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How can you reduce your time to hire without impacting on candidate experience?

8 months ago

Before answering this question, we might want to consider what a ‘good’ candidate experience means.

Common sense suggests it will rely on plenty of positive human interaction throughout the recruitment cycle: from initial engagement, through to onboarding and from all relevant actors, including recruiters and hiring managers. If we are to quantify this - to understand where we might be able to replace time-consuming human activity with supportive systems, we need to unpick exactly what the candidate gets, or wants, from these interactions.

I think we can boil this down to three things: trust, information and validation.

We also need to put ‘candidate expectation’ within the context of our business goals. Does assuring a great experience improve a candidates’ likeliness to come on board, and will it make them more likely to remain within the business or, stay the course within the recruitment process?

These desired outcomes, for business and for candidates must underpin recruitment strategies. When deciding what time needs to be spent on what aspect of the process, and what human effort is vital, we must do so with the following question in mind:

Does it fulfil that ‘good’ experience and does that experience lead to our desired outcomes?

Advancing technologies have already helped reduce time to hire, as they will undoubtedly continue to do so (hurrah!). Much of these technologies have been designed to decrease the burden of administrative tasks, such as CRM systems, automated replies, filtering questions and so on. Yet there are many more time-consuming tasks that we deem consultative and therefore essential to the candidate experience. And, although some of these certainly are and will remain ‘human’ activities, others may be less reliant on our endeavour than we assume.

We place value on human consultative efforts because building relationships enables us to achieve our desired outcomes and goals. Relationships mean:

  • Establishing trust
  • The ability to persuade
  • Spotting potential problems
  • Creating loyalty

There are many stages in the recruitment cycle where we want the ability to influence these, from:

  • Attraction and engagement
  • Shortlisting and interview stage
  • Offer management
  • On-boarding

Take the initial stage as an example: sourcing candidates is a time-consuming, often laborious process, but one many recruiters believe is an essential interaction, given it’s the initial chance to persuade the candidate of the merits of the opportunity and the company.

Targeted content marketing coupled with a strong employer brand however has a much broader reach, and if done well can still engender a positive candidate experience. For example, tailored nurture tracks which can be easily built in marketing and recruitment SaaS - like CandidateID or Hubspot, deliver a personal approach, with content that is relevant and will be of interest at the time. Another benefit is that by utilising nurture programs, you can automatically pull prospects through the cycle, without spending hours trying to get through on the phone and then manually recording where in the process the prospective candidate is.

Establishing and building an employer profile takes the onus away from a single person attempting to persuade another. The sheer scale means it has the ability to hugely cut recruitment time.

Is it possible some of our resistance to finding supportive functionality to decrease the amount of human consultative work we do in the recruitment process could actually be down to ego. We need to persuade them, they need to trust us.

To return to the candidate’s expectations of: trust, knowledge, validation...

In this instance, a potential candidate may trust an organisation who has delivered them with timely, interesting, useful and targeted information, for instance via email or newsletter?

Knowledge? This can, of course, can be delivered with digitally.

Validation? An organisation is expressing interest through regular and personalised contact - would this be enough for you to recognise that an organisation is interested in you?

This is just one example, and there are many others, but have we lost anything by the reduction of human contact, in terms of delivering a great candidate experience?

In some instances, it won’t be enough to reduce the overall time to hire. We may be surprised too, at what other consultative aspects of a recruiters job we can shift elsewhere. Apply the logic of the above question and test its efficacy through practice.

A benefit of an automated system, of course, is its trackability

The question of something’s efficacy comes down to the bottom line: how many people are we recruiting and keeping, within what timeframes and at what cost?

Human effort can’t and shouldn’t be eradicated entirely. Not least because knowledge flows two ways – recruiters also benefit from the insights candidates offer them. This is vital during offer stage, where finding out the candidates motivations, other opportunities and so on can help turn a ‘no’ into a hire. Although recruiters are well aware of their own limitations in this regard, a strong relationship makes it far likelier that knowledge will be shared and a degree of control maintained.

Back to the ego. Could there actually be times a candidate might be more candid when talking directly to the recruiter? The software can feedback information to the candidate, but also vice versa.

So far, these discussions have depended on one crucial assumption: that the human processes we have in place are working well. Of course, there’s an argument that replacing poor human efforts with tried and tested technologies are going to improve processes, but relinquishing any consultative tasks that aren’t stable is just as likely, if not likelier to destabilise the entire process.

Any investment spent on reducing day-to-day recruiter tasks needs a good process and due diligence. Recruitment best practice must be maintained, including a strong consultative approach (whether agency or in-house), effective marketing practices and sustained efforts from hiring managers and the business overall. Effective recruitment does not exist in a vacuum, after all.

It’s possible, preferential even, that human efforts can work in synergy with available technologies to produce outcomes greater than the sum of their parts; the latter can assist with consultative tasks, reducing time and without loss to candidate experience and, ergo, desired business outcomes. For instance, automated talent pools keep passive candidates engaged, being more receptive to recruiters when ready and without having wasted any initial efforts of the recruiter.

Of course, this is a conversation about the recruitment landscape now and what it looks like in 10, 20, 30 years’ time will be very different. Where we currently, and in many instances rightly, decide we need real, human relationships during the recruitment process, machine learning (and us teaching the machines), or AI may have developed to become the norm.

But back to now. The best human endeavour fails to be cost-effective if it takes an inordinately long time. The same can be said of investments in time-saving technology - it's worthless without the ability of recruitment teams to steer the best results.

So, how do you reduce your time to hire without impacting on candidate experience?

Let me know what you do, think or feel would be the right answers.

Clair Bush

Candidate, Expereince, Hiring...