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2021. The Year of the Candidate?

By Russell Dalton

February is Chinese new year. The year of the Ox. In the western calendar I would like to propose that the new year be known, at least in recruitment circles as, 'The Year of the Candidate'.

What do we mean by that? Well in our pre-eminent position as provider of all things digital to the resourcing market, we've seen a slow shift-change in the way resourcing is developing their employer brand. Rather than creating pathways to their business that serve to provide the Recruitment professional with information such as online application forms that take over 30 minutes to complete; desktop rather than mobile friendly platforms, compulsory registration and a complete disregard for accessibility - there is a slow movement towards developing digital strategies that are entirely Candidate centric.

One market leading and highly respected retailer, who receives over two million hits on its career website, every month, has declared its mantra for the new year is 'The Candidate is King'. Virgin Media calculated that bad candidate experience was costing its business £4.4million a year in lost revenue before they reviewed their strategy. A global fast food business is reviewing its candidate experience to mirror its consumer one. If customers won't wait more than three minutes for their food, why should candidates tolerate a job application 45 minutes long?

This alignment between good consumer practice and good candidate practice makes not only good recruitment - but commercial sense. If your career website receives 20,000 visitors every month (and that's a medium sized business), and you have 400 jobs per annum, that means that 19,600 applicants will leave the site disappointed. If you believe that candidates are customers and customers are candidates (and every enlightened business should); then you potentially give 98% of future customers short shrift. Simply apply this calculation to your own careers website.

So what can be done to make this the year of the Candidate? Start with your brand and follow the entire candidate journey back to the source. Review how people and why people apply. Look at the devices they use and engineer routes that make it easier, more efficient and effective to apply. Place engagement at the top of your agenda, together with storytelling. Think about the emotions that are involved when applying for a job. How you manage rejection, information, delivery and candidate time investment.

Call this a Candidate audit and map out the steps. The goal is to make even rejected candidates feel that they are valued and respected. To make the application seamless, informative, rewarding and leave every visitor, successful or not as an ambassador for your business.

This mission is true this year more than ever. As more people look for work, the goal of every business should not be to be introspective about their employer brand, but inclusive, compassionate, productive and forward thinking.

We wish you a successful 2021. May it it be your Year of the Candidate, cementing a perfected Candidate Journey that is best in class, refined, defined and ready to make the world sit up and listen to how good an employer you are.