March 31, 2020
Topics: Candidate Experience

4 Ways To Help Candidates Right Now [Podcast]

Welcome to the first episode of our new podcast, The Talent Experience Show!

Join Devin Foster and Tom Tate as they explore what's happening right now in recruitment, talent acquisition, talent management, and HR tech.

In this episode, we discuss four ways you can help candidates right now as we all respond to the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Provide updates about their hiring status
  • Remove defunct jobs from your career site
  • Explain new policies and changes
  • Update your automated messages about COVID-19
Four Ways To Help Candidates Right Now

Subscribe to the show on your podcast listening app of choice and stay tuned for future episodes. We'll be diving into talent experience management and the end-to-end talent journey with the greatest in HR, recruiting, talent acquisition, and management.

Podcast Transcript

I'm Devin Foster.

And I'm Tom Tate. And this is the talent experience show!

Welcome to the talent experience show, your most up-to-date look on what's happening right now in recruitment, talent acquisition, and of course HR.

This podcast is proudly produced by the team at Phenom, a global HR tech company with a purpose of helping a billion people find the right job and discover their true potential. If you want to learn more about Phenom and our Talent Experience Management (TXM) platform, head over to

So Devin and I have been really excited to kick off this podcast formally. I just want to let you know our goal is to keep these episodes super short, very insightful, and very actionable—so expect the average episode to be about 15 to 20 minutes long. Something that you can fit in between meetings, folding the laundry, doing the dishes. If you find yourself socially distant right now, you can fit this podcast into those little moments during your day.

We are in the midst of a shift and how we work in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our team is in the United States. We're all working from home, so we understand that most people don't have their typical commute or drive time right now.

We want to invite you to find some time to connect with us week over week, and we'll be delivering some great content. We hope that these short episodes provide just a little bit of light and bring some energy to your days in the coming weeks and months.

Right, and the news cycle around COVID-19 has truly been very scary. But here at Phenom, we have been working as hard as we can to immediately make it better for our customers. Our customers' industries globally are going through hiring freezes, making recruiters jobs even harder.

It feels like just yesterday we constantly had this conversation around recruiters having too many open jobs and not enough candidates. Oh, how we miss those days. This has changed overnight, with open jobs on Phenom career sites chopping close to 200,000. And in less than a month, the number of leads and completed applications continue to tick upwards.

It's a scary time to be in talent acquisition, but on a positive note, we have seen some things ramping up. We've seen healthcare and medical industries jump as much as eighty percent on jobs posted—and some of them are posting 90% more jobs a week. Hopefully, this ramping up in those industries, and the brave people that work in those industries, will bring us back to normal sooner than later—and stay healthy while they're doing it.

But today we wanted to talk about a couple of things around COVID-19 for our first episode. This has been such a shift in our industry, and it really depends on the kind of sector of business that you're in. So you know healthcare and health sciences—you might be in that sector—you're seeing a boom in new job requisitions and hiring.

But unfortunately if you are in the airline industry or in the hotel industry, you might have been experiencing layoffs and hiring freezes. This is all uncharted waters that we're all trying to navigate together.

We are in this with you, and what we want to talk about today for our very first episode of the Talent Experience Show is four ways that you can help candidates right now. And these four ways can apply to you whether you are in our hiring freeze or in a hiring boom, so I really hope that this is valuable for you.

Devin, I'll turn it over you to kick off number one and then we'll get into it.

The first one is providing updates around hiring statuses.

This applies to both companies that are in a hiring freeze and hiring boom. If things are moving quickly in a hiring boom, be transparent with candidates right off the bat. Let them know, “hey this is gonna move fast—you know we're gonna go through this onboarding process as quickly as we can to get you to work,” but it's also important to be transparent. If you're not, if you're on a hiring freeze, or if the process is going to take longer than anticipated, let candidates know.

There are lots of people globally right now looking for work, having to pay their bills. If you don't anticipate to get them in your doors within the next 30 days or longer, let them know. Be transparent right off the bat so that they have expectations as to what to expect. Also, it provides a great candidate experience.

So if you're stringing candidates along saying, “hey, it could be next week, it could be two weeks from now,” that's going to impact their overall experience throughout the hiring process. If you know you know it's set in stone by your organization or even your local governments that “hey nobody's gonna be in the office for thirty days,” let them know that so that if they do need to make ends meet. I think providing updates about their hiring status is huge no matter what situation you are in during this pandemic.

I think the one thing that you mentioned about really still staying true to providing that strong positive candidate experience, despite a lot of uncertainty despite a lot of confusion.

Devin and I typically sit next to each other in the office. Unfortunately, we haven't been able to do that because we are working from home, but if I was sitting next to Devin, I'm sure I would hear Kendrick Lamar coming out of his headphones saying “we gonna be alright.”

I think that it's really important. You would probably hear George Harrison “all things must pass” coming out of my headphones, and I think that we are going to come out of this. Certain teams are gonna come out stronger and their brand is gonna come out stronger because they decided that they were going to provide updates. They were gonna stay really true to providing that positive candidate experience.

Tom, if you wanted me to turn down my music while I was at my desk, you didn't have to wait till we were miles apart during this social distancing. But you're absolutely right, I would have been listening to Kendrick Lamar’s We Gonna Be Alright.

You know, Devin, that's just my way of saying I miss you and this podcast is just my excuse to talk to you so we're really excited to be here.

Number two. So number two is probably the easiest thing to do on the list, and that is just remove those defunct jobs from your career site.

What you want to do is audit your job requisitions and look for any outdated ones that might still be on your career site. Either remove them completely or provide an update—so even if you do want to leave one open, make sure that you're being very transparent with the actual status of that job. It's going to keep that candidate experience really focused on the available opportunities that you have right now so that people aren't going down a rabbit hole of either getting really excited for a potential position and then actually going through the process of applying for it.

