By Tony Brookes, Sales Director, Vacancy Filler Recruitment Software

Getting the right hires for a business is not an easy task – but most companies would agree that it is one of the most essential. There are still too few organisations that have really cracked the “people” element – they do not get the right quality of candidate applying, or those that do take up another offer – or else the candidate, once hired, either does not stay or does not live up to expectations.

Some of this can be down to the candidate’s experience of the recruitment process. Even in times where jobs are scarce, good candidates are in demand, and far too many of them still have a poor experience when applying for jobs - and indeed throughout the entire recruitment process. Not only does this mean that firms have trouble recruiting the best candidates, but a bad experience can also badly damage a relationship with a promising candidate and even an entire brand – candidates are not afraid to share their impressions online. The recruitment experience starts from the first view of the website and the careers page right the way through the entire recruitment process.

Common complaints from candidates are that their applications are not acknowledged, so they have no way of knowing if an application has been received, or if they are to be invited for interview or rejected. And busy hiring managers don’t want candidates calling them up to ask if they have received a CV. Even if their application is acknowledged, after this point applicants often hear no more for a long time – if at all - as to whether they will be invited for interview, or after interview, whether they have been successful or not.

Some companies however have become very effective at communicating well with potential hires throughout the experience – particularly the increasing number who are now using good online recruitment systems. This makes those who are not communicating well look even worse.

Good recruitment involves a number of factors - from defining the scope of the role or roles and developing the brief, to having a strong and, more importantly, an engaging, communication policy, particularly when it comes to retaining candidates so carefully recruited, and ensuring the candidate has a good ‘candidate journey’ during the recruitment process.

Online recruitment systems are now being adopted by companies of all sizes. These platforms normally provide an applicant tracking system (ATS) to promote the roles on offer, and the candidate journey should focus on the engagement with the potential employee so that throughout the various stages the corporate brand and the overall impression given to the candidate is a positive one. Such systems automate a great deal of routine work, including personalised acknowledgement of communications from a candidate.

All communications sent from the system, whether by email, SMS or good old fashioned letters, should be timely and engaging. The ATS should be easy for the candidate to use – many systems now do not require a candidate to pre-register to get a login and password, and they allow candidates to browse and start an application process on their mobile device and complete it later on their home PC, or laptop, without having to login to the system.

If the candidate journey is well managed, the outcome of this stage will be to pass only suitable and qualified candidates to the appropriate manager.

Candidate Profiling
Candidate profiling can be highly engaging for the candidate - while simultaneously acting as a filter for those who are less serious about joining an organisation. Using the profiling and testing process, the number of no-shows at the interview stages is also drastically reduced and it’s not uncommon for all candidates who make it through the final interview stage to be hired, as opposed to norms of 1 in 8.

Video Interviewing
Video interviewing, often built in to online recruitment systems, is now being used increasingly to save time and money in the recruitment process.

Throughout the hiring journey, the recruiter or hiring manager has the option to use workflow based e-mail to invite candidates to events, such as online testing, and to schedule their own interviews using the Vacancy Filler self-service calendar function.

The email body text is fully customisable and will be relevant to the role the candidate is applying for and the specific stage of the process. SMS is also integrated into this communication channel and can be used as a reminder, for example, for an interview date or simply to keep them informed and updated as to where they sit in the evaluation process.

Using the same workflow and email transport mechanism, candidates are invited to answer a number of pre-prepared questions into a PC or mobile device based webcam. This process is an off-line activity and can be scheduled at a time and location to suit the candidate.

Other things that can help in hiring the best include:-
• Looking at how your ads on job boards compare with your competitors; look at your careers site – is it attractive and informative?
• Put yourself in the candidate’s shoes and try out the candidate experience if possible – is it not just satisfactory but good?
• Checking whether it is easy for the candidate to communicate with you.

In summary, be clear about what you are looking for from the outset, including selecting the right systems and processes to ensure that recruitment is as ‘good’, efficient and pleasant as possible for all concerned. Other factors such as branding and reputation as well as clarity of objectives and messages play an important role too, and are also linked to the tools you use. Good recruitment is multi-faceted and organizations need to try to ensure they address all aspects. Selecting the right kind of recruitment assistance, and having an integrated profiling, testing , recruitment, and talent and performance management process as well as a talent pool for the future will ensure that the right candidates are found, the business strategy realised, staff motivation maintained and those precious candidates retained.