Is technology changing the candidate experience?

Evolving digital technology has given recruiters powerful tools to engage with candidates.

But as technology becomes an intrinsic part of the recruitment process, there’s the risk that candidates are left more and more detached from recruiters.

So how can recruiters harness technology and use it to improve the candidate experience?

What is candidate experience?

Candidate experience relates to all interactions between a candidate and recruitment agencies, says Paul Hutchinson, General Manager of business and technology recruitment specialist M&T Resources.

“This starts long before direct engagement between the candidate and the recruitment agency.”

Hutchinson suggests fostering candidate experience early through:

  • giving candidates the opportunity to meet recruiters at industry meet-ups
  • thought leadership events organised by your organisation
  • providing potential candidates with valuable insights via company blogs
  • a visually consistent brand through social media posts
  • ensuring job advertisements are well written.

As well, candidate experience continues long after placement, says Hutchinson.

“It relates to the extent to which recruiters are able to be true partners to their candidates’ career journeys, celebrating their wins and supporting their ongoing professional development.”

How can recruiters foster a great candidate experience?

“As recruiters, it is essential that candidates feel nurtured, valued and understand that we are here to truly achieve their career aspirations,” says Hutchinson.

“To go over and above for candidates and be a true leader in candidate experience, recruiters must also continue to add value to a candidate’s career long after placement.

“This could be through offering learning and development and networking opportunities, providing valuable insights, and keeping candidates in mind for future opportunities that fit within their long-term career goals.”

Recruiters are beginning to recognise that they work in a service industry, not a sales industry, says Geoff Millar, CEO at The Recruitment Company.

“It is about the service we give, and we’re only as good as the last service we gave, so if you continually improve in that and that trend will continue to drive through the industry that we’re a service first industry and that’s what people expect.”

Watch: SEEK SARA winners discuss the candidate experience

How can technology play a key role?  

As technology evolves, recruiters need to stay at the forefront of innovation, says Hutchinson.

“This allows us to apply a seamless service for our candidates, increasing efficiency and reducing time-to-hire.”

Technology can play a key role in communicating with candidates and closing the loop.

“Great candidate experience means going over and above, not just putting bums on seats but being a real partner in a candidate’s career journey, including after placement,” Hutchinson says.

“Communication sits at the heart of this, including when candidates are waiting for client decisions, or are unsuccessful. Unfortunately this isn’t always the case in our industry. If a candidate is unsuccessful, as their partner it should be our mission to proactively seek a new role that may be suitable, including reverse marketing them to clients.”

But while technology might offer fantastic new tools for recruiters to use, the focus is turning back on to candidate experience, says Andrea McDonald, Director u&u Recruitment Partners.

“I think a lot of companies are recognising that their candidates can also be their customers, and that brand experience really starts with us as agencies.

“We’re not different to any other service industry. Where in other industries customers are now expecting more, and what they get is more personalised, it’s more flexible, it’s always faster, so they’re expecting that same service from whatever industry they’re interacting with and that includes the recruitment industry.”

Don’t let technology kill the personal touch

With any innovation, the focus must always be on the client, whether it is appropriate, and if it will add real value to the recruitment process for both clients and candidates, Hutchinson says.

Don’t fall into the trap of incorporating technology for innovation’s sake, he says.

“Best practice, candidate care and client service must always be the ultimate aim.”

McDonald agrees that technology should be used to enhance the candidate experience, not replace it.

“Over time we’ve had some great tools that have meant that we’ve got technology that can make our process more efficient, and you’re able to manage really high workloads, but perhaps what that has done over time is take the personal touch out of a really personal service.”

Candidates are now seeking more personalised interactions with recruiters, and want to know that recruiters understand them and their career goals

“There’s a groundswell around making sure that that personal touch is still there in what has become a little bit more of an automated process at times.”