032 - How to Attract 2-4 Times more Suitable Job Candidates for your Jobs
Updated: Jan 23
"Why Candidate-centred Recruiting is More Effective than Recruiter-centred …"
The candidate experience is one of the deciding factors in whether your job offer will turn out to be a success story or a failure. When was the last time you put yourself in the shoes of an applicant? Probably on the occasion of your own last job application. Because as a recruiter or CEO, you’ve gotten into the habit of putting the recruiter’s (or the boss’s) needs before the candidate’s. In this article, you will learn the difference between the two approaches and what to focus on.
Advertise where Applicants are
Do you know which recruitment channels your applicants use? If you don’t have software that shows you which media channels bring in the most and, above all, the most suitable applicants, through statistical evaluations (key performance indicators), it will be really difficult to answer this question.
Applicants want you to publish your vacancies where they look most, for example in the media (including social media) which applicants use most often.
[Software generated KPI Statistics — number of applications (in blue) — number of finalists (in green) who both met the basic requirements and had a high potential for success in the advertised position.]
If instead, out of habit, you «only» involve the usual channels, such as job platforms and sometimes recruitment agencies, the recruitment process is likely to prove insanely sticky. Remember Einstein’s definition of insanity — doing the same thing and expecting different results.
Candidate-centred recruiting for jobs with few applicants, on the other hand, absolutely requires a sourcing strategy using social recruiting and active sourcing.
Stand out, Address Applicants Appropriately and Arouse Curiosity
Do you still believe that a well-structured and text-heavy job advertisement can stand out in the jungle of thousands of competing offers on the common job platforms?
Then you might have a hard time setting yourself apart from competitors and sparking the candidate’s interest. What kind of applicant will be attracted by familiar and usually bought-in stock images and long text sequences with exaggerated job requirements? Probably only someone who uses all that textual information to «beef up» their application documents with your content, i.e.: to supplement their CV with not entirely accurate qualifications constructed according to the requirements — and thus to manipulate it.
However, you will stand out if you use the power of pictures and use a number of images that reflect your own business practice. Eye-catching images that intrigue applicants and leave an impression.
For instance, use pictures that provide an insight into the company and working environment, such as (aerial) pictures of a company site, a workplace in production or an office on site, photos of co-workers and teams with whom the candidates will be working in the future. In short: authentic photos (and also videos):
And don’t forget: Photos of the contact persons. Ideally, a picture of the direct superior and the responsible HR contact, each with name and job title. This creates closeness, intimacy, the feeling of being included, all favourable conditions for the elementary team fit of every job filling.
How would you like to be addressed appropriately? With «We are looking for an XY to expand our team» or with «Dear HR professionals …»? And what arouses your interest in the advertised position? A standard job title and boring text sequences, like those found on hundreds of job advertisements with the same name? Or an original job title optimized for search engines like Google and a story in pictures that underlines and clarifies your future role in the company? You give the answer — I know the answer.
Arouse and Increase the Interest of Applicants
It’s fine to provide information about the application process on your career page. But it doesn’t really raise interest when applicants find out that first they have to create a user profile and then re-enter their nicely formatted CV practically 1:1 into a digital form. Or when they realise that all application documents will be pre-screened by the HR contact person in a time-consuming pre-selection procedure, and that in the best case they will be invited to an initial interview after three weeks at the earliest, and have to endure a «sympathy test»?
Only, what does arouse interest? What does your candidate want, ideally ? Answer: They would like to know as quickly as possible who their future boss will be and feel addressed by him or her as individually as possible — not by an HR contact person!!
[Applicants want to talk to the department straight away — not to an HR recruiter]
If they can contact the supervisor in advance by phone for further information, all the better. After all, first-hand information is worth its weight in gold, and the phone call will give them first clues as to whether the team could also be a good fit.
If, however, you as a manager would like to save yourself many telephone calls, there is also the possibility of using a «virtual» interview — an online questionnaire recording the degree to which the basic job requirements are fulfilled — to have applicants answer your really interesting, job-related questions and then to be able to evaluate and compare the answers:
[Comparing and evaluating the answers from the top six candidates — Question 13 (red): “I do not speak any other language than German” Additional clarifying question (blue): “What other languages besides German do you speak? How well? Understand? Speak? Write?”]
