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Candidate experience and the post-pandemic wave of applicants: Are you ready?

by Robert Matthew, Head of Client Services, Alexander Mann Solutions

As organisations begin to emerge from the actual and metaphorical lockdown of COVID-19, hiring requirements are beginning to re-emerge as well (though in significantly reduced volumes than before the pandemic). With even the most optimistic outlooks for global unemployment depicting the loss of the equivalent of 34 million jobs compared to Q4 2019, companies recruiting external talent are likely to see application numbers rise to extraordinary levels.

At Alexander Mann Solutions, we’re seeing a number of organisations considering RPO for the first time in order to meet these common challenges – a predicted ramp-up in hiring volumes, an expectation of a huge rise in applications per open vacancy and an obvious need to ensure a qualitative process for both hiring managers and candidates.

Companies that have previously relied exclusively on “offline” or manual processes, may now find themselves struggling to cope with vast quantities of applications.

How can organisations best serve their internal hiring communities, maintain robust processes to review these volumes of candidates, find the best applicants (at pace)…whilst at the same time ensuring that all candidates are treated with respect and dignity, receiving a positive experience that doesn’t damage the organisation’s brand?

The basics of a candidate journey will remain the same – searching for a vacancy, self-selection, application, initial screening or assessment, interview, offer, onboarding, day one – however the opportunities to utilise technology to supplement and improve the candidate experience continue to advance and this is where the opportunity exists.

Companies that have previously relied exclusively on “offline” or manual processes, may now find themselves struggling to cope with vast quantities of applications. Now is the time to explore technologies that deliver a high-touch experience and consistency of outcome, in addition to efficiencies that free up their talent acquisition teams to offer human interaction where it’s most vital in the process.

Digital assessment tools, for example, deliver a high-touch experience for candidates that can be invaluable. Speed of outcome but also feedback can be delivered via such tools, ensuring candidates gain value – even if unsuccessful. For recruiters and hiring managers, this can provide the most objective means of filtering candidates with opportunities for any unconscious biases removed from the early stage of the process. In addition to the experience enhancements, I’ve witnessed this approach help a client reduce their initial screening stage from an average of 11 days down to 1.5 days for their volume hiring roles.

This kind of technology intervention can also provide a means to engage candidates throughout the recruitment process from keeping them updated on the status of their application (a common query to recruitment “help desk” teams) through to scheduling interviews.

That said, all technological tools and interventions really only work when aligned with an agile and scalable talent acquisition function. Teams that work in partnership with digital tools and that can pivot according to the changing demands of their organisation or the external marketplace. Now is the time to ensure that you have the processes, tools, technology and partnerships to meet the coming influx of applicants.

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