How HR tech is reinventing candidate experience

Today’s job seekers have high expectations of employers - and the best candidates can afford to be choosy, especially in a time of low unemployment. HR tech continues to evolve to keep pace; for recruiters and hiring managers, focusing on improving candidate experience can result in stronger applicant pipelines and reduced time-to-hire and cost-per-hire.

The traditional ATS used to be cumbersome and forbidding for applicants; these systems were built with only the employers’ needs in mind, and often only at the highest level, sparing little thought for the individuals who actually had to use the system.

A successful modern ATS is built to help both sides put their best foot forward, moving applicants through the hiring process with as little friction as possible for candidate and hiring manager alike. Here are three areas of candidate experience that are being reinvented.

The all-important first impression

The interview process is a perfect (and sometimes overlooked) opportunity for an employer to sell its vision and values, and to woo candidates with the many perks that come with joining the team. But the ever-critical first impression happens well before the first phone call or in-person interview. Candidate experience starts the moment that the job seeker discovers the open job.

Savvy employers now use technology to enhance their employer brand. Anonymous hiring portals are replaced by careers pages that engage and educate - and that can be easily updated with the latest company buzz without needing assistance from a developer.

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Emerging HR tech also helps the candidates make stronger first impressions by going beyond the traditional cover letter and resume. Customized application questions can prompt candidates to provide more specific details about why they’re right for a specific role. Platforms with video capability allow candidates to showcase their personalities.

The more candidates and employers can learn about each other, the more efficient the process will be, as only truly qualified, engaged candidates will advance to more time-intensive stages like the in-person interview.

Friction-free applications

The ATS originally seemed designed to thwart the applicant; just check out how many articles exist on the topic of “beating” an ATS. These applications are like obstacle courses, filled with repetitive data entry and endless box-ticking questions.

The numbers vary depending on the survey, but it’s clear that a significant number of job candidates abandon applications that are too confusing or time-consuming. A more modern ATS will help employers hone in on the most essential information upfront, tailor questions to specific roles, efficiently screen a large number of applications, and then capture additional material at a later stage, through customized forms or surveys.

A streamlined application process is particularly critical given the rise of mobile applicants. In some industries, as Indeed reports, 80% of job searches are happening on mobile devices. There’s a good chance that hiring managers are spending a lot of time on mobile, too - especially in industries that aren’t office-based. Newer hiring software lets those managers screen and communicate with candidates on the go.

Faster feedback and stronger communication

In a competitive hiring market, it’s unacceptable to have candidates feel like they are submitting applications into the ether, or showing up for interviews and wondering whether they’ll be contacted again. Wait too long, and that dream new hire may already have accepted an offer with a competitor. Workpop’s internal data shows that if candidates don’t receive a personalized response from employers within 24 hours, they are 28% less likely to remain active candidates.

HR tech is making big strides in candidate communication, making it easier to reach job seekers through their preferred method (e.g. text vs. email), and to track the correspondence in a single location. Consistent status updates go a long way toward keeping candidates engaged as they advance from one stage to the next. Declined candidates deserve attention here, too, as leaving a positive impression may result in them returning down the road for a role that’s a better fit.

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Adam McKibbin

About the author…

Adam McKibbin heads up content marketing for Workpop. He’s written for Adweek, Inc, the Los Angeles Times, and many other publications, websites and now-defunct alt-weeklies.

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Adam McKibbin