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Candidate experience Q&A: Kevin Grossman, Vice President of Talent Board

Shaker recently partnered with Talent Board to hosted a Candidate Experience (CandE) Workshop, a half-day event exploring what companies can do to improve the candidate experience they provide their jobseekers.

The workshop was led by Kevin Grossman, Talent Board’s Vice President and expert on all things recruiting. He spoke about the need to improve the candidate experience and what companies can do to make immediate improvements to their hiring process.

We asked Grossman what he thought about the event, common challenges shared by participants, and how he sees the candidate experience evolving in the year ahead.

What was the main goal of the CandE workshop?
Our goal was simple: to start a conversation about the things companies can do to improve the candidate experience. And just as important, to explore the impact of doing nothing. All of the information we presented was designed to help participants recognize easy, affordable ways to take action and make their companies’ candidate experience more positive and transparent.

We also wanted to share the latest data from the CandE Awards research, which really hammers home why a positive candidate experience is so important. One of the major findings was that 64% of candidates who gave their experience a great 5-star rating say they will increase their relationship with the company (on a 1-5 Likert scale with 1 being the lowest rating and 5 being the highest). In other words, they’re more likely to be a customer, apply again, and recommend the company to their peers. Meanwhile, 41% of candidates who rated their candidate experience as 1-star are more than likely to sever the relationship altogether.

The benefits of providing a 5-star candidate experience are clear. If even a fraction of those satisfied candidates put their money where their mouth is, the payoff can be huge.

What was the response from participants?
The response was great. All participants were engaged, asked lots of questions, and took copious notes throughout. One of the key elements of our CandE Workshops is to break up the audience into smaller groups—to encourage them to network, speak frankly about their current candidate experience challenges and cross-pollinate their ideas with other participants. Then we come back together as one larger group and do the same. Attendees always tell us they love the breakouts and the opportunity to connect with peers without being talked to or at.

We also received rave reviews for our special keynote presenter, experience expert and author Jim Gilmore, who explored how participants can sharpen their observational skills to see candidates in a new light. Needless to say, everyone in the room was captivated and learned a great deal we all can take back to our companies.  

What are some of the common problems participants raised in delivering a positive candidate experience?
One of the big themes from the workshop was around what companies can do to realistically communicate with everyone they’re dispositioning. Can they really reach out personally to every candidate who isn’t hired? The answer, especially for larger organizations, is no. But they should strive to balance automation with the human touch.

One of the things we stressed during the workshop is that many existing Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) and Candidate Relationship Management (CRM) systems actually have the functionality to create dozens if not hundreds of disposition codes. This way, employers can provide a more personal note, without taking the time to email each candidate—one of the many small changes they can make that lead to immediate improvement.

What trends or new ideas in candidate experience do you predict in 2017?
This isn’t so much a prediction as to where we’re going, but I believe a lot of the trends we’ve seen over the past six years of Talent Board research continuing. More companies will want to validate the role of a positive candidate experience, seeking ways to measure its real impact and give credence to the solutions they invest in to improve it.

As companies plan for the year ahead, I would stress that improving the candidate experience isn’t about making every single candidate happy—that’s simply impossible. It’s more about treating them how they would treat a customer. The reality is that most candidates who apply won’t be hired. But you want to leave them with a positive impression so they will apply again and tell their friends to do so, too.

What was the biggest takeaway for participants of the workshop?
The big takeaway is understanding the potential business impact of the candidate experience. Everything you can do to better communicate, acknowledge candidates, set expectations, bring closure, create perceived fairness throughout, and not leave them in the lurch goes a long way in reducing resentment and creating a positive impression. And making this transformation doesn’t need a huge change management initiative or a lot of time and budget. It’s those small, incremental changes that can enhance the candidate experience and translate into significant business improvement.  

Talent Board will release its research findings from the 2016 Candidate Experience Awards in early 2017. Registration for the 2017 CandE Awards program will open in March.

Check back soon for more insights and reactions from CandE Workshop participants in upcoming blog posts. Join our mailing list to receive notice of our upcoming events and the Selection Science Newsletter!

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