Mission Possible: Breakthrough Principles to Designing Amazing Candidate Experiences | Phenom

Maggie Blehar

September 15, 2022

Every talent acquisition team has one mission: to deliver the most engaging and positive candidate experience possible. Yet many TA teams fail to deliver — and will continue to do so until they’re properly enabled. 
 

So, what does it take to turn the candidate experience around? Cliff Jurkiewicz, VP of Global Strategy at Phenom, explores how a mindset change paired with purpose-built technologies are essential to engaging with job seekers today. 
 

Watch the full session here, or continue reading for the highlights.
 


Why the Candidate Experience is Broken
 

There’s a candidate experience revolution happening and we are at the doorstep, according to Jurkiewicz. This is thanks primarily to shifting consumer expectations and evolving technologies.
 

However, many talent teams still struggle to craft a winning candidate experience.
 

Why? To put it simply, TA teams’ approach to candidate experience hasn’t progressed or changed all that much. 
 

“Twenty years ago, not a single platform or point solution [provider] in the TA space thought candidate experience was important,” Jurkiewicz said. “It took decades to figure out that the intended outcome didn’t make recruiters more efficient — or connect them with quality talent.”
 

Though the importance of this experience is catching on now, if TA teams don’t modernize methods and tools, job seekers still encounter a broken experience characterized by: 
 

  • Little engagement between recruiters and talent
  • Repetitive application forms
  • Poorly adapted technologies that make for inefficient processes
  • Sparse communication
  • Content that doesn’t match their interests and needs


People recognize a bad experience immediately — and in today’s market, they’ll quickly abandon a company that has one. 
 


Related reading: What We Can Learn About Candidate Experience From the Fortune 500



How to Create a Compelling Candidate Experience
 

“All candidate experiences are a reflection of the culture and leadership at an organization,” Jurkiewicz said. Because of that, revolutionizing the experience takes a mindset shift and the right tools to support talent stakeholders.
 

Here’s how to start adopting an innovation mindset:
 

  1. View candidates as consumers, and adapt accordingly. The Amazons of the world have taught us to expect a seamless online experience, complete with product suggestions tailored to past interactions, personalized communication, and frequent updates. The digital user experience for your job candidates needs to measure up. 
     
  2. Innovate to deliver the most engaging experience possible. Because candidates are consumers first, this requires constantly iterating on the experience based on candidate preferences and expectations. “Ignore this simple fact at your own peril,” Jurkiewicz warned.


Jurkiewicz provided a good example of what happens when companies don’t shift to an innovation mindset: When Blackberry failed to innovate its closed ecosystem and tactile keyboard to mirror consumer preferences, they lost market share to Apple and eventually left the game completely. “Failure to recognize how important the consumer experience is in innovation killed their brand,” he said.
 

After a mindset shift, TA teams next need to be enabled with technology that supports agile innovation. After all, “consumer experiences are driving every level of business experiences,” Jurkiewicz stressed.
 

During the pandemic, for example, Phenom clients were able to quickly adapt to remote methods of recruiting, communicating, and interviewing. 
 

“Our content management system, automations, and technology like interview scheduling and chatbot allowed recruiters to be efficient and stay closely connected to candidates while working from anywhere. We call this a continuity of engagement — having the right technology ready at the right time.”
 


The Primary Drivers of Candidate Engagement
 

Phenom’s data on hundreds of millions of candidate interactions with career sites and communication tools reveals two primary drivers of engagement: 
 

  • Personalization
  • Methods of engagement


“We have found that the demand for hyper-personalizing job search and matching is the primary differentiator between candidates who engage and those who don’t,” said Jurkiewicz.
 

That means offering value-driven personalization versus just a published list of matched jobs. But even this is no longer enough to keep candidates engaged. 
 

Today, recruiters also need content tools to enable the delivery of focused content relevant to candidates’ interests, experience, career path, and their journeys with your brand. “Recruiters need easy-to-use tools to add focused brand, diversity, equity, inclusion, and culture content,” Jurkiewicz said. 
 

When candidates are served editorial or contextualized content like this, they’ll continue engaging — and generating further data to help recruiters continuously hone a relevant and personalized candidate experience. 
 


Related reading: Mars’ Secret to a Sweeter Candidate Experience



Personalization is Attraction
 

Attraction-driven content is candidate-centric. It shows candidates how they can contribute to the organization and, in turn, how the organization supports employees’ learning and development and career goals
 

“This should be done for all audiences, including persons with disabilities and those representing diverse communities and cultures,” Jurkiewicz noted.
 

However, too many companies take a promotional approach, using the career site and candidate communications to simply list job offers, basically serving as one long advertisement.
 

“That’s what we do when we rely on old methods and weak technology to deliver our message. Unfortunately, promotion is what we see in a lot of candidate experiences — or what I’ll call the unexperience.” 
 

So go for attraction versus promotion and stay away from “advertising.”
 


There’s No Single Path to Engaging Quality Talent
 

Every mission has a goal. The ultimate goal of a great candidate experience is to hire quality talent, but there are many ways to get there, Jurkiewicz said. “Offering varying methods to communicate and search while personalizing is paramount,” which is why TA teams should look at the whole spectrum of ways to engage.
 

Providing interconnected tools like the following helps teams deliver on this promise:
 


“It’s all necessary, and it all works,” Jurkiewicz stressed.
 


Related reading: How Southwest Airlines Creates Spectacular Candidate Experiences with Phenom



Why Data Collection and Harmonization Are Key
 

Communications and data collection tools must be integrated to provide a seamless data flow that’s invisible to job candidates. “It should just work intuitively to get the data where it needs to go and become actionable experiences by all of the users of the tools within these capabilities,” Jurkiewicz said.


If you’re doing this and something still seems to be missing, ask yourself these questions: 
 

  1. Am I partnering with the right technology provider to maximize data collection? 
     
  2. Is the solution purpose-built to deliver candidate experiences?
     
  3. Are we mining every possible attribute from the candidate clickstream?


It’s important to keep in mind that data collection must be evolved before experiences can evolve. Keep in mind that employers have one opportunity to make a good first impression on a candidate. Nail it, and candidates are much more likely to offer up a wealth of data, Jurkiewicz said. 
 

“When they trust and find value in the engagement, they’ll provide their data to keep the experience going.”
 


Tools to Unlock Candidate Conversion
 

Candidate conversion rests on the ability of recruiters to quickly identify best-fit talent and then establish meaningful connections. “This is what recruiters love about their jobs — connecting to candidates, not managing software.”
 

It’s a lot easier to do with the right technology in place — tech with capabilities such as:
 

  • Automated communications
  • Automated delivery of relative, engaging content (think: new job matches, interview tips, and insight from team members)
  • Candidate-driven video submission
  • AI-based interview scheduling


“These technologies solve the problem of candidates and applicants being left in a black hole and frees the recruiter from being system and process babysitters,” he said. 
 

The Bottom Line: Be Value-driven
 

For Jurkiewicz, the mission-winning tactic is to always focus on providing value for job candidates. “Design your candidate experience for those who will not get the job … but will find the experience positive and valuable. Do that, and you will not fail.” 
 

To dive deeper, check out our Definitive Guide to Candidate Experience

Maggie Blehar

Maggie is a writer at Phenom, bringing you information on all things talent experience management. In addition to writing, she enjoys traveling, painting, cooking, and spending time with her family and friends.