4 Truths on Engaging Top Talent

From hiring managers to recruiters, those working within human resources have an abundance of responsibilities to tackle throughout the hiring process. Because of this, the candidate experience often gets overlooked.

MRI Network’s Recruiters Sentiment Study stated that 90% of recruiters say the market is candidate-driven and 47% of declined offers were due to candidates accepting other jobs.1 As research indicates that the candidate experience matters more than ever, candidates are in the driver’s seat and they are there to stay.

Below we dig deeper into the candidate experience and explore four truths when it comes to engaging top talent.

First, Let’s Define What Makes a Top Candidate

A top candidate is an individual who fits the company culturally and is highly-qualified for a specific job. Top candidates, when hired, are known to stay longer than other candidates. They typically believe in the company, its success, and are fully invested in their own work.

Gallup found that high-quality candidates express preferences for what they look for in a company or a job in ways that are different from candidates who are less qualified.2 To specify, lower-quality candidates have been known to pursue a company more because it meets their immediate requirements like pay or hours whereas top candidates look for a company that matches their goals.

Truth #1 Quality Candidates Look for Company Culture

The Talent Board, who studies job candidate experience, found that 41% of all candidates search for information about a company’s culture before they apply.3 According to Gallup, candidates choose to work for companies that match who they are and what they believe in.4

Seems simple, right? Quality candidates are attracted to companies that align with who they are. They want to work somewhere that will encourage them to achieve their goals and grow. What is the first red flag for a potential employee that a company isn’t the right fit? You’ve likely guessed it, the candidate experience.

Picture this: a candidate submits their application but waits weeks before hearing a response, then comes in for an interview on time and waits forty minutes for the recruiter. What is their impression of the company? While a recruiter focuses on how a candidate measures up to their company’s standards, they could be missing how they measure up to the candidate’s standards.

How to find the right candidate fit, faster: Success is determined by attracting the right candidates for open jobs, fast. What’s difficult is finding top talent that also sees the company as the perfect match, resulting in an engaged hire. To support this, iCIMS’ applicant tracking system, Recruit lets users personalize every part of the candidate experience from career portals with a company’s unique brand image to automated emails.

Truth #2 Quality Candidates Look for a Strong Brand Presence

Gallup shared that, when candidates consider which companies they will apply to, both high-quality and lower-quality candidates are attracted to a company’s status in its industry.5

Candidates are doing their homework and researching the “best” companies, ones that have a positive brand image and engaged employees. So how does a company put their best foot forward? It takes time, effort, and consistency.

To start, companies should ensure their career site puts the organization’s vision and values front and center. Candidates report that the most valuable marketing content is: company values (42%), products and services information (37%), and employee testimonials (35%).6 In addition, organizations should boast about recent award wins, imagery of employees, and a view of the work environment.

Branded career portals that come with social icons or social share buttons can help companies expand reach. Also, having the ability to share jobs from the career portal by email can help increase talent pools and aid in employee referrals. An employee referral program that encourages employees to share job openings can be extremely effective. Just think, interested candidates can then connect via social networks directly with employees who can speak to the company’s core culture and values.

How to boost brand presence with ease: iCIMS Recruit  allows users to build out branded career portals where social icons are included giving candidates the ability to easily click into company profiles to learn more. Configurable within Recruit, companies can also give candidates the option to easily apply for a job by syncing a social profile such as LinkedIn. The candidate’s valuable information is then automatically pulled into the appropriate fields in the application. Furthermore, the Social Distribution tool within Recruit lets organizations tap into their current employees’ networks to extend reach even further. When employees opt in after a one-time setup, information like job openings is then shared across the social networks of their choosing.

Truth #3 Quality Candidates Want to Be Challenged

High-quality candidates are attracted to jobs that offer challenges and opportunities to make a difference to others.7

Employees who do not feel challenged or see potential career growth will look for new opportunities. In fact, 63% of full-time employees are looking for a new job.8 One way companies can challenge top talent during the recruitment process is to customize the interview based on the desired position.

For example, a recruiter can ask a Sales Manager candidate to conduct a mock-phone call whereas a Public Relations candidate can work on a timed writing assignment. These personalized exercises will help set expectations for the position early on while the candidate will also feel that the company has done their due diligence to find the right fit for the role.

How to challenge candidates through automation: After candidates apply, iCIMS Recruit offers tools to assist HR in managing applicant volume and identifying the best talent for open roles. In addition to companies configuring their system to reflect every aspect of the hiring process, Recruit can also connect to third-party screening and assessment tools. There are assessment tests designed to challenge candidates, helping organizations gauge competencies and empowering them to find the right person for the job based on their proven skills and capabilities.

Truth #4 Quality Candidates Want Transparency

67% of employers believe retention rates would be higher if candidates had a clearer picture of what to expect about working at the company before taking the job.9

Candidates want realistic job previews and expectations of the company. When organizations are transparent, it sets the stage for long-term success.

58% of employers don’t let candidates know how long the process will take.10 Technology is so advanced that there’s no excuse for not setting expectations. Most applicant tracking systems even allow recruiters to set-up automated emails to candidates within the hiring process.

How to improve candidate communication: When used in conjunction with iCIMS Recruit, iCIMS Connect makes it easy for organizations to fill talent pools with top talent. Connect’s email marketing automation enables companies to easily set up email campaigns that continually and automatically nurture talent. This sharing of information—information that is tied to the candidate’s area of interest or the business overall—has helped companies build trust through transparency while simultaneously allowing them to maintain healthy candidate pipelines.

Final Takeaway: Engagement is a Must

Gallup showed that companies who hire top talent frequently realize a 10% increase in productivity, a 20% increase in sales, a 30% increase in profitability, a 10% decrease in turnover, and a 25% decrease in unscheduled absences.11

When a company hires, and retains top talent, the company becomes better in terms of the products and services they provide. Investing in positive candidate engagement will produce results short-term with candidate flow, as well as, long-term in the organization’s bottom-line.

1.  MRI Network, Recruiter’s Sentiment Study, 2016
2. Gallup, Business Journal, 2016
3.  Forbes, 2015
4. Gallup, Business Journal, 2016
5. Gallup, Business Journal, 2016
6. Talent Board, 2016
7. Gallup, Business Journal, 2016
8. Hiring Insights, 2016
9. Glassdoor, 2016
10. Career Builder, 2015
11. Gallup, Business Journal, 2016


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