8 Key Elements of a Next-Gen Candidate Experience

8 Key Elements of a Next-Gen Candidate Experience

Mike Roberts

The national time-to-fill average was almost 27 days in February 2015, the longest it’s been since Dice Holdings started tracking it fifteen years ago. In some industries, such as health services and financial services, it was as high as 42.6 days and 43.1 days, respectively. These numbers are indicative of the talent war that’s been heating up for years, and—rightfully so—they’re a bit disconcerting for recruiters.
recruiting metric time to fill With skilled labor so hard to come by across industries, it’s become increasingly clear that traditional methods for identifying, attracting, and engaging talent could use a bit of an overhaul. And as more candidates than ever are conducting their search on the Internet, today’s leading companies are starting to pour resources into what’s in their direct control—the candidate experience on their careers site.

In this post, we’ll briefly inspect the current state of most careers sites and the challenges they face as a result of legacy Applicant Tracking System (ATS) reliance. And then we’ll discuss the key elements of an effective, next-generation candidate experience, which can be deployed without replacing your ATS.

Why So Many Careers Sites Are Stuck in the Pre-iPhone Era

Last week we discussed the challenges today’s talent acquisition organizations face when it comes to keeping pace with candidates’ rising digital expectations. In case you missed it, the key points are below:

  • Careers sites require unique functionalities to connect job seekers with requisitions, so they’re often hosted on different platforms (the ATS) than the broader corporate website
  • Since ATS’ are traditionally systems of record and not systems of engagement, they greatly miss the mark on candidate experience
  • Most companies try to cover up the ATS by bringing in a creative firm, but they still fall short in delivering the functionality expected by today’s candidates

Below, we’ll continue the discussion from last week by diving into the key functionalities needed to meet candidates’ high expectations—each of which can be delivered on top of your existing ATS.

1. Sleek, Responsive Careers Site

The conversation around mobile vs. desktop is losing relevancy as more websites move to responsive design. This means the design adapts to whatever device it’s on, so users don’t have to—for instance—zoom in and out with their fingers on a mobile device. Most ATS-generated requisitions aren’t built with responsive design, but as more consumer-quality sites become device agnostic, that experience must carry over to careers sites.

2. Advanced Search Capabilities

With Google delivering such an amazing experience over the years, search has become something we take for granted. Search on a vast majority of careers sites isn’t even remotely comparable to that which is offered by Google, though that has to change. Users expect things like auto-completed and geo-located results, as well as the ability to easily filter results based on different criteria, and other advanced search capabilities.

3. Seamless Apply Flow

Amazon.com enables purchases in as easy as three clicks. Your candidate experience doesn’t have to be that short. However, the apply flow should mirror such simplicity where possible. Delivering a consumer-grade experience means getting the candidate from the apply button to submitting the application without frustration. Maintaining this mindset while building your apply flow will improve conversion rates and strengthen your talent pipeline.

4. Socially-Connected Referral Network

Although it’s long been said referrals are the best source for quality hires, companies don’t necessarily want their employees spending time recruiting friends and family. To get more out of employees’ personal connections, your sites’ candidate experience should include the option for job seekers to connect from a requisition into their social networks to determine whether or not they have any connections. From there, they can request a referral.

5. Integrated Talent Network

Job seekers aren’t always ready to apply for a position, and of course many of those who are won’t even get an interview. This is why it’s crucial to have the ability to opt into a talent network. Few careers sites offer this option, but doing so can pay-off big. With calls-to-action for opting in throughout the site as well as built into the apply flow, companies will organically develop a strong list of candidates who want to hear from them.

6. Relevant, Personalized Notifications

Building on the previous point, an integrated talent network can help develop a strong pipeline of both passive and active job seekers. Though, then it’s a matter actually connecting them with openings. If they’re given the option to detail which types of positions they’re interested in, you can then integrate with your ATS to deliver relevant—even personalized—email notifications as part of the candidate experience.

7. Search Engine Optimized Pages

With more candidates starting their job search on Google, recruiters must be able to meet them there. This means showing up in search engines results pages, which requires search engine optimized (SEO) careers sites and requisitions. Few ATS’ offer SEO-friendly pages, so lots of companies are missing out on candidates by default. SEO-friendliness is a must-have as the world only becomes more digital.

8. Back-End Recruiting Analytics

One of the greatest challenges recruiters have is that they can’t easily measure and optimize their efforts. In fact, pulling data from the ATS in general is time-consuming and frustrating. A crucial component to delivering a consumer-quality candidate experience is having the ability to drill down into and visualize performance of things like the apply flow and hiring funnel. With recruiting analytics, companies can make informed decisions.

To learn more about how candidate experience plays a part in your recruiting strategy, please download our complimentary whitepaper, Recruiting Strategy: A Guide to Winning the War on Talent.

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