Candidate Experience Part II – The tip of the iceberg

Part I of this series focused on the people aspects that drive the Candidate experience. Now we will discuss the processes that drive the Candidate Experience.  Managing the processes to deliver a great candidate experience is a balancing act of competing needs where you try and strike the right balance between the candidate and organizational priorities.

The most fundamental question to ask yourself is:  ‘Is the candidate at the center of each of the recruiting stages of your candidate experience?’.   What does it mean to put the candidate at the center?  It means that you are optimizing for the candidate throughout the process by either  a) finding creative ways to meet both the candidates and your needs or b) you are making a tradeoff that prioritizes the candidate’s needs over your organizational needs.

Here are some of the top complaints by candidates about their experience:

  • Your career site isn’t mobile friendly
  • You didn’t provide all the information I want to know about the job (e.g. salary range and benefits information) before I take the time to apply
  • Your application is too long
  • Did you get my application?
  • When will you let me know about your decision? Is the job filled?
  • How long will it take to get me the offer, because I need to give an answer to another company?

caniddate waiting

Great – we’ve identified the most common sources of negative candidate experience. Whoop-dee-doo.  These are well known complaints. But why do these things keep happening?  No one intentionally wants to create a bad candidate experience, do they?  What is driving these outcomes?

Well… it’s complicated, right?  At least that is how it can be rationalized.  What the candidate sees is just the tip of the iceberg compared to what is actually happening during the recruiting process. Beneath the surface company values, compliance, talent acquisition philosophies, the job details and hiring team behaviors drive what the candidate sees and experiences.

Candidate Experience Iceberg

Why would you collect more information than you really need during the application process? Is it for compliance reasons? Is the data being collected just in case it is needed during the screening stage you would want that information already available? Is it to help your recruiters do less work during the screening process – then you are shifting costs that your recruiters could absorb to the candidate.

For example, if you click on the ‘Apply’ button for a Fortune 50 company, this is what you will see:

What a great way to begin the candidate experience with this company. Or not.  Creating an account with a company just to apply for a job seems doesn’t seem like it solves for the candidate.

As a recruiting organization, does your company prioritize cost-per-hire and time-to-fill over quality of hire and candidate experience, then very likely you have a large range in how candidates will be treated because you are more focused on making filling the role quickly and making the hiring manager happy. As a recruiter, how much time do you spend keeping candidates informed on their status.  Do you make yourself readily available and respond to their inquiries in a reasonable amount of time?  Or do you just invest your time in the most promising candidates and ignore the ones on the backburner until it suits your needs? One well-known technology company we work with aims for their rejected candidates to have the same Candidate Experience Net Promoter Score as those they will make an offer to.  This mindset and measurement dramatically changes recruiter behavior and the process they follow to engage every candidate they bring in for an interview.

So how can you take a systemic approach to your candidate experience process?  To start, map the end-to-end candidate experience. Specifically only look at the world from what the Candidate sees, by stage, and by decision status (yes, no, maybe, not reviewed).    Look at each activity (or inactivity – e.g. not following up with every candidate).

How much of the process that candidate’s experience is due to the internal demands of the iceberg?  How much is due to limitations in the tools you use?

hiring process

Once you have mapped the process look at all the sources of friction that the candidate experience.  Whether forms to fill out, periods of ‘where do I stand’ or gaps in information required to be well prepared for an interaction.  Collecting data on each of these sub-experiences allows you to apply lean manufacturing principles to the candidate experience.  Basically, evaluate if each one is adding value for the candidate and how can you only focus on activities that add value to the candidate experience and reduce candidate experience waste.

