Money, job security, career development, and a proper balance between work and life. All viable aspects of what employers can offer to candidates. But what do candidates really want from you?
We speak to Jon Addison, Lead for Talent Solutions at LinkedIn UK, to learn what their research reveals about candidate experience and how employers can improve. Have a listen to the interview below, keep reading for a summary and be sure to subscribe to the Employer Branding Podcast.
Give us an overview of “Inside the Mind of the Candidate”?
It’s a global study with about 14,000 professionals responding to it, and it’s predominantly designed to uncover the habits and attitudes of job seekers currently in the market. We’re coming at this predominantly from the viewpoint that we firmly feel that it’s worthwhile integrating their recruiting instincts based on their experience and knowledge of the recruitment market with really data-driven insights from the minds of job seekers. It’s designed to inform strategy for HR and talent acquisition leaders. It’s also quite important for people who are managing employer brands right now just to get a real understanding of the current behaviors and thinking of both candidates and people looking to hire.
How do candidates want to hear from recruiters?
From the professionals surveyed here, 63% stated they’re still flattered to hear from recruiters. Here at LinkedIn, we’re seeing an all-time high in terms of InMail responses. At the moment, that’s attributed to some of the current features that we put into our platforms that are driving that.
Personalization is absolutely key as recruiters message candidates, and personalized emails get the highest response rates. Acceptance rates of personalized emails are 38% higher than those that aren’t. There are some other key pointers that messages being concise is important, and we’re seeing that. If they’re under 100 words, there is, again, a 30-point average improvement in terms of response rates, and we think that’s largely down to the fact that 75% of emails are now opened on smartphones, right? So this is very indicative of the way that the market has developed.
Is there a difference if the actual hiring manager reaches out versus the recruiter?
The research shows the involvement of a hiring manager during the process is absolutely critical, but I think what we’d see based on some of the other statistics, for us, it’s more critical that the right information is conveyed about the role in question and why it’s such a great bid for the candidate. What we’re seeing is, during the outreach phase, which happens way before the initial approach, that there are certain key things that are critical in terms of feedback.
- Firstly, is the right information about the job being conveyed? So does the recruiter know that? It’s still pretty key that salary information is provided up front and early, and the data suggests that money is still a key motivator when assessing a job move.
- Another key takeaway was when the message comes, it’s really important that it’s human and that it resonates on a personal level. When that approach is made, ensure that you’re creating a personal link, attributing particular things of interest in your employment history as to why the candidates may be relevant to the role. Using normal jargon and making your messages hit home at an emotional level which I think is really key in the feedback.
How can you make sure you stand out with your first message?
Well, I think if you’re a recruiter, you have to recognize the fact that outreach begins way before the initial approach.
- How are you as a recruiter building your online profile so that when a candidate sees you that they understand what you are doing in the industry, what your network is, how you may contribute to industry discussions, and how you may share interesting and relevant content relating to the market you’re working in? There’s a piece where recruiters have got to understand their social presence.
- Outside of that, I think that you’ve got to stand out from the crowd, really just in terms of your own level of understanding about the role that you’re positioning. Have you got the right level of information on the job that you assume by your approach suits the candidate? Do you have the right level of information about the package? But, more so, do you have good information on the company in question and really understand them, and why you think this is a good fit.
How long do candidates spend gathering information before applying?
Companies have got to recognize recruitment’s moved on from being a sales-led function toward largely marketing-led. Candidates, through our research, have told us that they can spend up to two months gathering information on a company before actually physically taking the step to apply. So digital channels are as prevalent and as important as ever because the first port of call is going be the company’s website. Our research shows us that 49% of professionals follow companies on social media, things like a LinkedIn Career Page, and how companies are representing themselves on Facebook, Glassdoor, etc are obviously really key. Indeed, this is a two-way street, right? So it’s important that companies use digital channels to understand candidates and their employment history.
I think when companies are looking at how they invest in the way that they are branding themselves online, there are some key takeaways in the research to look at.