In answering the questions, applicants can prove their professional competence and also quickly recognise whether the job offer corresponds to their ideas and inclinations. This gives them the opportunity to bring their individuality and personality into the application process from the very beginning and to stand out from other applicants — which ultimately supports a consistently positive candidate experience:
It is therefore crucial to arouse the interest of applicants with as little information as possible and to induce them to click on a link in the job advertisement, starting the online questionnaire and thus setting in motion the actual, largely automated recruitment process. Clicking a link is much less effort for applicants than the user profile and data collection mentioned at the beginning. And automating the pre-selection process creates real transparency and objectivity in the assessment of the received applications.
Treat Applicants Friendly and Courteously
What do you do when you want to get to know someone? You show yourself from your better side, take care not to make snide statements, adapt to the other person through gestures and facial expressions (so-called pacing), remain friendly and courteous.
Well-trained and experienced HR recruiters usually do the same. But if you have to wait three weeks for an initial interview, only to find out in this interview that your really important questions could not be answered, this is of little or no use to either party.
Even the friendliest and most courteous treatment cannot hide the fact that it is becoming more and more difficult for HR recruiters to answer department-specific questions about a job adequately — questions that are the candidate’s main interest. Moreover, these «sympathy tests» remind the applicant of exam situations, so that they don’t really feel comfortable and realise how much they depend on the judgement of an HR recruiter. If this judgement is negative — for whatever reason — they will not get any further in the process. End of the line.
Respond Quickly to Applicants
You’re probably familiar with this: After laboriously struggling with entering your profile and data, you receive a short onscreen message or an email confirming that your application has been received and that it will be reviewed and answered as part of the application process (documented on the careers page). Often signed by an anonymous sender such as «Your HR team».
Employers without an adequate applicant management tool also often tend to keep applicants completely in limbo and uncertainty. Even a short confirmation letter is too much effort — and then they are surprised when good applicants have applied elsewhere in the meantime or have even already accepted a different offer.
Conversely, how would you feel if you received a confirmation of receipt from a specific contact person on the same day, letting you know about the next steps and that you would be accepted or rejected promptly (usually within a week)?
Wouldn’t this also be in your interest? To know quickly whether you have a real chance of getting the job or receive clear negative feedback straight away so that you can apply for another job elsewhere? Or to find out quickly that the job in question (or a position in general) does not really suit you, by answering the online questionnaire?
Manual, time-consuming applicant administration that slows down the process is therefore no longer appropriate. But neither is an applicant management system that places too many hurdles in the way of applicants. The best way to get real results is an efficient, process-controlled, automated and as effortless as possible applicant management system.
Ask Applicants about their Candidate Experience
How often do you ask applicants how satisfied they were with your application process? If at all, this is usually done selectively and sporadically. Or only when the number of unsatisfactory reviews on Kununu, Glassdoor or Indeed gets out of hand and prompts HR to not only write counter-statements, but to rethink the application process as a whole. Candidate experience statements not only help you to improve the process. Candidates also feel positive about a Candidate Experience survey and are happy to tell you what went well or and what didn’t. If you ask them. Either as part of the interview or afterwards in a regular Candidate Experience Survey following a job placement. The survey must therefore be an integral part of the entire application process and be coordinated with the different stages of the same — if you survey sequentially, you gain useful insights for optimising the entire process!
[Extract from a Candidate Experience Survey — 53 Candidates participated in this Survey]
If you want to win applicants for your company, you need to understand how they think and feel — their perception of their role. It’s usually drastically different from that of an HR recruiter or CEO who still applies «classic» methods.
It’s time to open your eyes, adapt your own understanding of your role as a recruiter to the expectations of applicants and shift your focus from a recruiter-centric to a candidate-centric application process. This increases the attractiveness of your job postings, attracts the right applicants and thus leads to a steady improvement of your employee pool. The sooner you transform your recruitment process to a candidate-centric one, the better for your company’s competitiveness and future job candidates.
Transforming your recruitment process also requires changing your understanding of the roles of HR recruiters — from a classic HR recruiter to a Lean HR recruiter:
[HR Recruiters in transformation to Lean Recruiters]
If you would like to learn more about the concrete implementation, please call me — or use one of my current consulting offers on the topics of recruitment advertising and personnel recruitment — check out my homepage.
René Anderegg, lic.oec.HSG