Finally, many aspects of the candidate experience are driven by the tools you have available.  Part III of this series will dive into the details on this subject, but in a nutshell there are two ways to look at tools. The first are the set of tools that enable the process which both candidate and hiring teams work with. The reality is that all tools have their limitations and they may not have the flexibility to perfectly align with both candidate and your organizational needs. So figuring out where automated tools fall short and how to the hiring team can close those gaps is key to candidate success.

digital tools

The second is to look at the tools which measure the process. Whether it is something as basic as measuring your candidate experience Net Promoter Score or more robust, like applying digital marketing techniques to measure abandon and  conversion rates at each stage of the application process.  Without measuring the process effectively you cannot optimize and improve.  Instead you are working with anecdotal data and cannot properly apply lean manufacturing principles to reduce friction in the end-to-end process.

Once you examine you candidate experience from the candidate’s perspective and understand the internal and externals factors the drive the each activity in the process. From there, you can begin to making optimization trade-offs.  With the tidal wave of recruiting tools now available, next up we will explore how to deal with all the noise to ensure that the ‘people’ and the ‘process’ align to your technology choices to deliver a great candidate experience.

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About the Author: Ray Tenenbaum is the founder of Great Hires, a recruiting technology startup offering a mobile-first Candidate Interviewing Experience platform for both candidates and hiring teams.  Great Hires was named as one of Entrepreneur Magazine’s Brilliant Companies of 2016 where it was ranked #2 in Business Tools.  Follow Ray on Twitter @rayten or connect with him on LinkedIn.

10 things I learned researching the ATS platforms used by the Fortune 100

Last week I decided to research the applicant tracking systems (ATS) used by the Fortune 100. The analysis was prompted by a fellow recruiting startup founder who suggested that Great Hires invest in becoming a partner for a newer ATS company’s marketplace.  This made me want to estimate the size of the opportunity based on the volume of candidates that pass through the ecosystem of these providers.  Despite how fragmented the ATS market is, I was surprised that there are only two ATS system providers who serve more than two companies of the F100.

  1. Taleo/Oracle and Kenexa BrassRing dominate the Fortune 100

2. The number of jobs flowing through the top systems (Taleo/Oracle, Kenexa/BrassRing and homegrown) dominate everyone else.

3. The average number of job openings of the Fortune 100 is 2,172. These firms must have very large talent acquisition organizations to keep up with their hiring needs.

4. Many companies have started using a second platform such like a recruitment marketing system (e.g. Jibe or Smashfly) or even a second ATS-oriented company  (e.g. Smartrecruiters or Jobvite) to deal with CRM, Recruitment Marketing or Talent Community needs. However, these “second” platforms have less than 20% penetration in the F100.

5. Six firms built their own ATS: Amazon, Google, Apple, Microsoft, Verizon, Statefarm. What makes Statefarm unique is that they aren’t a technology company, but they seem to have unique needs with a franchise-like recruiting model.

6. Only one Fortune 100 company has adopted the Workday ATS in the two plus years since its release.

7. Amazon has 17,000 job openings and 230,000 employees. They are a much bigger organization than most people think and ranked #20 of the F500 by number of employees. For comparison, Wal-Mart is the largest employer with 2,300,000 employees.

8. Oracle has 8,000 open job reqs. I wonder how much input/feedback the Oracle recruiting function has provided the Taleo development team about their ATS?

9. Three of the top 6 companies with the most job openings are healthcare related and combine for nearly 43,000 openings

10. American Airlines gives candidates the option to apply using their Yahoo credentials. Not LinkedIn, Facebook, Google or Twitter.  Are they signaling applicants who they are really looking for?

American_Airlines_Apply_with_Yahoo

Note:  Berkshire Hathaway was not included in this analysis since it is really a holding company, and was replaced by #101 DuPont.

7 Things I learned examining 199 recruiting startups newly added to AngelList

Several times a week I get asked if I’ve heard of some new recruiting startup, and I jokingly respond that there is new one started daily and it is impossible to keep track. Well, it turns out I was off by a factor of about three.  There are 2800 companies that are tagged as Recruiting Startups on AngelList , of which 199 were added in August and September 2015.  I decided to take a look at each of these recently added companies to see what trends can be gleaned from them.  After ignoring 31 firms that weren’t really recruiting-related, here is what I found about the remaining 168 companies – so almost three per day.

