Is your candidate experience damaging your tech employer brand?

6 July 2021

Tech recruitment is the most competitive it’s ever been, with employers in all industries fighting for candidates with identical skillsets. Digitally-led businesses are seeing a surge in demand for their services, which means they suddenly need to hire quickly to keep up. Other companies are looking to hire tech talent so that they can compete in digital spaces. As a result, we’re in a candidate-driven market, with more available roles than qualified candidates across the globe.

Therefore, as a tech employer, you must do all you can to ensure that you can appeal to candidates. This includes making your application process and candidate experience hassle-free and reflective of your employer brand.

The process of applying for a job is often the first point of contact a candidate has with an organisation. Although there will be instances when a candidate really desires to work for a business and joins a “ready to hire” talent pool; more often than not, especially in the world of tech scaleups and start-ups, a job advertisement or message from a recruiter is the first time a candidate will hear of your business. It’s the beginning of their journey with you. From then on, all interactions create an impression of your employer brand.

Employer branding doesn’t simply apply to who you are as an employer, but how candidates perceive you, which means the candidate experience is vital to your employer brand image.

The truth cannot be denied; people talk about their experiences of work and applying for jobs. Recent surveys show that 56% of EMEA candidates have shared their positive candidate experiences with their inner circle, and 40% said they’d shared negative ones. However, 37% said they’d share a positive experience publicly online, and 21% said they’d share a negative experience online. While these numbers may be lower, they have a great potential reach and could impact future candidates’ perceptions of you. Whether tech candidates are sharing stories with their close network or publicly, the fate of your employer brand could still be at risk. If other tech talent finds out that your application process is too long and complex or you don’t communicate with candidates, then your employer brand reputation could be on the line just as it would be if news broke that you didn’t take care of your employees.

We’ve explored some of the elements of your candidate experience that could deter tech candidates from applying to you and impact your employer brand. Keep these aspects in mind so you can avoid making similar mistakes in your hiring process:

Slow and clunky

No one understands tech like tech candidates. Now, when job applications are almost always online, your candidate experience must reflect your capabilities as a tech employer. A slow to load landing page or errors on the page will be noticed immediately, as these are the people who understand the back end of websites and how these errors come to light. If you’re trying to appeal to tech talent and your employer brand portrays you as a state-of-the-art tech employer, then your candidate experience must be seamless; otherwise, you’ll be a contradiction in their eyes. If your application process isn’t streamlined, tech candidates will think you’re not true to your word. Therefore, you need to give the job application process and candidate experience the same care and attention as your other digital experiences, whether it’s a virtual interview or candidate nurture email campaign.

Overly complicated

In a recent survey of candidates in the EMEA, 20% of candidates said they dropped out of an application process because it took too long. If you have too many questions in the initial application, too many rounds of interviews or even large interview tasks and tests, it could deter candidates. In a candidate-driven market, they could apply for other jobs which aren’t demanding too much from them in the initial stages. These processes can be tiresome and reflect negatively on your employer brand, as it shows you’re expecting a lot or even a lack of trust. If you’re making candidates jump through hoops before they’ve even had a human conversation, it won’t reflect well on you.

Of course, tech recruitment can often be more complex; you have to ensure that not only are they qualified and are a cultural fit but that their skills also match up to the quality you need. Therefore, additional elements like skills tests are not a rarity in tech recruitment; it’s expected that the candidate journey will be a little longer than average. However, employers must be careful. Adding too many elements to the candidate experience can overcomplicate the application process and make it much more time consuming than it needs to be. There needs to be a delicate balance; between assessing the candidate’s talents and ensuring the application process isn’t complicated.

Not personal enough

AI and automations are used within the hiring process to create a more streamlined and fast experience. By automating elements of the recruitment process, you can speed up the time to hire. For example, screening resumes and shortlisting candidates to interview is estimated to take 23 hours of a recruiter’s time for a single hire, which is why many hiring managers are turning to technology to take over elements of their hiring. However, technology, AI and automations may be a great way to ensure your hiring process is quicker than ever, but it can also take away some of the more human aspects of recruitment. For example, candidates rely on human conversations to get a feel for your business and determine whether they’re a good cultural fit. Remember, computers and machines cannot give an impression of your employer brand.

Not giving feedback

Think back to when you were the last applying for a role. If you get no response after an interview or don’t speak to a person before rejection, you probably didn’t think too highly of them. Candidate experience is a lot about respect, and if you talk to a candidate in person or interview them face to face, you should always go back to them with a personal response. Of course, if you’re turning down hundreds of applicants at the screening process, you can’t be expected to respond to them all personally. But the fact remains, candidates can sense when an email is generic. Once you’ve engaged with them personally, it’s only decent to reply to them and do so in a personal way; offer feedback. Otherwise, you look like an employer who doesn’t value its people and will deter candidates from applying again and damage your employer brand. Ensure responses and feedback are an integral part of your candidate experience if you hope for candidates to re-apply in the future.

No reasoning or accountability

Another issue with relying on AI and automations to help with your candidate experience is that you cannot always explain why a candidate was rejected. As with any automated process, you can control the inputs and see the outputs, but the inner workings remain a bit of a mystery. Therefore, when candidates ask for feedback on their rejections, you may not be able to answer, or perfectly qualified candidates could fall through the net because they have a non-traditional background or live slightly further afield. They’ll never hear from you again. Without reasoning, they may lose hope in applying for you in the future, and with no accountability, you can’t always give these candidates a response. Rejecting with no tangible reason could leave you liable. It could significantly damage your employer brand. Plus, always hiring the same types of candidates who meet the requirements of an algorithm will damage your employer brand, too, as you’ll lack diversity in your organisation.

Therefore, when considering the candidate experience for tech recruitment, you need to balance streamlined technical processes with a more personal and caring touch. Treat candidates with respect and only use tech to enhance your time to hires or automate monotonous tasks, which will free up your recruitment and HR team’s time to engage with candidates. Remember, the candidate experience should be as considered as your employee experience.

Talent Works help scaling tech businesses and enterprise businesses refine their employer branding through tailored messaging and improving candidate journeys and experiences. To find out more about how we can help you, contact us.

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