When candidates can choose where to work, what will make them choose your organization? This is not a question that is often discussed in the current labor market. In these days of high unemployment rates, businesses today often neglect to focus on this question. However, despite high unemployment rates across the US economy, I find myself talking to clients regularly about losing high quality candidates to other jobs. Why does this happen? More specifically, why might this happen to you?
Of course there are reasons that HR professionals can cite that are outside of our control. Factors such as pay scale, community reputation, and organizational culture do contribute to candidates selecting positions in other organizations. I don’t mean to downplay the importance of these factors as they truly are important; but let’s focus on things we can control. Is your selection process engaging? When you talk to applicants do they say things like “Wow, I enjoyed applying for this job; I felt informed throughout; I found the steps to be clearly job relevant; it was easy for me to apply to this job.”? If your candidates are not saying this, they should be. If your selection system is viewed as boring or difficult to manage, you will lose top talent. Relying on (or blaming) factors outside of your control to keep candidates engaged in your process, is foolhardy.
So, how can you structure a selection process to keep candidates engaged? There are a few characteristics that I see among Select International clients who do a great job engaging candidates. First, do candidates see your jobs as interesting? You should think about every hiring step in your process as an opportunity to present information to the candidates about your jobs. Think about your current process, what message does the process send to candidates about your jobs? Second, it is important that your selection procedures are viewed as clearly job related. Research repeatedly shows us that candidates react most favorably when they see a link between the selection procedure and the job they are applying for. Candidates like selection procedures that provide them with an opportunity to ‘show their stuff’. Third, the process for navigating the selection system needs to be easy and fast. In these high tech days of mobile device usage and instant feedback, our selection processes must become more efficient. Gone are the days when lengthy results on time to hire metrics are considered acceptable. Time and again, we hear from clients that time in process is a primary reason for losing good candidates. Lastly, there needs to be open communication with candidates throughout the process. Sometimes simply communicating with candidates can keep them engaged enough in your process to stay with you. Candidates are attracted to your organization if they are applying for your jobs; if you can keep an open dialogue with them, they are less likely to look elsewhere.
If you feel that you are losing the candidates who have a choice and you are stuck with the talent that has no other options; then the chances are that your process lacks one of these characteristics. Take a moment to reflect on your process and the message it sends at each step. How are you doing with these often neglected process characteristics? If you are losing candidates to other companies, my guess is there is room for improvement.
The good news is there are lots of ways to reach and retain candidates and as our technology advances we are able to find innovative and powerful candidate engagement strategies. Obviously, I am a strong advocate of doing the simple things like asking candidates if they have questions and providing realistic job previews. These tactics are important and they work. However, I wanted to touch on one area the Select Research and Development team has been focusing some energy: engagement software.
Candidate engagement software is the wave of the future. Select International is developing groundbreaking technology that serves as your candidates’ personal concierge throughout the hiring process. Without spending any HR resource, this software provides a human interaction with candidates to disseminate important information about the jobs. This software can call, email, and text candidates to schedule them for various steps in the process. We use this technology to ‘check in’ with candidates that haven’t completed the next step in the process. When there are important hiring process updates and reminders this software is able to communicate those as well. Lastly, an important piece of communication is telling a candidate that he or she did not get a job in a manner that will not dissatisfy the candidate with the process or organization (after all, we want to keep the rejected candidates as customers, right?). Well, this technology can do this too.
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