AngelList Recruiting Companies

1.       Is recruiting broken?

One theme I saw consistently in either the company description or on their website is some form of the statement “recruiting is broken” and their mission is to either reinvent how companies and candidates find each other or improve the process. Inefficiency and friction plague end-to-end recruiting. Companies are trying new methods to match candidates with companies like having candidates bid on being able to apply to a company or a tool for candidates to supply a form for recruiters to complete about the role before being allowed to contacting them.  Who knows if any of these companies will truly reinvent talent acquisition, but at least there are many that claim to be trying.

2.       Niche marketplaces are very popular

Nearly half (80) new companies reviewed are trying to bring recruiters and candidates together more effectively. In particular, niche market places for any type of narrow market you can identify is being created.  Examples include two marketplaces for the cannabis industry:  Hemployed and Greenseek;   hyper-local job boards   and sites for professional specialists to connect like healthcare and cyber security experts.  For any marketplace, the challenge to is to get enough traction with both job posters and candidates to have a reasonable size marketplace and achieve some level of network effects. If nothing else, each of these sites should at least appear in the top 3 organic search results for ‘{name of the niche + jobs}’.

3.       Big data is a big deal for sourcing candidates

Fifteen different companies using some form of big data and secret sauce algorithms to find the right match for your job. Terms like AI, machine learning and predictive analytics showed up several times.  Each of these companies claim to be able to look at resumes, LinkedIn, Twitter, GitHub and other social sites and crunch all the data and then be able to spit out the winning candidates using their magical secret sauce tool.

4.       Next generation digital resumés:

Given the dominance of LinkedIn, many candidates feel there are better ways to project themselves online and provide a more accurate portrayal of their capabilities.  There were seven new companies trying to integrate great visual design, multi-media and social media to give candidates more opportunity to showcase their personality and experience.

5.       Not another ATS company

As if there aren’t enough Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) companies already out there, another seven declared their intent to reinvent managing the recruiting the process from job req to onboarding.   While this industry segment is not yet a complete commodity, given how poorly most companies rate their ATS, the level of competition is so high that taking a truly different approach will be the only way any of these companies stick around for a meaningful amount of time.

6.       Point solutions solving specific needs

The companies that interested me most were the 20 or so companies trying to solve well know challenges in the recruiting process in a more efficient manner. Whether it is targeted skills assessment, new tools for interviewing or a new wave of mobile social recruiting and referral apps, several of these new companies are trying new ways to leverage your personal network to find the right match.

7.       AngelList can be challenging when looking for real recruiting startups

Many companies have their industry misclassified or Recruiting is clearly a secondary element to their primary strategy and therefore shouldn’t really be tagged as such. In particular, College Admissions should be a distinct tag, separate from College Recruiting.

It is also amazing how many typos and grammar errors there are in company descriptions. Finally, if you are service company like a placement firm, you really should not be putting your site on AngelList;  many companies or people are using Angellist for SEO juice/ link building rather than using Angellist for its intended purpose: to connect startups with investors and potential employees

Summary

The good news for recruiters is that there is a lot of innovation taking place in the space and a handful will surely bubble to the surface and be successful. The challenge for companies and talent acquisition folks is being able to pick from the many solutions out there that match their specific needs.

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Ray Tenenbaum is the founder of Great Hires, a recruiting technology startup offering a mobile-first Candidate Experience platform for both candidates and hiring teams. Ray has previously spent half of his career building Silicon Valley startups such as Red Answers and Adify (later sold to Cox Media); the other half of his career was spent in marketing and leadership roles at enterprise organizations including Procter & Gamble, Kraft, Booz & Co. and Intuit.

Follow Ray on Twitter @rayten or connect with him on LinkedIn.