Candidate Experience Is Not an App

Most tech “solutions” are actually simple measurement tools. They promise to help you fix the candidate experience, but they fall short of being true solutions.

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Mar 13, 2023

I’m in the fortunate position of seeing a lot of new and reimagined ideas in the world of talent acquisition technology without actually being a buyer. That can be bad in some ways. I have to work harder to connect the dots between what a recruiting leader might actually need (and have the budget for, and have the change management to bring on new technology, and so on) and what’s in the market. That requires me to talk to TA leaders on a regular basis.

The good side of it is that I can see trends of what the market thinks recruiting leaders need without being limited by the reality of what’s going on in my organization. Right now, the market thinks recruiting leaders need to drive a better candidate experience and they believe that their technology is the answer.

It’s actually so much more.

Conflating Measurement With Action

We’re planning to remodel my basement in the near future. I’ve measured the space, mapped out where we want things, and even have blueprints. That may seem like a good start, but my basement looks exactly the same as before. Mostly, it’s got boxes, bins, and enough art supplies to start a small school.

Nobody would say I am remodeling my basement. Yet, many candidate experience apps would say that the job is done. In fact, most of the “solutions” out there are actually simple measurement tools. Although they promise to help you fix the candidate experience, they actually only identify the areas that need to be worked on. Not only that, most only give you surface-level insights.

Measurement is important. I can’t possibly hope to estimate the amount of materials and work it will take to remodel my basement or improve the candidate experience without it. But you have to be measuring the right things and you have to go beyond the surface.

The ATS Is Also Not the Candidate Experience

Many applicant tracking systems — or experience layers that use the ATS as a glorified database — promise to fix the candidate experience, too. Lofty promises of one of the most disappointing software categories are nothing new.

Unlike measurement tools, they are actually doing something. You might think something is better than nothing, but that’s really only the case if you believe your ATS is the weakest link in your candidate experience (and that you’re fixing it in the right way). I actually don’t think that’s always the case. In fact, I would say that, generally speaking, technology alone is rarely the cause or solution of poor candidate experiences.

Experience Is About Continuity and Expectations

You might think that having a quicker hiring process or the slickest technology might take you to the top of your talent acquisition dreams. What I consistently see from talking to leaders that get this right is that they are able to hire above their organization’s expectations, even with some of the most hated recruiting software in the market — and they don’t even go particularly fast.

How are they able to do that?

For one, they care about preventing breaks in continuity for the candidate. They use only technologies that integrate tightly with their core hiring platform. That means that sometimes they make sacrifices in functionality to keep the candidate from having to hop from one platform to the next. And when an inevitable platform switch does happen — when someone goes from a job advertisement to their application for instance — they try to reduce duplicate action and create a smooth candidate journey.

They also create clear expectations for candidates about the process. What to expect, when to expect it, and even why certain actions are set up the way they are. For example, it might be helpful to know that a company will do its first set of interviews in two weeks because it hopes to have a group of employees start on a specific date. That gives candidates the what, when, and why without overloading them with the information they don’t need when they apply.

Better Candidate Experience, Better Employee Experience

The most important piece of continuity to keep in mind is that a good candidate experience is one that contributes to a good overall employee experience. Setting expectations about the hiring process and not letting technology hurt you is fine, but there’s no guarantee that that helps your organization set the right expectations for employment, too.

This is one place where coordination between the people driving the experience pre- and post-hire is crucial. From hiring and onboarding to talent development and long-term success at the organization, it starts with a thoughtful recruiting process, not just a new candidate experience technology.

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