What the Modern Candidate Journey (Actually) Looks Like

What the Modern Candidate Journey (Actually) Looks Like

Mike Roberts

When was the last time you made a remotely significant decision without first consulting the web? Odds are you can’t remember. For the better part of a decade now a goldmine of information has been just a swipe of the finger or voice command away.

Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Motors, put this into perspective: “If you think about how you use, say, applications on the internet, you’ve got your email and…social media and apps on your phone. They effectively make you superhuman and you don’t think of them as being other, you think of them as being an extension of yourself.”

Superhuman in this context is just another way of saying extraordinarily informed. Connectivity has made it the norm for us to accompany every transaction—anything requiring an exchange of time, money, etc.—with considerable due diligence.

This behavior is prevalent in the way consumers make decisions, but it’s also clearly part of the job search process. After all, for most, changing jobs is a big deal, so why wouldn’t any candidate treat it that way?

Although it may seem obvious that the modern candidate journey involves internet-backed research, the majority of talent acquisition leaders don’t seem to be thinking that way.

How People Make Decisions Today

Transactions in the pre-internet era were much more straightforward. If you wanted to take a family trip, for instance, you’d rely on word-of-mouth recommendations. If you wanted specific details about the destination, you’d go to the library or sit in Barnes & Noble. When you were ready to book flights or hotels, you’d go see a travel agent or call 1-800 numbers.

Prior to the ubiquity of the information, people used to be so powerless.

Last year, Google worked with Luth Research to monitor the consumer journey of one person—Amy—over a two-month period. She was booking a trip to Disney World.

digital moments recruiting

In the two-month planning period, Amy had 419 digital moments. As explained, “She made 34 searches, watched 5 videos, and made 380 web page visits. And 87% of these moments happened on mobile.”

The study went on to say: “If your brand isn’t there for the moments that mattered in this journey, you missed out on Amy. And the same goes for all potential customers. Today’s travelers are turning to the web to be inspired and take action—and the brands that help them at those moments will win hearts, minds, and dollars.”

So, what’s the connection to recruiting?

Whether it’s booking a trip or getting a new job, this is how people make decisions in 2016. In both cases, people are looking at review sites and social media, Googling specific search terms, subscribing to newsletters, using online tools, and so on. How hard would it be to have 419 digital moments while looking for a new job? Not very.

Change the Way You Think About Digital Interactions

If you’re leading a talent acquisition team, it’s time to start betting on the fact that the candidate journey and the consumer journey are virtually identical. What does that mean? In a way, the line from the Google study says it all: “If your brand isn’t there for the moments that mattered in this journey, you missed out on Amy.”

For a long time now, recruiting has been so deeply focused on traditional outbound tactics, and reporting on the performance of them, that many organizations have become blind to the modern moments that actually matter in the candidate journey.

Disruptive LinkedIn InMail messages, cold emails, or ads on job boards have almost no alignment with everyday job seekers’ digital behaviors and expectations. Still, big brands are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on these approaches. What would happen if some of that money was spent on being there for the moments that matter in the candidate journey?

Assuming job seekers do, indeed, easily have over 400 digital interactions while searching for a job, being there means having an exceptional social presence, engaging employer branding content, intuitive and interesting web and career site experiences, the ability to be easily found on Google, options to opt-in to hear more later, and so on.

Don’t just take our word for it, though. Last month the Talent Board released its annual Candidate Experience Research Report, and in it they asked candidates for their top five most valued resources for researching new opportunities. We’ve highlighted below the leading results out of a larger list, but just take a look at the top research channels.

candidate-experience-research-2016
This is exactly what you’d expect a broad pool of candidates to use to research new opportunities in 2016 (career sites, social, email marketing through notifications, review sites). Yet a disconnect remains on the recruiting side of the equation.

Being there when a candidate needs you rather than when you need a candidate is so incredibly powerful. The very thought of that makes many talent acquisition professionals uncomfortable. Not to mention it’s much easier said than done. But the long-term gains could be so significant, and it’s what candidates prefer.

In the not-too-distant future we’re going to see case studies on talent acquisition teams that were able to harness the power of the internet to attract and convert job seekers. The question is, do you want to be reading them or be featured in them?

Let me know what you think on Twitter at @mp_roberts.

Check out our new eBook, “The Talent Acquisition Leader’s Guide to the New Candidate Journey.” From employer branding to recruitment marketing and conversion optimization, this eBook dives into what modern leaders should be thinking about.

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