Has the candidate journey changed forever?

These are unprecedented times for recruitment. Unlike, the last downturn which was caused by the banking crash, this one has seen nearly 9m people paid by the Government to stay ‘employed’ but at home, with nobody really knowing what the future will look like. For the gig economy workers and the millions who are self-employed times have been especially tough as it has been hard to support them in the same way. At this stage, no worker can be sure they have a business to go back to and that after only 3 months.

You may have lost your job, or livelihood, or be on furlough and concerned about the security of your employer; either way there will no doubt be a shift from a candidate led market to an employer led market. Add in the severe downturn in active vacancies being advertised and the future for candidates can start to look a little grim.

Chances are if you are applying for a job, or an employer recruiting, how you go about it may have changed dramatically as well. How, for example, are you going to interview candidates face to face? How, for example, can you ‘sell’ the great team they will be joining, your fabulous offices and great benefits, if everyone is working remotely and only meeting up via Teams? A tough ask.

In today’s recruitment market – for both employers and recruiters – the candidate journey has been a hot topic. With so much technology available to candidates, who, after all, are used to the ‘buying’ process from retailers, their expectations of the recruitment process have changed dramatically. Just like buying a product if the recruitment process doesn’t meet their expectations they will drop out and not complete the transaction…

The typical recruitment process comprises four parts: finding and attracting candidates, engaging with the candidates, qualifying the candidates, interviewing and selecting the candidates. All of these components have changed for the candidate but, sadly, not all recruiters and hiring managers will have realised this!

As a candidate we have busy and hectic lives, being bombarded all day and every day with information across our chosen media and devices. Consequently, we demand that all the services and technologies we use are as smooth and simple as possible to navigate. If not, we switch off. We also expect companies, who are selling to us, to communicate with us on our preferred media and in the way we want to be communicated to. This can be very challenging for the recruiter and hiring manager since finding and attracting candidates can take place across very complex and wide ranging channels.

Perhaps the biggest change in the candidate journey is the point at which we now engage with them ie: have a discussion by email, phone, video meet or face to face about the role. Instead of that contact being made shortly after the process starts, candidates will now ‘check out’ you, your company, the client, the job and the industry before wishing to have any engagement with you. If their expectations are not met at any of these points then for them, it is over.

So, this means that your website, LinkedIn profile, Twitter feed, Facebook page, blogs and any other media that you use (for both you, your company and the client) need to be active, up to date and reflect the expectations of the candidate otherwise they will not respond and its game over.

Challenging? Certainly, but really no different to how we buy goods and services in todays’ connected world. We just need to realise that and align ourselves to the candidate…the job market is shifting, and this means that competition for the roles that are available is only going to intensify.