consumer Trends Shaping Candidate Experience

5 Consumer Trends Shaping Candidate Experience

Mike Roberts

“We should be treating candidates like they’re consumers.” Lots of recruiters are taking on this mentality, and it’s almost the right approach to talent acquisition—almost right because candidates aren’t like consumers, candidates are consumers. When they’re not searching for jobs, they’re online shopping, tweeting, googling, Uber-ing. They’re using the best technology in the history of technology to support and improve their lives.

Why should candidate experience be devoid of that quality?

The best companies in the world are striving to create consumer-quality candidate experiences, because they understand attracting and converting the best job seekers means leaving as little difference between consumer and candidate experiences as possible. It wasn’t always the case that these two categories of experiences went hand in hand, but the prevalence of the internet in our everyday lives has changed everything.

In this post, we’ll inspect what delivering a consumer-quality candidate experience actually means, first by looking into the macro changes in the way consumers use technology to connect with one another, shop, discover new things, and so on. And then by exploring what this all means for your talent acquisition strategy.

Drivers Behind the Consumer-Quality Candidate Experience

To really understand what a consumer-quality candidate experience looks and feels like, we need to inspect the trends that have driven consumer experiences in general over the past decade or so. We’ve come up with five main ones:

  • Google-First Mentality: In many respects, Google has evolved from a search engine into a tool for answering any question at any time, connecting users with the information they want in what they refer to as micro-moments. The impact on TA: It’s become instinctual to pull up Google at the start of any research process—especially the job search process. A study from CareerBuilder showed that 73% of job seekers now start their search on Google.
  • Mobile Everything: About ten years ago, having a cellphone in general was becoming commonplace. Now, the world is shifting toward smartphones capable of completing the tasks of desktop computers—to the point that some people are choosing to have only a smartphone instead of a desktop computer or both. The impact on TA: A survey of over 1,000 job seekers last year showed eight in ten conducted part of their search from a mobile phone.
  • Yelpification: There may be as many choices available to consumers (and job seekers) than in the past, but because of both Google and “Yelpification”—user-generated reviews for everything—people are less willing to make a decision without first doing some form of research. The impact on TA: Mirroring that process, job seekers now look to employer review sites like Glassdoor to guide their decisions over where to apply.
  • Content Overload: The rise of digital marketing has meant that to be competitive, nearly every company has to create their own content. This has resulted in an overbearing amount of content of varying quality for many people, and job seekers have been no exception. The impact on TA: In many cases, job seekers would rather opt-in to receive some form of targeted (or personalized) content or seek out their own rather than it being pushed onto them via advertising or other means.
  • Social Connectivity: Billions of people have taken to social networks to connect with one another and stay up-to-date at both micro and macro levels. The impact on TA: At the same time, this has revolutionized the way people learn about, talk about, find, and get referred for new positions.

After reading through that list, think about your candidate experience through the lens of consumers—a.k.a. job seekers. Can they find your career site on Google easily? Can they learn about your company and apply from mobile? Is your employer brand strong enough to boast a high rating on Glassdoor? Are you delivering content job seekers want to see? Is it worth it for them to find and engage with your employer brand on social?

Reverse Engineering the End Goal of Candidate Conversions

When it comes to improving performance, one approach experts tend to suggest is looking beyond high-level metrics, and working to individually optimize the variables or leading indicators that go into them.

In the case of candidate experience, the high-level, or lagging indicator, would be candidate conversions. But what about all of the leading indicators that play a role in that candidate conversion rate? Based on the macro trends discussed above, clearly the makeup of these indicators has changed. To illustrate these changes, we can take a look our graphic below, which shows the evolution of career site entry points—and consequently apply flows—over time.

consumer quality candidate experience
The point of showing this illustration is that the pervasiveness of today’s technology, coupled with how it’s used has added layers of complexity to both the job search and recruiting process that can’t be ignored. It’s through these factors which now impact the candidate conversion rate that the idea of a consumer-quality candidate experience was born. Think of the candidate journey as a modified form of the consumer journey.

Although these macro trends may be shaping the new candidate journey, few companies are getting it right. In fact, there’s a massive opportunity right now to start working to improve each of these variables individually, because before you know it, your outdated, digitally un-savvy recruiting strategy could be the biggest roadblock to getting talent in the door.

Candidates are consumers, and providing them with a consumer-quality experience will go a long way when few others are. Read our new eBook, “The Talent Acquisition Leader’s Guide to the New Candidate Journey” to learn more about this topic and what to do about it.

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