In the era of ATS, AI and algorithms, tech promises to make recruiting easier for business — but the personal touch maybe getting lost in the digital shuffle.
And as the talent market continues to tighten, employers can't afford to leave applicants facing an antiseptic process devoid of real contact. Luckily, personalization in recruiting and hiring doesn't have to be a huge undertaking.
Humanizing the process
If a recruitment process lacks personal interaction, applicants may assume that, once hired, they’ll be just another cog in the wheel. And that's not a great impression to give if you're looking for employees who can stand out.
Candidates have changed their expectations, says Ben Slater, VP growth at Beamery. “They’re looking for a fundamentally different experience during the recruiting process,” he told HR Dive. They’re also less forgiving, he noted: “If they’re unhappy with the way they’ve been treated, they’re prepared to share their qualms online, damaging your brand.”
The result will cost you future applicants. “Personalization,” he said, “really comes down to making every candidate feel like they're getting a custom, one to one experience.”
Obviously employers aren't getting rid of their new recruiting tools, but they can do more to humanize the process. Dan Westmoreland, marketing campaigns manager at Deputy says you don’t have to scrap automation. Using your CRM, ATS or even marketing automation system, he recommends you segment candidates into demographic and behavioral buckets to make automated outreach more personal.
"Finally, add some human touch to the process," he said. "Automation is important and fine but a quick call or message on a social platform like LinkedIn can make a huge difference.”
Today’s applicant is researching your company long before they hit send on that resume email. Employers must ensure that their online presence is user friendly and, well, friendly.
The first communication you have with your next great hire happens when they navigate to your site. What is it telling them about you? Are (happy) people prominent; is it easy to look for available openings; is the application process easy? All these factors can drive candidates to you, or from you. Make sure the impression you’re making is the one you want to make.
A real, live person
When you're interested in hiring someone, it's important to allow them to communicate with a real person via that person's real email address, according to Kim Castelda, Bullhorn's chief people officer. No one wants to send their references to your company's "info" email address.
A single point of contact throughout the process lets them know you consider them a viable candidate, worthy of your time and consideration – and that includes sharing your email address. Let them know you’re available to answer questions along the way, and be there when they do.
“We want each candidate to have a uniquely incredible experience, especially as they get to the stage of meeting our hiring managers," Castelda said. Bullhorn accomplishes this by establishing consultative relationships between the candidates and the talent acquisition specialist. “Each candidate has a go-to person throughout the process.”
Provide timelines and stick to them
From the initial screening to final interviews, it's important to let the candidate know what to expect and when. No one wants to be left hanging, wondering if they should contact you to see if the job is still available.
Letting a candidate know how long interviews will take and when they can expect a decision is a simple courtesy that can make a big difference. Put the date on your calendar and, if you aren't going to meet it, keep the candidate in the loop. Follow-up at every stage keeps the personalization process going.
The best part of being involved in hiring is giving someone a job. The worst part is telling someone they didn’t make the cut, but it is part of the job. Ignoring those who have spent time meeting with you can come off as unprofessional and rude, and leads to those poor online reviews mentioned earlier.
Be honest with those who aren’t hired for the opening you’re trying to fill today. If they were good candidates but were edged out by someone with just a bit more, discuss possible openings in the future. Be sure to keep the door open for good talent.
Hate the idea of giving bad news over the phone? A professional email thanking them for their time and reminding them you will consider them for openings in the future, if true, is an appropriate and easy fix. But make sure to do it as soon as possible.
The golden rule
If nothing else, Slater recommends treating candidates as you would customers.
“Assuming they aren’t a good fit for today doesn’t mean you won’t be able to make the sale in the future. They may tell their friends,” Slater saiys. Castelda agrees: “In the labor shortage we are experiencing, it is likely that we will reach out again to candidates — they will re-engage or recommend someone they know if they had a great experience.”
These small steps can benefits business in more ways than just a single great hire, Westmoreland says; “Personalizing the process helps with candidate quality, referrals, a pipeline of future hires and makes your brand look well-polished and attractive to potential employees.”