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Designing for a Seamless Candidate and Employee Experience

Hanna Summa, Vice President and Head of HR Transformation and Digitalization, Minna Laine, Manager, Digital HR Services, AFRY

A ttracting and hiring the best talent from the market has become business-critical to any organization. Studies show a clear link between the successful hiring of talents and business performance. In highly complex occupations superior talent can be 8x more productive, whereas the best hiring companies deliver 3.5x the revenue growth and 2x the profit margin compared to their lower-performing peers. At the same time, companies report difficulties in finding and hiring talent, and the situation will not get easier since a global talent shortage of over 85 million skilled workers is predicted by 2030. Companies that excel in bringing in the right talent at the right time are the ones to thrive.

Top-tier candidates can expect to have enough job opportunities to choose from, forcing companies to rethink and redesign the whole hiring process. Capturing the vast variety of today’s workforce ranging from millennials to baby boomers, recruitment has become a candidate experience-driven process. It focuses on delivering an engaging journey to the individuals and creating a positive perception about the employer throughout the talent acquisition that covers the whole process from sourcing and attracting candidates to preselecting, interviewing and eventually hiring and onboarding them. According to research, candidate experience is linked to advocacy, job offer acceptance and potential sales. The majority of employees with positive candidate experience are likely to recommend the hiring organization and talk about their experiences with others, and vice versa. Hence offering a compelling candidate experience is a business necessity with wide-ranging consequences.

Digitalization transforms the candidate journey and their expectations. Candidates are becoming more tech-savvy and also used to using technology in other areas of their lives. In fact, in 2020 candidates between 18 and 35 of age account for up to 50 percent of the workforce, forming a group of people that do not know the world before. They expect to experience a modern, digital and efficient hiring process supported by the latest technology ensuring the same level of easiness and intuitiveness they are used to finding elsewhere: instant access on any device, highly personalized content, and easy-to-use systems whenever and wherever they are.

"Aiming for a seamless endto-end experience during the whole employment life cycle sets new requirements for the system selection, and the overall IT landscape and its design"

The candidate’s expectations of compelling candidate experience, however, are not limited to the hiring and onboarding process only. They expect an experience that continues seamlessly as employee experience throughout the processes and systems in the organization—irrespective of where the ownership of those lies in the organization. Aiming for a seamless end-to-end experience during the whole employment life cycle sets new requirements for the system selection, and the overall IT landscape and its design.

The recruitment software landscape and capabilities are evolving rapidly. The roadmaps are technology-driven, following the latest trends of using e.g. Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Chatbots, RPA, gamification. New start-ups introducing innovative solutions enter the market frequently. As a result, the recruitment software market is estimated to grow by $754.45 million by 2023. There are various technological solutions available for each part of the recruitment funnel, some focusing on a specific personality (e.g. testing and assessment) and some on the whole process delivery (Applicant Tracking Systems ATS, Candidate Relationship Management systems, CRM). Most vendors focus on providing a great candidate experience and offering easy-to-connect APIs to integrate seamlessly with the existing system landscape and play their part in delivering faster and smarter solutions to finding the right talent. With so many recruiting software companies and alternative solutions available on the market, the question for a company is how to find the one worth investing in?

The process for selecting recruitment software starts with defining the objectives and requirements for the initiative i.e. what the company wants to achieve. The system selection should not happen in isolation considering the candidate experience only, but as part of the existing legacy system landscape, and taking also into account the requirements and user experience of other stakeholders i.e. recruiters, hiring managers and system admins.

An important part of the process is to carefully map the existing and to-be landscapes and functionalities to identify functionality gaps and/or overlaps and dependencies and to plan for the roadmap in terms of development activities, investments and timeline. The question for a company is not necessarily what the best recruitment software is in absolute terms, but rather which one is best fitted with the current system environment and roadmap, given the resources available for project implementation and operative system maintenance, and plans for further development later on.

Given the indisputable importance of successfully hiring the best talent from the market, investing in the candidate experience is definitively worth the effort. System implementation is always an expensive long-term investment. In order to ensure return on investment and identify further areas of improvement, getting insights on performance in terms of process efficiency and lead times, hiring costs, quality of candidates and candidate experience (cNPS) should be prioritized. Standard KPI reporting and/or advanced analytics are often part of the recruitment software, but if not, alternative means for reporting should be put in place. The level of success cannot be determined without systematic follow-up and monitoring of progress. 

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