- Firstly, are your digital channels easy to understand and easy to navigate? It’s a simple thing to say but often something that isn’t necessarily the case. What comes through is that candidates find it interesting and useful when there is an overview of the hiring process on the company’s website so that that they can assess it and understand as they’re going through it whether it’s being followed.
- In terms of the employer branding piece, I think candidates really appreciate when employees are part of the heart of the branding experience. If companies are using their employees to create content, create a story and using things like videos and posting online, I think it really helps bring that employee experience to life for the company in question.
At the interview stage, how can you help candidates present the best version of themselves?
Well, we got a lot of information back on the interview process, and just what that means to candidates right now, and how they consider preparing for it and ensuring that it’s a mutually good experience.
- Candidates are perfectly prepared to expect from application to offer, a three-month period to elapse, and are comfortable with the norm being that three interviews would take place through that process. Having gathered the research that they wouldn’t necessarily do through digital channels, I think it’s very key that they understand up front what the interview process is and feel that through that process they’re really given the space and the time to portray they’re a fit for the role.
- I think it’s important that you the employer uses the process to portray all the positive aspects of the business, why you think that the candidate is a good fit, and really allowing through that process a good understanding of the employee culture to come through.
- One of the key pieces of information we got in terms of feedback from candidates was that they really thought it was useful when a broad range of representatives and team members from the company in question were introduced into the interview process, and that could be from our senior levels down to junior levels. But it was more of that breadth and range to give a really good 360-degree view of what it’s like to work at that company.
What do candidates want to know from the interviewer?
- Well, I think one of the things that came through was it irritates candidates when there is duplication in terms of topics. I think it’s quite key that, companies understand this and that they build a process whereby there isn’t duplication, where it’s very clear who’s doing what during the process that interview panels are set up, whereby hiring managers are briefed effectively by the recruitment consultants that are working with them and the discussion topics are identified very clearly up front.
- I think candidates also really want clear expectations set on the format of the interviews, the length, the topics that are going to be covered, and the overall process from application to offer. This, I think, needs to be done very clearly within the mindset that the impact of a bad interview is very significant. A data point that stands out there from our research was that 65% of professionals interviewed said that they would lose interest in a potential employer off the back of a bad interview, which is significant.
- There is a piece in and around how and when they’re on site you immerse them into the environment of which they’re going be part of, so, the office tour, showing them the range of facilities, having them understand what it’s really like day in day out to be in that environment. That as well as, engaging them with a wide range of people and letting them tell the story. Another key thing is how you allow them to understand what the perks are in that environment. That’s not just the working environment or not just the belts and braces of the financial package, but that’s also an articulation of the benefits and the other salary perks that come with the role.
- Another key thing is how you allow them to understand what the perks are in that environment. That’s not just the working environment or not just the belts and braces of the financial package, but that’s also an articulation of the benefits and the other salary perks that come with the role.
What is the main reason candidates change jobs?
I think it’s folly to ignore the fact that money is still a huge motivator for people wanting to move job, and that came through as very clear. Recruiters need to understand that it’s a key motivator and need to be clear on expectations there.
Other reasons tie into questions like:
- Can I find a company where I fit better?
- Can I find an environment where I’m more regularly and consistently challenged in my role?
- Can I find a company which is going to invest more in my own professional growth, skills and learning development?
I think it’s absolutely critical how employers brand themselves as a place to improve the skills of people that want to work there, and that actually came through, as a key reason why people actually stay in companies. They will stay at a company if that company is investing in the development of their skills. That was very clear.
What are the main takeaways for employer brand managers?
The key takeaways here are:
- Recognizing the key importance of digital channels, understanding the culture of your organization in the first place and understanding how you’re building a strategy that collaborates with the right stakeholders within your organization. So how you bring in together talent marketing and the partners, internal and external, that are responsible for your brand by your digital channels.
- Building an ongoing plan to extend what you’re doing with your employer brand consistently, and making that very obvious and easy for candidates to access.
- It’s an evolution, and it needs recognition. It’s also how you commit to it, and committing to it long term and putting your employees at the center of it with you is really alongside the collaboration piece where we see our customers develop the most successful strategies.
Download the full report: Inside the Mind of Today’s Candidate.