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  • Matt

How important is culture in the candidate experience process?

As we emerge from the smoking ashes of COVID-19 and its various lockdowns, it becomes apparent to the employment-seeking population that the recruitment process has changed drastically for many companies. With around 114 million people losing their jobs globally, mainly through redundancies, both employees and employers were hit hard by the pandemic. Now, people are eager to get back to work, and some recruiters are finding it difficult to find the right talent for jobs, for reasons that were not as prevalent pre-pandemic.

With more jobs now available than candidates to fill them, particularly in certain sectors, recruiting organisations are forced to be creative to deal with the challenges in the recruitment landscape to find the best talent. Such challenges include: ensuring that revised recruitment processes are optimal for attracting the best talent, dealing with competing recruiters in the rush to find the best talent available, investing in and deploying the best of breed applicant tracking systems (ATS) and virtual interview platforms. However, a few organisations have had the insight to focus on job applicant or candidate experience.

In 2021, there’s been an apparent projection by some hiring organisations as being empathetic and catering towards candidate’s needs, with a strong focus on personal health, working environment, flexible working, dynamic total reward and general wellbeing. These projections can be observed in job adverts, job and person descriptions and company communications. They are some of the strategic gestures implemented by progressive organisations, in support of candidates and future employees, as they begin to come out of isolation and back into the work space. These gestures ultimately present such organisations as one willing to invest in providing a positive experience to their employees and particularly so, because they have taken the step to further extend such experience to job applicants, even before they are considered for hiring.

At RevolvedCV, we have experienced first-hand the negative impact that COVID-19 has had on people trying to get back to work after a tough period. There are all sorts of factors that cause stress when it comes to returning to work, including working conditions, the flexibility of working from home, health and safety and many more. For many people, getting back to work is more than just being the right person for the job, they need to feel like they ‘fit in’ with the culture of the company, and this needs to be a two-way street for employers as well, as a study from Deloitte shows, 88% of employees believe that a distinct workplace culture (organisational culture), is important to business success.

Organisational Culture – Communicating and keeping it alive

Organisational culture is defined as “the collection of values, expectations, and practises that guide and inform the actions of all team members”, essentially, they are the characteristics that define what a company is like from a cultural perspective. So how does this affect the recruitment process, and how can investing in introducing potential future employees to the organisational culture increase the chance of finding a more suitable candidate for the job? Well, CareerBuilder did a brilliant candidate experience study on this subject. They found that while 78% of employers feel that they do a good job of setting expectations upfront and communicating throughout the hiring process, only 47% of candidates share that opinion. This gap in perspective of employer and candidates presents a potential organisational performance risk (referring back to the Deloitte study above). Therefore, it is very important that companies need to be doing more as part of their recruitment process, to help themselves get the best possible candidates by executing the following important steps:

Improve on clearly communicating the desired candidate experience throughout the recruitment process.

Investing in delivering the experience to candidates at every step of the recruitment process.

Seeking feedback to identify any gaps between organisational expectation and candidate experience.

Periodically, make necessary data-led adjustments from feedback received.

Periodically, rinse and repeat steps 1 to– 4 above, to maintain their desired candidate experience culture and more importantly, the reputation as the ‘employer of choice’ to future candidates.

Candidate experience and workplace culture – what does this mean for the future workforce

The US as a global market, has a youth employment rate of circa 12.5% and rising (derived from Link1 and Link 2). The same upward can be observed in the UK, with the total UK workforce made up of circa 11% of 16 – 24 year olds (derived from Link 1 and Link 2). As young people constitute the future experienced workforce of the country, one of the best courses of action for a company to engage with this workforce demographic is to communicate or advertise its organisational culture as an employer of choice with consideration for their particular needs. Some of these needs are expressed by the Guardian as far back as 2015. It reported that 62% of millennials want to work for a company that makes a positive impact while 50% prefer purposeful work to higher salary. This trend continues till today. It is important for future-looking employers to engage with this workforce today, through their recruitment process, for a more productive tomorrow.

How should this workforce be engaged? We are living in an increasingly digital era, and young people are pioneers in the use of digital technology. Therefore, it is key to publicise your company’s culture on platforms where this demographic congregates – in particular, social media. For example, posting video content showcasing the cultural highlights, like positive working environments, passionate staff and leadership, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) etc. This form of visual storytelling will show potential candidates what they could look forward to if they are successful in the recruitment process and choose to accept the job offer. In fact, 68% of entry-level candidates said that company culture was one of the main factors that led to them accepting their job offer, therefore proving just how important it is to publicly share your organisational culture.

Summary in 5 points

  • The pandemic, despite being a terrible experience, has significantly impacted the recruitment landscape for employers and candidates. Employers who are responsive to the changed landscape are bound to make the most out of it.

  • Organisational culture is key to organisational success through its workforce.

  • Some forward-thinking organisations are ahead of the rest in determining, investing and communicating their culture as an employer of choice to their future workforce. Others should follow suit if they intend to get the best talent out there and reap excellent return on their recruitment investments.

  • There are several data touchpoints during the recruitment process wherein hiring organisations can engage with candidates. These should be used in collecting feedback from candidates, with a basis to make data-led decisions aimed at improving candidate engagement through experience.

  • The youth are the future workforce and leaders of tomorrow – communicate your organisational culture, engage and meet them where they are at today. Refer to the five engagement steps detailed above.

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