This is super easy to do, just go through and remove those defunct jobs. And if you are in one of those sectors or industries where you're hiring a lot, whether that's temporary seasonal positions. There are a lot of organizations that are hiring frontline workers—grocery stores, pharmacies, instacart, for example, is experiencing a kind of a boom. So I think that it's an opportunity for you to just keep people focused on the jobs and positions that are available.

One other thing is a lot of organizations that I know out there have evergreen positions where they're constantly hiring, so you won't want to remove those because you want to build your pipeline up for when things return back to normal.

But back to the idea of remaining transparent, put in you know the job description itself, “hey, we're not going to be hiring anybody for this for 30 days” so that you're not wasting anybody's time. Somebody who does need that job right away knows this may not be you the right position for me to apply to.

But if there's a position that you know isn’t necessarily at the top of your priority list you certainly aren't going to be hiring for it.
Once things do begin to return to normal, definitely remove that from your job description. Everyone wants leads, everyone wants applicants and candidates in their pipeline, but if it's something that is probably going to be pushed off for the long run, definitely archive it. At least until it reopens and you get a better idea on that.

The third is to explain new policies and changes.

As Tom mentioned, we typically sit together or next to each other at work and the world has changed, right. Whenever we want to chat there's no more Tom tapping on the shoulder because he can't get through to me because my music is too loud.

All of these things have changed our world and the way we live, and it's the same thing with interview processes and onboarding. If you are hiring for positions right now based on social distancing, you're not gonna be able to meet this person face to face, so let them know up front during that initial phone screen. Hey, this interview process is going to be a little bit different right, it's going to be over Zoom. So if I'm not dressed the way that I typically am in the office don't be alarmed. Same thing with onboarding processes. If companies typically have things hand-signed or hand-scanned, licenses things like that, let them know that these policies are going to change. It might be a DocuSign and you might have to send over a photo of your ID or something along those lines.

Just because policy changes and the time is crazy doesn't mean some people are going to be willing to do that. They may still want to meet you face to face to hand over their license and things like that. So being transparent and explaining to the candidate goes a long way for their experience in the long run.

At Phenom, we actually introduced two quick new features as soon as we started working from home to help you do this. And this is by no means a pitch for those Phenom features—you can do this using the tools that you have. I recommend everybody put together a quick FAQ page. We have a template for it, but if you use WordPress, Drupal or Squarespace, you can easily spin up a page that serves as an FAQ for anyone that has questions about how COVID-19 and the pandemic have changed your hiring practices. As more people ask questions, you can continue to provide those answers and update that page.

There's also an opportunity in Phenom to have a notification bar on your site so that you can easily direct first-time visitors to that page and answer those questions, view new policies, and changes. The only reason I'm mentioning that is because I think it's incredibly important to showcase how your brand is responding to the pandemic. It's one thing to be transparent and provide really solid information. But it really shows when you think through some of these questions, and you provide thoughtful answers that you not only care about your current employees, but your future employees as well.

I think that it's an opportunity to showcase how your specific company is really showing people how they care and how much they care.

So number three explained new policies and changes.

Number four: Update your automated messages about COVID-19.

I think that we typically forget about all the automated functions that are happening behind the scenes, such as automated emails that go out when someone signs up for your talent community. If you have a chatbot on your career site, many of those responses are automated as well—and many of them are configurable. So it's very easy for you to go through and do a quick update to reflect new policies and information. That is going to help job seekers.

It's also a great opportunity when you're auditing and updating that messaging to just make some slight tweaks for tone and make sure you're being empathetic. Knowing that unemployment in the United States is through the roof right now, there are gonna be a lot of people hitting your career sites looking for jobs.

I think that just being sensitive to a lot of the rapid changes that have overcome a lot of us in a very short amount of time, it will go a long way. Just to provide a really fantastic candidate experience as we're all navigating these uncharted waters together.

Yes, I think that the automated messaging that you send out isn't just an HR thing. You know if we think about somebody hitting the career site and applying to a job, they get an email for applying. That's something that's to be considered company-wide. Organizations leverage tools for sales and marketing, and it may be an opportunity to reach out to your sales team or your marketing team, and say “hey, just keep in mind you might want to update those automated messages that you're sending out to be a bit more empathetic.”

Everyone wants to close a deal, everyone wants to to get new business, to get new candidates, the whole nine, but it's also important to remain human. I think it's a great opportunity to not only refresh some of the content that you're sending out—some things may slow down for some of those companies on hiring freezes—but also to be human too, to share some stories, to talk about what your organization is doing to help around COVID-19.

Well, that does it for the four quick and easy tips!

Any final thoughts?

I just love what you said about being human. One of our colleagues brought up something that she saw, which was “business as usual is now business unusual.” Then we were joking earlier because our company's slogan at Phenom is “#notnormal” and “#notnormal” is of the new normal.

I think it's important to know that we're all in this together. The four tips just to go over them real quick: Provide updates around hiring statuses, remove those defunct or archived jobs from your career site, explain new policies and changes, and of course, update your automated messages to include information around COVID-19.

And like you said, business as usual is no longer business as usual.

Thank you all for joining us on our first ever podcast.

Feel free to find us on Twitter (@PhenomTXshow)—tweet us your thoughts, recommendations, and future topics.

Remember to stay safe, stay healthy, and stay strong. Join us next week as we discuss more around COVID-19, as well as all things in HR, talent acquisition, and change management that you can do to help and prepare for what's to come.

Thanks again, Tom.

Thank you, Devin. This has been a blast and I hope that you come back and check out more episodes!

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