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candidate experience

Running from session to session at the Annual SHRM Conference there were a lot of buzz words and hot topics floating around the halls of McCormick Place in Chicago.  But, when it came to the recruitment and interview process, there were several themes that continue to trend: Social Media, Employer Branding, Talent Communities, and the Candidate Experience.

In and of themselves they’re broad topics that can stand alone, but when you begin to explore the importance of these themes as a whole, it starts to drive home a major shift that’s happening when it comes to employment: We are seeing the playing field level and employers don’t have all the power any more when it comes to the hiring game.

Matt Kaiser began his presentation on Social Recruiting at the conference with a quote from BuzzFeed CEO and co-founder Jonah Peretti, “Social is no longer a niche method of consuming content, it’s now the dominant way people discover information.” In fact, social media alone has completely transformed the way we connect with job seekers.

Gone are the days of snail mailing resumes and in many cases even emailing them.  Today we apply at the click of a button via online job boards, social networks, electronic referrals from friends and acquaintances, sometimes even tweeting our social profiles or sharing video resumes via Youtube. Part of the shift of course is the natural progression of technology, but the other part of it is that employers are now having to find new ways to attract top talent and in doing so have to engage via the consumable methods job seekers are already adaptive to.

Hence comes the power of employer branding and talent communities, which very easily go hand in hand.  If you want to build a strong employer brand, you might as well maximize your efforts and find an effective way to build your talent communities in the process.  After all, what’s the point in attracting talent if you have no way of keeping them engaged?

But do you see the paradigm occurring? Employers today have to go the extra mile to attract applicants that are the right fit.  Gone are the legacy employees with several decades of loyal employment and welcome to today’s reality of career-shifters who have a voice in where they go, what they do, and what they say about your brand and how they are treated.  Job seekers and employees have become our own form of job consumer advocates.

If you want to succeed as a brand, you’re going to have to become hyper focused in the last area, candidate experience, in the upcoming years.  Why?  Because in today’s world of social media, targeted branding, and niche community engagement, every person has a voice that can make you or break you if used to its potential.

And what the candidate experience really begins to boil down to is equality and respect.  Gerry Crispin gave some valuable pointers in his SHRM presentation, Treating Candidates as Equals: The Future of Work Depends on It.

One of the key takeaways was that employers have to listen to what candidates are saying, because what you’re seeing or think you’re seeing isn’t necessarily equal to what is really happening in your recruitment, interview, and hiring processes.  We are often oblivious to our own faults and candidates are a great place to start in fixing the biggest issues with a bad hiring cycle.  If utilized correctly, they can become your most valuable resource in getting to a better hire.

But the equality extends beyond just listening to job seekers, it means providing them respect and an honest dialogue throughout the recruitment lifecycle, especially when it comes to the interview.    Why do all the work to build your brand, great talent networks, and engagement through social media, only to muck up everything by providing a hazy or counter-intuitive interview process?  You’re throwing all your efforts away if you don’t continue to give equally to candidates sitting across the table.

If you’re not onboard with giving candidates equal footing when it comes to finding the right fit for your organization, it’s time to embrace the current trends (above) that are pushing companies to understand the value of how employment consumers will continue to be in control of where we’re headed with the recruitment life-cycle.  It might be a bumpy road through unknown territory, but the fun is in the journey, not the destination.  And if you’re willing to give it a shot, I’m sure you’ll get to where you want to be.

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